Aah Albania. Every year, the Xmas turkey is barely digested and out they come rehashing the same old formula. A more than capable female chanteuse with a vocal range that stretches well into Greece, proudly produced in their native language, only to re-imagined with nonsensical video imagery and ill fitting English lyrics. The lady in question is Kosovon born Lindita Halimi, 27, who likes nothing better than "to eat eggs and drink hot tea with honey" before singing. She finished in the top25 (no less) in American Idol in 2016, and perhaps more impressively also speaks German, Spanish and Croatian. Watch out for a 30 second wail.
Aah the Armenians... oh hold on I've already done that intro. Having said that every year they more often than not locate an experienced chanteuse accompanied by a slightly off-centre ethno effort. 32 year old Artsvik Arutyunyan moved to Russia where she studied "speech therapist psychologist at Moscow State Pedagogical University", so it was clearly only a matter of time before in 2012 she "became a member of the Jazz Parking Project". I may be way off the mark on this, but I rather like the weird simplicity of it. 30 sec bridge notwithstanding there is definite room to impress here & get a bit of that extra Russian vote.
Yes, they're still in it, what a shock. Australia are the metaphorical teenager after popping their cherry, all full of adolescent excitement about Eurosong. Altogether unecessary if you ask me. Those that care have reacted underwhelmingly to their 3rd entrant, which is a tad harsh on the "First Nation" boy from the suburbs of Melbourne. He smacks of Heartbreak High, but Isaiah (17) seems to have broken away from talking about tzatziki and unemployment, and can't wait to go skydiving instead. He won The X Factor Australia but won't win here and the result may well dampen the excitement of those previously damp down under.
Nathan "I could eat sushi all day" Trent is a "Singer/Songwriter in the genres Pop and R’n’B", so it's mildly surprising that his effort is more twee Disney, as if RnB stood for repetitious and banal.
Mr Trent (25) was born "the son of an Italian mother and an Austrian father, and was raised bilingually", but fails to use either in his mittelEurope non event of a song. It's one of those which is difficult to slate due it's downright niceness, but it's just a waste of a space on the scoreboard.

And so to that other power player in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Azeris, represented in 2017 by 27 year old mother Diana Hajiyeva and her slightly off kilter "Skeletons" which by all accounts has been described in at least one circle as "experimental doom pop". She's a mild oddity, the song is odd, and there is strong video pretension present in the form of a TV tree. All told not impressive enough to win, but solid nonetheless and will walk into the Final. So if you're yearning for a bit of doom pop with a school window cleaning horse, then this is the place to be.


The Eurosong history of the 800 year old Belarus doesn't exactly eat from the top table, in fact it's more likely to feeding off kitchen floor scraps. And so we welcome Naviband, who frankly are an amateur shambles. In essence the performance will likely entail a couple shouting hey whilst a pretend ukelele is shown to suggest a bit of musicality. Its a folk-lite mumbo jumbo annoyance sung in their own language, and incredibly I have it to make the Final, simply because Europe tends to lap this sort of shite right up. The lady singer Ksenia is described as "a bullet", but I just want to "silencer" (geddit-ed).

Now we're talking. Since when did Belgium become the talk of a big event? Thinking about it, it may have been the recent "international tortoiseshell sunglasses of the year" competition, but you get the picture. Sprog Blanche, aka Ellie Delvaux (17 year old), cuts an aloof figure even when you take into consideration she "can move one of her toes telepathically". As much as a Eurosong effort can sound current, then this is it. Wallop of a key change, funky electro arrangement, catchy refrain. It's in the old timer damp fans Top3, and I count myself amongst that demograph. If she relaxs a bit, this could well medal.

Gap toothed kid Kristian Kostov represents the epitome of 2017 being the year of the minnow. The 17 year old moppet who can eat a cheesestring without opening his jaw, performs for Bulgaria, and this could well be their year. It's a nation that has failed to Final 8 out of 10 attempts, so little Kristian who "was mentored by for Eurosong winner Dima Bilan"(poor kid) doesn't have a weight of expectation. I honestly believe this is stick-on Top5 material. It's mildly ethnic, it's pleasantly plaintive without being cloying, and he has the added benefit of looking like he has two mouths. But will goofy be lucky? I think he may.

Dubbed Mr Voice, 36 year old Jacques Houdek is "especially loved for his humanitarian work by persons with disabilities and children. My dream is to heal people with my voice. I believe it's my God given gift & I hope to touch as many souls when I'm singing. I am a very big guy, but I really believe my heart is even bigger!" I've filled this section with his biography because the song defies explanation. With more key changes than Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, I'm not convinced that Houdek is human or 2, or 3 humans. It'll be a miracle if it wins, but you've got to love a trier. All together...My Friend!

Cypriot born 28 year old Hovig Demirjian is a singer songwriter of Armenian origin. "After dropping out of Marketing Studies, Hovig enrolled in a jazz music course at the European University of Nicosia". So instead of asking shoppers for their favourite colour, he's hitting the Kiev stage with a low tempo dance number that mildly attracts. It's a Thomas G:son song, the 14th in his personal Eurosong canon, and although it won't be another Euphoria, I do believe that it has a certain amount of merit. There's room to create something memorable here and the Cypriots do have previous at making a silk purse.

"Martina Bárta is a new discovery on the jazz scene, endlessly traveling between Prague and Berlin." Sounds like she needs to stop, and have a break in Dresden. She has an endearing way of saying turn, but barring that there's little to recommend this power ballard. As for Martina "I'm an extreme goat cheese lover. I believe in the power of natural stones. The stone should be placed on your chakra in the nearness of your heart. I thought about it, that I could put it in my bra". She's even prancing around in her bra in the video. Big bra fan is Barta. Although it'll be hidden well inside her foil trouser suit come her first (& only) perfromance.
Busty 21 year old Australian born & raised Anja Nijssen is representing to my mind the most disappointing Eurosong nation (barring the UK of course). Historically with all the edge of a Frikadeller, the Danes stage a big show every year and choose the most banal option possible. And lo and behold "Where I Am" isn't exactly spine tingling but it is catchy and strongly performed. I truly believe this is the live outsider of the contest. She's only been speaking Danish for ten months but that's not a problem in Eurosong, as she won't need to get her tongue around D's and Ø's. Side bet on top Scandi entrant? You never know.
Estonians are in the Premier division when it comes to ESC excitement. They have gone big (relative term) with two old-timers, Koit Toome (1998) and Laura (2005). "Laura is the current head of the Estonian Jazz Union while Koit has flourished in the world of musical theatre". No amount of diverting nasally flourish from Laura saves this terrible over manufactured pop dirge (rhyming Drama and Verona is many steps too far). "Laura's favorite way to treat herself is on a Sunday morning with her grandma's pancake recipe". Don't rule out her being back in bed well in time for that during Eurosong weekend.

"Norma John is an indie-spirited pop band formed by Leena and Lasse, two long standing friends. Their music is full of strong cinematic feel, visuality and Scandinavian rugged beauty". All very correct I'm sure, but I take issue with the beauty bit. It's singing stripped bare, so it needs to be good, and it's most definitely not that. There's a synth bit that doesn't appal but the rest is best forgotten quickly. Outside of the ESC bubble I actually have an Auntie Norma and an Uncle John so I should have an affinity with this song. But I haven't because they're grounded fun-loving people, and this Finnish effort is anything but.

Pleasant on the eye 28 year old pianist and singer Alma is "a talented young woman with an ethereal voice and a business school degree". "I speak four languages thanks to the different countries I lived in: United States, Italy, Brazil, Belgium and France" The song is a briskly enjoyable 3 mins of gentle tango, pared down in the offical release to match the likely limited vocal range of the performer. So not likely to turn up any trees but enjoyable nonetheless.
23 year old amateur Jana Burceska is attempting to do what few FYROMese have managed, i.e. well at Eurosong. And I distinctly hopes she manages it. The song is a superior piece of pop fluff, and her promo video is the best of the year. So get your hands clapping "Jana took on the role of UNICEF Ambassador where she promoted schools free of violence". And what's not to like when she says "I’ve done pushups with Batman on the Brooklyn Bridge, Ican rap better than you think and I can pronounce Aufmerksamkeitsdefizitmedikamentenbeipackzettel!" I hope it suceeds because it deserves to.
Like an Eastern Oprah Winfrey, bepermed 34 year-old Tamara is "here to win". I'm not here to burst her bubble, but she won't. It's not very good all told, a ballard powered with B&M batteries rather than Duracell. Her screen background appears to be taken from when the Nostromo explodes in Alien, so I imagine Mr Sand will be holding the trophy muttering "get away from her you bitch", or similar. "Tamara Gachechiladze, who also performs under the name, Tako is a permanent fixture of any large concert that takes place in Georgia's capital Tbilisi". And she'll be returning permanently to hand out tortillas in her name,
I fear the Teutons have turned more than one eye away from Eurosong this year. Whilst the petty distractions of their political & economic future continue unabated in a land far far away, a greyscale non-entity represents their most important cultural annual submission. Apparently the 25-year-old Isabella “Levina” Lueen "is the perfect liaison of Nordic metropolitan charm, a husky voice of international class, and a song that will delight Europe". Well I've heard it and no end of "particularly deep voice, & my long legs" will rescue this Dachshund dinner.

The phalanx that is the Greek entourage will be following 25 year old Dimitra Papadea aka Demy around with hairbrushes this year and generally getting in the way of everyone else in the process. "Demy’s love with music started with piano lessons at the young age of five. To this day she continues to take vocal coaching as well as piano lessons. In her free time, Demy is a diligent Law student". More Euro-dance dullness, enlivened I understand by a Esther WIlliams pool routine from a couple of thumpers. I have the Greeks as non-qualifiers which is controversial, especially considering there's dampness involved.

"Believer, fighter, singer, dreamer, father and Samurai – the many faces of Joci Papai". Get your picnic chair out and pop it on the pavement, here comes the gypsies!"Music definitely runs in the family of 35 year old Joci Papai as his father was the leader of a big gypsy orchestra". Cripes, you wouldn't want that at the bottom of the road. His song is the usual warrior/traveller malarkey sung refershingly in Hungarian with some Yaloma lomma's thrown in. It's not without merit and we may even see his gitáromon in the Final. Top waffle!

"Icelandic singer Svala has been singing since she was 7 years old. Since then she has become a songwriter, judge on The Voice, fashion icon and toured the world!" Add 40 year old Svala Björgvinsdóttir to the list of kooky Icelandic entrants. WIth more tattoos than the crew of The Black Pearl, she mum dances around the stage likes she's at a pilates class. This was in my initial Top3, as a laser-tastic electro number with added chest wig. However it has split opinion, and the kooky factor does remain a worry. Before hitting the stage “I bathe myself in unicorn tears and take a shot of snow on fire”. You get the idea. Still up there for me.


Close your eyes and you'd struggle to recognise a male voice here. 20 year old Dougal sorry Brendan, will be up against it in Kyiv with his choirboy on the turn boyband approach. "Brendan Murray is from Tuam in Country Galway and has been a member of the successful boy band Hometown". With his added helium at hand, the kid Murray will aim to rise high with a derivative ballard that fails to take off. "I come from a musical background, I grew up busking on the streets of Galway in the west of Ireland, singing in local talent competitions". Lovely Girls was it Brendan?


Second-year Visual Communications bachelor's degree student Imri Ziv is a 25 year old who "sings in Hebrew, English and Spanish, he acts, he plays the guitar and the piano and... he Feels Alive!" Israel is always a bit of a damp fan favourite, and what with the thumpers and Mr Ziv's biceps the trend will likely continue. It's highly generic all told and is in the borderline qualifier position. He's been a backing singer for the last 2 years so knows the drill but can he step up from Golden Boy number 4? I very much doubt it.


It was all over early doors this year. As soon as the swish of the Versace coat drifted out of the San Remo festival, the damp fan everywhere was beside themselves. After all 34 year old "Francesco Gabbani was destined to be a musician, his parents ran his Tuscan hometown’s only instrument shop". 50 million Youtube views later & his cheesy routine and guest ape will define the year. It's a cracker, the message is a side issue, the fun infectious. I defy you not to shout "Namaste. Allez!" By all accounts Milan's hotel rooms are already scarce in May 2018.

The purest form of the Eurodaance in the year of Eurodaance comes from Latvia, a loud, brash, and base load of borderline qualifier nonsense. According to the blurb Triana Park's "sound is unique and eclectic as it combines pop and electronic with hints of hip-hop and some bold rock vibes". Agnese Rakovska, is the leader of the band, along with Arturs Strautins (guitar), Edgars Vilums (drums) and Kristaps Erglis (bass) who all "love banana pancakes with Nutella". A riot of colour with negligible taste this performance. Diverting enough to maybe scrape through.
"Fusedmarc are said to have raised the standard for Lithuanian music to a European level immediately after their appearance in 2004". After reading this I understand why we voted for Brexit. All Boris had to do was to play a bit of Fusedmarc and explain it represents "a European level" of music, and it would've been even more of a walk-over. It's pure pants this, includes an unwelcome fiery ring, and is odds-on for last place particularly because the UK isn't voting in this semi. "The work of Fusedmarc is not an experiment but a fusion of maturity, true emotions, and inspiring energy". Okay...
29 year old Claudia looks like a pure Malteser. She has by all accounts "an unique voice. A million emotions. A girl next door by day and glamorous diva by night. That's how learning support assistant Claudia Faniello has been described". She can assist me in teaching how to emote cheesy ballard in a mild breeze. I can't work this one out. It's your typical power ballard, the type we've seen many times before, shared with a fruity cocktail & masochistic enjoyment. The song isn't awful, quite comforting really, and it could sneak into Saturday, but I doubt it.
Forced fun alert! Those with a long memory and affinity for self harm will recall this trio of bleached reprobates. They appeared as an undercard in the 2010 epsiode, when Sergey Stepanov the saxophonist inexplicably came out of it as "Epic Sax Guy". They're kids party fodder, low rate fayre performed with a smile. This is just the type of act that manages to do well enough with the Euro-public to qualify itself, even though the juries will rightly loathe it. "Our performance looks like a small wedding on stage". I give it 6 months.
I would strongly suggest you make sure you swallow your gimlet before Slavko takes to the stage, or you may stain the flooring. "Artist. Theatre. Music. Movies. TV series. TV media. X Factor. One man show. Vegetarian. Cosmopolitan. Those are the words that have been used to describe Slavko Kalezic". I can think of a few others. Apart from the rampant campness, the defining feature of Mr Kalezic is the top know which he uses as a shite weapon, a kind of gay Galdiator. I can't quite believe I'm saying this but the song itself isn't without merit, but the Montenegrins always embrace amateur hour so it's an unlikely qualifier.
OG3NE is made up of three sisters: Lisa (22) and twins Amy and Shelley (21). "The name OG3NE represents their mother's blood type O and the genes that tie the three sisters together". The ever pugnacious Dutch have lashed out with a blow to the gut this year with a family song (written by the father) singing about their sick mother/wife. Straight away that appals me, back story or no back story. As such I can't be too objective as I need a pantomine baddie each year and this is my Widow Twankie. All told ably performed, but won't get me dialling that's for sure. Likely qualifier (no it isn't, yes it is)...
One of the annually larger pre-selection extravanganzas, Norway felt theri best hope was in this low-rate dance number, seemingly about a middle aged man not being able to let go of his youth. I'm here to tell him it disappeared some time ago. "Joakim With Steen is the name behind JOWST. After finishing music producer school, where he also worked as a teacher, Joakim started working as a sound engineer and producer". It's basically terrible, and I forese another non quallifiying year for maybe the most deluded of all Euronations. Apparently we will find his “dynamic mask” interesting. I am doubtful, but I'm in the minority.

Screaming mid-table, screaming Ms Mos will attempt to get the Western European builders and plasterers to pick up their phones and give an mostly undeserving route to the Final for Poland. 30 year old Kasia Mos "is the daughter of Marek Mos, a conductor, and chamber musician", and herself was "part of The Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Review show". A year of relatively few ballards gave Kasia the chance to warble her way up the leaderboard, but I imagine she will be the toilet break of choice instead . Composer mention “Rickard Bonde is one of the co-owners of the Mega Music High School in Sweden”.


Damp fan alert! In a sketchy attempt at amateur psychology, I propose the general outpouring of affection for this slice of tedium is down to the haughty antipathy Mr Sobral has shown to the contest. I can't remember a singer who hasn't turned up for the first week of rehearsals before, instead sending his sister Luisa (the writer) to go through the motions. This means up to press no-one has seen what he'll be like on stage, and so of course logically he's 2nd favourite. Good god. Salvador "is a singer who manages to put across an unique musical sensibility and magnetism on stage". He looks like a bit of a prick to me I'm afraid.

You will of course recall with disapointment how Austria's Global Kryner were treated by the Euro-public back in 2005. A wide-eyed lovably buxom wench yodelled her way through an authentic Alpine nonsense and promptly came 21st in a semi final. I remember it well, but Romania didn't. 18 year old Ilinca you may not be surprised to know is “the only yodelling artist in Romania". And if you love a bit of tonsil gymnastics then she's appears very able. Alex Florea (25) "started singing & acting since he was 16", which shows. This should comfortably progress from the dire Semi, and then go awayowayowayoway.
Well a turn up for the books. Depending on your point of view, either those nasty hosts Ukraine stopped a disabled person from visiting their country, or those arrogant warmongering Russians have no respect for international boundaries. Either way wheelchair bound Julia Samoylova “who performed at the Opening Ceremony of Winter Paralympics in 2014” won’t be at the party after the host government barred entry for having sneaked into Crimea without paperwork. “It was a lifelong dream of Julia's to take part and she worked hard to accomplish the goal”. Oh dear, almost a shame, but at least it's more Eastern votes to share out.
4th time up for Valentina and Mr Siegel, a combination that has now taken on tragi-comic proportions. 42 year old Valentina is "a jazz and funky singer and is currently collaborating with Live Tropical Fish". Jimmie Wilson is a singer and songwriter from Detroit. He came to Germany as the star of Michael Jackson’s musical Sisterella. He's not the problem. Colourblind Valentina's not even a death sentence. The song is though. There's little else to say really. Like Leyton Orient it's an entity that has been ravaged from the inside for too long and needs a bloody strong word with itself. Destined for the National League again.
A nation that seems to always be on the front foot and isn't particularly concerned if it treads on you in the process, Serbia are relatively low-key this year. Facts on Ms Bogicevic are either too dull for words and scarce, however I can states that 35 year old Tijana Bogicevic is a Serbian pop singer, "working with her own band which has become one of the most popular on the club scene in Serbia". Her own bio described herself as "an excellent backing vocalist" & indeed was at the back in 2011 with Serbian Nina. I would imagine she'll be near the back again, even when she gets the chance to be at the front.
We have a returnee in the form a qualified dental technician 35 year old Omar Naber, a guy who proudly "composes, arranges and produces his own material as well as plays the guitar, bass guitar and piano". He took part in 2005 and flopped with Stop. Omar "divides his time between Ljubljana & London where he has been building contacts, performing gigs and has even been a licensed busker on the London Underground!" He is a confident sort, and is employing all the stage tools at his disposal to try and divert attention from a deeply medicre piece of musical torpor. No chandelier in the world can achieve that, I fear. Stopped again.
More grating than a mountain of powdered parmesan, Spain have come up with a deeply cheesy annoyance that doesn't befit their proud Eurosong heritage."Manel Navarro, 21, is a young composer and singer whose music is a mixture of influences from Bob Dylan to Ed Sheeran. Manel, always carrying his guitar, breaks the mould of pop music, with the rhythm of his brilliant song" Come on chaps, we're not idiots. It's a repetitive fatuous fart of a song, a Manchego stain on the Hawaiian shirt of Eurosong. Avoid.

Putting aside the fact that the ever-entertaining MF (Melodifestivalen of course) chose the wrong act this year (Nano btw), power walker piddly eyed Mr Bengtsson is the one we go with. Father and former motocross rider Robin cuts a metrosexual gauche figure, all jeggings & sultry camp looks. “In 2008 at 17, he entered Swedish Idol and literally blew the judges away with his soulful and mature voice”. His pop effort is decent enough and will no doubt hook on the first listen, but ultimately lacks enough soul to project to the very top. And I would have preferred the raw Swedish version too rather than the watered down Father Tedism.


When I started out on this pointless website project, I had it in for the Swiss. All bombastic youth and idiocy, I had little time for a nation that avoided conflict & carried weapons in the boot of their tax-free cars. I've slightly softened in recent years as their ESC songs have steadily grown in quality. Shame then their delegation have poo for brains. They've once again thrown away the oyster and kept the shell. "The band is named after a famous Swiss landmark but Timebelle is also a tribute to a "beautiful time" in Berne". Even the pianist who apparently "achieves his goals with a great deal of charm" won't save this yellow & pink bedlam.


For those ITV viewers out there, apparently there exists a variety show named the X Factor. Well Welsh 26 year old Lucie "I can play the Harry Potter theme tune on the flute AND the piano. I'm a huge fan" Jones was by all accounts a 2009 finalist. SInce then she has sung in The Millennium Stadium, Twickenham Stadium, and Wembley. She has appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures, and has modelled pants. And now she will be seen impressively belting out a monotonous power ballard with all her worth whilst standing inside a shell. So fingers crossed once more even as age & associated arthritis begin to kick in.


The latest "God no, we don't want to host it again" entrant is O.Torvald, not as you might be expecting an Irish Norwegian folk singer, but instead a five-piece leather wielding rock outfit. "Three members of O.Torvald have a military education and two are vegetarians". Statement reads: "This year, as never before, Ukraine should be represented by strong-willed people who achieve their goals and dreams. We are the guys who are fighting for our dream and independence, as well as our country". Give peace a chance. Their song has already peaked at 188 in the Russian pop charts, which may be the best they can hope for.