Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko will bring heavy rock sounds to the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest with their entry Identitet. Adrian Lulgjuraj (32) was raised in an Albanian family in Ulcinj, Montenegro. When he got his degree in law, at the age of 26, he dedicated more time to his passion – singing. He describes himself: “I do like my job as a lawyer, but when I am on stage, I feel like a beast, a different person, a Hulk.”
Bledar Sejko (42) was born in Tirana. He was always attracted to rock music but in his young years this was not always possible in communist Albania. 1990 was the most difficult year for the Albanian people, and Bledar was part of student movement that brought the fall of communism. But mostly he contributed in the music scene.
You won't have a problem spotting which one is "Identitet". The song starts sounding like a collection of blokes hitting things in a builders yard and it's downhill from there. Our visually testing lead singer huskily rattles incomprehensible balls in a completely different time to the rest of the song. Meanwhile some basic instrumentation kicks in, but unfortunately fails to muffle the shocking vocals. Finally so raw it’s bloody electric guitar kicks in to further depress the listener. A dog's dinner and an unlikely qualifier.
The most popular Armenian rock band Dorians represents Armenia, with the song Lonely Planet, written by Tony Iommi, the guitarist & songwriter of Black Sabbath. “Dorians” consists of five musicians: Gor Sujyan (lead vocal), Gagik Khodavirdi (lead guitar), Edgar Sahakyan (bass guitar), Arman Pahlevanyan (keyboards) and Arman Jalalyan (drums).
Gor Sujyan, the front man of the rock band, took the decision to become a musician when he first listened to the song Stairway To Heaven. In 2008 when the boys created a band they began to perform the songs of Led Zeppelin. At the beginning the band was performing songs only in English, but soon Dorians made a great revolution in their repertoire presenting their fans the song Yes Kulam which means I’m Crying in Armenian.
More sh#t rock. With what is my most avoided musical form, the self indulgent denim clad grease monkey noise comes from Dorians, a popular band in Armenia, but not popular in my household. Although they've blurbed big on the Black Sabbath link, I don't think it's much to crow about. The song doesn't even hurt. If you're going to rockkk, you might as well cause acute pain, but this is more an itchy boil. You know the score...fireworks, flames, Top Gun sunglasses, embarrassing uncle syndrome, it's all there in spades, and it should've been buried but it wasn't, so we have to sit through it again on Saturday.
Despite her young age of only 18 years, Natália Kelly, can already look back at more than ten years of professional experience as a singer and pianist. Shine might be Natália Kelly‘s debut single, but it would nonetheless be hard to describe her as a newcomer: The 18-year-old from Lower Austria, who has US American and Brazilian roots, has been adding to her stage experience for the past ten years, thanks to a wide range of performances.
Quite a few juries have been impressed by Natália Kelly’s abilities as both pianist and singer. This early success is not solely due to her unique voice: her artless and self-confident flair have also given Natália Kelly’s music an individuality that juggles playfully with contrasting elements from pop and R'n'B.
I have this to sneak into the final which may be a tad generous. At a mere 18 years, Natalia may be swamped by the pressure of being the very first one up, along with all the potential glitches that the spot generates. I don't necessarily see what full length Ikea lamps bring to the party, but they may be all the rage in Vienna.
The song is mid-tempo pop, and the chances are it should be performed strongly by Ms Kelly so probably deserves to be still alive and breathing come Saturday. Just too boring really.
Farid, age 21, has effortlessly proven that he is one of the finest vocalists in Azerbaijan. The song (“Hold Me”) is composed by Dimitrios Kontopoulos, who previously produced Eurovision songs for Ani Lorak, Sakis Rouvas and had 27 number one hits in Greek charts. The main source of inspiration to Farid has been soul, jazz, and pop. He was raised on Mugham, a form of traditional Azerbaijani folk music and very complex vocal art.
His competitive spirit is also shown in Farid's strong passion for sports. He enjoys participating in freestyle wrestling, which is regarded as the Azerbaijan's national sport, and Brazilian martial art capoeira. There is no doubt that he inherited sporting abilities from his parents. Farids mother was a silver medalist for the Soviet Union in gymnastics.

Mr Mammadov seems to be so conscious of his body, he doesn't pay much attention to his voice. The performance starts at international level conciet as Farid is seen standing on a man in a perspex box. Perchance they are portraying a man trapped by his emotions, but then a leggy blonde in a red dress in addition to interior box petals are added to the mix, and it rapidly becomes world class gimmickry. By common consent the Azeris are now the masters of Eurosong and this is guaranteed a Final spot. I was unduly harsh in my predictions & now fully expect a solid Top Ten finish.

Alyona Lanskaya is a versatile artist and true TV celebrity in Belarus. At her third attempt, she gained the honour of representing her home country. Alyona was born on September 7 in Mogilev, Belarus. "My childhood was a very happy one, and sometimes I’d want to return to it - the loving parents and no worries. I used to live in my own world, dreaming at night, coming up with stories for films, always with a happy ending. Because of the light-colored hair and snow-white skin, the grandma neighbors always called me a "straw girl".
Alyona prefers a healthy lifestyle - sports, at least three times a week, no smoking, little alcohol, moderate in food. In 2010, her first solo album Mazes Of Love was released that included songs in Russian, Belarusian and English.

Belarus once again chose to drop their national choice of song and replace with the preferred presidential choice. In previous years this didn't really impact matters, however I could almost cry over this decision. Their initial choice could've been a knockabout ESC song, the replacement "Solayoh" is tepid generic 80's summer pop tat. The true wide-eyed conveyor belt ingenue of the year, Alyona is capable enough, and for the performance itself she is birthed out of a large glitter ball, which is the most appropriate medium I can possibly think of for the ESC. It doesn't deserve to go through, and is dropping in my favours.

Roberto Bellarosa is originally from Wanze, Walloon part of Belgium and his childhood was ruled by the number of football goals scored by the men in his family. At age 9, realizing that Roberto would never become a sporting hero, his parents enrolled him at the Music Academy. His young age, his soft and fragile tone of voice, have seduced an increasing audience who did largely voted for him during the primes.
The first winner of the Belgian edition of The Voice, Roberto benefited from a large exposure in the media. His album Ma Voie unfolds a subtle balance between pop and modern, reflecting this young 18 years old thoughts and questions about the mystery of mankind, love, the world surrounding him.
Dough faced Roberto didn't instil massive amounts of confidence on the first run-through. Albeit a national talent show winner, he does come across as a heady amateur with a novel line in pronounciation. For example “waiting for the beater peel“ sounds like it belongs on the spa menu just below microdermabrasion and facials. The song is actually the outsider of all 39 songs betting-wise which is extremely unfair, as it does have some charm, especially the backing track. The problem lies in close ups on the singer which I liken to watching a rabbit in an animal testing lab. And those damn Ikea lamps won't help.
Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov are famous especially for their innovative ways of combining traditional singing, percussions and modern influences.
Elitsa Todorova was born on 1977 in Varna. She studied music, specialising in authentic folklore. She performed authentic Bulgarian folk songs, and compositions in Yiddish and Sanskrit. In her repertoire Elitsa plays the tarambuka, drums, maracas, clavess, old silver coins, shepherd's chimes, horses' bells, a magical thunder-wand, guirro, chimes...
Stoyan Yankulov plays with rock and jazz bands, with folklore ensembles and with jazz-rock and fusion bands. Elitsa & Stoyan have already performed together at the ESC in 2007, gaining the fifth place in the Final with Voda - the best placing for Bulgaria to date.
There's a small chance you'll remember these two. They appeared back in 2007 when they both hit drums and she wailed to some success. Stoyan & Elitsa's "Voda" was decent back then , their song this time, "Samo Shampioni" is rancid. Even the bagpipes don't lighten my mood. A bit of Twin Peaks is thrown in by a traditional pagan oversized creepy mask (think Makar from Zelda, trust me) worn by a crouching loon. Whereas once a decent wet drum solo might have worked, times have changed, and this isn't decent. I predicted it as 12th but actually it could finish dead last and it wouldn't be a pity.
Klapa singing is a traditional Croatian form of vocal music originating from Dalmatia. In 2012, UNESCO inscribed it on its list of world intangible heritage of Europe. This year Croatia has formed a special klapa group of singers who are young but rich in experience.
Marko Škugor had a lovely childhood in Dubrava with his parents & two younger sisters. Ante Galic grew up with his mother Pava and spent a lovely childhood filled with the usual mischief, football and basketball. Nikša Antica had a happy childhood living with his parents & his younger brother Berislav. Leon Bataljaku had a happy childhood with his younger sister Kristina. Ivica Vlaic grew up with his parents & younger brother Marko.. Bojan Kavedžija spent a happy childhood with his parents and his sister Lana.
Soft opera is a never welcome addition to the Eurosong canon, however I have to say this is probably as acceptable an example as it gets. Klapa (apart from being a person spreading gonorrhea), is a form of Balkan singing, seen most notably at the start of The Lady Vanishes...maybe. Six gents dressed like The Master of the Rolls (sadly no wigs though) belt out a passable attempt of the genre but it hardly gets the pulse racing. Not quite "Misery" but certainly a bit of a letdown, so all in all typically Croatia. I don't have it as a qualifier but it's very borderline, and probably deserves the Balkan crown this year.
Despina Olympiou was born and raised in Limassol in Cyprus. However she studied in London where she obtained her degree in piano and music theory.
Her debut album was released in 2000 entitled Ton Mation Sou I Kalimera ( The good morning of your eyes). Her single Vale Mousiki (Put some music on) was released in 2003 and it was certified platinum.

This year, she will participate in the Eurovision Song contest representing her country with the song An Me Thimáse (If you remember me).

Following up on the startling vamp that was Ms Adamou was always going to be tricky. After all, surely this island nation didn't have another Amazonian sorceress? Well they do, in the not inconsiderable shape of 37 year old Despina Olympiou. Cyprus are toning things down though with the ballard "If you remember me", a perfectly acceptable effort which enjoys the not inconsiderable benefit of Ms Olympiou. Hardly Herculean nor nectar of the gods, but more than an iota of class should see this qualify for Saturday with strong jury support. NB: she didn't make it through which was a shame all told.
An important part of 19 year old Emmelie de Forest's stage performance has always been her footwear - or the lack of it. "Being barefoot makes me feel closer to the ground, the earth and makes me feel more relaxed”. Emmelie is the great-grandchild of none other than Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. "Her son, Edward VII, had many children outside marriage. One of them was my grandfather, whom he had with an Austrian princess of the Habsburg family. My grandmother descends from old Swedish nobility, so I have spent much of my childhood in Stockholm." Emmelie only has to cross Øresund with her song Only Teardrops. "As soon as I heard the song, I fell in love with it. It has a melancholic feeling to it, and it is about war and peace, both in a relationship and in the world as a whole", she says.

Resolutely staying at the top of the betting throughout pre-season, Ms "De Forest" and indeed Denmark think they have a winner with "Only Teardrops". For: it is mildly catchy, there are big drums, firework waterfalls, and our barefoot singer does have a certain grace of the aristocracy. Against: the song is repetitive, the tin whistler looks like a rapist, and the drummers need to know when the cameras are on them. In a tight race the safe option will often win, and with the 50-50 jury/televote it will be assured jury points, so the unwashed will decide. A lesser know fact is her mum, Kelley, nicknamed Emmelie "Bones".