Another in a lengthy line of Albanian General Kala’s from Flash Gordon, 32 year old Ms Hakati (dad Ron, mum Angela) comes replete with shiny black bodice including shoulder pads classed as dangerous weapons, a washing line wig, & the obligatory body confidence narrative. Not only have we seen the costume before, but the song is an oft recognisable ethnic pop trawl through emotive wailing about some nonsense like “the boy is coming from the mountains, and he came here to find it, goin‘ mad when I whine it”. Expect the usual result, bookies don’t rate it, fans like it, & you'll be checking your plums haven't retreated from t'wailing. Angry.


21 year old Rosa Linn (Roza Kostandyan) has mostly kept her new found fame under a bushel. This was the penultimate song to be released, the time of the year when the damp fan are at the “you never know this may be a banger” stage. Not a lot is known about her but her bland song sort of makes all of that obsolete. Yes, there’s some innate ululation from the Armenian, but at heart “Snap” is a gentle pop folk nothing with a simple and forgettable chorus which touches on the child-like. This small town girl will likely be heading back there in late-May, but at least she’ll be able to travel home in her own floating house with post-its to recall the way.


The honeymoon period is well & truly over. Figuratively speaking Dani Im is whinging to Hiedke on Whatsapp, whilst Isaiah slouches on the sofa, scratching his undercarriage. Even I with my healthy competitive envy and cultural arrogance, didn’t reckon on their tart quandong creative juices drying up in less than a decade. Fairly the UK tend to get lambasted for their ESC efforts but how long will it be before Australia start to get a bit of the same treatment? As for Mr Riley (23), he has Aspergers, is gay, and owns a metal face curtain, at least underlining the factual truth of his dreary ballard’s title.


Euro dance moppets 19 year old DJ Luca Michlmayr, (better known as LUM!X), and 18 yr old singer Pia Maria (make-up artist) have clearly taken B-tec's in the history of Mitteleuropa’s 90’s clubland, and in an entrepreneurial spirit are now attempting to wring the most out of their immature business model. This is accepted as EDM (seemingly a movement created as a collection of 2nd rate 90’s floor fillers). It’s not without charm in a base bass type of way. And we even get a few handclaps thrown in for good measure with the interminable la’s during the bridge. Difficult to see this missing the final or doing well either.


Azeri Voice winning 22 year old Nadir has tried his level best to live down to his name with a swelling buzowm orchestral ballard called “Fade to Black”. However this is certainly a Winehouse free zone I’m afraid. Mr Rustamli (no relation to Tom Thumb/Dr Jacobi) apparently had 7 years of piano lessons, so we must presume he’s at least Grade 4. This is one of those Caucauses numbers that goes nowhere slowly, a metaphorical donkey ride through foggy scenery, until halfway through when the mule breaks loose and runs over the edge of a ravine, leaving our singer yelping about the weather.


Hailing from the admirable city of Antwerp, 21 year old Mr Makiese is another Voice winner, “promoted” to the big Eurosong show. He’s now settled in Uccle apparently, which sounds quite Hobbiton. He’s also a goalkeeper with an interest in Geology but I won’t trope out the “a rock with a safe pair of hands for Belgium” type comments. He is presenting us with a pop funk piano power ballard, thing, along with a touch of the African gospel/pop (Congolese by descent) which has waved it’s arms few times in recent years and done OK in the process. As a genre mash-up it should have plenty enough quality to qualify but doesn't stand out.


...recording and performing with names that have previously collaborated with the likes of...Phil Collins”. Good lord.. A heinous effort, there’s something of the upside down when Bulgaria get it wrong. Reminiscent of their '05 harrowing bow, this aged group of Les McQueens (band name without a hit of irony) win the hotly contested annual Kaffe award with a terrifying drum heavy, heinous guitar thrash. Maybe once famous (I’d walk into a urinal and heads would turn), I feel that is no longer the case. It’s a shit business.

Clumsy with the black eyeshadow, 29 year old Mia has a couple of long players to her name in her home nation and in the mis-named “Guilty Pleasure” has generated a flaccid breathy Taylor Swift pop-lite number. It’s got a lot of words which not only pall quickly, but also make it a bit of a trial for the popstrel as she fumbles at the male love interest. Even after all the effort she puts in, I defy you to remember this tomorrow, and by the looks of him he won't either.


According to the official blurb, if you are a “keen pop fan” you will know that Andromache’s star has been on the ascendancy. Are you a keen pop fan? If so, you didn’t need to know that, and you’ll also know about 26 year-old man fighter Andromachi Dimitropoulou is of German/Greek descendancy. She has come up with your typical olive fuelled rouseabout with drum beat blocking out the usual lyra/bouzouki stuff. All very recognisable eyes and thighs, and a douze from Greece but little elsewhere.


Whilst this act is fronted by a striking Czech ice hockey daughter, I wasn’t surprised to hear that this trio is two-thirds Norge. They met in Leeds which explains why their lyrics are blunt, but also why they don’t like unnecessary domestic electricity usage. “Lights off” is redolent of the early noughties Norwegian electro-pop sound which at it’s best was era defining. Whilst not close to the Royksopp pomp, this effort does succeed with a punchy hook, and even if the vocals are iffy and their filthy bedsheet references don’t shout family friendly, it should have enough to get an oft-ignored mitteleuropa nation a ticket to Saturday.


Admirable & abject in equal measure, I give you Denmark in the Eurosong. Female 4-piece glam punk rock outfit REDDI need some capital name action to garner attention. More female empowerment, the message is showing “the world that women can do everything on their own”. I’ve already made the jar comment. In the promo shots the lead singer Siggi has the look of a wigged-up Andy Pipkin suggesting she needs a new promoter. The key change will garner a few votes from the am-dram Rocky Horror Show community, but thankfully there's not enough of those in the shadows for a place in the final, surely.

Yee-hah. From the wild flat tundra of the Jõgeva County comes 24 years young Stefan Hayrapetyan, an Armenian by parentage. With a rather lovely sounding vocal coach called Hedi-Kai Pai, Stefan has worked on his Desperate Dan accent, as “Hope” is a mildly agreeable country-pop anthem. Sure, it offers nothing new, but his background means he can bring off the vibe without noticeable long vowels. Stefan has also been seen recently as a winning Masked Singer monochrome ram, so presumably performing in front of the shoulder-padded Italian great and not so good will be childs play. So more cow pat pie than fine dining.

A big name, The Rasmus have had hits, the vast majority of which passed me by. They have the comforting familiarity of highly repetitive Finnish soft rock. In case you don’t spot it, the song is called “Jezebel”, I counted just the 25 mentions throughout the song, but it feels like many more times over. As a result the anthemic quality rapidly irritates and it doesn’t have enough to lift it even close to reigning champion’s glam podium. It’ll need a crazy crazy Saturday night for these aging rockers to taste triumph but good on them for best representing their nation. Still looking forward to a Kuunkuiskaajat return in ‘23 though.


Apparently this has a very strong Breton heritage, but to me it sounds like Bulgaria ‘07 without the big drum. I spent a few family holidays there back when & I don’t recall whooping students playing the mouth organ. Mind you, I never visited the community halls during techno hour, I must have left for bed after the bingo. Seen as novel that its sung entirely in Breton, the French have recently been singing in English, so traditions are already being burnt in the middle of the motorway. This is dated ethno electronica by the numbers o my bleeding ears. So certainly not Grand Bretonica, but probs will do better than those à travers la Manche.

Every Feb I wait in mildly aroused anticipation for a hot quality mess emerging, & feast/famine I try to celebrate those that have little regard for the ESC heritage behemoth. I reckon we should exalt the outliers trying to be something else, regardless if madness lies within. Circus Mircus are a 3 piece performing 3 songs in noticeably less than 3 minutes. They “honour the golden rule of anonymity” although it disconcertingly appears one of them is a reanimated Sid Haig. If the joyous nut-job feel of the song is anything to go by, expect bonkers. It feels apposite to choose an oddity as my song of the year which has the added benefit of being actively disliked by the dampfan. So vote 4 it. Now, right now, right now, right now.

Looking like an employee of the John Lewis christmas gift preparation department, gentle rapper Malik is a 24 year old German with a solid grasp of English presumably due to his US father. The somnolent wave which washes over you during “Rockstars”, a generic pop-soul James Blunt type number is rudely interrupted halfway in when he launches into an Eminem tribute act, a segue as welcome as a fart in a lift. So it offers nothing new, gets an automatic ticket to the Final and a place on the right of the leaderboard. 6 inch ribbon curls, honey.


25 year old Norwegian Greek Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord is an unusual break from the flat pack Athens model. Trained in Medicine she has put her studies on hold and is instead hoping that the healing properties of music can help to break down barriers...probably. An understated pop ballard suffering from over simplicity, but “Die Together” is undeniably strong on paper & the generic message ticks some strong current boxes. It builds nicely to a tub-thumping climax, and then promptly ends Yohanna-style, which means it won’t take home the ultimate prize. Likely to go close, even if it adds nothing to the pantheon of greats.


Hypnotic understated MOR country acoustic 3-piece, Systur are siblings of generally equal height, gently swaying thru 3 minutes of calming nothing. For flavour they have recently “focused their activism on trans children’s rights”. The song appears to deal with that hoary subject of SAD, I would imagine equally important to focus on locally. A couple of my family members (sisters, as it happens) have difficulty looking at one of the systurs & while a tad harsh, if 50% of my household is reflective of the wider public, then it spells trouble. Personally I believe there is something positive about 3mins gentle swaying. Hush hush (þei þei).


23 year old Brooke Scullion, apart from having a name like a Victorian scallywag, hails from north of their border & finished third in the UK Voice (which I didn’t realise was still going tbh). Her song is the type of childish uptempo pop-fuelled romp which would have done well at the MF. In a different hall I could see day-glo placards with “Brookeing great” scrawled in thick marker. She’s another Oirish entrant who without heavy backing involvement may well have her work cut out for her. Probably more downstairs than upstairs, leaderboard wise, but one to offer support for nonetheless, debased by the elite as she likely is.


Subtle it ain’t. Taking extra hand luggage for the eyeliner requirement, according to the blurb Mr David’s “emotional openness won him more and more fans as he went on a journey of self-affirmation". Which tells you everything you need to know even before you see his air brushed visage. So to the Eurosong staple of camp emoting via the medium of throwing shapes. Throw in a soggy chunk of wailing, a soupcon of gay rap, and a mildly nauseating chuckle and you have a full cuddly toy winning bingo card. Anyway the lyrics underline that MBD knows who he is, and I’ve got a pretty good idea as well. A generic non qualifier.


I’m a big fan of the Italians in Eurosong, but their efforts finishing highest tend to be the ones that leave me colder. As with last year’s glam rock victor & Soldi in ‘19. And so to the re-appearance of Mahmood, this time all nayked and oiled up with another rapping BLOKE (caps) from Brescia. Between them they have the pressure of defending the crown, and are going with a similarly falsetto slice of sophisticated autotuned power ballard. Not surprisingly the damp fan favourite, it will likely have a fair run at back-to-back victories, but with a video containing a pair of tinselled choppers I wonder if Europe is quite ready for it. Not for me.


Back in March it was very likely the EBU put a special emergency Zoom call in the diary with the Latvian delegation, once they heard the opening line of this toe-curling monstrosity “Instead of meat I eat veggies and pussy” Janis proclaims, whilst presumably reaching for a dictionary to find a less offensive word that rhymes for the semi final. Not that this is the only dubious line in this tacky pop effort, so quite a few words may have to be edited. It may be best all round to edit the whole thing, as “Eat your salad” is a tasteless mess that Latvia can often excel at, and with added saxophone you’re in trouble. Marks for chutzpah, but nothing else.


Winner of the Baltic bowlcut of the year 2021, jazz steeped 34 year old Ms Liu employs a 70’s synth with wonderfully amateur aplomb. Like an absinthe fever dream, Toad Monika drawls about waving at seagulls and somehow gets away with it. Refreshingly, rather than being a contestant on the usual talent shows, instead Liu is on the panels, suggesting she knows what she’s doing, even if the song suggests otherwise. Evocative of dinner parties at the Leadbetters, “Sentimentai” is heavily scented with screwdrivers from the formica cocktail cabinet. Whether it's deserving of a re-appearance in the 20’s is very much open to debate.


22 year old Emma’s lips aren’t the only thing about Malta’s entry this year which suggest filler. Malta changed their song at the final hour, and went with “I am what I am”, a wholly characterless pop ballard about (you guessed it) empowerment. Honestly if everyone was metaphorically empowered as a result of Eurosong, we wouldn’t have an energy crisis. Undeniably a pretty thing, her obvious lissom charms aren’t enough to take away from the content. Apparently Emma’s family are big in Malta’s pregnancy clothing industry, so expect plugs for padded gussets & breast pumping.


3rd time at the show for the act sitting at the end of the alphabet, the pointy hatted goons who shocked many with a 6th all the way back in 2005, and did something similar but more forgettable a few years later. No surprises, it’s gypsy fuelled folk nonsense, all breathless fiddle scratching and hey-ho's. Moldova aren’t one to push the envelope in musical terms, but they sure know how to put on a show. The act will be one more appearance away from equalling the all-time record number of appearances, which is something few will be in a rush for, but the universal disgust from the damp fan may well be mis-placed.


The recently slowly decreasing representation of the Balkan nations was boosted by the return of Montenegro in 2022 following a brief sabbatical. So I was willing to tone down my natural instinct of distaste for the Balkan balllard on the basis they were at least taking part. However this is irredeemable garbage. Another one dressed by Ming the Merciless, 35 year old Vladana Vucinic has an interesting lip line and another line in magazine editing. All told, she seems a lot more interesting than her song which feels destined to non-qualification, unsupported by neighbouring pals.


21 years young, Stien den Hollander is a waif songstress & rapper from Hoorn. She’s popped the rap into her fun cupboard, and has instead laid bare her maudlin drawer for “The Depth”, an understated naval gazing lost love Dutch folk-pop which has much appeal, especially sung in the right language. To me, this is in the “Birds” league, which is solid praise. The Dutch are starting to give the Swedes a run for their money in the production stakes, but without the effective red lasers seen on local teevee then I fear for its chances to go deep. Oeoeo, aha, the headliner from Hoorn..

They're still called North Macedonia..When it came round to write a bit of nonsense I was uttlery flummoxed both before (as I had completely forgot what it sounded like) and after (as I had zilch original material). “Circles” feels slightly more modern than your average Eurosong effort, and is borderline okay as a result. 22 year-old Andrea Koevska tries to employ a mildly soulful voice which makes sense as she’s spent time away from Skopje whilst living in New York. The only other thing I’ve written down is the notable use of Hassidic payos braiding which I don’t recall mentioning before. I often think I’m going in Circles myself...


What you think of this will likely depend on your opinion of yellow pointy wolves talking bananas. My, there’s some nonsense on show here. Their blurb dribbles on about “Subwoolfer, the biggest band in the galaxy, got together 4.5 billion years ago on their home planet… the Moon”. This is going to do OK, & not just with the kids either. The chorus is slightly catchy, the autotune fits in with the basic bass, and one of them is called “Keith”, the optimal rhyme for teeth. So all in all not the abject mess many are saying, a guaranteed finalist, & such well-oiled schtick likely to trouble the top 10.


US native 22 year old Krystian Ochman is another Voice winner, and the grandson of a Polish tenor (which I use to pay for vodka). “The River” is a peculiarity, a piano power ballard that doesn’t appall. The bridge lasts about half a second but I’m willing to forgive and forget. Mr Ochman will have his job cut out with some heavy vocal lifting that’s for sure as it meanders along before plunging into an emotive flood with lingerie lady faces. A timely & thinly veiled message, and there is goodwill aplenty for Poland currently which should help (even though as we all know politics doesn’t enter into Eurosong). Water chance 4 a good result (Partridge tm)


27 year old Mariana Brito da Cruz Forjaz Secca studied in the US, and has gifted elegant low key indie folk in the inimitable Portu-geezy style. MARO (those darn capitals again) is clearly more than capable and wrote this about her sense of loss for grandad, which is nice. She is accompanied by her 4 harmony gal pals, all of which make a whole greater than the parts. It’s hypnotic really, filled with a near whispered harmonies, a touch of electronica, a dash of percussion, and a sprinkling of warming clapping. The brief chorus is very repeatable, and the feel is lush. Undisputed quality of the year which must mean something, right?

Maybe the most effete man ever to attempt a Med-fuelled thumper, “beatmaker” wrs (not capitals but unrelated in any way to his birth name of Andrei-Ionu Ursu) is metaphorically selling a line of 2 berth Colemans every time he flounces out of his boudoir. Looking to the Costas for inspiration is a funny look for Bucharest, and “Llámame” is an affected watery Pans People fondue of dubious quality. A massively annoying ear worm of a chorus which also has the disappointment of lodging the sight of Mr wrs carefully plotting his leather clad posturing around the stage in your head. I can confirm wrs doesn’t stand for Worcestershire Sauce.
Just the 75 acts took part in their pre-selection Una Voce per San Marino which by my reckoning is about 0.2% of the entire population. After all the nonsense, the selection process spat out 31 year old metrosexual tatted Achille, a glammed-up Verona native who really fancies last year’s winner. Loosely described as a “song”, his ropey vocals overlay a truly sub-standard rip-off of Måneskin crossed with Sweet, although the red bull may raise a smile. He needed a tune and a vest and got neither. Stripped of any chance whatsoever.
Wowzers. English speakers may double take when Konstratka (aka 41 year old Ana Ðuric) quotes Meghan Markle in the opening line of “In a healthy body”. You will likely have an opinion, be it a piece of performance art decrying private healthcare system & inflated expectation on personal beauty, a public service message about keeping well, or just an onrushing unavoidable wave of faecal matter. But with lyrics such as “The pesky spots around the lips point to an enlarged spleen. That‘s not a good spleen, not a very pretty spleen”, I lean to both 2 & 3. Either way the sight of the angular singer clapping & washing hands for 3 minutes will live longish in the memory. The by-product is electro beat & sore hands.
Choosing a student band was a funny shout, even by their standards, confirmed by the international fan as nailed on no-hopers in Feb. LPS (Last Pizza Slice) throttle a turgid pastiche of mid 80’s lounge music, a kind of Balkan bastardisation of Matt Bianco. The song starts very badly and halfway through slows to a crawl, a dawning realisation that the whole exercise hasn’t been worth the effort and they should just cut & run. The dirge then re-starts and you can feel the audience sigh in despondency. Even the disco ball doesn't move. Horn farts appear near the end, signalling the final death throes of a cadaver’s bowel emptying.

31 year old Cuban diva Chanel Terrero has extensive stage experience so should contain her charms within the inevitable duurrty clenched thong. The claptrap song (“..I got him making zoom, zoom, For my yummy”) feels like a bread basket heavily soaked with not so virgin oils, accompanied with a debilitating bout of IBS at the end. To my ears its Hispanic drivel by the numbers, but the one note hook has somehow garnered damp fan adulation & is an early pacesetter. You can’t be too harsh on the Spanish who've had a bad run of it Eurosong-wise in recent years but this isn’t one of their best & it’s certainly not driving me loco.


Anna Cornelia Jakobsdotter Samuelsson (30) has that timeless Swedish hair last seen on Birmingham Ulrika (my kind of town). The superpower have gone for a hospital corners pop ballad, an EBU jury wet dream. No need for flashy lights here, just a minimalist coloured circle backdrop which accentuates the gargly drawl of Ms Jakobs (confusingly pronounced like the cracker). I didn’t see what the fuss was first watch, but there isn’t a foot or note out of place of this oil slick, catchy entry. As I type this sits as bookies 3rd favourite, yet Cornelia’s impressive emoting may get them to the very top of t'Eurosong birch tree.


28 year old Marius Hügli started out as a busker, which seemingly caused him to turn into Clare Balding after a heavy night. And here endeth my positivity. He should have taken some advice from his first album “Not loud enough”. If music is food, then there’s negligible sustinence to sink your teeth into here, a drifty jazz-lite ballard, a metaphorical nil by mouth song. He sings it well enough but you’ll be hard pressed to remember it tomorrow. After the last few years I’m not quite sure what the Swiss were thinking & hope they don’t fritter away all the positive energy with this diet of rice cake with low fat cream cheese.


How do you solve a problem like UK/BBC? A laughing stock in Eurosong terms, too long we’ve seen a conveyor belt of undercooked youngsters given sub-standard safe songs, staged amateurishly. I’ve felt like Peter Finch in Network. Well, maybe this is a lenghty stride forward. TikTok beardy Sam (32) has impressed in the build-up, but his song, whilst undeniably & frustratingly unoriginal, is a step up on recent years. Sure, a high pitched power ballard isn’t my cup of char, and with more strip lighting than the Tube, & it powering into 2nd favouritism a week out, cue mild disbelief. All told a top10 will be a triumph. Cross everything


As written into the EBU regs, there's no room in Eurosong for politics. Apart from times of war of course, when a gaggle of thumpers, waifs, and weirdos banging about on stage for 3 minutes reminds us of how trifling the contest is. So to Kalush Orchestra (since pictured fighting for their country), & their messy ethnic hip hop over-cooked pudding of a song. Coming 2nd in their pre-selection in early Feb (subject matter the singer's gran), it was promoted to the ESC ticket a mere two days prior to the invasion. Ultimately this year’s contest will simply come down to whether the juries & voting public want to make a political point. And there’s unlikely to be a more germane moment to test the theory. Win or lose it will be impossible to criticize this unoriginal mildly irksome ethnic number, so I’ll make my point now.