Grand Final Preview

Albania Final

Weeks and months of preparation have all come down to this. Later on tonight, 26 countries from across Europe (and a bit of Asia) will descend on the Crystal Hall stage and perform to an expected audience of 125 million people. Of these 26, only one will end up the winner (of the contest, various successes for the other twenty-five possible), and Europe can finally try and hide the fact that they let ‘Running Scared’ win.

There is a certain irony though, that after one of the worst Eurovision winners, the Russian Grannies, or to be correct Buranovskiye Babushki, could easily sweep it up. I love everything about the performance, they are unbelievably sweet (especially the small one), and it’s almost forgivable that they can’t sing a dreadful song. Last year Portugal sent something which was set up very similar. However the fact they were protestors (or the Village People who had their wages slashed in the economic downturn) and not adorable, didn’t catch the people’s heart and finished second to last in their semi final. The Babuskhi’s are different, and it’s almost terrifying. I don’t want them to win Eurovision, yes they are adorable and lovely and it’s a fantastic, fun filled three minutes after a sleep-inducing opening, but it is after all a song contest, and I continue to live in hope the juries knock it down heavily.

There are so many good songs in this contest, and the focus from a UK perspective shouldn’t just be on Russia, Ireland and ourselves. My own money is on Serbia, Željko Joksimović couldn’t have asked for a better draw to add to his strong song. 24th, amongst the craziness of Jedward and Pasha Parfeny, and the livliness of Ukraine, it really stands out from the crowd. Add in the usual votes from those who love him in the Balkans, and this could be right up there come the final votes.

Granted it’s not all straight forward, Nina Zilli has been a firm favourite of mine and others since it was first released. I’ve yet to see or hear of her put a foot wrong yet, and unlike others who have (cough Romania, Sweden, UK cough), that will put her in one of the prime positions for the live show. Likewise, I’m prepared to say, with Estonia, Spain and Iceland even, this could swing it into their balance. With Italy, and Iceland, there is no real reason why the televoters won’t go for it, and Spain certainly belts it out in an emotional performance.

And then there is those who are running towards the end, Malta could easily sneak into the top 10 following Spain and Germany, Ireland, although a weaker entry than last year, have the energy, Ukraine are being very-Ukraine like and Moldova, whilst I love it, could struggle a lot.

Basically, it’s impossible to call. There are a lot of songs that could win, I wouldn’t mind winning, and are good enough to win. As long as it isn’t Russia, I don’t really care either.

Semi Final 2 Review

Macedonia Semi 2

Qualifiers: Lithuania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Estonia, Malta, Turkey

Azerbaijan are going for the whole ‘light your fire’ as the slogan for this years contest. Semi Final 1 lit that fire in style and substance, so much so it would give the Olympic torch a run for its money. Then came Semi Final 2 and that fire was damped so much it’s lucky the spark is still there.

And it always shows that running order and diaspora will always help, in no other world would Bosnia & Herzegovina have been able to qualify. As dullness goes, it was right up there, and should never have qualified, but well, it did. And at the expense of some decent songs as well. Eva Boto for Slovenia was pretty spectacular, she didn’t look like a 16 year old singing, more like a professional, but she failed to make it, and for that I will always blame Bosnia. Seemingly no matter what Bosnia send, they will qualify with ease anyway. Sigh.

And likewise with Lithuania, sure it’s a lot better than the Bosnian entry, but I struggle to see that qualifying if that wasn’t dead last. It’s even quite enjoyable once he gets past the ‘blindfold’ part, which is a positive. Ukraine, like usual, probably qualified with ease, but unlike Bosnia, they have sent a song I’d have probably sent through as well. Especially in this semi final. It’s upbeat, and while her singing is a bit annoying, it’s a nice change to have.

The expected also qualified, and it was quite a risk announcing Turkey at the very end. The song is nowhere near up my street, I can’t stand the singer or the lyrics, but being Turkey and certainly being very popular in this region will always help. Serbia, fronted by Mr. Slick himself, produced a charming, and slightly more relaxed opening than what we saw on Tuesday night. Sweden looked pretty impressive on the stage, but I have my doubts if it is the favourite everyone claims it to be. It will be a good challenger, and is clearly a unique song starting from a fantastic position. Norway looked slick on screen, even if I wasn’t terribly impressed with his vocals.

I was though still delighted for Macedonia and Malta. Kaliopi sung her heart out and it really was a fantastic change from the slow ballads in the first half of the draw, I certainly enjoyed it and I was delighted to see it qualify. I’ve liked Kurt Calleja as a bit of a guilty pleasure from the start, his performance last night justified a top 10 finish without a doubt.

There are very few choices I disagree with from those who qualified, but considering it was just such a weak selection of choices, it still remains uninspiring.

Semi Final 2 Predictions

Netherlands Semi 2

I got eight out of ten for the first semi final, so with any luck, I will be quite good at guessing at who is going to qualify. No, Georgia is not a typo.

Pos Nation Song
1 Serbia Nije Ljubav Stvar (Željko Joksimović)
2 Norway Stay (Tooji)
3 Ukraine Be My Guest (Gaitana)
4 Sweden Euphoria (Loreen)
5 Estonia Kuula (Ott Lepland)
6 Slovenia Verjamem (Eva Boto)
7 Macedonia Crno i belo (Kaliopi)
8 Turkey Love Me Back (Can Bonomo)
9 Georgia I’m a Joker (Anri Jokhadze)
10 Portugal Vida minha (Filipa Sousa)
11 Netherlands You and Me (Joan Franka)
12 Belarus We Are the Heroes (Litesound)
13 Croatia Nebo (Nina Badric)
14 Malta This is the Night (Kurt Calleja)
15 Slovakia Don’t Close Your Eyes (Max Jason Mai)
16 Lithuania Love Is Blind (Donny Montell)
17 Bosnia & Herzegovina Korake ti znam (MayaSar)
18 Bulgaria Love Unlimited (Sofi Marinova)

Semi Final 1 Review

Moldova Semi 1

Qualifiers: Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Ireland

So we’re underway for the 2012 Song Contest, with, lets be honest, a rather unsurprising ten progressing. Ultimately the first semi-final had such a strong selection of songs that any of the ten were likely to be quite good songs, and that is certainly the case with what was chosen at the end.

I am devastated with two songs failing to make it, for me, Israel’s entry, Time, was brilliant, and one of my favourite ones of the whole contest. But it failed to make it and I’m kind of unsure why, the stage performance seemed highly competent, and arguably more people decided they didn’t like it rather than they did. The stage show was completely bonkers, but in a rather brilliant way, this failing to qualify is the greatest injustice since InCulto in 2010. In another sense, I was both surprised by the performance of Switzerland as well, although I would have much rather watched it live in the arena rather than on television. It looked fantastic, and the Sinplus boys took to the stage magnificently and had huge interaction of the audience. Although it’s in my personal top 10 from the night, you can see why it lost votes with the viewers at home, and even the juries. Little care was given to the camera, and vocally, they weren’t singing ‘Swim against the stream’, which maintains to be my biggest gripe about the whole song.

I’m hardly surprised Albania qualified meanwhile, it was always borderline and no doubt the juries gave this the top marks. It certainly is not my cup of tea, and Rona Nishliu seemed rather insistent on trying to permanently damage my ear drums, but it’s something the juries are going to go for, instead of say, San Marino (who, in a brief summary, we’re even worse than I thought possible).

Cyprus is arguably the only one I’m disappointed that it qualified. I thought Ivi Adamou’s vocals were especially poor, and were very lucky to qualify especially that a similar song of its like, Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou, also qualified to the final. Eleftheria was far from perfect too, although she had combined the art of singing and dancing better than Ivi had, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Greece were much higher up the order.

I’m amazed Romania qualified too, but not because I dislike the performance. It’s clear Elena had technical difficulties with her earpiece (her rather frustrated pointing to it and subsequent throwing it away showing it), and the vocal performance was very out of place because of it. Everything else about it was spot on, and I think Mandinga are breathing a very loud sigh of relief that it wasn’t as serious as I thought it was going to be. On a similar note, I’m glad the lead singers vocals for Hungary have improved since the last time I heard them live, they really helped carry the song and I did enjoy it for once.

I find there is little to add about Denmark and Iceland, both were performed well, but I do feel there is a growing complacency around the Danish camp, and I’m not enjoying it as much as I did when I first heard it back at the Melodi Grand Prix. Greta and Jonsi, for me, were easily the best performers of the night. Although, I would say that anyway.

As always, I fail to see the appeal of Jedward, but once again, they helped Ireland get into the final for the third year in a row (first time since 2004), probably getting wet helped them quite a bit. And Russia, I’ve never seen a crowd at Eurovision so enthusiastic and love a song as much as they loved the Russian grannies, they were adorable to watch, and they have the benefit that the audience in the arena loves them, the audience watching on television loves them. I’m now terrified though that they could win this whole thing.

The big winners, for me though, were Moldova, my word was that fun! And their running order (more of that later) is so good, I am very tempted to go for a very good finish from this song. It was fantastic!

And a brief thought on the rest, Austria really could have done with more woki-ing of the popo’s, Finland could have been less boring, Latvia could have been less condescending and Montenegro, well, couldn’t really have done anything else.

So apart from swapping Israel and Switzerland for Cyprus and Ireland, this top 10 is very similar to what I would’ve sent, and arguably, I have no complaints with that. No doubt that will all change when the Second Semi Final comes around.

Along with the semi final, the running order for the final was announced. The big winners from this were Ireland (23rd) and Moldova (26th), who will be especially helped if a couple of ballads come through and take their position. Ireland have shot from a potential non-qualifier to a top 10 prospect in the space of 2 hours.

On the other end of the scale, Hungary drew the ‘position of death’ (2nd), where no one has ever won before, followed by Albania (3rd), and with the show being opened by Engelbert Humperdinck, it’s a rather low-tempo start for Eurovision yet again, and some decent news for the UK at least. Russia (6th) and Iceland (7th) have also struggled with a bad draw, but I suspect not many people are going to forget Russia that easily.

Cyprus (8th) start a set of strong female vocals, hampering France and Italy after, and Romania (14th) start after one of the breaks. Denmark (15th) and Greece (16th) have fairly average draws.

So that’s Semi Final One down with, and 18 more songs will try and force themselves into the remaining ten places in the final. If you agree or disagree with anything, don’t be afraid to share it in the comments.

Semi Final 1 Predictions

Israel Semi 1

Here we are then, in just a few hours the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku kicks off with the first of two semi-finals, deciding the first ten songs that will head on into the final. The juries have sent their votes off after watching the second dress rehearsal last night and it’s just time for the big two hour show to impress the voters from home.

The order of the first semi-final can be found on the right hand side of this page, and all these countries can vote in this one, along with hosts Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain. So, while I can’t vote (I can’t even watch it live) here are my predictions for the first semi-final (not who I want in the final it must be said, as much as I’d love to see San Marino make it…), in the order that we’ll find out at the conclusion of the final. Belgium is not a typo, either.

Pos Nation Song
1 Iceland Never Forget (Greta Salome & Jonsi)
2 Russia Party for Everybody (Buranovskiye Babushki)
3 Denmark Should’ve Known Better (Soluna Samay)
4 Greece Aphrodisiac (Eleftheria Eleftheriou)
5 Romania Zaleilah (Mandinga)
6 Israel Time (Izabo)
7 Hungary Sound of Our Hearts (Compact Disco)
8 Ireland Waterline (Jedward)
9 Moldova Lautar (Pasha Parfeny)
10 Belgium Would You? (Iris)
11 Albania Suus (Rona Nishliu)
12 Switzerland Unbreakable (Sinplus)
13 Cyprus La La Love (Ivi Adamou)
14 Latvia Beautiful Song (Anmary)
15 Austria Woki mit deim Popo (Trackshittaz)
16 Finland Nar jag blundar (Pernilla Karlsson)
17 Montenegro Euro Neuro (Rambo Amadeus)
18 San Marino The Social Network Song (Valentina Monetta)

Eurovision Sofa… Talks…

In a small change, I, along with the fantastic Noelinho who runs, have decided to have a little (it’s actually quite long) chat about this years Eurovision Song Contest! We discuss last years Eurovision, and pretty much all 42 songs who are competing. I can’t promise much in the way of slickness, but if you do fancy listening to our voices for an hour, then it’s all on you (much of the credit should not go to me mind, it’s all Noel’s idea, recording and editing, I was just available). Still, enjoy…

Listen to it here.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – S to U

San-Marino   Valentina Monetta                                                                                San Marino
   The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh – Oh Oh)                                                   200/1
San MarinoHmm, there appears to be a lot of traffic ahead. Oh, I see why, there’s a massive car crash with this song up ahead.
My Verdict: I do quite like her. Quite a bit.
Europe’s Verdict: Why would anyone want to intentionally vote for this? Why? WHY?



Serbia   Željko Joksimović                                                                                          Serbia
   Nije Ljubav Stvar                                                                                                  14/1
Serbia No one seems to be talking about this, and I’m surprised. Serbia have the countries who can vote for it, and a song that’s pretty good too. He came close to victory with Lane Moje back in 2004, and his song this year although of a similar quality, can equally challenge.
My Verdict: Not a personal favourite, but it is memorable. 
Europe’s Verdict: At least the second semi-final gets a good song opening it. Should qualify and be in the top 10 at worst.

Slovakia   Max Jason Mai                                                                                            Slovakia
   Don’t Close Your Eyes                                                                                        125/1
Slovakia In a year totally devoid of any decent rock songs, Slovakia have of course sent a rock song that is far from decent, it’s painful. It doesn’t appeal to the proper rock fans, and gets rather shouty for a good time too. Ahh, it could’ve promised a change from the ballad’s, but it’s not getting there.
My Verdict: No, no, or in tribute to this song, NO. 
Europe’s Verdict: I can’t see anyone who will want to vote for this, or listen to this.

Slovenia   Eva Boto                                                                                                     Slovenia
   Verjamem                                                                                                           100/1
Slovenia She’s 16 and she can sing like that? I give up, just what hope for me is left? Sigh.
My Verdict: It’s annoyingly good.
Europe’s Verdict: I wouldn’t be surprised if this got out of the semi-final, and is a lot better than the other ‘Just old enough not to qualify for Junior Eurovision’ song from Belgium, and quite charming in another context. Could easily do a Switzerland on the Saturday, but I’m sure Eva won’t care about that.

Spain   Pastora Soler                                                                                                    Spain
   Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)                                                                        18/1
Spain In a strong year for the big 5, it’s hard to believe this song I find to be one of the weakest. It’s not that bad, Pastora is one hell of a singer, I just find the song waning my interest half way through. But, for Spain certainly, this is easily their best song in at least a decade.
My Verdict: Why did Spain start taking this seriously?
Europe’s Verdict: This could be a huge hit with the juries, but will fall short. Still going to be good for Spain. Which in fairness, is usually being higher than 16th.

Sweden   Loreen                                                                                                         Sweden
   Euphoria                                                                                                                 7/4
As fan favourites go, this is right at the top threatening to go into a league of its own. Yes, it’s a song that is going to do well, and a song that is unique at this years contest, but it relies on a lot on the stage performance. Thankfully for Sweden, that part is unbelievably brilliant. Everything but together and this will go down incredibly well.
My Verdict: It isn’t one of my own favourites, but I can see why everyone else loves it. 
Europe’s Verdict: Should be pushing for victory.

Switzerland   Sinplus                                                                                                     Switzerland
   Unbreakable                                                                                                            125/1
Switzerland It took me quite a while to realise the chorus was ‘Swim against the stream’, rather than ‘somethingsomethingsomething’. I want to like it, but it’s too middle ground, and two Swiss people struggling to be clear in speaking English.
My Verdict: I can’t even sing aloud to it… not that I would want to, of course.  
Europe’s Verdict: In such a strong semi-final, this could get left behind

Turkey   Can Bonomo                                                                                                 Turkey
   Love Me Back                                                                                                       33/1
Turkey After mixed success in the rock genre the last few years, Turkey have returned to a more ethnic and ‘Turkish’ song. A lot about this is relatively charming, if not a bit annoying to listen to it after quite a few listens. It should be unfeasible to see Turkey fail to reach the final again.
My Verdict: If only I hadn’t kept on listening to it! Though the two time listens it needs should be fine for everyone else.
Europe’s Verdict: Practically has the Eastern Europe vote in the bag, could be mid-table on finals night.

Ukraine   Gaitana                                                                                                        Ukraine
   Be My Guest                                                                                                         40/1
Ukraine Ukraine, being Ukraine, do well at Eurovision whatever they send, and that’s not going to change this year or many years in the future. The saving grace is at least they do send good entries (or something to distract us from the fairly average ones, looking at you Mika Newton), and Gaitana is sending a catchy, fun and a high energy three minutes to Eurovision
My Verdict: Enjoyable and fun to listen to.
Europe’s Verdict: They’re practically guaranteed a top 10 finish already, this could keep pushing it up for a dangerous result.

United-Kindom   Engelbert Humperdinck                                                             United Kingdom
   Love Will Set You Free                                                                                          20/1
United KingdomWell, well, well. As ingenuity goes, the BBC may have surprised us all, no one expected Engelbert Humperdinck, no one expected anything to good from it either. But, for the second year in a row, the internal selection has come up good, yet fails to be brilliant. It’s a song that can go anyway and everyway possible, but hey, at least I’m not embarrassed with it.
My Verdict: It’s good, at least. 
Europe’s Verdict: Who knows? Won’t win but a good performance should be on the cards.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – L to R

Latvia   Anmary                                                                                                           Latvia
   Beautiful Song                                                                                                    125/1
Latvia Hey everyone, lets look at how totally brilliant it is Anmary is singing at Eurovision. She’s even giving us her biography, born in 1980, same year as Johnny Logan was born (look at how she knows that!), and now she is singing a ‘beautiful song’ and everybody loves it. Hooray! Isn’t she totally brilliant? I mean, she even knows Sir Mick Jagger, her contact book must be overflowing, she is simply so popular! Because everyone loves this, it surely must win, yay for Anmary!
My Verdict: If you couldn’t tell, I was being a bit sarcastic.
Europe’s Verdict: Please make it go away Europe, please.

Lithuania   Donny Montell                                                                                         Lithuania
   Love is Blind                                                                                                       150/1
Lithuania In football we have a game of two halves, and well, something similar is going on here. We start with a rather dull ballad, and about half way through it turns magically into a rather dull dance act. And he thinks he’s clever that he uses a blindfold to represent how he find love to be blind. Oh the tedium.
My Verdict: Painful to listen to, for the whole three minutes.
Europe’s Verdict: Even performing at the end of his semi-final, this will struggle for votes.

Macedonia   Kaliopi                                                                                                   Macedonia
   Crno I Belo                                                                                                          150/1
Macedonia What’s this, another uninspiring and fairly average ballad in the second semi-final? Thank you so very much Macedonia. And then, you get a bit rocky, and your song becomes a lot better. Shame you couldn’t start with that, otherwise I’d be totally behind it.
My Verdict: It takes forever to get going, and is probably too late to make an impact.
Europe’s Verdict: I can’t decide, will probably miss out.

Malta   Kurt Calleja                                                                                                      Malta
   This is the Night                                                                                                 200/1
MaltaAs guilty pleasures go, this is, not exactly the worst to admit to. I am aware it’s poor live, quite clichéd, repetitive and so on, but I find it fun to listen to.
My Verdict: It’s on my favourites list, and I don’t care if no one else has it on theirs.
Europe’s Verdict: Not as popular for everyone else as it is for me. But Malta is the first opportunity that the second semi-final gets to get energetic, and this could do well.

Moldova   Pasha Parfeny                                                                                             Moldova
   Lăutar                                                                                                                   80/1
Moldova A personal grower for me, starting off largely indifferent, I’ve grown to actually find the song quite decent. Up-tempo and a very fun song, performed by someone who looks to be enjoying himself singing it.
My Verdict: Although it took its time getting there, I love it!
Europe’s Verdict: Assuming people love this first time round rather than the fourth, I can see this proving to be a very popular song, with a very memorable performance.

Montenegro   Rambo Amadeus                                                                                 Montenegro
   Euro Neuro                                                                                                         200/1
MontenegroAnd the award for ‘We’re not taking this seriously’ goes to Montenegro, congratulations for sending, whatever this is. They say it’s a song, but I’m not convinced. It opens the show on Tuesday night, and will be quite the introduction, but you just can’t see this doing anything. Especially since you can’t have live animals/naked women on stage with you.
My Verdict: Yeah, it does my head in.
Europe’s Verdict: It’s hard to guess the impact it will have, I doubt the juries will be thrilled with it. I suspect something similar with the public vote.

Netherlands   Joan Franka                                                                                       Netherlands
   You and Me                                                                                                           66/1
Netherlands The Dutch usually suck and they don’t care, and for once they don’t (relatively suck). As long as she doesn’t stick to that ridiculous Native American theme, which I find to be quite a bizarre costume choice based on the song. It’s a decent folk entry, but nothing more.
My Verdict: I find myself not caring much for it, but for the semi-final it’s in, it’s an OK entry.
Europe’s Verdict: Sorry Dutch folks, I can see you missing out once again.

Norway   Tooji                                                                                                            Norway
   Stay                                                                                                                      25/1
NorwayI couldn’t care less for this song, really is not for me and while the music style isn’t the same as Eric Saade, the performance and everything else is. Saying that, if it worked for Saade it could work well for Tooji, and the teenage fan girls will no doubt be jamming whatever phone line Norway get, potentially more so than Jedward. Despite my hatred of this song, this could worryingly do very well.
My Verdict: Not my cup of tea, and well, in a different postcode to my cup of tea.
Europe’s Verdict: Will be huge, could surprise itself into getting a great finish.

Portugal   Filipa Sousa                                                                                                Portugal
   Vida Minha                                                                                                         200/1
Portugal While I give credit for it sticking to its Portuguese routes, my God do I get bored a third of the way through the song. I could make the cup of tea I wanted from Tooji, and get back in time to see this finish, I find it that boring that quickly.
My Verdict: Dull, so very dull.
Europe’s Verdict: They may see it the same way as me, and with no friends to help them along the way, this could potentially finish last in their semi-final.

Romania   Mandinga                                                                                                   Romania
   Zaleilah                                                                                                                 16/1
RomaniaFun, upbeat and… bagpipes. I really do enjoy listening to Zaleilah, and so do most of Romania, reaching number 2 in their charts all the way back in September and appearing on several high profile shows (aside from, say, the Graham Norton Show). A really enjoyable song and should spark off interest across Europe.
My Verdict: So fun to listen to, and potentially dance to.
Europe’s Verdict: Will do well, will be a good top 10 bet.

Russia   Buranovskiye Babushki                                                                                  Russia
   Party for Everybody                                                                                                9/1
Russia There’s only one humanly possible reaction to this song, awwwwwwwww. The Babushki Grandma’s, singing part in their native Udmurt and part in English. The song is dreadful, they can’t sing and are horrible out of tune with each other… but still… they’re all so adorable, especially the small one. I just want to give her a hug.
My Verdict: It’s just so adorable. I could watch them sing it, but not listen to them sing it.
Europe’s Verdict: Will walk the televotes, and will be high up, but the jury vote might just knock it back from winning.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – E to I

Estonia   Ott Lepland                                                                                                  Estonia
   Kuula                                                                                                                    66/1
EstoniaEstonia have sent a very strong, and vocally brilliant, song to Eurovision, but it’s hard to see it make much of a large impact when it comes to the big moment. In a year full of ballads, the only real thing that stands out is it isn’t in English, and that it’s rather better than most of them.
My Verdict: It’s not a bad song, but another ballad loses my enthusiasm for it.
Europe’s Verdict: Another ‘touch and go’ qualifier, though I reckon it will make it.

Finland   Pernilla                                                                                                        Finland
   När Jag Blundar                                                                                                   125/1
FinlandCould someone wake me up when this is over. While I appreciate it’s efforts to be sung in Swedish, it’s just so tedious and never ending. And when you see the likes of Israel, San Marino, Cyprus, Denmark and Russia follow this, I can’t help but see this get lost in the first semi final. And it’s one of the few bad songs in the first semi final.
My Verdict: Dull, tedious, dire, sleep-inducing. It’s a no from me.
Europe’s Verdict: Will easily struggle, especially with such a strong second half following her.

France   Anggun                                                                                                          France
   Echo (You and I)                                                                                                  100/1
FranceFrance tried to go big, and they kind of did, going with Anggun who is (or was) massive around Europe. However, it sounds like it could appear in a Mario Kart game, a 80’s disco and a GCSE French revision pack all at the same time, and that combination isn’t fantastic. And her vocals, well, I don’t think she was too chuffed to hear that she couldn’t mime at Eurovision.
My Verdict: France will get it right one year, simply not this year.
Europe’s Verdict: Won’t inspire anyone and will be in a battle with Spain for lowest of the top 5.

Georgia   Anri Jokhadze                                                                                              Georgia
   I’m a Joker                                                                                                          200/1
GeorgiaAs one of the two real ‘insane’ entries to this years Eurovision, I could certainly live with listening to this than whatever the hell Montenegro sent. But it really isn’t all that good to attract the televoters, his voice is surprisingly good and probably wasted on this song. However, put up a good show, which it no doubt will, could pull of a shock result.
My Verdict: While more enjoyable to listen to than Montenegro, I couldn’t put up with it very often.
Europe’s Verdict: Many expect it to make no impact, although a strong stage presence and I think this could sneak into 10th.

Germany   Roman Lob                                                                                               Germany
   Standing Still                                                                                                        22/1
Germany Germany have turned over a new leaf, and now can’t seem to stop sending very good songs. And, well, Jamie Cullum co-wrote it! How can you not love it? Roman Lob is clearly a talented singer, sought out in the same way as Lena, and the song itself is just fantastic. Well done Germany, good going.
My Verdict: Love it. Really couldn’t have picked a better song to suit me, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Could easily get top 5, but I have my doubts on a push for victory.

Greece   Eleftheria Eleftheriou                                                                                  Greece
   Aphrodisiac                                                                                                           33/1
GreeceWell who’d have thought it, Greece have went out and done a Greece. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is your standard, typical pop number which is nothing new nor special. But, it works well for Greece so they might as well keep pumping them out, and it will no doubt work again in 2012. Assisted, no doubt, with very little clothing on the part of Eleftheria. Well times are tough in Greece, aren’t they.
My Verdict: I’m largely indifferent to this one, could stand three minutes of it, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Being Greece, it’ll do well, but might only just edge into the top 10.

Hungary   Compact Disco                                                                                           Hungary
   Sound of Our Hearts                                                                                           100/1
I was highly sceptical of the live performance, the vocals seemed weak, and things just didn’t seem to click for Compact Disco. But since then I’ve grown to really like the song, granted the studio version. With any luck the vocals will have improved by the time we get to Baku, otherwise the quality of the national final will see it end in disaster.
My Verdict: The song is enjoyable enough, the live performance will have to step it up a gear to be good though.
Europe’s Verdict: On the borderline to qualify, I keep going back to the vocals of the lead singer, but it’s going to be the difference.

Iceland   Greta Salóme & Jónsi                                                                                  Iceland
   Never Forget                                                                                                        18/1
IcelandWow. As things go, this is pretty much the best. I’d normally contest the move from Icelandic to English, but, it’s still powerful, still stunning. It’s magnificent. 
My Verdict: Best song at Eurovision this year. 
Europe’s Verdict: They did get a rough draw in the semi-final, but it shouldn’t be an issue. The song is good enough to challenge for the victory. I reckon Iceland must look lovely in May.

Ireland   Jedward                                                                                                        Ireland
   Waterline                                                                                                              20/1
IrelandI was scared when Jedward announced their intention to compete again. We all knew they’d walk the Irish finals (which they did), and I feared that it would be second time lucky for the really annoying duo. But, Waterline, is thankfully a song so unsuited to Jedward it’s great for the rest of us. It lacks the ability for them to jump up and down, and is rather muted for a Jedward song. While they may have more support from the central European teenage girls, I doubt it will be anywhere near enough to compete with the top half.
My Verdict: A poor song performed by the wrong people, what’s to like?
Europe’s Verdict: Should qualify from a strong starting position, will be lucky if it gets any serious points aside from the UK.

Israel   Izabo                                                                                                                Israel
   Time                                                                                                                   150/1
IsraelI can’t believe this is so far out, I absolutely love this song. It’s quirky, with a unique sound that really stands out amongst the field. I really want to see this one do well, and I live in hope that it will.
My Verdict: Fantastic song, I can listen to it all day.
Europe’s Verdict: Sadly, most others seem less keen than I. But, what do they know? (A lot, is the answer). It’s ‘on the bubble’ to qualify, but could do surprisingly well. With luck.

Italy   Nina Zilli                                                                                                             Italy
   L’Amore È Femmina (Out of Love)                                                                          9/1
ItalyNo one saw Italy finishing second last year, this year, Italy could well be disappointed to only finish second. They won’t bother with the rubbish pop that’s flung out by Cyprus and Greece, but they bring a classy, well sung and frankly brilliant song to the table. It’s a shame she drifts from Italian to English, especially as the all-Italian version is pretty much perfect.
My Verdict: Comes a close second to Iceland for me in terms of brilliance. If only it was all-Italian. 
Europe’s Verdict: Pretty much a certain top 5, and will be looking for the win.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – A to D

Well, here we go then. A full and slightly comprehensive review of all 42 songs in this years Eurovision Song Contest split into four parts which will be posted inside the next four days. So, instead of the usual waffling, lets dive straight into it.

Albania  Rona Nishliu                                                                                                  Albania
  Suus                                                                                                                    150/1
Albania My ears, my poor, poor ears. I’m sure there’s a good song in there between the unbelievably annoying screeches and screams of Rona Nishliu, but those really turn me off a song I don’t care for much in any case. By far and away one of the songs I dislike the most, and it’s a shame because she is clearly a talented singer who is inflicting pain on my ear drums.
My Verdict: Run my friends, run far away.
Europe’s Verdict: Could do well with the juries, the fact it’s in Latin and is, well, quite annoying, could detract audience votes.

Austria  Trackshittaz                                                                                                  Austria
  Woki mit deim Popo                                                                                            150/1
AustriaOh the opportunities Austria have offered us this year, Trackshittaz certainly live up to their name. The name of their song literally translates to ‘shake your bum’, and you’d never guess what the main focus of attention was when they performed it in their national final. The rapping is worse than Daz Sampson and the only thing anyone’s going to like about this is their amusing name. And potential shaking of body parts.
My Verdict: Dreadful.
Europe’s Verdict: Will fail miserably, and thank God for that too.

Azerbaijan  Sabina Babayeva                                                                                    Azerbaijan
  When the Music Dies                                                                                             25/1
Like all good host nations, Azerbaijan have sent something so average that they just know won’t win Eurovision for the second time in a row. It’s quite bland, and by quite, I mean very, certainly isn’t knocking anything out of the park or striding for the win. In fact, the only way it’ll get close is the support of the home nation.
My Verdict: Not very good and easily the worst of the automatic qualifiers.
Europe’s Verdict: Will be on the right hand side of the scoreboard very easily.

Belarus  Litesound                                                                                                      Belarus
  We Are the Heroes                                                                                                66/1
BelarusIt’s a bold claim to sing ‘we are the winners’. When LT United performed it in the more literal sense, they came fairly close. In terms of this context, Litesound are more sure that they have sorted everything out and passed the tough challenge. I quite like it, it’s good enough and in a turgid semi-final, really does stick out like a sore thumb. Especially if it sticks with it’s slightly over the top sci-fi theme.
My Verdict: It’s not spectacular or special, but this is still my third favourite song in the second semi-final.
Europe’s Verdict: Has every chance of qualifying, but will become anonymous when mixed with the big guns.

Belgium  Iris                                                                                                                Belgium
  Would You?                                                                                                          200/1
BelgiumIris is 17. Slovenia’s entry Eva Boto is 16. Both are younger than me. What am I doing with my life? Well, I can tell you I’m not sending a decent, if not unspectacular song to Eurovision. And I won’t be expected to have just returned from appearing from a rather emotional, and dreadful, episode of Hannah Montana, in which she is about to propose to the guy of her dreams (who has been there for about 20 minutes). And I think she’s taller than me too, damn her.
My Verdict: Iris is arguably more talented, younger and taller than me, so, I can’t stand her.
Europe’s Verdict: Mediocre at best and will struggle to get out of its semi-final.

Bosnia-and-Herzegovina  Maya Sar                                                                          Bosnia & Herzegovina
  Korake Ti Znam                                                                                                      80/1
BosniaI presume you all remember the ridiculous piano player behind Dino Merlin last year? Well guess what, she is back! And this time, she can’t pretend to sing, mainly because she’s just singing an OK song. Just, OK. Nothing even special, just, OK.
My Verdict: So, so average I really don’t care much for it.
Europe’s Verdict: Could do fairly well in the semi-final, dependant on the neighbours voting in it. Then a poor showing in the final.

Bulgaria  Sofi Marinova                                                                                               Bulgaria
  Love Unlimited                                                                                                    200/1
BulgariaIf Bulgaria couldn’t qualify with a good song last year, God knows how they will qualify with this. While it seems to be an attempt at be a pain in singing in as many languages possible, it fails to work and ends up in, surprise, surprise, another bland, unimaginative song.
My Verdict: I don’t want to be enforced to listen to this on a regular basis.
Europe’s Verdict: Will get nowhere, and fast.

Croatia  Nina Badrić                                                                                                    Croatia
  Nebo                                                                                                                    150/1
Croatia While, like Bosnia, it should do well because of their neighbours in the second semi-final, there is nothing amazing that stands about this. The song feels longer than three minutes and just goes on, and on, plodding along like a limping horse. There are few redeeming features, Nina Badrić is decent enough, but the song is horrendously bland.
My Verdict: So dull. Croatia can’t get anything right can they?
Europe’s Verdict: As I’ve said, the Balkan-heavy semi-final should assist them, aside from that though, they’re going to struggle everywhere else.

Cyprus  Ivi Adamou                                                                                                     Cyprus
  La La Love                                                                                                            33/1
CyprusI hated this song to start off with, a seemingly never ending  stream of ‘la’s’, with an occasional ‘love’ thrown in when you least expect it. I still can barely stand it, but I do note there is a great chance for it to be stuck in everybody’s heads for a bit, like it has mine. Curse my stupid head.
My Verdict: I don’t like it, even if I can’t stop thinking about it.
Europe’s Verdict: Could be popular, it is catchy, bouncy, and very pop-y. Will qualify from the semi-final and will be mid-table come finals night.

Denmark  Soluna Samay                                                                                           Denmark
  Should’ve Known Better                                                                                       18/1
DenmarkI love Yohanna, quite literally. But with her absence in recent times I find myself drifting towards Soluna Samay, the Guatamalese-turned-Dane who is one hell of a good singer. Her song is just lovely and positive, and should do well even in such a strong semi-final.
My Verdict: I do quite like her. Quite a bit. One of my personal favourites as well, and would love to see her do very well.
Europe’s Verdict: Should go far, but might be just short to challenge for the win.

All odds are correct as of Sunday 13th May and all images are courtesy of the European Broadcasting Union.

If you agree, or more likely disagree, please do share in the comments.