Winner of the finest line of the year "And before I leave, let me show you Tel Aviv", Parisian born Nadav Guedj has a lovely moment in the promo where it's insinuated he has around 50k adoring fans at an outdoor festival. Call me cynical but I find it hard to believe that this particular 16 year old schoolboy should attract this level of attention, particularly when the song is the cheesiest of the year. All said Golden Boy is knockabout cheeky 00's Eurodance nonsense, a true uplifting effort in a year of lament. Whether this will translate into a justiifed finals place is debatable (tricky slot in tricky semi), but in the meantime just throw your shoulders back and gib to your hearts content!

Early bookies favourites, and on paper you can see why. Three yoof Armani suited lotharios confidently belting out a passable Popera number in the language of lurve. Amore! The video deserves a mention in dispatches, reflecting famous filmic scenes of Amore (up to the elbows in sexy clay channeling the spirit of Ghost, sexy Spideyman with upside down Amore, and don't forget George biffing Biff so he can get all serious Amore with future wife Lorraine...lovely stuff).
It has to be said that Il Volo are no fly-by-nights having sold 1 million copies of their debut album and it seems to show. The song is decent, a top ten is definite, but will Europe send Opera to the very top? I doubt it. But dig those red specs on Brains!

She wouldn't look out of place in Game of Thrones as a Red Priest, bedecked as she is in a scarlet gown, arms outstretched wailing some mumbo jumbo about love. She's even setting herself alight in the promo... With a father from Burkina Faso, Aminata Savadogo is representing Latvia (the country never knowingly mainstream) with a unusual blend of ethnic warble with electronic tint.
It's one of those "all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order" songs, with a decent catchy chorus but a mild mess for the rest. They've filled the last 30secs with a solid wail which will set many teeth on edge, but it has enough to get it through and I think the best result for Latvia for an awful long time will be forthcoming.

A nation that somehow manages to be both mostly mainstream and yet at the same time ever so unnerving, 2015 sees them with a rustic looking duo who apparently have "a fresh and beaming with joy performance". A couple not afraid of being clad in head to toe denim, they're going to woah woah woah through a banjo-soaked chirpy pop duet; a most abnormal arrangement it must be said, like bluegrass on a verge of a nervous breakdown. Notable for a funky background, and an incestuous snog halfway through, a few remote viewers in Norfolk/West Country may yeehaa, however it will leave other screwing up their face in disapproval. Opens the 2nd semi but don't be put off, though you may be tempted.

The latest winner in Maltese marathon selection only took 5 attempts to get the cattle class ticket to Eurosong. You'd be hard pressed to get stuck on Amber Bondin (notable for getting a green belt at Judo). She's your archetypal mouthy modern RnB singer, all unecessary extra flourishes at the end of sentences. We have yet another vigorous anthem with a girl power message (to "conquer err err"), but don't be crossing her ("no no no no"). I find this sort of forced empowerment extremely tiresome and I rather think it will be a red light rather than green. Still "she's looking forward to having a hot chocolate in a Vienna coffee house", so it won't be a completely wasted trip ("Oh oh oh oh").

Hello! Yoof gets kinky. In the always welcome offensively tacky attempt to curry favour with the more extrovert of ESC damp-fan, Ukrainian-born 22 year old lanky haired Eduard has gone down that all too predictable S&M police route for his choice of performance. It's pure shite pop on an industrial scale, with latex adorned coppers whipping off tops in what can only be described as a breach of the peace.
A veritable multitude of Eduard facts "he is working on his PhD thesis in tax policy in Ukraine in the context of European integration" "he has more than 1000 TV appearences", and "he remains the most desirable bachelor". Don't forget his long lustrous hair... What a guy...It almost makes you sorry for his semi-final exit... Almost.

"And for my next trick, I'll try to guess if there's anyone west of Venice who will appreciate my derivative Balkan ballardeering!" Ta-da, and the answer is "Not many". As we all know by now, Knez had a successful touring band performing at kid's parties, which split up when two other band members, Heads and Toes got into a fight over who had eaten Shoulder's bacon sandwich. But seriously ladies and gentlemen, Nenad ‘Knez’ Kneževic is a ten album performer, and owner of the most prolific goatee in the region. Joksimovic (notably 2nd in 2004 with a "tin whistle-tastic, violin-filled, dry-ice heavy, Balkan-bonanza") has written this year's song and frankly it'll be a "tin whistle-tastic, violin-filled, dry-ice heavy, Balkan-bonanza snooze-athon". Not for me, and I warrant, not for the UK.

Running away with the most inappropriate funeral attire, it's bits out for Trintje, with a dress that looks like a rapist with an axe has had a go. Geordie-nut Ms (whay aye aye man) Oosterhuis , has a song written by Anouk which should mean a stamp of a certain quality, but instead we have a messy pop repitition, spilling out all over the stage. At the risk of being bitchy, she has the look of a bit of a middle-aged lush (a tad older than me which is rare) trawling the clubs, who needs to carry a purse as she has nowhere obvious to store anything useful onn her person. Which is at odds with the fact she "has performed for the Royal Family, both privately and in public". So all in all a deeply grating effort which is a pretty strong bet not to get anywhere near Saturday.

Right up my darkened alley this one (ooh err missus). Norway continue to impress with their studio efforts, but may not translate to the stage. It appears Debrah Scarlett embraces the ginger gene by going around stealing other people's and sticking it to her head, whilst the writer Kjetil Mørland (fact: "has played the O2 as opening act for Girls Aloud") looks on disapprovingly over dinner. There are certainly more questions than answers around this superior slice of slowcore ballardry. For one, Debrah is a true fright when dolled up, a Carry on Screaming extra. Also shoe-gazing does limit the level of necessary eye-contact interaction between a duet (unless one lies on the floor). This remains a polished song, but escapism it ain't & another disappointment for Norge awaits.

Add Monika to the list of uplifting ESC stories, for along with the mental disabilities of Finland here we have a country overcoming physical disability to crack out a power ballard "about tolerance, hope and love" (as usual). Monika was a lead singer in a band before being bound to a wheelchair after a nasty car accident, leaving her partially paralysed. All very well and good but what's the song like? Well, it's pretty average frankly and will be interesting to see what favour, if any, her wheels give her come the marking. Expect extensive arm gyrations, earnest close-ups and a damp ending.

Utterly bored of them so I'll summarise with applicable comments from past contests;
2012 "Be it either the badly focussed rainbow pop folk, or beige slacked ballards, Portugal have consistently underperformed since the last Cod wars. Sousa Andrade is the latest native to take a break from carrying fish in a wicker basket, and all the emoting and arm waving in the world won't ultimately distract from what is a deeply boring piece of fado".

2009 " old khazi is still an old khazi, and much more pot pourri is required to make me deposit 30 pence into their tips tray. It's harmless enough but may result in plenty of soiled towels, no bog roll, surly cleaners, and a cracked sink...if you will."
2007 "would it be worth it if I appealed to their ambassador to remove themselves from the contest forthwith? I may give it go, if only for a Ferrero Rocher and an update on how much they hate the English."

Nice message, nicely performed. Voltaj are the quality MOR of the year. A successful band back home, it's not for them to emigrate to London to search for fortune whilst living in a car park. The song tells of those kids whose parents (3 million) leave Romania to send wads of cash back home. A noble venture and a song that works quite nicely. It's not going to rock your world but represents another solid Romanian effort. Solid MOR has a history of doing poorly come results time, and allied with the egg-headed lead singer having a relatively troublesome stab at an English accent my early prediction for this may be more heart than head. Not exactly electric then but none the worse for it.

It's that time of the year when the damp-fans indignation spills out into the odd camp hiss & boo when a Russian beauty stands on stage asking us to be as one. It's no surprise that Greek speaker Polina is no relation to the first man in space, as her peace anthem fails to enter the stratosphere (lovely stuff: ed). I mean the Ruskies know how to do this sort of stuff (they've had enough practice), and with a positive message and a powerful voice from a benign maternal beauty they will likely soften a fair few minds, but I know some who are hard as nails. These people see the act as yet another cynical political attempt to sidetrack the wider audience from their dubious foreign policies (ahem). But ESC isn't political, and name me a country with no dubious foreign policy (apart from San Marino)...

Bless 'em. If being San Marino wasn't enough already, the level of "aww" responses has upped a notch with these two munchkins representing them in 2015. A short hop from the Junior ESC (the bastard offspring of the main event), Ms Simoncini ("taking singing lessons for the last 12 months") & Mr Perniola ("goes to accounting high school") are a pair of 16 year olds moppets who will have you reaching for the Dschingis Khan CD. She even attempts breathy rap at one point ("yes you should"). For Mr Siegel and Meinunger (the ESC Lloyd Webber & Rice) are up to their necks in this one once more, a uplifting peace ditty that harks right back to the 80's in a completely unapologetic styley. It's all very clean and nice and will get precisely nowhere.

Dodgy uplifting power ballard alert! "I know how to knit and cook (and eat)...But, watch out, my voice will blow your mind" says Bojana. Believe me love, I'm watching out. When she wasn't knitting or cooking "she attended even three sections in secondary school - guitar, lute, and renaissance singing". So all told she is perfectly qualified to assail our delicate ears with a Molitva-alike first half of ultimate power balladry that gets all funky for the final interminable minute, replete with KKK members, and alarming hair styling. We need Serbia in the contest, but it doesn't mean I have to like this. And I don't. Not only that, I don't think Europe should either, but they probably will.

Maraaya are a married couple with two kids, Marjetka and Raay (do you see what they've done). This has been described in damp-fan circles as "radio pop". As far as I can tell this is another definition for "good music". And they're right, it's the best of the year by some distance. I think the definition also represents the difficulty translating such "good music" to the stage, which is a fair point. And this is where the trouble lies, as I can see the air violinist looking a bit shit to the wider audience, the headphones may be a hard sell, and Marjetka's voice, though to my tastes super, may be an acquired taste to many. Slovenia are looking up now, and their efforts may well pay off this year with a top 5. I hope it wins, but that's pushing it. It is they I shall be cheering on though, and you should too.

It's songs like these when you start to think the whole kit and kaboodle is best left to future generations. I know I'm out of touch, but the early damp fan popularity of "Break of day" is so far over my head its hit a LOTR eagle. Edurne is a particulary salsa brava it has to be said, but that aside I see no middle earthly reason why this should garner significant votes. She is (I quote) "a singer, actress, musical artist, TV presenter, and impersonator". Indeed she appears to impersonate a tiger in the promo video, itself an unfathomable pile of hairy hobbit balls. The song apparently "refers to the daybreak, the emotional instant before the dawn", so what a volcano is doing is beyond me. The lyrics repeatedly include "EEEieEEO" which tells you everything you need to know. I have it Top10. I must be mad.

Top quality pop once again from the Swedes. Måns and his backing vocalists bat out an anthemic piece of EDM nonsense in confident style. The song would probably be good enough on it's own to generate a top five, but the annual Melodifestivalen always give us a chance to see the presentation of Sweden before its competition. And my, it's not bad presentation. Maybe the most involving ever in fact, with Måns' little stick friends stealing the show. So the Swede's always have a head start, but I really think in this case it'll take something special to stop Måns from making it six wins, and setting the Scandi's up at the very head of the Eurosong table.

"Good moaning!" Mauritian-born Ms Rene has a mid-table slice of pop on her hands. But just in case you want to "Herr Flick" over to some other continental Eurosong site, I shall say this only once.. you need to raise a mild cheer for Melanie as she has studied for a few years in Brighton "Toodle pip! Old fruit!" This is another of this year's memorable choruses but with a mess of a song enveloping it. All told though for what it's worth I like this. But "you stupid woman", you'll need to drop that ridiculous native American get-up from the promo. Unlike Edith though she seems to be able to "carry a tune in a bucket", so I'm hoping this will progress and people will be saying "Ooooooh, René" (If you hadn't noticed I've been subtly making reference to 'Allo Allo -Ed...)

Earnest alert. The Beeb have undone the good work from 2014's efforts with a nasty pastiche of an unregarded sub-genre called "electroswing", a modern take on 1920's Charleston music. I'm no aficionado, but the song feels to me like a tape of "Hooked on.." you got in the 80's. It's a sound that an executive felt would be a good idea just to be a bit wacky, but without appreciating what the music should actually sound like. As a result it brings to mind the lowlights of Scooch & Waterman. I fear that Bianca ("has performed for the future king") & Alex ("evening job as Mick Jagger") may well be travelling head-on into a shit-filled lorry driven by Jemini. Instant impact certainly, but for the wrong reasons. Bianca fact:"...likes to wear something small that was grandma's"...(her teeth?)