And so we begin the trawl the murky depths of European ballardry with Albania. This is the second attempt from the Albanians after the first was pulled by the composer. And so they gratefully fell onto"I'm Alive".The overwhelmingly damp reviews from the fans have frankly assailed my eyes, all the while the dubious notes of Ms Dani have been assailing my ears. Ms Dani has been quoted as saying "I received my voice as a gift". From where I'm sitting it must be like one of those free gifts you get for Michael Parkinson's life insurance. The song is a generic highly-wrought power ballard and will undoubtedly garner a fine amount of votes from the East, but I severely doubt that the West will be quite as generous. Will sail into the final, but will then be summarily found out on Saturday.

If Moldova aren't enough to have Europe switching over at the start of Tuesday's extravagance, then this may well boost the viewing figures for Holby City. This is a staggering total fail at high concept. "Genealogy are a project that includes singers from all continents" (apart from Antartica that is, which shows shabby geographical knowledge) to sing what can only be described as different songs in different keys, accompanied by an apricot tree. This is an utter mess of a song, so bad in fact that the guaranteed diaspora vote & associated guaranteed final place is under doubt. Justice probably won't prevail. Before they go on stage they apparently "hold hands and say random Armenian words"...which is much akin to what they do when they get on stage.

There were two consequences following last year's surprise victory for the bearded lady. Firstly the share price of Veet soared, and secondly the Austrians were shocked to discover they had to host the damn thing. It could be argued they have focussed on the stage to the detriment of this year's song. The Makemakes are a rock band from Flachgau, "the name derived from the dwarf planet Makemake, which in turn owes its name to the creating deity Makemake in the culture of the Easter Island". Got that? The band comprise of (I kid you not); Dodo Muhrer (a slim-fit Amish) Max Christ (greasy glam nightmare in leopard print tights), and Flo X.Mendl. The song is a slow temp ballard, of which the nicest thing I can say is that it could've been worse. It won't be near the left side of the board.

Austrialia is a natural fit for the ESC. They have large diaspora, a frothing LGBT offering, and like a tinny at 6am on a Sunday. So to "celebrate" the 60th year of the contest, the EBU have invited our naughty cousins (thrice removed), and given them a ticket straight into the final. Quite how they're going to throw them out again after the contest is another matter.
Rubber faced falsetto warbler Guy Sebastian has stepped up to the glittery mound to sing "Tonight Again", an inoffensive poppy funk number which doesn't appal. Malaysian-born Mr Sebastian is "the only male artist to have ever achieved six number one singles and two number one albums in Australian chart history". So no mug. Indeed I can see this troubling the top ten, with which will go down well their Sunday morning swim & barbie.

Freaky eyed angel is back, but without the freaky eyes...or the wings. The Azeris began their budding Eurosong history in 2008 with Elnur (born in Turkmenistan) taking to the stage in the contents of Bernard Matthews January skip. So in all likelihood don't expect him in a sensible pair of slim fit trousers and a spotlight this year. The song is very good, the best of the Swedish collaborations of recent years, a gospelly emotion-laden ballard that is supported by a strong (The Voice winning) vocal. Sure his propensity for vocal gymnastics concerns me slightly and the presentation could be absolutely anything in human imagination, but all in all I can this excelling (28/1 as I write, consier getting on it).

Roberto Baggio a-like Uzari is joined by a Belarus/Malian violinist by the stage name of Maimuna in this traditional Eurosong mash-up. "But how does a pop music composer form a duo with a classically trained lead violinist? the answer is sinple: through their shared love of Lord of the Rings!". There is absolutely nothing stand-out about this song, a pop screech we've heard countless times before. And whilst it ticks all the basic boxes and has significant damp-fan appeal (somehow), I'm afraid I want to run a mile and have it as a non-qualifier. BTW Maimuna "earned the coveted First Violin role in the Presidential Orchestra", so there's your clue on how she got the gig. And as we all know time is very much like thunder...

Loic Noittet is "a young and complete artist who is already conscious of the universe he wishes to create" who just happens to "have an enormous fear of mosquitos". A nation that increasingly tends to be slightly off-centre, Belgium's Walloon station has chosen a 19 year old to have gloop poured on him whilst extolling the joy of wrapping presents on his self-penned peculiarity. It's a tad tricky to describe, a kind of weird pop/urban/white gospel/almost (dare I say it) modern thing (Lorde-Royals is a close match) that seems to be the Marmite choice. I've plumped for a bare qualifier, but with a surreal B&W backdrop and a confident live performance it may do quite well. And when he does succeed, all funds will be diverted to wiping out those pesky mosquitos from the universe.

Another yoof, 20 year old John comes to the Senior ESC from his provincial roots, trying to hit it big with the simplest ballard of the year, before he moves to London to try hit it big again (after his first attempt comes up short). Elvis Costello-alike John seems an amenable enough fellow and has a decent ditty on his hands, where he seems to express remorse for not giving his girlfriend a lift to her hair appointment...or something like that.
John facts ("I didn't sleep for 6 days as my World of Warcraft team came 58th in the world", and "I have 10 pairs of glasses in case I lose any because I can't see further than my nose"). It's in the tricky semi but is good enough to get out unscathed from where he will get a much wider Euro blue rinse positive audience

4th time lucky for the Czechs? Erm no, probably not. A total of 10 points from 3 appearances to date does not inspire confidence (& this includes a nil point into the bargain). So it somewhat appropriate that "Hope Never Dies" is the name of their latest effort (it probably will on Thursday night). Carrying nature's excess baggage, you'll see Marta and Vaclav extolling the benefits of Central European protein supplements anytime soon. The song is a gargly warble through 90's rock excess, and I'm afraid to say it won't progess. Available at 300/1 should you wish to support Marta (who has "sang the official anthem of the German women's football team") or Vaclav (who "learnt to play the piano, flute, and clarinet and later the guitar, bass, and percussion instruments"). You'll be throwing your cash away tho'.

Do I have to? Denmark have now dropped to the bottom of my nation list, as I'm not willing to accept being duped year after year with horrid MOR lite-pop tat. The country itself has much to admire, but their recent Eurosong history has been utterly execrable (and believe me, to surpass the nadir of Portugal takes some doing). For what it's worth Anti Social Media are a group of yoofs, have been "inspired by the warm sounds of the 60's" (it hasn't translated), and have been together as a band for 3 months (it shows). It's a terrible piece of pop-lite froth and will probably continue the Danish record of tapping into the fears of the new across Europe to easily make it to the final. But I'm as mad as hell & I'm not taking it anymore. The stand starts here.

"Goodbye to Yesterday" starts with an instrumental fart and then jumps into a off-key intro. Not, you would expect, a hit in the making, but too-cool-for-school retro geek Stig has written one of the favourites of the year. Estonia itself is sopping with anticipation. I remain to be fully convinced. It's a duet, Stig who wrote it doesn't normally sing (you can see why), the woman shrills a fair bit. The act is in the same mould of the Dutch success last year but a bit more lively, hence the anticipation. Fact "Elina is a temperamental small town girl who enjoys city life and would to travel to Africa to pet giraffes. The even tempered Stig would rather go to Antarctica". Geeks you see. Likely top 5, even with now to be expected Estonian skyscraper backdrop (have they not got any in Estonia or something?)

I feel like I have to tread a bit carefully here. First of all, it isn't a song. There is no merit, it is without merit. It runs to 1:33 in length which is far too long. PKN (to save column inches) is "a Finnish punk band, made up of four mentally handicapped men". By all accounts they have cult status in their home country, are due to release "The Best of Greatest Hits", and apparently fight before and after their gigs. Lead singer Kari fact: "loves motorcycles and hates pedicures". There is no doubt they represent a success story at home and have achieved much despite, and because of, their disabilities. But call me old fashioned; Eurosong is still a music contest and this ain't music. So with some comfort I have predicted a failure, but they may sail through confounding expectations all the way.

There's an odd number in the year, so it's time to wheel out an Chartreuse soaked chanteuse on a darkened stage. Lisa Angell is a refreshingly middle aged artiste in a year seemingly dominated by yoof, although the postive age discrimination vote won't be enough. " 'N'oubliez pas' - a song of "hope and peace, of courage and solidarity" is French power ballard very much by the numbers. The number in question may be nil point. The song's message is one of a village being destroyed by an invading force who "hidden behind their weapons..they laughed at our tears". Welcome to Vienna, Lisa!
Like so many before, the song's issue is that it builds and then goes absolutely nowhere. Hopefully she will be able to forget the night of the Final as I can only see woe.

Daniel Kajmakoski is "a Macedonian-born pop & rock singer, composer, songwriter, and guitar and piano player living in Vienna". Not only has he been seen around the host city for onks, he also has the support of a few of the Blackstreet gang. Yes, No Diggity themselves must be adding an RnB tinge to what is basically an enjoyable little ethno ballad which kicks off like Badly Drawn Boy and stays in that same vicinity. With no BiH or Croatia to help them along it's touch and go for a final place, and the added z-list US star power further clouds the issue. All in all I like this one, not least for the promo video, check it out. Daniel fact: "In January, Daniel joined a diverse team of world famous singers for the official anthem of the Handball World Championships in Qatar"...

20 year old Nina Sulaberidze (hence the stage name) is a mere slip of girl and appears to have failed to grow out of her adolescent anger issues. It may have something to do with being born in Russia, or being a model (& associated chronic undereating), or having 8 tattoos of Putin. Poodle-haired Thomas G:son has his herring stained paws on this, a knockabout beat-heavy session which brings to mind a certain Ruslana, and the birth of modern ESC. If it can gloss over a 10 second pause in t'middle with the pvc thigh-high booties, and people can ignore the lyrical use of "oximated", which appears to be a totally fabricated verb, then it should do well. Style over substance and likely to progress. Nina fact"her debut album Dare To Be, is still in the charts two years after its release date"

In a year with its fair share of National Final uproar, the German one was a particular stand-out. The hands-down winner of the televote to represent the nation abdicated his role live on air, and so runner-up Ann Sophie was left bemused on stage having lost, then won. She took the news rather better than the host it has to be said. Confident 24 year old Ann Sophie has the look of middle management about her. Indeed "after finishing school she moved to New York". As you do. She has a sizeable mouth from which to belt out the song, it's just the quality of the output from the maw itself which appears to be the problem. The song is almost decent but I fear her propensity to freewheel a la Guildo with her limited talent on the night will sink her. All in all, we don't need another Lena.

Mother of three, Cypriot born Maria, is representing a nation that has never failed to reach the final. It's by no means certain this year. They've discarded their proven olive-fuelled knockabout romps for a slowy which is most surprising. Cat Deeley's aunt belts out a deeply mediocre power ballard with various levels of success. It is most disconcerting to see no Opa's on show, and is much the poorer for it. Indeed if it wasn't for the weak opposition, I feel this would struggle to even qualify at all which would certainly knock the final nail in the Greek coffin. Maria fact: "is based in Greece but spends half her time in Cyprus taking care of her kids and running an after school private programme". What the kids do the other 50% of the time has not been explained...

With 44 letters I bet the Hungarian version of Boggle never took off. But it is not Boggle we are here to talk about, it is Boggie. Boggie is a tiny grinny thing whose natural habitat is the peaceful undergrowth of the Budapest suburbs. A timid creature, she only comes out to croon Jazz and French chanson standards in low-lit clubs at night. "Easily touched by human suffering", she particularly likes to feed on positive statements from Ban Ki Moon. During the making of her peacful flashmob video Boggie "...felt all the power of music and presence of God". The song is so meek there isn't a whole lot there. So I have made up a lot of nonsense about the singer which is in no way based on fact. I don't like it, and would tell her, but Boggie will be creeping back into to her wee tree bole just off the Nagykörút.

Now I'm keen as anyone I know about the fairly unfathomable production line success of svelte pixie-like Eurosong maidens that comes from the restricted pool of talent that is Iceland, but I think I have to say 2015 has disappointed me a tad. I'm sure Maria (fact: "born in a small town of less than 1000 inhabitants in Northern Iceland") is perfectly lovely of course, but the song (for that is what is important) is a deeply generic, repetitive barefotted chiffon sway. Her act bears a noticeable resemblance to De Forrest which is probably where my issues stem from. Not only that but the chorus seems to meld with the next chorus leaving you yearning for a verse. I've not got it sneaking through, which is unlikely, but this is a disappointing Icelandic effort all told.

"Find the keys to the Eurovision youth club again Jon Ola! Molly & her gang want to play table tennis". At 17 years of age self taught pianist Molly Sterling will be the another yoof performer, and it is to her immense credit that claimed the Oirish ticket. The song (a piano ballard) is pretty non-descript really, enlivened only by a decent voice, and is one of those very much on the cusp of qualifying. It is by no means awful, and simply performed will help (a la Jostein) but 2nd up in the tougher of the semi finals, she is up against it to impress, albeit surrounded by duffers. Super Molly facts: "I don't know who consumes more honey than me. Five jars in a week is my record"... and "I have a donkey at home in Tipperary who's 50 years old. Mick the Donkey". I'll play Molly! Give me the red paddle.