So let's have a listen to the final 8 songs from semi-final 1, from Montenegro, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Cyprus, Belgium and Serbia.
MONTENEGRO: "Igranka" - Who See.
If the 2012 and 2013 entries are anything to go by, Montenegro is sure to inherit that title of Eurovision's bonkers-loose-cannons from Moldova. Let's look beyond the sleazy video and at least give them some credit for hauling ESC into the 21st century with this kinda on-trend grime/dubsteppy number which screams 2013. It doesn't necessarily mean I like it, but at least it's a reasonably contemporary attempt in Eurovision terms. Think "Louder" by DJ Fresh and you get the idea.
LITHUANIA: "Something" - Andrius Pojavis.
This Killers-style track was one of my early favourites from national finals season 2013. He seems to have ditched the bad styling from the LT national final but for some reason it's still lacking that vital 'oomph' which could propel it from the semi-final to the final. It's as if they don't really care enough to make it out of the semi-final and it's going to take a hell of a performance for Andrius to sell it, and I'm not too confident....
BELARUS: "Solayoh" - Alyona Lanskaya.
Ah, Belarus. It would be fair to say that I have mixed feelings regarding their participation at ESC, and "Work Your Magic" excepted, they've never really impressed me. The one thing you can be sure of in any national finals season is that Belarus will not send the song they originally selected. "Solayoh" replaced the less catchy "Rhythm of Love" this year. It's certainly got all the ingredients for top 10 success however for me it's just a bit too "been there, done that", as if all the entries from all the Mediterranean countries had been programmed into a computer and this is the result. Despite that all-important key change, I wouldn't see it as a worthy winner.
MOLDOVA: "O Mie" - Aliona Moon.
We are into the Alyona/Aliona section of the contest and Ms Moon certainly has a very distinctive look. This was sung in English in the national final however will be sung in Romanian in the final. Co-written by none other than Pasha "Trumpet" Parfeny, so we'll expect to see him on stage at the piano as in the national final (above). It's yet another ballad which I think might do enough to make the final as it has a fairly memorable chorus. Her styling will definitely be a talking point, although it's deja-vu on the dress-effects - just a bit too Sabina Babayeva (!)
IRELAND: "Only Love Survives" - Ryan Dolan.
So the big question is, how will Ireland do in the post-Jedward era? Well they've at least gone for something contemporary this time round, which is a little mish-mash of Euphoria and all the EDM-style hits of the past couple of years. If the Eurosong staging is anything to go by, they will also throw in a little bit of an Irish drumming vibe no doubt to appease the traditionalists. I'm going to say that this is a qualifier, given its draw position and it might stand out among all the mediocre ballads. They need to ditch those backing vocalists from the Eurosong final though.
CYPRUS: "An Me Thimase" - Despina Olympiou.
Poor old Cyprus haven't had their problems to seek in recent weeks as they are the latest country to fall victim to the banking/economic crisis. This is a rather lifeless ballad with a little r'n'b backdrop, however it had no hooks to hold on to and I can't see it having any appeal to anyone outwith their Greek neighbours. Sadly, one of the most boring songs in this year's ESC. A non-qualifier.
BELGIUM: "Love Kills" - Roberto Bellarosa.
In studio-version this is quite impressive and is actually one of my favourite songs in an otherwise unimpressive semi final. However I have serious doubts about whether he can actually deliver on the night, given the most low-key national final presentation and his I'd-rather-be-somewhere-else disposition in the official video. All in all it doesn't bode well but I'd really like to be proved wrong. Maybe with a more enthusiastic singer things could have been different, but this is not qualifying.
SERBIA: "Ljubav je Svuda" - Moje 3.
Serbia is increasingly a country of split-personality at ESC. It's either all serious Zeljko-ballads or lightweight uptempo numbers. This is actually one of my favourite songs in the first semi-final - without the visuals. The staging and presentation is just a bit too sleazy for my liking, as the three young women who make up Moje 3 are styled as they've got the night off from a lapdancing bar. It's qualifying though, thanks to that draw position and it's Serbia after all!
I've had another listen to all 16 songs from semi-final 1 and here are my (probably wrong as usual) predictions as to which 10 countries will make the final:
Next weekend: time for part 3 of my preview as we head into semi-final 2, with songs from Latvia, San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Bulgaria, Iceland and Greece.