So by the time these final six songs get to perform in front of an audience of music lovers, 18 songs will have fallen by the wayside. Doubtless some of your favourites will be among then, and doubtless plenty of those I’ve tipped for finalists spots will have gone too. Either that, or I’ll be collecting a handsome number of Azeri Manats from the Serviette of Doom.
I’ll try and ignore the obvious proviso that how these songs fare may be affected by the songs that eventually get drawn around them. But as I gaze over yonder to the church of St Olav (at one time the world’s tallest building), I ask myself what I think of them…?
United Kingdom – Now I know in one of my former blogs I said that Eurovision is a young person’s game. But these words may come back to haunt me when Mr Dorsey-as-was performs his song a second time on 26 May as the credits roll up at the end. If you’ve got a seasoned performer singing a song suited to them, age is irrelevant. Cut back on the high risk strategies of fire-eating, women spinning around in boxes, fat guys dressed as penguins and twins of restricted growth, and a carefully crafted song in the right pair of hands will always do well. The Hump is on first, so Mrs Peres de Sousa of Faro will get to see this marvellous song before her port-induced stupor kicks in. So it might, just might, surprise us all. Go the Hump is what I say.
France – Air Miles Anggun appears to have been going where no French performer has gone before, namely every national final going, including her little stint in a Hellenic shopping centre. The French aren’t known for casting their net far beyond Francophone shores for Eurovision but I think this is a pretty good effort. It’s instantly catchy and includes bits in French and, heaven forefend, English. And she’s fairly easy on the eye too. All in all, them Frenchies haven’t done half bad.
Italy – A welcome return from the cold last year, our Italian cousins have kept up the good work, even though they may have been spooked by the prospect of winning and so changed their song. To my ears, it has that same friendly vibe that Serbia’s Nina gave us last year. It’s altogether inoffensive and what’s not to like about a decent Italian song. Top 10? I hope so. Top 5? Maybe. Winner? I doubt it.
Azerbaijan – Hmmm. What to say without sounding unduly harsh? Well, she looks pretty. A lot of the fannage out there really like this but I think it’s just a ballad too far. No doubt she’ll perform it well – better than her ‘interesting’ tribute to Whitney Houston all those months ago anyway – and our Oghuz hosts will go all out to showcase their three minutes of host-nation pride. But it just doesn’t hit me in the same way other songs have this year. It’ll be a respectable-for-the-host-nation top 10, but I can’t see the Eurovision circus having a second year on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Spain – I’ve said it many times that this country has the potential to easily win Eurovision, and I’d positively relish two weeks of Contested-ness near the Costa Brava. But like their football team did for many many years, Spain just flatter to deceive. They missed a trick last year when they picked the wrong song for Lucía Peréz. This song is their best entry for a few years and may well give them their best showing since 2004. But it’s not a winner.
Germany – It’s a little known fact that this guy used to be called Etruscan Toss until they realised it might offend some quarters of Europe. So Roman Lob he is. I understand that this song has three illustrious British born writers, including Jamie Cullum. It’s another one that has something about it, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s not as dull as some people claim, and he has a decent enough voice. The songs around this one will be key to how it does.
So can I pick a winner? Can I b*gg*ry. I rarely have in the past, so I won't this time. Just as long as the 'right' song wins. And as long as the show is enjoyable, who cares?