GEORGIA: "One More Day" - Eldrine.
Ooh, bit of controversy here....this song won its national selection and then it was no time till the band's lead singer was unceremoniously dumped. I suppose they had their reasons, anyway whoever's singing it, it's a contemporary mix of emo-rock and rap and could grow on me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFV0Tcy9OXc
At this point I'm going off on a tangent, but I just wanted to air my thoughts here - following every semi-final and/or final there's always that tedious old debate about the "Eastern Bloc/diaspora vote" after countries from the eastern half of our continent effortlessly sail through to the final/do pretty well in the final. And do you know why I think they're doing so well now? Because they don't have any preconceived ideas about what the Eurovision Song Contest should be, or what a Eurovision song should sound like. Unlike some more established countries who inevitably will never learn. Rant over.
FINLAND: "Da Da Dam" - Paradise Oskar.
I wasn't really too happy when this won the Finnish final, at the expense of Father McKenzie's "Good Enough" but it is quite charming even if those 'save the planet' lyrics are soooo 1990 and maybe just a bit beyond cheesy, even if after recent events they're more relevant than ever. The 'da da dam' parts just sound as if he's forgotten the words. It's like Tom Dice with a spring in his step. But I can't decide if this could be a grower or will it potentially annoy the life out of me? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bj7K_052wE
MALTA: "One Life" - Glen Vella.
There seems to be a lot of hate for this on YouTube but I've definitely heard worse. It's a gay old uptempo dance pop number with an 80s/90s vibe. Though it will probably suffer from the 'curse of Xandee'(!) and I can't really see it doing too well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIa_QV-LM8g
SAN MARINO: "Stand By" - Senit.
San Marino, bless 'em, seem to have passed me by in Eurovision - I didn't notice them arriving, I didn't notice them leaving, but now they're back with a rather nice mid-tempo ballad. She has a nice voice and the song has a very scenic official video. Could sneak a qualifying place in the final, but I've just got one complaint - this should have been sung in Italian! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2zL2Vs4xvs
CROATIA: "Celebrate" - Daria Kinzer.
It was once known as "Break A Leg" and now appears to be called "Sallibrate". What's wrong with Croatian? I sort-of like this, although my problem with this is that I don't really like her that much, or at least I didn't like her that much during the DORA and preferred big Jacques' version as it sounds as if it was maybe written for a male voice. And I prefer male singers anyway. Anyway here is the Daria version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghWCySADZ_4
ICELAND: "Coming Home" - Sjonni's Friends
There is something which keeps bringing me back to this song. Even without the emotional back-story of its composer's untimely death, there is something quite compelling about this charming little tune. Amid all the 'modern' songs and the dance routines etc, the simplicity of this countryfied jazzy song could really stand out. Yes it's old fashioned but in this instance there's nothing wrong with that. It has a strong melody, and it is (allegedly) a song contest after all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ0sbVwD3GY
HUNGARY: "What About My Dreams" - Kati Wolf.
Over their intermittent years of participation in ESC, I've always viewed Hungary as one of the most overrated countries therefore wasn't too surprised to see one of their entries becoming a fan favourite yet again. It's quite understandable though, as it's an uptempo and anthemic dance-pop number with a strong chorus although the verses don't really impress so much. An obvious qualifier...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbKNKfePCrs
PORTUGAL: "A Luta e Alegria" - Homens da Luta.
The one thing you can say about Portugal at Eurovision is that they don't care what anyone thinks. This year's entrants look like rejects from a Village People tribute band and would probably make it into a lazy TV producer's "let's all laugh at Eurovision" clip show. And as for the song...well, I really don't know what to say. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bDN53Rqh54
LITHUANIA: "C'est Ma Vie" - Evelina Sasenko.
Every year at some point during ESC you'll get a big ballad which goes nowhere, sung by a big-voiced woman in an equally big dress. Old-fashioned, and not in a good way either. They won't be singing 'we are the winners' this year, that's for sure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHaUQmCJs8I
AZERBAIJAN: "Running Scared" - Ell and Nikki.
In its very short Eurovision existence, Azerbaijan has become the 'winner in waiting' - for reasons which I still can't understand why, as its 2010 entry was one of the most over-hyped ever - so I was prepared to hate this before I even heard it. A pleasant surprise then, to find that it was actually a pleasant, if lightweight, song. It sounds like a radio hit but doesn't have the feel of a winner - though it will still do very, very well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgE3bDH647M
GREECE: "Watch My Dance" - Loukas Giorkas featuring Stereo Mike.
Rapping? On a Greek entry? It's not yer typical Greek entry - none of your Sakis-style elaborate dance routines (despite the very misleading title) but despite the modern touches it's more old-fashioned than they'd like to think. Those of a certain age may remember the 70s/80s preview videos of Greek entries where there would inevitably be a woman in a big floaty dress belting out her entry on top of some mountain or Greek ruin. This song is a bit like that. Only with a hot young man singing the chorus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27gtuLhiac