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Eurovision 2012: The final May 26

It’s today! It’s the final! I have booze, I have Euro snacks, and I have time for some snark before it all kicks off.

We’ve come this far together. One more night. Let’s see at who’s made it through the rigours of the two semi-finals (I mean the acts, not you and I) and look at the line-up for tonight’s Euromusic spectacular. No pussyfooting about – this is Truth.

  1. Arnold DorseyUnited Kingdom – As Arnold Dorsey (call him by his name) himself points out, Love Can Set You Free is a grower. Unfortunately, most of the voting public will see it just once, plus a few recaps. I’m still no fan of the key change in this but on a night with a shocking shortage of key changes, it’s more than welcome. I’ve no doubt Arnold (call him by his name) will belt it out of the arena, in one of the most understated productions of the night, but will that be enough for us to see the contest coming the UK next year? No, no it won’t.
  2. Hungary‘s song Sound of Our Hearts is one of my favourites and I was most pleased to see it get through to the final. While Tuesday’s live performance didn’t quite bring the power of the recorded version, this is still a nice catchy number from the oh-so-wittily named Compact Disco.
  3. Rona Nishliu from Albania has quite the pair of lungs on her. That epic shrieking was very much present in the semi-final and clearly impressed the voters. If you have ear defenders, I’d put them on before she gets going..
  4. Speaking of health and safety, I hope there’s been a proper risk assessment of wearing a blindfold on stage. Lithuania – Donny Montell is a tricksy little man. “Look at my power ballad” he says, tempting you in, and then BOOM he’s swiping you with his up tempo song about the blindness of love. This was one of the two I voted for in the second semi-final Watch out for some seriously sub-Fizz attire removal.
  5. Bosnia and Herzegovina rightly made it through the final but there’s not much memorable about this perfectly creditable piano number to suggest it will win through. MayaSar is one of several female acts competing in the parallel game of Who’s Got Servalan‘s Best Outfit?
  6. It’s no surprise that Russia made it to the final with their heady mix of crap singing and crap dancing. At least the grannies appear to be having fun, but bear in mind that they want to lure you to their gingerbread house and then bake you in their oven. You don’t want that, do you? No, of course you don’t. (On a side note: when I suggested on Twitter on Tuesday that homophobic Russia may not be an ideal host country for the next Eurovision, someone replied that they didn’t think Russia was homophobic. This from Human Rights Watch is just one quickly Googled reason to disagree with them.)
  7. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Iceland‘s atmospheric duet, with its dramatic lyrics and vibrant fiddling. Sadly, the foreboding silence in the middle of the song that’s in the video didn’t make it to the (tough) live realisation, but it is another song to feature one of tonight’s rare key changes, so cherish it.
  8. Cyprus‘s own Catherine Zeta Jones has gone up in my estimation thanks to her performance on what looked like a dry stone wall in the first semi-final and I was pleased to see this get through. It’s pretty standard Eurodance but catchy and fun and I wouldn’t be surprised if it does well.
  9. Whistle and I’ll come to you, my France. The song is strong, original and interesting. The performance is very much targeted at the gays. The danger for Anggun is that eyes are on the topless gymnasts when ears should be on her singing. Well, that’s one danger. The other is that she gets concussion. You’ll see why.
  10. France is immediately followed by another of the Big Five nations, the recently returned Italy. Nina Zilli has picked a style that will stand out from the crowd, although I’m still finding the transition from verse to chorus jarring. I hope this does well, as it’s been tipped, not least because I’ve drawn it to win in the office Eurovision sweepstake.
  11. Estonia was the other country I voted for in the second semi. It’s a nice little ballad, with no snazzy production of gimmicks, carried by a strong performance from Ott Lepland. That said, I’d be surprised if it finishes very high and you may be happy never to hear the word “Kuula” again by the end.
  12. I can picture the discussion at Norway Eurovision Towers (every country has a Eurovision Towers): “That guy from Sweden was good last year.” “Eric Saade.” “Yeah. Do you think he’d enter for us this year?” “I doubt it.” “Oh, why not?” “Well, for one thing he’s Swedish.” “OK, then. Launch a national Eric Saade lookalike contest, give the winner Eric Saade’s clothes and make the him represent us at Eurovision singing a not-quite-as-good-as-2011′s-Popular pop number. Do you think you can do that?” “Actually, I think I know just the man…” This track sounds like something Madonna rejected a decade ago. It’s fine, although I’m still not a fan of the rasping synths and I’d happily exchange it for a Popular or a Manboy.
  13. Azerbaijan were last year’s winners and so automatically qualify for this year’s final. I’m not sure When the Music Dies would be hear otherwise. Look out for the old man sitting on the glass coffee table. I kid you not.
  14. Romania present three minutes of unremarkable jollity. The bagpipe player appears to be a scientist from The War Games.
  15. I was surprised Denmark‘s tiresome entry made it to the final. This is just a middle of the road as it was on Tuesday, except this time I’ve already sat through it once. It’s called Should’ve Known Better and yes, Tuesday’s voters, you should’ve. On the plus side, one of her backing singers has a lovely armchair.
  16. Good news if Denmark left you slumping in your own armchair – it’s Greece! This is Eurovision by the book and is all the better for it. Catchy, upbeat and fun. I wonder if any wags on Twitter will manage to come up with a joke about the Greek debt crisis when this is on? Maybe a suggestion that Greece couldn’t afford to host the contest next year? I doubt anyone’s thought of that yet so it’ll be pretty funny.
  17. Won’t somebody rid me of this euphoric Swede? The Eurovision fans have apparently been in quite the priapic state about this for months and I genuinely don’t know why. Is it because she has frizzy hair? Is it because this is the most generic “euphoria” track ever recorded and also called Euphoric? Bring back Eric Saade (see above). I shan’t eat my words if this wins, because I’ll still be baffled, but I don’t believe it will win so ner. Britain, DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS.
  18. I expect the next song to produce a fairly poor result for Turkey, although it will pick up some votes from fans of capes and stereotypically gay leather caps. It fills three minutes but the only thing memorable about it is a particularly create piece of nautical choreography.
  19. Spain is another Big Five country with a bye to the final. It’s pretty good, although it might stand a better chance if Spain would accept the hegemony of the English language rather than stubbornly entering song after song in whatever their national language is. Extra points will be available for potentially the best key change of the night.
  20. Our final Big Five entry is from Germany, whose track is the one that would sound most at home in the British charts. This isn’t surprising when you learn that Jamie Cullum is now working against the UK, having written this ditty for singer Roman Lob. It’s one of the last ballads in the contest, which may stand it in good stead, and Not Being Very Eurovision did no harm at all to 2010′s German winner Lena.
  21. MaltaThis is the Night reminds me of Sakis Rouvas’s Greek entry This is Our Night from 2009, which isn’t a big problem. Malta have a habit of entering tedious ballads so this marks a pleasant change of tack, although you may, like me, feel like slapping everyone on the stage and shouting into their stupid faces that there is no Hoxton in Malta.
  22. FYR Macedonia – This faux ballad kicks into gear just in time, turning into a nicely rocky number with some electric guitar and strings to drive it home. With all of the big guitar bands knocked out, this may fill a niche.
  23. 1980s training montage! It’s Ireland and yes, it’s Jedward. For some reason, despite them representing a country that is not the UK (their own choice), the BBC presenters keep encouraging us to get behind Jedward. I might get behind them if they were standing on some kind of high ledge, but otherwise, no thanks. This song could do well if they manage a reasonable live performance – and they have quite the outfits and staging, not to mention the backing singers, to distract from their singing.
  24. Serbia‘s misfortune at being early in their semi-final is offset but healthy late position in the final. This is another ballad that takes a while to get going – many of its brethren having been cast aside in the qualifying round – but it could do all right if the voters are in the mood. I doubt I shall care much by this point.
  25. Ukraine – This one’s not for me. It’s upbeat enough but I don’t like the syncopated synths and fake strings. It’s also mostly the same three words over and over again.
  26. It’s the last song! And thankfully Moldova have a good one. It’s cheerful, fun, has a nice ska jazz thing, a good instrumental bit and is all about how he’s going to a woo a lady with his trumpet. Also, the singer looks like he could do a bit of DIY if you needed it. The only points off are for a teasing almost-but-not-a-key-change moment (plus Moldova’s another country with issues.)

To assist in any scoring you wish to do, I have prepared a Eurovision 2012 scoresheet. You may find this useful if you wish to shun such nonsense categories as “Costume” or “Choreography” and focus on what the content is really about.

And that’s that. See you at 8pm on BBC One. In the immortal words of Delia Smith: “Let’s be ‘avin’ you! Come on!”

Update: So congratulations to Sweden for winning. I’m still bemused but it’s a nice, progressive country and one that takes its Eurovisioning seriously. I’d happily spend a bit of May there next year given half a chance. At least it wasn’t the Russian grannies. And very bad luck to Arnold, who came undeservedly second from last but did a great job on the night.

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Eurovision 2012: Final prequalifiers May 15

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.

All posts in this series:

Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 2 May 08

The first Eurovision 2012 semi-final didn’t look too bad for quality, and neither, I’m pleased to report, does the second. There are none of the stonkingly weird tracks that can make Eurovision particularly entertaining, but there are plenty of good songs that deserve to get through the final on May 26th.

Once again, I’ve linked each country name to the song’s video on YouTube so that you can see for yourself what I’m blathering about, should you wish.

This is the semi-final we in the UK are able to vote in, so play close attention. Here are the good, the bad, the ugly and the rest from Semi-Final 2:

The Good

In alphabetical order, these are the ten songs I’d put through to the final:

  • Belarus – Rock breaks into the second semi-final with fresh-faced emo motorcycle gang Litesound. (The title, We Are the Heroes, made me briefly confuse this with 2006′s Lithuanian horror, We Are the Winners.) I prefer this to Switzerland’s lone rock effort from the previous semi.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – A pleasant enough piano ballad that builds gently. It’s position penultimate in the running order may mean it sticks the memory.
  • Croatia – This is good but, like so many other songs this year, takes a little too long to come alive. When it does, though, it’s enough to elevate Nebo for promotion. The video offers a group of half naked men fighting over a double bass and the Croatian Andrea Corr, in case that boats your float.
  • Estonia – I haven’t checked the translation but from my rough Estonian I think this is a song about a man’s love for his pet koala. It’s one of the stronger ballads and some female backing vocals to complement Ott Lepland’s lead plus a sneaky key change push this through for me.
  • Lithuania – Part power ballad, part up tempo number, this has the final spot in the semi-final and I can see it happily – and deservedly – winging its way through to a place in the final.
  • FYR Macedonia – There is definitely a theme emerging: gentle tracks with some nice musicality that switch up a gear part way through (much to my relief). This is very much in that category: I was sceptical at the beginning, encouraged only by a touch of violin, but then jumped up a level, passed Go and collected 200 Macedonian denars.
  • Malta – Nice of Malta to enter an upbeat number rather than a dreary ballad, so points for that. This is the Night is like one of the better reality show singles: it’s catchy and entertaining but strangely empty and if you peeled away the layers, deep in its heart you’d find Simon Cowell rubbing himself all over with £50 notes. Warning: if you watch the video, you may break your computer monitor as the desire to punch most of the people in it becomes overwhelming.
  • Norway – One can’t help but notice the similarities between this and 2011′s third placed Popular by Eric Saade from Sweden. This is nowhere near as good but it succeeds in – ahem – playing to the same market. It’s hard to dislike – more rasping synths aside – but it may find itself in competition with Lithuania.
  • I went to Serbia for the first time in March and had a brief discussion there about Eurovision. The Serbians I spoke to enjoy the contest but were concerned that the break-up of Yugoslavia and the USSR into multiple entrants (just look how many I’ve already included) makes it much harder for a Western European country to win – a view I’m sure is shared on this side of the continent. Their entry this year doesn’t start too promisingly, with a strong intrumental offset by some tedious balladeering of the kind I can live without. Nevertheless, I can see this doing all right (if it’s not impacted by going first) and once it springs to life, it’s not bad at all. (Željko Joksimović came close to winning back in 2004 with Lane Moje.)
  • Slovakia – The loud metal opening made me expect awfulness from this but it’s another OK rock track. This will be going up again Belarus for those votes and I can see the extra drama of this song helping Slovakia to win that match-up.

The Bad

I’m afraid I can only muster one bad song for this section, and I’ll confess here it’s not even properly terrible. The culprit is…

  • Slovenia – They’ve found their way into this section because they commit the ultimate Eurovision sin: it doesn’t matter how tuneful or well performed your song is if it’s dull, dull, dull. You can use all key changes and comedy headwear you like – and the last 30 seconds almost redeem it – but it’s stil nul points from me.

The Ugly

Again, only one song managed to shoehorn its way into this category:

  • Georgia‘s entry deserves to be much worse than it is. It’s several songs mixed into one with some curious decisions, not least in the production of the creepy video. It’s kind of fun despite that, but I’m not ruling out having nightmares about a scary man in a white suit.

The Rest

The rules of maths mean that we’re left with six songs that won’t do anyone any harm but don’t make my top tier:

  • Bulgaria – The weakest of the Eurodance numbers, with deductions for being this year’s most cynical attempt to use lots of different languages in one song. It’s not awful but definitely a good moment to go and make that cup of tea.
  • Netherlands – Oh, Beth Orton, where did it all go wrong? It’s hard to pick out anything that’s definitively wrong with this: it’s tuneful enough, it has a clear style of its own, and yet… I think perhaps it’s so inoffensive that it’s gone right round past infinity and come back as offensive, its twee lyrics giving even Brotherhood of Man a run for their money. I can’t say it’s bad but I’d happily never have to hear it again. (And yes, I restrained myself from commenting on singer/writer Joan’s interesting choice of outfit.)
  • Come on, Portugal – let’s not do this. There were a few nice touches, but when the backing singers came on I was hoping it was a sign of impending excitement rather than a few oohs, aahs and uninteresting harmonies. Go away and do it again.
  • Sweden – More tedious syncopated synth Eurodance. At least its title will help those compiling this years’ euphoria albums work out whether it qualifies for inclusion. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it does OK – it’s unfathomably been tipped for huge success – but *mumbles something about ABBA*
  • Turkey have had a mixed track record over the last decade with several songs hitting the top five, including 2003′s winner Everyway That I Can and 2009′s unforgettable Düm Tek Tek. I can’t see Love Me Back setting the EBU on fire with its bizarre lyrics and obsession with nautical metaphors but neither is it a shipwreck.
  • Ukraine – After a promising intro, I turned against this. With its mainstream dance attitude, it could do well given the right audience, but those syncopated synths and artificial strings don’t appeal to me at all.

Another good line-up so tune in for the second semi-final on Thursday 24th and see who makes it though – and cast your vote. I’m leaning towards Lithuania, Slovakia or Belarus but we’ll see how they do on the night.

Next time: the Big Five bankrolling countries and last year’s winner Azerbaijan are guaranteed places in the final. We’ll take a look at the six songs the winners of the semi-finals will be facing on May 26th.

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Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 1 May 01

Hello. Yes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? But the arrival of May heralds the Coming of the Contest and Twitter just isn’t up to the task of telling all I have to tell about this year’s Eurovision.

My pre-show pontificating is divided into three posts: one for each semi-final (of which, you will correctly surmise, there are two) and one for the final. On your behalf, I’ve endured all of this year’s songs and compiled some brief thoughts. I’ve linked the country name to the song’s video on the official Eurovision YouTube channel to make it as easy as possible for you to agree with me (or disagree, if you’re crazy).

As has been the case for a few years now, the large number of participating countries means we’re treated to semi-finals in order to whittle the songs down to a barely manageable final. Fear not: the UK’s financial contribution to the competition means we never have to go through the indignity of being knocked out in the first round. We’ll be voting for the songs in second semi-final, so we’ll only get to cast formal judgement on these if they make it through to the big event, which is being held in Azerbaijan on Saturday 26th May. In some cases, I really hope we’re spared.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the countries who’ve been drawn in the first semi-final.

The Good

The ones I liked and hope to see get through to the next stage, in alphabetical order:

  • Greece have a strong track record of memorable, up tempo Eurovision entries and this is very much in that vein. It’s almost Eurovision by numbers – pick a one word title (in this case the suitably exotic sounding Aphrodisiac) and contrive a song around it – with the musical production updated for 2012. I’m not complaining: this is surely one for the final and it’s the only one of the entrants to lodge itself unbidden inside my head.
  • Next up is Maureen Lipman‘s favourite Eurovision country: Hungary. This one keeps just on the right side of über earnest and I really like the musical production (though how that will translate on the night is anyone’s guess). The last Hungary song I liked was Dance With Me in 2009 and that sank without a trace, so I’m hoping for better luck this time.
  • Iceland will hope to put European prejudices against ash clouds and defaulting banks behind them, and with Never Forget they may. I rather like the video, with its Icelandic scenescape, but more importantly I like the song. I’m a sucker for atmospheric strings, syncopated percussion and a male-female counterpoint – even if there is a touch of Evanescence to it. Since they then add a sudden silence (which I hope survives in the live version) and a key change, I’d put this straight through to the final. (You may remember Jónsi’s cheekbones from such Eurovisions as 2004, where he performed 19th-placed power ballad Heaven.)
  • Ireland – I’d never heard Jedward sing before last year’s contest, having not seen whichever talent show from which they emerged, and this year they’re back for a second helping of Eurovision. Waterline feels like it’s fallen off a Stock, Aitken and Waterman landfill of leftover pop songs, but that’s by no means a bad thing. It could do well – although I wouldn’t be surprised if the twins’ live performance falls short of the recorded version, which could impact on their chances. Either way, it needs to accompany a training montage in a 1980s action film as soon as possible.
  • Moldova – It’s cheesy as sin – worse, it’s cheesy as actual cheese – but it’s one of many songs in this first semi-final with a winning cheerfulness that keeps the whole thing bouncing along quite happily. A nice instrumental in the middle and a ska jazz feel make it a keeper.
  • Romania – Bagpipes, drums and accordion are all part of Zaleilah‘s charm. I suspect the lyrics mean nothing of note but this is a bit of light fun and begs to be served with rum.

The Bad

There’s a disappointing dearth of truly terrible entries this year – I don’t know what the other countries think they’re playing at – but there are certainly some songs I’d like to see taken down the knacker’s yard and put out of our misery. For example…

  • Austria – Yes, they are genuinely using the band name Trackshittaz. To their credit, it’s an appropriate name, because, to their deficit and excuse mon français, the track is utterly shit. Awful, shouty rubbish. Still, sung in German, “Woki mit deim Popo” sounds rude, so at least that’s entertaining.
  • Denmark – I’ve often loved overlooked Danish entries (and pastries, for that matter), and now that we all love The Killing and Borgen, could it be Denmark’s year? No, no it won’t. Soluna Samay is so middle of the road, her only chance of creating excitement is if she trips over the cat’s eyes. Tiresome.
  • Latvia – Oh cripes: it’s a Eurovision song about recording a song for Eurovision, and its winning no fans here with the lyric “I was born in distant 1980″. A Eurovision fan friend asked me a few weeks ago whether singer Anmary was in on the joke. I really hope so. Yes, it’s catchy, but so’s smallpox. If the lyrics were in foreign, this might be passable – as it is, it’s hideous and deserves to be burned. Right now.
  • Russia – The Eurovision gays won’t be in any hurry for Russia to host the contest again so this dreadful chorus line of singing grannies could be perfect news, if only we didn’t have to listen to it. That said, it does run the major risk of picking up a shedload of “ironic” votes from across the continent. The dancing is only marginally more co-ordinated than Pan’s People, the singing is less tuneful than Jemini and the song itself is dire, so anything could happen.
  • San Marino – “Do you wanna be more than just a friend? Do you wanna play cybersex again? If you wanna come to my house then click me with your mouse.” Those lyrics alone tell you all you need to know about the horror that is The Social Network Song. Someone’s noticed that the internet’s a thing and decided to write a sub-Whigfield pun-laden Eurovision entry about it – and then autotuned it to death. And the social networks have spoken: its YouTube Dislikes are outnumbering its Likes by more than three to one. “Oh oh – uh – oh oh” indeed.

The Ugly

Some songs defy categorisation, and they’re the ones I’ve included in this category:

  • Sometimes Israel give us a stonking pop song; sometimes it’s a terribly worthy ballad about how good it would be if everyone just got along; and sometimes it’s just bizarre. This time it’s a kitch number that sounds like it’s fallen through time from one of those 1970s Top of the Pops they show on BBC Four to save them making new programmes. It’s too jolly to actively dislike but Slade were never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars. (I do like Star Wars.)
  • Montenegro will open the show with Euro Neuro and we start as we might hope to go on: bonkers. It’s a strange fusion of folk instruments, funky beat and monotonous rapping, like an Eastern European Cake, and there is clear evidence the lyricist got drunk and made a series of ill-advised bets with a rhyming dictionary. For all that, the chorus is memorable (for the duration of the song).

The Rest

The remaining songs were neither particularly good, nor particularly bad. The word “meh” is frowned upon, so we’ll just call them “the rest”:

  • Albania – I spent two of this song’s three minutes waiting for it to start. It eventually did (complete with some epic shrieking), but that’s not making the best use of the allocated stage time. The video’s worth a look: a woman with her legs in a box; two children drawing chalk lines on a wall; a weird bird mask; a tealight on a record player. I’m not saying Rona Nishliu doesn’t have good hair – I’ve got nothing against the hair – but I am saying this song could be better. On the other hand, it also could be worse.
  • Belgium – When the drums came in a third of the way through, I was hoping this was going to turn into a big number. Instead, it just carried on as before but with drums. Sorry, Iris: this may still be better than most of whatever the kidz listen to today, but you’re no Sergio & The Ladies.
  • Cyprus – Here comes the Eurodance. That’s pretty much all you need to know, and being the only track from that oeuvre in the semi, it should corner the market. It’s not bad, although nothing special for the genre – it would play quite happily in a club in Ibiza or Gran Canaria or Frinton or wherever it is one goes to take E and dance topless these days. As the title La La Love suggests, there are a lot of la la la la las – and then it abruptly stops because its three minutes are up. NB: the video appears to feature Catherine Zeta Jones being chased by Tracy Scoggins in a funny hat.
  • Finland – Interestingly, this is sung in Swedish. (Look, it’s interesting to me. So Suomi.) I don’t understand a word but I’m sure it’s very poetic. The song has a pleasant, gentle melody and Anna Friel did an OK job singing it, but I can’t see it sparking a riot at Our Price or overloading the phone voting lines.
  • Switzerland – Sinplus, the first rock band in this year’s contest, offer a less than subtle “follow your dreams” message. Unbreakable isn’t breaking any new ground – who is it I’m reminded of? Snow Patrol? The Pigeon Detectives? – but it fills three minutes without complaint and as the only guitar band in this semi-final, they stand a good chance of getting through. Of course, when it comes to the voting, I expect Switzerland to give everybody two points.

That’s not a bad line-up, I’d say, so expect a watchable semi-final on Tuesday 22nd May. Were we phone voting for this programme, I’d be calling up to vote for Iceland and Hungary.

Next time: eighteen more countries battle it out for ten coveted final places in Semi-Final 2. Stay tuned!

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