We're nearly there...
10. Croatia – We’re nearly there with les ex-Républiques Yougoslaves. I understand Nina Badrič has seen a summer or two and her voice seems to reflect this. It’s maybe a bit too similar to the previous song, but doesn’t seem to have the same impact. To be honest, in some quarters (but not all) Eurovision is a young singer’s game. Will this qualify? No.
11. Sweden – What do we have here? A potential winner? The most over-hyped song since something by Kate Ryanair? To be fair, it sounds like a lot of other songs that have been successful. It reminds me of something from the era of disco by Donna Summer, so should suit those born in the distant 1960s or 1970s. I think it might be tooooo obvious to win, and its draw in the final will certainly play a part. The crucial second spot in the Saturday night final and it’s dead in the water – a tactical draw near the end and we could be at some 65,000 seater arena on the outskirts of Stockholm with a 9pm local start time in 2013. Will this qualify? As sure as my name is Riigiametnik.
12. Georgia – From the sublime to the downright ridiculous. Jocker? Joker? Is it code for something special in Tbilisi? Between winning his ticket and releasing his video, Anri seems to have got 30 times kitscher. I don’t think Georgia have really tried this year – in the words of my old history teacher Mr Pruun, “Could do better”. Will this qualify? No way Pedro.
13. Turkey – The Turks have reverted to type this year, with a typical crowd-pleasing ethnic pop. I didn’t realise Mr Bonio was one of Turkey’s small Jewish community, and this definitely has a bit of Kletzmer about it. More please I say and the prospect of a Turkish party with a bit of kosher food thrown in sounds good. Will this qualify? Yes
14. Estonia – Yeh!! Time for a bit of class. Three upbeat songs and then we have a perfect song to take things down a tempo or two. Ott has stayed in his native eesti keelt which is right and proper. I think it starts a little like Nilsson’s classic ‘Without you’ and it builds just as well. OK, so I can’t be totally unbiased, but don’t you like a site that actually has opinions? Anyways, will this qualify? You betcha.
15. Slovakia – One of Eurovision’s most unlucky countries tries something different and they have to be commended. There’s no other song like it in Baku and it grabs you by the unmentionables and says ‘listen to me’. Some of the watching populace, if they haven’t been roused during the previous song, will be when MJM/Miro Šmajda struts his funky thang. Will this qualify? I’d like to think so, but I think the unlucky streak will continue.
16. Norway – Following on in the great tradition of Iranian born performers at Eurovision (Arash of Aysel and Arash, erm, that’s it), Tooji does his best to be the 2012 vintage of Eric Saade. This sort of shtick has worked before, so who’s to say it won’t work this year. After all, he gives a very slick delivery and this time the glass all shatters on cue (oops, that was last year). Will this qualify? Yes.
17. Bosnia-Herzegovina – A pleasant little number from what seems like the same team that wrote for Amila ‘Morticia’ Glamočak in the dim and distant past. Does this go anywhere? Well, it’s just pleasant. Nothing more, nothing less. But she is very pretty, and a few voters in dirty raincoats might find that rather appealing. Will this qualify? I think it’s just too ordinary to qualify.
18. Lithuania – Finally we have a refugee from some boyband who is paying tribute to such illustrious names as Serafin Zubiri, Csaba Szigeti and Diana Gurtskaya. Then he decides it’s in poor taste and ditches the blindfold he probably got free on the Emirates flight to Brisbane. This is a bit too George Michael for me and not the best way to end a semi-final. I still think Lithuania hasn’t quite ‘got’ Eurovision yet. Will this qualify? No.
So, from this bunch of musical goodness, the 10 qualifiers I’d pick are Serbia, Netherlands, Malta, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Norway.