While my most learnèd colleagues deliberate and cogitate over this year's crop of songs, I'm giving you, the discerning reader, my humble thoughts on them all. These are in the second half of the first semi-final. But you probably knew that already.
Belgium – I remember a long time ago in a country far far away actually tuning in one Sunday morning to watch the Belgian final. Three songs and a three hour radio show with webcams if I recall. Who says RTBF doesn’t take this thing seriously? Sadly, I think plucky little Belgium will be way down in the order when we see this semi-final’s result. Poor little Roberto appears to be like a lamb to the slaughter this year.
Cyprus – I always like it when Cyprus sings in Greek. It sets them apart from the anodyne singing in English in a bad accent that often happens. However, it’s a ballad sung by a pretty girl. Amongst lots of other ballads sung by equally pretty girls. And the thing it’s missing it Greece in the same semi-final. Will it qualify? I’m not sure. I’d like it to but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t.
Ireland – Ah, Ireland. I have to take my hat off to you. You’ve finally got that twin fixation out of your system, and now you can move onwards and upwards. This time, much to my surprise, I actually really like the Irish song. It proves that a good song trumps a hackneyed gimmick every time. It uses the odd Celtic element (see Denmark) but I think this has more reason to do so. It’s a qualifier.
Lithuania – Year after year I wonder what goes off in Lithuania. I should show a bit of solidarity with the country, but I’m still not convinced they ‘get’ Eurovision. But they completely confound me and end up getting through the semi-final. What are they doing right that the likes of the Netherlands are getting so so wrong? I just don’t understand. The song itself is a little odd – it’s got a 80s vibe about it. The guy wears a top hat looking like someone out of the Clockwork Orange. But it might, just might work.
Moldova – Yet another ballad. Now there’s a novelty. She’s a very striking woman with a bit of a bedhead and a long dress combining the Linda Wagenmakers and Sabina Babayeva looks. If she’s book-ended by two fast songs, she’s in with a chance of a place in the final – as Moldova often manages to wangle. Otherwise, I don’t think this will go anywhere.
Montenegro – I love Montenegro. Rather than trying to pick something they think Europe might like, they just pick something they like. If Europe doesn’t like it, that’s just Europe’s hard luck. I think this song is incredibly brave, and incorporates all of those things that no-one else dares to try. I would love love love this to finish 10th or higher on 14 May. People of Europe, you know what you've got to do.
Serbia – I like the Serbs. Over the years they’ve entered quality ballads, usually written by the Balkan Dennis Waterman (written the song, presented the show…). This time we have a Serb for every mood. I call them nice (brunette in white), nasty (brunette in red and devil horns at a jaunty angle) and neutral (blonde in gold). Easy on the eye ladies not singing a ballad? A refreshing change. I suspect this will be another one of those vote sponges. Although we did say that about the lovely Femminem a few years ago.
I hope you can't wait for Part III. I know I can't.