Tonight I'm having a listen to the remainder of the songs in semi-final 2.
ISRAEL: "Rak Bishvilo" - Moran Mazor.
Yet another ballad, but for me she has one of the loveliest female voices in the competition. There would appear to have been a lot of talk on the internet about her 'look' - but that's what makes her more special than the generic identikit female ESC participants (although she would be ill-advised to repeat that national finals dress). This song has really grown on me over a few listens - a big achievement indeed as I'm not a fan of ballads - but unfortunately I can't see it making it out of the semi-final.
ARMENIA: "Lonely Planet" - Gor Sujyan & Dorians.
I managed to catch the end of the Armenian national final just as they were announcing this one as the winner. It's an old-school mid-tempo rock number which, bizarrely, was written by Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath. Yes, that Black Sabbath! However, "Paranoid" this most certainly is not, and the result is very disappointing. Those lyrics are a bit too cheesy and sound like something from ESC 1990 rather than 2003, but I guess its heart is in the right place. It will probably struggle to qualify though and will need all those diaspora votes. 2013 won't be their year, but Armenia (like Georgia) remains one of those ESC winners in waiting.
HUNGARY: "Kedvesem" - ByeAlex.
As a 'Eurovision' song, this never gets off the ground: the performance is so understated that it's virtually non-existent. Which is a shame really, as the recorded version makes a lot more sense and even more sense when you remove it from the ESC context and just place it in the contemporary music market, which seems to be more welcoming of acoustic music. But take it back to ESC and it's like "Angel In Disguise" on tranquilisers. If that didn't make it out of the semi-final then there's not much hope for this one. The staging does not look good. And he needs a shave. Bye, Alex.
NORWAY: "I Feed You My Love" - Margaret Berger.
Feeding time! Margaret completely dominated an otherwise disappointing MGP this year with her ice-cool presentation of this song. But is it too ice-cold, too dark, too abstract for an ESC winner? You could have said the same about Euphoria, and look how that did. It's been a big fan fave from day 1 though, and it certainly has a contemporary radio-hit feel, and then there is that dress. I think it would be safe to say that Margaret will do a lot better than Tooji did last year, but I'm still not convinced it will go all the way. (But then I had Tooji as a winner, remember!?!?) This song would make a more ground-breaking winner than, say, Denmark, and it would go a long way to turning all the preconceived notions about ESC upside down. Unless you're the BBC of course.
ALBANIA: "Identitet" - Adrian Lulguraj & Bledar Sejko.
At the beginning of national finals season I promised myself that I would try and watch as many ESC national finals as possible. I watched my first ever Festivali i Kenges, just prior to Christmas 2012 and found it hugely enjoyable. Until the result that is. Their decision to choose this bland rock workout over Rezarta Smaja's "Ti" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo-x6qVyyUw) is still a mystery to me. Festivali 51 commemorated the anniversary of the 1972 contest in Albania (read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivali_i_K%C3%ABng%C3%ABs_11) and featured a number of songs from that year. Any excuse on this blog for a bit of Luiz Ejlli of course, so here is his lovely rendition of "Kur Vjen Pranvera" which originally features in that 1972 contest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtayGtWFkJM
GEORGIA: "Waterfall" - Nodi & Sophie.
So, it's time to play an ESC-themed version of "Where's Wally?" Where is Swedish songwriter for hire Lord Thomas of G:son hiding out this year? Well, he's co-written the Georgian entry for 2013 and has taken the Quedate Conmigo template a little bit further, but it's solid rather than extra-special. Although the same could probably have been said for Running Scared, so if it's a wide open result other than the Denmark win) it's in with a chance. Whatever the case, it's a guaranteed qualifier, helped along by a very good draw position.
SWITZERLAND: "You and Me" - Takasa.
AKA the artists formerly known as Salvation Army AKA Heilsarmee who had to change their name to suit the contest rules. This was one of the first songs chosen for the 2013 contest and is a very nice, melodic, memorable tune which admittedly wouldn't really exist outwith Eurovision, but it is a song contest after all. Which has been forgotten amid all the dance routines and pyros, although the 95 year old guy should provide a talking point fot many commentators. Despite that late draw I think it'll miss out on qualifying.
ROMANIA: "It's My Life" - Cezar.
Caught the very end of the Romanian final and was rendered speechless by this one. I have one big problem with this, and that's the falsetto. It would have been much more bearable if the full song had stayed in the lower range. Nevertheless this will continue Romania's exemplary qualifying run as its "WTF??" factor will make it more memorable at voting time.
So after a couple more listens here's my qualifying predictions from semi-final 2:
Tomorrow night I'll post the final part of my preview, looking at the Big 5 countries and the defending champions Sweden.