Dina Garipova got famous in Russia after her victory in the talent TV show The Voice 2012. Dina was born on March 25th 1991 in a city of Zelenodolsk (the Republic of Tatarstan), in a medical family. From the age of six, she took classes in singing at the Golden Microphone Theatre. Now, Dina is a student of journalism at the Kazan University. In 2012 Dina Garipova won the reality talent show The Voice. As a winner of the show, Dina received the main prize – a contract with Universal Music. Dina says: “I’d worthily like to represent my country at the ESC, to sing the song in such a manner that would touch people’s hearts. I want the ESC to be a real festival of talents! I want all viewers to have a wonderful time! I’ll do everything I can to turn in a good performance and leave a favorable impression of my country!”
A safe, conservative, Coca-Cola appoved promotional product from the Russians in 2013. The annual "give piss a chance" message may sit uncomfortably on the South Ossetian border, but the majority of Europe won't likely bat an eyelid. The video to "What If" is particularly nausea inducing, and the message sits more naturally in the 1984 Miss World contest, but all said in a tight year the free 60+ points just for being Russian may well tip the balance come the end. And I like the way she says "bury" like she's from Bury and not Zelenodolsk (which may well be similar). Still when all said and done it's just a load of balls.
Valentina Monetta is representing the republic of San Marino for the second year in succession. Valentina was born on the 1st of March, 1975 in the Republic of San Marino. She is the second of two children, her father is from Calabria and her mother is San Marinese. Although she has not dealt with an academic background, she had studied piano and singing by herself. In 1995 Monetta started an adventure with her first band Tiberio, and soon thereafter formed the Parafunky. Recently her experiences are all with her live band My Funky Valentine. Performing live for Monetta is crucial as she really loves the stage and the contact with the public. She is influenced by her musical idols Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Erika Badu, Caterina Valente & Ornella Vanoni.
Mr Siegel (him of pub singing Lou fame) returns once more, but with one of those ESC songs that take you back to the joys of 1960's contest, when you would watch an olive skinned middle aged lady (on B&W TV) belt out a wholly foreign bit of fluff. I like this. But then again when compared to Valentina's gummy I-phone shocker from last year, the only way was up. Ralf has even come up with two songs in one, the clever old thing, as "Butterfly" erupts into a rouseabout finale of tousled gingerness and 140 decibels. A nation with few natural allies, a deserved final place will rightly be a real triumph. Wish Ms Moretta well
Mirna Radulovic, Nevena Božovic and Sara Jovanovic gained fame through their participation in the talent show "The First Voice of Serbia". They re-united for the Serbian national final for the 2013 ESC, and their victory was a real dream come true. Mirna (20) was born in Subotica. To her fans, she says: “Stay with us until the end and we will do our best to bring joy to the entire nation”. Nevena (18) was born in Kosovska Mitrovica. With her song Piši mi, she has already gained the third place in the Junior ESC 2007. She says: “I want my fans to be healthy, happy and smiling all the time, to enjoy music and I'll do my best to please them.”
Sara (19) was born and raised in Rome. Although she is only 19 years old, she dominates the stage with her presence and movements. Sara finds her greatest inspiration in Beyonce.
I'm not averse to giving praise to those who overcome lack of obvious ability with honest hard graft. But I have to draw the line somewhere, and it is firmly in Belgrade this year. Let's look at the evidence. These three yound ladies can't sing. At all. They also find it difficult to move around in their heels. Disappointing. They're dressed up in S&M Barbie. Unecessary. And the defining mood of the performance seems to be that of anger...which quickly rubs off on the viewer.
Oh and the song is utterly abysmal in every regard. So all in all, one to avoid at all costs, garters or no garters.
Hannah, singer, composer and lyricist, has appeared on Slovene musical stages and on TV screens for a number of years. She also appeared in international music theatres like the Radio City Music Hall, the Universal Amphitheatre and on The Tonight Show. Hannah, who is American-born and is currently busy writing music in Europe and Slovenia having moved here from the USA six years ago after marrying a Slovenian. During this time she has appeared on the international productions of various albums and compilations, collaborating with DJ Umek, the DJ and producer Sare Havlicek and the Russian electronic music group D-Pulse. Hannah has been the lead singer of the Xequtifz group for a number of years now, and with them she has recorded the Slovene and English versions of three radio hits.
Celebrate because it's what you've been hoping for. finally that 1990's fuelled Euro-dance anthem from Ljubljana. It's one of those songs which was likely originally written in Slovene and then the English lyrics had to be shoehorned into the music. As a result it comes out like a bad translation on a Chinese toy assembly. Nothing suggests that Hannah won't be utterly lost on stage with "Straight into Love" even though she can likely belt out the track. And dressed like King Vultan, I half expect Mr Blessed to come on stage left roaring "DIVE!". Historically a disappointing Euro nation, I fear it will come up short.
ESDM - El Sueño De Morfeo (Morpheus’ Dream) is a Spanish pop-rock band with Celtic influences formed up by Raquel del Rosario from the Canary Islands, Juan Suarez and David Feito, both from northern Asturias. Fresh, young and recognizable the band ESDM delivers powerful live performances and has sold half a million copies of their four studio albums. The song “CONTIGO HASTA EL FINAL (With You Until The End)”, composed by the band, talks about two people who meet and rediscover love. They decide to undertake together the journey of life, to the end. Musically it is a journey of emotions from an epic introduction where Celtic bagpipe stands as main player to make way for mid-uptempo, leading to a rocker theme.
We are introduced to "With you until the end" with a glorious blast on the bagpipes (or gaita probably) which sets the scene for a distinctly Celtic-like gentle folkie intro, which transforms slowly into a pacy pop nothing. Our smart casual gentleman players look like they've spray tanned which I'm sure they don't require, whilst the petite singer Raquel tries to inject much needed life into this likely overlooked effort. Harshly predicted to finish last, the pipes make a less than welcome return to finish any chances of success there may have been. Sorry.

22-year-old Robin Stjernberg has quickly written Swedish television history twice. The first time in 2011 when he came 2nd in the "Idol" final with 48% of the votes, the smallest margin in the program's history. The second time when he was the first artist ever who went through the "Second Chance" to win the Melodifestivalen. Robin was a performer already in kindergarten and loved to entertain his friends dressed up in different outfits. In ninth grade, he was handpicked to become a member of the boyband What's Up? His debut album "My Version" went straight into number one on the album charts. Robin Stjernberg exudes something genuine. With his charisma and his voice, that sends shivers down your back, he has taken Sweden by storm. Now it's Europe's turn.

Like Joe Johnson in 1987 and the Halifax Blue Sox on 1988, the previous year's winner is likely to come up a bit short in 2013. For the ESC geeks, Robin Stjernberg was the first Andre Chansen qualifier to win their national selection "Melodifestivalen". A man chocked full of X chromosones, our Robin is a countertenor warbler who has a job on his hands with "You". Mentioned a mere 25 times the song title actually takes up 1min:30secs, which gives you a flavour to the lyrical diversity. However if he nails the not-unimportant singing bit, tone down the cheesiest of grins, and sort those pants out, I think he could shine.

Takasa is a unique band, made up of six individuals whose ages range from 21 to the 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer, who will set a new record for being the oldest ever musician in the ESC. The enigmatic band name Takasa means “to make pure” in Swahili, and epitomises the pure joie de vivre and love of music that the band embodies. It also stands for spirituality.
Takasa is made up of six individuals for whom music is a passion. Sarah is 21 years young, and Emil celebrated his 95th birthday in February. They are brought together by a shared love of music and belief in God through the Salvation Army. Katharina, Sarah, Emil, Michel, Christoph and Jonas are as happy playing their music on the street as they are in church, as comfortable in a prison as they are in the Federal Parliament Building.
These lot filled an column inch when the EBU stopped them from using their band name "Heilsarmee" due to political or religious grounds. As "Heilsarmee" means Salvation Army in German it's safe to say they ticked both those boxes. There's six of them including an aged gent with a lived-in walnut of a face & a hearing aid...Though they won't wear the red, expect a light-hearted performance spreading the "saving purpose" of the ESC...and God. Temporarily ignoring my antipathy to the Swiss,"You and Me" is a jolly enough effort. As it worked out I put my faith in the Lord...and the Swiss bombed (words that don't go together)

Welsh International singing star Bonnie Tyler has been performing since the age of 17. Perhaps best known for the classic Jim Steinman songs Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Holding Out For A Hero, Bonnie Tyler has had number one albums on both sides of the Atlantic, has been nominated for three Grammys, and has sold over 20 million records in her career so far.
“I have found inspiration in the work of great singers such as Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen, but most of all from my mother who sang opera beautifully. I am inspired every day by my 40 year long marriage to Robert, who was a Team GB competitor at the 1972 Olympics.
Last seen in the UK in the mid-80's, our perky Welsh entrant this year tips the scales at a mere 61 years, which when compared to last year is a veritable spring chicken. Having clearly undergone the usual BBC promotional crash course on the ESC, Ms Tyler will no doubt approach the contest with the usual professionally cavalier attitude, safe in the knowledge that a "famous songwriter" has stuck their hands down the back of the sofa. In UK terms the song itself is solid enough, but as ever I fear the standard rough live performance from the Brits. Very optimistically a top ten, I hope Bonnie does us proud.
Zlata Ognevich is a very beloved celebrity in Ukraine. She was born in the city of Murmansk located in the extreme northwest part of Russia. Her father is a military doctor serving on submarine, her mother is a philologist. Zlata’s life sharply changed when the family moved to Sudak, a picturesque city of Crimean’s peninsula where the fresh marine breeze always walks by the walls of the grand Genoese fortress in the cosy bay. Zlata has already five videos in her creative baggage. Open, sensual, very hardworking Zlata is ready to spend lots of hours in the studio, where she loves to experiment. “ Eurovision is a holiday, where emotions go off scale, new stars and songs appear! Emotions are what everyone needs. That’s why the ESC has such a vivid history and devoted fans!”
This has been the big market mover pre-contest, and indeed I can understand that with Ukraine you are guaranteed a bit of a show. However unfortunately I cannot find much of a song. Refreshingly devoid of a traditional chorus, this 3 minute wail from a Hollyoaks cast member consists of horses with gold wigs, a real life giant (no less) and a male backing singer sounding like he's having a bad time of it in the water closet. Because of a lack of song structure it ends as damply as Chiara's thong after a jog. An ESC song needs a chorus, simples. So all in all I can see a top ten but no prolonged close ups come the voting.