It’s been a strange one this year. For some reason I have deliberately chosen to avoid most of this year’s songs until now, for reasons not even known to myself - am I getting bored with Eurovision? Can that be possible?
So here is the first part of my review of this year’s songs, mostly based only on one or two listens.
1. Montenegro: Not earth-shattering is it? Standard Balkan pop-rock which is ok but nothing more.
2. Israel: It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best either. Rather forgettable.
3. Estonia: Now I generally have great respect for Estonia at ESC but will have to pass this year on this Peter Kay-style joke entry.
4. Moldova: This is probably this year’s "Love or Leave" and as such has virtually no chance, but on the other hand it has a kind of Basia-jazz-vibe which isn’t bad, but overall it’s still lacking a hook and is unmemorable.
5. San Marino: Welcome to a new country...but again it doesn’t excite me. At least it’s a little more contemporary, but won’t qualify.
6. Belgium: what’s with Belgie and these imaginary languages? This (IMHO) is unspeakably bad, but has a good chance of qualifying, in which case then at least I’ve got the toilet break sorted out.
7. Azerbaijan: initially I hated this, but having heard the other songs in this semi-final I’ve decided this screams absolute qualifier (and boy, does it SCREAM!) May just do some serious damage at the final and will be one of the year’s most talked-about entries.
8. Slovenia: they have never bettered Anzej Dejan have they? This might have a good chance of qualifying. Not sure if it will be sung in English or Slovenian?
9. Norway: On the one hand this could do well as it’s in the currently popular contemporary-retro style, but on the other hand it lacks the necessary spark needed for guaranteed qualification, and they might miss out on the final for the second year running.
10. Ireland: the ultimate joke entry which will get so much press attention that qualification for the final is inevitable. That doesn’t make it good though, although some of the lyrics admittedly made me smile. Wouldn’t be the first turkey at Eurovision.....
11. Andorra: oh that would be ex-OT Gisela....a certainty to qualify, and the most schlager-y song in this semi final.
12. Bosnia-Hercegovina: just watched the video of this - has the chicken been replaced by an umbrella-ella-ella? Another absolute qualifier, but it’s absolutely bonkers in any language.
13. Armenia: dare we say Shakira-esque? It has all the relevant ingredients for a qualifier I guess. Is this type of ESC entry not about 3 or 4 years out of date?
14. Netherlands: although this is probably their best entry of the last few years it will suffer from the draw after Armenia and is likely to miss out again.
15. Finland: what I love about the Finns is that they ROCK!!!!!! This has as much chance of qualifying as I have, but at least they try to be different.
16. Romania: one of these years they are going to win this, mark my words. Very smart use of Italian, and very well placed in the draw. In with an extremely good chance of qualifying.
17. Russia: possible foregone conclusion that this will finally be their year, with the "Apologize"-vibe to it.... But this is not a patch on "Never Let You Go", or for that matter, "Number One Fan". However, Russia (and Dima) deserves to win it one of these years, so why not 2008?
18. Greece: absolute qualifier, with all the necessary ingredients to progress to Saturday’s final - notably its draw position in this semi-final.
Expect my review of the songs from the second semi-final in the next few days - I still need to go and listen to all of them. If I can be bothered...