The Balkan "glam looking middle aged but isn't quite" award goes to 34 year old Ms Tarifa. She has an interesting line on blouse-faces, does Eneda, and a world record for the largest tree swing.
Fact: "She has written the lyrics to several songs for children". And she appears to have transferred this skill base into Eurosong. It's a bit of an operatic poppy wail (after all pointless but her name is an angram of After 'n Aida), but I do believe it has enough of a catchy chorus and neighbourhood appeal to pull it through. It's been well and truly battered by the damp fans, but I think there is worse cacophany out there, particularly in semi 2.


Jazz vocalist Iveta is a busy girl (being a singer, songwriter, actress and fashion model). Based on her statement "standards are neither enough nor interesting to me" she's a bit of a ingenue pain in the arse. She performs archetypal Caspian burble which as usual suffers from online babelfish translation into English. It's a peculiar start to the song, like a vexed wife flying into a rage at an airport cafe, or a wronged secretary at a sawmill...if you will. There follows ululations aplenty within what is quite an acceptably saucy dudek fest. It's alright really and there should be a Nagorno Karabakh scrap with their bestest mates the Azeris for the highest finisher. I would fully anticipate a final place and even have it sneaking into the Top10.


Zoe Straub is "a European with heart and soul" which apart from stating the obvious could also be a timely UK vote swinger. I'm not saying that this Gallic twee-fest will be the final swinging factor for the UK voting in or out, but..well no actually it's not a factor at all is it. Her biography goes on to say "I was five years old and my parents were watching the Eurosong in their bedroom. I should have been fast asleep, but I eavesdropped at the door". A dangerous game, that.
Always willing to try (& mostly fail) Austria have gone French this year. Like Zoe peering through the crack in the door all those years ago, expect a mildly nasty surprise.


It surprised not one damp fan anywhere when the Aussies were invited back. Europe's greed came to the fore, with the potential spreading of the brand into Asia too great to ignore. And as to showcase this more we have a South Korean born Sheila whiner of the X-Factor representing their "difficult second album". The appointment was greeted with distress in this embryonic Euro-nation, one which holds a win at all cost attitude. Their concern stems from Ms Im being a tad underwhelming. And they're right. This ain't Simon & Garfunkel, more a repetitive power ballard with high production values, a Eurosong staple. It's in the betting top5, I don't get why, she'll no doubt belt it out with aplomb and get enough frock votes in the process. I may be wrong, but I think this is just that.


The next ever serious Azeri attempt at ESC glory to further export their petroleum prowess, comes in the Caspian lascivious shape of 21 year old Samra Rahimli who hates cutting her hair and has a dog called Arti.
And on that bombshell, onto the song. "Miracle", according to our gurning chanteuse, has a "powerful groove and catchy chorus and I hope you'll sing it along with me". You'll be hard pressed. It's generic enough to avoid easily but will likely get healthy Asian vote regardless. When all said and done however I would imagine the keys to the Aliyev grace and favour penthouse may be seized back (allegedly).


21 years old IVAN isn't Ivan, he's Alexander Ivanov. From Gomel. Any fascinating facts Ivan? "The first fact is my height. The second one is my stylish hair, I don't know if these facts are impressive enough, but I like licqourice so much.." Thanks Ivan. He's been courting controversy recently by boasting that he's going to be naked on stage wrestling a wolf. Just the two problems with that. No nakedness allowed, and animals are banned. So looking unlikely that one will get the Jon-Ola seal of approval, Ivan (unless of course the Belarussians have discovered new fangled CGI tech, post Mans). I'm going for a non-qualifier, mostly because he's not very good, and men with long hair aren't too popular in the saaf.


Now, hold onto yuor hats but "the song is written by famous Belgian singer-songwriter Selah Sue (Sanne Putseys) and produced by the Brit Peter Gordeno who plays keyboards with Depeche Mode". The next surprise is that in a wholly dangerous and unlikely casting choice "Laura found herself starring in the musical Annie when she was 11".
Apparently the song "has an old school Motown/funk feel but in a modern urban act". I'm not entirely sure about that, it's feels to me like more of a Distinctly Average White Band. She tries her best, and is nauseatingly perky, but all the bouncing in the world isn't going to kid viewers into thinking this NickJr party trash is a Funk gem. I see normal service renewing for Belgium.


This quartet have "more than 150 regional and international awards", and my does it show. Deen for example is a "regional pop sensation". Yes, I can tell. Ana Runcer's shows "have been well received all over the world" and her albums include "World classics and Croatian beauties".
Their pre-song routine is to "concentrate and remain quiet", but sadly this stops when they hit stage and throw the metaphorical kitchen sink at us. Pop ballard, hip hop & cello, it's all in there creating a miasma of shite that appals and disappoints in equal measure. It'll glean a couple of Balkan semi scores, and if that's enough to progress then it may sweep up lots more in the Final. Doesn't deserve to though.

This song has the ultimate seal of pop approval. Yes, you guessed it, "If Love was a Crime" is a Number 1 hit in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Oh yes. It's a relatively superior slice of pap pop, performed in English with one line of Bulgarian which will cause a fair amount of confusion. Sounding in varying parts as "hang me a looter" or "hand me a loofer" it is neither, rather disappointedly translated as "give me the love".
So all in all pretty Poli (like a blonde dye job Nolan) does well, should find a comfortable place in the Final, and indeed it flounces into my personal Top5 of the year. And she'd be good at guiding kids across the road at twilight. And from Bulgaria. Honestly, I don't know what's next...dogs sleeping with cats...raining cheese...


I've gone a tad bonkers on this gentle ballard's chances I think. Apart from the seeming Tippex accident when learning the lyrics & shooting the promo, Nina waifs her way through this superior effort rather well. This is in the Serifovic camp of songs, which I think bodes well in another similarly tight year as 2007.
Taking all into consideration then, I have Croatia excelling this year. Amazing I know. Much will depend on the performance & costume, as evidence suggests she leans towards the odd fashion disarster, darling. But if it is toned down then relative glory could await for the perennial mid-table obscurists.


This is a pumice stone of a song, a lightweight rock that would be best used to remove calluses from feet. OK maybe not the last bit, but it is another example of generic rock, a genre which has historically crashed and burned like a ESC moped running into a queue of jobseekers. As it happens this one is slightly more palatable, with a chorus that doesn't automatically have you reaching for the Everclear 190. A definite qualifier then, but surely the European voice of conservative reason will prevail, and send it to the right side of the scoreboard come Saturday.


First off, they have big reservoirs in the Czech Rep. I felt obliged to mention this. A lot is riding on Ms Gunkitallover. The Czechs have a frankly atrocious record in the Eurosong with no Final place in 4 attempts , and you get the feeling this is a tipping point in their short term future. And I get the feeling this will finally be the year they get over the line to the big show on Saturday.
Triangle loving Gabriela has an attractive shape with few sharp angles, and indeed she shows all her teeth in this mildly above average power ballard. I guarantee it's not going to trouble each way bookies, but I bet the EBU are praying that the Czechs finally get something for the weekend.


More MOR turd from the Danes who remain encamped at the crusty base of my nation list. After last year's re-affirming failure to qualify, they are having another pop at clean cut young men with little obvious ability. They apparently "represent a whole-hearted attempt at making a positive difference in the world" . Indeed their mini-biog may just be the most mawkish bile ever, a kind of Miss World compilation of trite shite. I give you "a band that takes social responsibility through music in a new and innovative ways" or "wish to be a lighthouse that others can use for navigation"... Lads, it's 3 minutes on a deep down on the dial midweek TV show, not "Martin Luther King Jr does Oprah". It's yet another underwhelming piece of falsetto pop-lite froth which I fear may trouble us on Saturday.

Will he deliver twice? Or is this mail sic simply second class? On his rounds across Europe in the last couple of months, Juri has posted strong results in the polls which was somewhat of a surprise considering his apparent fragile vocal range. It's a funny one this, like a teenager pretending to be a lounge lizard.
Penned by Stig (last year's Estonian Top10), this is more self-knowing nothing of a ditty only not as good. I think all things considered it's not a special delivery, but neither is it junk, and we'll look back and think Juri recorded a par selection. His couture is picture postcard stuff though. did you get the postman references? - ed Footnote: Surprisingly finished dead last in its semi final.


At the risk of sounding cruel, I wouldn't put it past Sandhja (pronounced "more yellow") to have a couch in her front yard. She's what a kickboxing version of Lisa Stansfield may have been like in the 90's without an agent. She's certainly a bit of a street fighter, which judging from suburbs in the promo video, is a must just to get through the day. And she represents yet more Finnish "girl power" in the Eurosong, thus further adding to the body of evidence that suggests a nation founded on sexual tension & domestic violence. With Indian roots, the plucky entrant will try to punch above her not inconsiderable weight, and Sing it Away" is uptempo disco-fluff unlikely to hit anyone for six, but you have to admire anyone who gyrates in a derelict Winter playground dressed in zebra print leggings.

Damp fan favourite alert! And it's one of the Big Five countries! And it was internally chosen! And he's a dentist! Amir has Tunisian/Moroccan/Spanish roots, but was born in la France, and lives in Israel. His first single is the other joy of the year, and I have only nice things to say about it. Upbeat, happy clappy nonsense with an enjoyable promo video (kickboxing and ballet) and a likeable singer. The song even dips into English as he "wanted to write and send a message in a language that everyone can understand". Mais oui. Bonnet de douche. It gets my silver medal for the year, and I recommend. Will it have a non-political peaceful message that will resonate across the continent? Certainly. Might it win? For sure. Will he offend someone somewhere? Unfortunately inevitably.


Think of this of a drying kebab with plenty of onions and lashing of white sauce, and you have something that is bad for your health, makes your eyes sting, and leaves a nasty taste in the morning. "Dona" is your standard vessel for an average Balkan wailer plying her trade, a woman who is "known for her wonderful singing voice, with a rich timbre, and for her original interpretation". Crikey. Kaliopi "made my decision to come back on stage of the ESC after many requests from Eurovison fans!" Not all of them, love. She managed a distinctly surprising 13th in 2012 with a similarly testing pub singing warble. It just doesn't travel well. I can't see it prgressing.


Never knowingly tedious, the Georgians have the far too leftfield entry of the year in the catchy Nika Kocharov and the Young Georigan Lolitaz, who in 2003 according to their press release "received a business offer from London". Impressive. It's indie rock, offers requisite variety to the contest, and as a result is much default fun. For example, the promo involves plasticine amps & the drummer climbing out of a washing up bowl. Super. The singer has a touch of the Cockers which is no bad thing and anyway that can be treated with unguent, and as such adds to the attractive bonkersness of it all. Although I've seen many such as this crash far too many times, I'm out on a limb and stating with hope this is going to confound popular opinion and sneak in. Love the 70's carnival mirror effect.

Jamie Lee Kriewitz, a schoolgirl from Hanover "dreams of taking a trip to Korea, lives as a vegan, and is an asolute fan of the Japanese Decora Kei style". And that is an USP, a shite one, but an USP nonetheless. She is also keen to point out that "there is nothing vulgar nor provocative about me", which is a shame. A weird performance this, a bit like Bingo from the Banana Splits in a cemetery. She has that Lena guttural low note that annoys, but barring that this is rather enjoyable, much against my better judgment. In most years it would stand out as a strong Big5 entrant, but this time around it will likely get beaten by superior mediocrity.

I don't get out much these days, so it is an (almost) embarrassing admission that I kind of look forward to the annual uptempo tripe from Greece. So last year we saw ballardry and this we have comatose ethno rap, and in the process bounced back in the style of Alan Partridge. "The use of traditional instrumentals with hip-hop sounds, such as the Pontian lyre and the tabor, which we expect to make a difference to the rhythm". It does make a difference, it makes it pretty woeful. So along with lines such as "we are the rise in the rising sun", and with Ed Balls' Greek cousin on bouzouki, I would fully understand if you wanted to run a mile. I have Greece not qualifying for the first time ever, and I fully expect them to have a shocker of a result.


Freddie is another Magyar who's had too many Capstan Full Strengths. His Freddo froggy croak is a key feature of this anthemic asthmatic attempt, along with a monk with a big drum & whistlers. Born in Gyor in 1990 he "had to give up his promising sports career because of serious injury, & turned to music for comfort. His breakthrough came in 2014 after his studies as a hotel management specialist." So let him enjoy his week in the sun before it's back to the laundry.
This is another solid Hungarian epic which I may have treated too kindly but should still see them fighting for another Top10. "I really cannot imagine any bigger honour than representing my home country. I am shivering in the best sense". Bless him.


This is my longshot. For failure. To me it comes across as mania brought on by seasonal affective disorder. Greta "in 2014 she began touring with Disney Cruise Lines" Salome has been in ESC before and on the face of it her performance suggest she has a score to settle. It's been described as a "mixture of choreography, music, and visual art", and the majority of the effort seems to have been expended on the visual bit, because the music stinks. I couldn't face counting how many times she says "I Hear Them Calling Me". It's a utterly unoriginal mix of much that has gone before (Loreen, Mans..) and although it has been positively lauded by most damp fans, I'm well and truly out on a limb by saying Ms Salome (MA in Music) will again fail to master the Eurosong.