The song title translates as "return to your land" amd begins with the lyric "you sing and cry". I belive there's a typo there, it should read "you sing, I cry". Jon & Ida is not as you may think a 50's folk duo from Accrington but your archetypal Balkan chantreuse. Ms Maliqi is a "well known influencer and fashion icon in her home country" though whilst her vocal range may stretch far and wide, her influence doesn't reach beyond the Tiranian literati, so it could either end in tears or the warbling loving masses may put a smile on her face.


To be seen bouncing around reality shows in the near East, 25 year old Srbuhi Sargsyan, or more catchily named Srbuk (pronounced Sir Buck) lands in Israel with "Walking Out". She can also play the Qanun which was a new one on me & it looks a lot more complicated than her song which once it gets going after a couple of false starts should just about stop you from walking out of the room. This is a borderline qualifier but could put up enough glam to reach Saturday. "Walking out (uhuu)"


Overtly moist gushing over "what does Eurovision want" acts continue to flow unabated. Even when supposedly good I thought Aussies stank, so obvious fears were realised when this warbling fag hag won thru with a monstrosity of an operatic dirge (I'm sure she's lovely really). No wonder she's hitting those notes with that pole up her nether regions. I can't work out if it's motion sickness or just musical nausea. And no, an opera house on a bay doesn't mean they can assail our eardrums. Her album "featured a new song written for International Women’s Day, 'You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude'". No I haven't. But people are idiots.


Big & blue Gabriela Horn aka Paenda, actually with the "A" and "E" stuck together for some pretentious reason, will be "expressing her vulnerability" with her song "Limits" which is actually about having no limits by all accounts. It's a tedious trawl this, a certain non-qualifier. Particularly teeth grinding is the "talking about chew" chorus which makes we want to try & slap a smile back onto her face, frankly.
Apparently "her style is a mix of electronic, hip-hop, pop and techno, avoiding pretentiousness or cliché". All evidence points to the contrary I'm afraid, love.


Now lets get any puerile semen dripping off a face comments out of the way, because 28 year old Chinjizz Mustafayev means business. The Russian born singer songwriter looks like he has a friend who runs a costume jewellry business, his promo video abounding as it does with pearl necklace. Mr Mustafayev plays the guitar (but not the skin flute) and "loves the company of his dog, kung fu and yoga". He's a millenial who performs this very passable dance lite number with some gusto which is likely to end in a money shot on Saturday.


In a year of stage names, I get why 16 year old moppet Zina Kupriyanovich would summarise her name to Zena. Notable for co-hosting that step too far that is the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, in addition to her refreshingly hirsute eyebrows, she has a moribund popstrel dirge to try and escape from the semi finals. The Belarussians tend to struggle for pan-Euro appeal especially considering in economic scale terms they are indubitably at the "queuing for potatoes" end. Ask yourself "Issa gone to like it?". I would imagine it's unlikely.


18 year old schoolkid Eliot Vassamillet is another to drop an unwieldy surname in a futile attempt for short term Euro musical glory. He lives in Mons (somewhat confusingly not at high altitiude) and "has a passion for English pop and melancholic songs", so you can expect him at the front row of Black reunion gigs. After a strong Belgian run, the Walloons turn is likely to slow the recovery. "Wake up" will disturb you from your slumber and after 2 minutes you'll be pulling the covers back up and putting the pillow over your head. Disappointingly flaccid and may not even be back again on Saturday.


Averitable old timer in 19 year Roko has kept his given name which is where the congratulations begin and end. I've done my 5 minutes of research and the only other postiive I can glean is that the one and only Jacques Houdek has co-written this nightmare, but as a writer the industrial levels of cheese won't be on show, leaving a chasm of earnest horror. "The song is about the eternal struggle between good and evil, where 19-year-old Roko represents the good." And the song is the evil. It's in the stronger semi, and thankfully has very little chance of progressing through, divine intervention or not.


38 year old Tamta Goduadze (wisely dropped the surname...) is a veritable oap when compared to her gyrating peers. After last year's Cypriot glory with a skin-tight ball busting diva, they're replaying the formula almost to the letter. So it's out with the goose grease and the startlingly unflattering fashions, and let's stamp on the floor like we really don't care for it. The song, like it's predecessor, is mildly catchy though hardly earth shattering and should progress to the final. But they'll be hard pressed to hit the podium in 2019, although her heels will smash into the stage.


Can you hear it? It's the sound of the Czechs getting their act together. Here's a quirky little yoof number that adds a soupçon of originality. It's likely you'll be reaching for the mute button at first but I reckon it works into a weirdly endearing little tenor ditty. They've clearly put work into sounding amateur whilst being professional. It's a modern little love song and it'll deservedly breeze into the final. There's also a nice little social media split screen job on the promo video, and if you're going to name yourself after an expanse of water I for one am pleased they didn't choose Shitagoo or Minnewanka.


Whilst her outfit of braces and high waisted pants makes her look a tad too Eva Braun for my liking, the message of the song is quite the opposite, a saccharin loaded cheesy fondue message of acceptance in multiple languages. Whilst this is definitely an issue, and her 68 teeth are there for all to see, the overall package has a mildly distracting addictive quality which kind of draws you in to the pointlessly daunting flat-pack chair. I think there's more mentions of "love" then there is blinking.

27 year old Vic Heart, Victor Crone is that relatively common breed, a Swede representing Estonia with a nasally drawl that fits well in Tallinn. The damp fan seem to keep referencing AVICII whatever that is. All I can hear is a song that sits firmly in the middle of the paint in the middle of the road. It's a perfectly passable plainly bland C&W dance-lite number with quite a distracting vt effect. The blonde woman must be annoyed with not getting a credit though.

A learned 43 year old Ville Virtanen is Darude. Proof that one-hit wonders don't go away (if you don't recall Sandstorm sold over 10 million sales back when music was ropey yet tangible) even if you probably want them to. His national final performance was housed in an boxy interpretative dance vessel which was utterly inexplicable. The singer (in quite a loose sense) quells any atmosphere the song struggles to build with his startling rubber jeans, and it's a mainly depressing experience for anyone who grew up with edgier dirtier stuff than bland EDM. Having said that its been broadly positively received by the damp fan.


19 year old Mr Hassani appears to be a spearhead for the latest French LGBT set. There's all sorts of 80's cultural references on show here. His act is described as "urban pop meets the great tradition of the French chanson" but the song "King" brings to mind the New Romantic namesake, Bilal himself is a barking afghan hound, and the presentation reminds me of the end of Ghostbusters, with Zool and one worryingly big door guard. When all said and done "Roi" isn't without merit and that's coming from a bloke who tends to come out in hives whenever a power ballard breaks out.

 29 year old Oto (looking more like a 49) appears to either be in significant amounts of pain or is an angry dog whisperer. Either way he looks like he's nipping down to the corner shop for 20 camels. The lyrics to his mumbling rock disaster are translated in parts as "Walk much! Seek! Find!" which feels like a demand to his pitbull. Basically this is a torrid affair, truly a one-time listen. Not even all the apocalyptic backdrop in the world could distract.

The duo is called Sisters, the song is called "sister" and they aren't even sisters. Carlotta (19) and Laurita (26) are the mismatched females who don't deserve a pass to the final. I don't know if they'll take the revolving black square to Tel Aviv, but if they do I recommend they add Prince Baron aswell as spikes for that added frisson of...well anything really. All the earnest frowning & leather chaps in the world can't disguise the off-key trifle of the song and if it gets a middle slot in the final, I'd consider this a judicious point in proceedings to take a leak.


On first hearing "Better Love" I disregarded it swiftly, which tends to be an accurate reflection of its chances. Having dipped my toe into the damp fan overwhelmingly positive leakage, I felt the need to re-appraise my initial ambivalence. Canadian-born 29 year old Katerine is lauded as having a strong range which is great for her kitchen. So here's my definitive review; it's not good at all. The Alan Partridge produced ladyshapes video confuses, the "silky" voice mildy irritates, and the song itself deeply depresses. So the re-appraisal merely served to re-affirm Greece's chances are, once again, being massively overplayed.


In many ways the travelling community is a sensible demographic for a ESC entrant. They're not afraid of travel, comfortable with putting up with baying promo crowds, sleeping in budget digs, upselling a single or two, & pooing on roundabouts (made the last one up). Big Papai is back for the usually solid Magyars, having already provided ethno claptrap in 2017 to some success. His 8th place appears to have been overlooked by the damp fan, & on the face of it he's basically re-produced that effort in 2019, so the jury's out on his scatalogical roadside endeavours (just to re-iterate there's no proof that Joci has ever pooed on a roundabout).


Prepare yourself. Hatari's song "Hate will prevail" is apparently "the group's first bold step in their global plan to orchestrate the inevitable downfall of capitalism." Wowsers. They'll be burning your life savings whilst dressed in S&M bondage gear which will no doubt make it more palatable. Fair to say it's one of the more intruiging entrants of recent years, a guttural stylistic performance that will linger in the visual memory, if not aural. They're testing the theory that neo-liberals can't be fun & I'm tempted to ask them who's going to pay for their funky contact lenses & rubber facial appendages when the global market goes south.


Despite the ignominy of having failed to represent San Marino last year, 25 year old make-up artist & mother of one Sarah bounced back by trowelling on the slap and impressing her own Irish internal selection. She appears to be a game bird, and her song is a simple, charming pop nothing & as such is likely to struggle mightily. It'll likely need interpretative dance and snow on a bridge or such like to delude the masses. She clearly must at least like the idea of Eurosong if she's willing to follow in Monetta's shoes & take a toddler to Tel Aviv for a fortnight, so it's a general thumbs up from me & I wish her the best.


And so to the hosts, who maybe, after that mad mountain of Netta nonsense, had a board meeting, considered all the options at their disposal, then probably got a call from the Knesset about a) the budget and b) the message, and took a completely inverse route. Apparently having lost 8 stone when he was a kid (what he heck did he look like? Netta?) super-dieter Kobi has an utter shite ballard with which to finish in the obligatory bottom 3 host position. It's coldly horrible anyway even if you don't interpret the lyrics as a tub thumping nationalistic dirge. I really dislike this one.


Ah, Bel Paese! Thank goodness for Italia, every year they provide the most intruiging song (albeit incurring the chargin of the right leaning PM), and most years they bomb. And so to 2019, with 26 year old Alessandro Mahmoud & a song about an absent dad & having an absent chorus. Mahmood co-wrote it "with Dario 'Dardust' Faini and Charlie Charles", no less. It's like a few songs in one all of which entertain. There's a bit of arabic, a touch of clappy clappy to "Money" but mostly there's the melifulous language that appeals. One of the two leading contenders of the year, but rarely does justice prevail.


Described as "bringing a distinctive vibe and sound", this soporific four piece are this year's sleepers, literally. I don't anticiapte anyone would come to the party expecting a remedy for insomnia, but Carousel could oblige. Back in 2007 their southern neighbours sent 4Fun which was similar but decidedly better. That crashed and burned and this will too. It's best described as mellow country pop which should have you rightly worried. It's in the only competitive semi final and is highy llikely to be uncompetitive.


28 year old hunk Jurij (full name Jurijus but wanted to drop the "us" apparently) is another singer desperately trying to emote their way out of a shocker of a song. The lyrics of this official Botswana tourist board effort ask to "Come on come on, let your feelings out". Well ok then, in safari terms the song is the dung of an elephant suffering with a digestive tract complaint. His high notes rise and then plummet to the african plain where hyenas rip their throats out. The chorus is as strong as a gazelle with a manky leg. It's utterly without merit but still when all said and done it may inexplicably qualify.


Having reverted to minnow status after a good start to the millenium, could 2019 be the year where Malta belie their traditional televoting weakness? As a nation they've also suffered from Chiara-like weight of expectation in recent years, but with colourful "Chameleon" I reckon they have a solid chance of getting on the left side of the leaderboard. Teenager (18) Michela has a semi-fresh pop stomper on her hands, which gathers air well and then disappointingly deflates into a chorus which clearly pays homage to Boy George. Still, good news for the plucky ESC nation.


27 year old Anna hopes "to represent the country with dignity, I will do everything for that". Well, she's got a job on. Moldova have relied successfully on the fake folk fun in most years so of course they've bypassed all of that and transported us back to 2004 when the world was young, and a bit of lazy rhyming power ballard was enough to win the thing. And there's something traditional about "Stay", the type of tradition we're used to but would probably be better off without, like the Boat Race or the Daily Mail. She won't be staying for the weekend.


D mol "are a young Montenegrin vocal group of six singers that was formed at the private music school of Daniel Alibabic". Teenagers bar one, you get the feeling they had to speak to their parents for advice on how to sing this distinctly unheavenly track, and got six different answers. With all the harmony of a 2019 Cabinet meeting, D-Mol vainly try to wring some music out of a song that isn't just falling, it's plummeting headlong into the abyss of ESC non entities. Likely last place in the worst semifinal in ESC history. Gulp.

They're getting afraider in Breda because with 25 year old Duncan de Moor (changed to Laurence.?.?) the lowlanders have the song of 2019, and is rightly the hot favourite to win it all. There hasn't been a famous Duncan for a while but the song does that tricky job of being an ESC ballard which feels a tad novel. The song has an understated, dreamy quality that packs a punch, and big Dunc is able to show off his capable vocal range. For the record "Arcade" isn't about the hook and duck, but about the death of a loved one. Subject to the presentation being passable, I can't see this being beat. Goodhew & Norvelle have company.


Newly re-named the Republic of North Macedonia, RONM doesn't have the same ring as FYROM but that's progress for you. Many more serious people than I are celebrating "Proud" with its message of female empowerment. 33 year old Ms Todevska has already appeared in the ESC back in 2008, memorable for cleavage that pleasantly distracted from the song. That irony isn't lost on me when taken along with the context of her current power ballard, but frankly politics (albeit gender politics) is not an area I need when I'm mixing cocktails at the weekend. The song feels like an afterthought to the dress & it's many angles.

I don't know where I'm going to go when I die, but I'm hopeful Keiino aren't waiting for me. A europop duo but wait, who's the gooseberry? Why yes it's Sami Fred Buljo, an altogether enjoyable addition who's interesting vocal delivery sounds a touch like a dog trying to dislodge some Winalot from his wind pipe. By all accounts he is joiking. No, I'm serious. A "joik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place". You can decide what he's going for in this effort, but I'll guess at Paul Shane having an allergic reaction in a pet shop. Ignoring all that nonsense, the jury's out on this one. Final top10 or DNQ, can't decide...

I never knew that my daughter was an adept exponent of the rather worringly named "white voice" technique, apparently a traditional Eastern European style of singing. All this time I honestly thought she's just screaming when I asked her to turn Youtube off. Tulia may look like the milkmaids but that's where similarities end. To be overly generous it's pleasing to see the Polish langauge get an airing but the edge is very much added by the incessant screech. Their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the silence" had their fans (& I quote) "wiping tears from their eyes in amazement". Ha ha! I just can't see the Euro builders rescuing it.


Deep exhale...Well the artistic vogue that is Portugal may be at it's zenith/nadir (delete as appropriate) in 2019. A touch of the lyrics to illustrate..."I broke the cell phone, trying to call heaven, ... or if I’m the one who dies. Who kills who, who kills who, kills? Who kills who? I don’t even know". 30 year old Conan (not his real name) used to be a sex-shop worker but self-taught songwriting using the Fruity Loops program. Says it all. His face mask & nail set up is novel, he looks like a rutting komodo dragon, the act is so far out there it ain't coming back, & the damp fans are drowning in their own fluids. I'm arid.Is this the end for Porto low art?

25 year old Ester Alexandra Cretu (shortened to Peony) had a very bad Sunday. No big lunch with the family for her, nor a hangover visit to KFC. No, she appears to have been dumped and then spent the day in a chain smoking pit of despair (appropriate for someone born in Campulung) from which it appears she is yet to climb out. There's certainly a touch of "ey, ey, eeey"r worm to this song, and she appears to be a capable singer. However it's mostly dull so shouldn't get anywhere near the left side of a leaderboard.

You can already chalk up 100 points for the megastar Lazarev before he's opened his mouth, and I'm not sure his Soviet fans are aware how he "adopted his beautiful dog Daisy from an animal shelter in 2012. Daisy inspired him to create a small business called Poodle-Strudel" (much catchier than "Confectionery for Pets" as advised in 2016). You may recall Sergey's funky walking on white boxes in 2016, an effect which shrouded ropey manufactured pop-tat. His effort this year is all about fully dressed men stuck in shower cubicles which scream low level Kirkorov. Likely shoo-in for a top 5, but he won't get a UK pass.

In yet another 2016 link, I really enjoyed Spaniard Barei's "Say yey yey yey" in fact it was my song of the year. San Marino's wasn't. Little did I think that 3 years on guttural Turk lounge lizard Serhat would provide an almost similar level of cheesy joy with "Say na na na". In 2016 he crashed & burnt, yet I hope he soars in 2019. At the time I described Mr Hacipasalioglu as salacious & sybaritic, exactly the same qualities that make this tacky pop low-rent effort a real wow. Sure, you wouldn't it on repeat but once in a blue moon when you're soaked with gimlet it will unashamedly go down a treat. Pub singing tastic with added gravel.

My well-worn Balkan "ballard balls critique" gets a suitable airing here as "Kruna" is exactly the type of song that I simply can't summon up any enthusiasm to review. I feel like I've heard it all so many time before that a blank page may better reflect my thoughts. Svelte 24 year old Nevena can certainly hold a tune, it's just the tune isn't worth catching.

Seemingly unlike the majority of the damp fan I like what Slovenia tend to do in the ESC. This time around it's downtempo electronic, replete with Adidas and millenials, not historically a vote winning genre it has to be said. Zala is the minimalist vocalist, a lady of shallots in joggers. "Sebi" (translated badly as "Oneself") is one of the few standouts from the Tuesday semi which isn't difficult. Following the screaming Poles certainly won't hurt, however we'll see if two disinterested shopworkers looking bored doing inventory in a murky storeroom will go down well on Saturday. Partay!

"A musical landscape where Catalan rumba and Latin percussion flow together with warm horn arrangements is not foreign to Miki, given his time as frontman of the cover band Dalton Bang". Miguel Núñez Pozo (shortened severely) is a 23 year old with a song translated as "The Blindfold". It's the usual upbeat Hispanic fun-sized fiesta with unecessary house arrangement, however we all know how this kind of fluff historically struggles on the ESC stage and I reckon this is one of the weaker examples, warm horn or no warm horn.


I used to think soul & gospel were equally ESC poison, that was until Cesar pulled off a frankly confounding 3rd place last year, so maybe all bets are off. Whilst ex-100 metre runner, 36 year old John feels like yet another in the Melfest pop production line, he is also co-writer of the UK entry as well as the performer of this entertaining number, so his feet won't touch the ground for a few weeks. He has the best epilepsy inducing backing choir I can recall, Shrek-like pecks, & hear me, one of the best songs of 2019. I like this in all it's 90's Vandross glory.


In the olden days of ESC, Swiss success was built upon trans-border cultural larceny, smaller nations looking abroad for "talent" and "ideas". More recently they've been succeeding at squeezing limited quality out of what they have. So along comes 24 year old Luca, a native of Bern with a strategically enlightened Latino stomper with a touch of the East thrown in. The promo video is a winner, with a lead woman who looks like she would eat little Luca alive (sadly strategically replaced by some alarming acquaintances), and much will depend on whether his dance moves can sufficiently woo. It isn't a classic but a guaranteed strong result.


Another overstretched distinctly average blaardy ballard from the Brits, sung by a lamb to the slaughter. Pray he's not going to have the same post-ESC bitterness of that other Michael, and that he's given a fair crack of the whip because he'll need it. 21 year old monkey hanger Michael is a real warbler, one of those over-indulgent r&b singers who lets a note stay on far after it's outstayed its welcome. Add this to the pretty shabby material at his disposal, and sadly I can't get as enthused about this as much as he clearly can, which is just about the only thing to his credit. That, and his fantastically Northern 80's flat perm.