Six lucky (or, in five cases, rich) countries get to jump straight to the Eurovision final. The winner of the 2011 contest and therefore host country for this year, Azerbaijan, automatically qualifies, as do the Big Five nations who significantly bankroll Eurovision. Money talks and, in this case, sings. Fortunately for the UK, we’re one of them.
So how do the six songs that have taken these coveted places stand up? Let’s take a look, as we go throoooooough the keyhole.
- United Kingdom – Appealing guitar and smooth strings underscores the human anagram’s waltzing ballad. Engelbert Humperdinck is an old pro who’ll give a strong performance on the night of what is definitely one of the contest’s more memorable slow numbers. I’m not sure the key change or the overblown finale suit the song but this is a perfectly respectable contribution to the UK’s Eurovision canon.
- France‘s best entry since Sébastien Tellier failed to get the recognition he deserved back in 2008. Catchy, original and with a lovely line in whistling. Not that should affect the performance of the song, of course, but I can see the video going down very well with *cough* the average Eurovision fan.
- Italy – I’ll happily take a bit of sax but this Amy Winehouse resurrection feels less than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, it stands out from the crowd and has a certain funkiness to it. I do wish they’d choose a language and stick to it though…
- Azerbaijan‘s entry is, I’d suggest, actually better than last year’s winner – but then I had barely noticed last year’s winner and was somewhat taken aback when it did so well. This is another one for the fairly large pile marked Serviceable Ballads.
- Spain – It has a strong tune at its heart but it’s nothing special and there’s rather too much screeching towards the end for my liking.
- A very strong song from Germany, who have chosen a modern power ballad that could do very well. (Singer Roman Lob did once try to represent the contry in Eurovision before, but sadly When the Boys Come didn’t make it to the national final.)
That’s two high quality semi-finals and a good group of songs already in the final. From these six, my vote would probably go to France or Germany – given, of course, that I can’t vote for the UK
Once the semi-finals are over, we’ll know the 20 songs these six are up against along with the final running order. The first semi-final is next Tuesday, May 22nd, and will be broadcast live on BBC Three. Bring it on.