So, here we are again, another Eurovision season is upon us. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone without a hitch. Last year, Ukraine won in controversial circumstances. This year, the entire organising committee have already quit en-masse, and now Russia’s entrant has been banned from entering the country after the Russians flouted the rules and sent her despite her being pro-annexation of Crimea in the first place.
And now they’ve officially withdrawn from the competition. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
As with Romania’s song last year, I will keep my review of the Russian song in (even though the song was a bit, well, dire), and hope that they come back stronger next year.
Anyway… on with the show!
ALBANIA (Lindita – World): As with most recent Albanian Eurovision entries, I didn’t like the Albanian version, and now the English version isn’t much better. My favourite song of theirs is still It’s All About You from about seven years ago. Everything they’ve sent since has been, well, questionable. And that bothers me because they used to send decent songs. Sorry Albania.
ARMENIA (Artsvik – Time To Fly): It’s not the best song Armenia have ever sent but, then again, it’s not the worst either. I can actually see this one doing well to be honest.
AUSTRALIA (Isaiah Firebrace – Don’t Come Easy): Australia are back for their third Eurovision with this, a nice little ballad sung by a young lad with big hair who sort-of resembles Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on a good day. I’m also taking part in a Eurovision sweepstake and have been given this song so it had better do well! I can’t see it winning, mind you, but I still hope it does well.
AUSTRIA (Nathan Trent – Running On Air): WOW, I LOVE this! I can do indie. I can do pop. I can do indie-pop. This is a cool, upbeat, funky little song and better than anything the Austrians have sent for the past couple of years (although I did like their French song last year – but not as much as I love this one). Bravo!
AZERBAIJAN (Dihaj – Skeletons): For once, I actually wouldn’t mind Azerbaijan finishing in the top 5. This song is actually just outside my personal top 5 but I wouldn’t mind if it finishes higher on the night. I love a bit of electro-pop and this song is actually rather good. At least it’s not one of the dull and boring ballads that seem to have taken over Eurovision this year and that’s a good thing.
BELARUS (Naviband – Historyja Majho Žyccia/Story Of My Life): For the first time in Eurovision history, we’ll hear Belorussian for the first time. That’s not a bad thing – it’s not a bad little song. How well it’ll fare on the big stage though remains to be seen.
BELGIUM (Blanche – City Lights): WOW! I’ve loved this song from the start and it’s one of my top 5 overall. Love it!
BULGARIA (Kristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess): Is this Bulgaria’s answer to Justin Bieber on a bad day? Despite this being one of the favourites to win the whole shebang and take the glass microphone back to Sofia for the first time, I don’t like it. Poli was much better. Sorry Bulgaria!
CROATIA (Jacques Houdek – My Friend): Who decided sending a solo artist singing a duet by himself was a good idea? This is just plain odd. See you in the semis.
CYPRUS (Hovig – Gravity): Last year, Cyprus sent a rocking good song, which I loved, and which sent them into the final for the second year in a row. This year, however, they’ve gone down the rubbish pop route again. Sorry Cyprus. I’m out.
CZECH REPUBLIC (Martina Bárta – My Turn): Yaaaaaawn. Next!
DENMARK (Anja Nissen – Where I Am): Denmark have actually listened to me for once and sent the one song I wanted them to send. And, we have not one Aussie, we have two – albeit one that’s part Danish singing for the Danes. Whether it’s enough to send them back into the final after two years of failure remains to be seen but I hope they do. I’ll be waving my Danish flag too (yes, I HAVE one…). Held og lykke Anja!
ESTONIA (Koit Toome and Laura Põldvere – Verona): Another song I’ve loved from first listen is this one from Estonia. Both Koit and Laura have previous Eurovision experience (Koit back in 1998 in Birmingham with a song in full Estonian and Laura as part of Suntribe in 2005 with Let’s Get Loud – which, coincidentally, was ALSO held in Kiev), so I hope the ‘second time round’ curse doesn’t strike again – I wouldn’t mind this song in the final!
FINLAND (Norma John – Blackbird): Finland have let me down for the last couple of years by sending rubbish songs. This year, they’ve sent a slowie. It’s not the one I wanted them to send, mind you, but it’s still a goodie nonetheless.
FRANCE (Alma Maquet – Requiem): Oh my word, France have, once again, sent a belter of a song to Eurovision. The Frenchies ARE learning after all! The full French version was so much better though but I still like it nonetheless.
FYR MACEDONIA (Jana Burčeska – Dance Alone): Oh my word, Macedonia are learning! They’ve gone from sending crap songs sung by women with gravelly voices to sending dance bangers. And I LOVE it!
GEORGIA (Tako Gachechiladze – Keep The Faith): Last time this young lady tried to represent Georgia, she was part of a group that were disqualified for singing a song about Vladimir Putin. This time, she appears to have learned her lesson. Well done!
GERMANY (Levina – Perfect Life): Oh dear, Germany. You appear to have nabbed the backing track for Titanium for your Eurovision entry. Not only that, but the song itself is a bit, well, rubbish. Good thing you’re already pre-qualified otherwise I fear this may not have even made it past the semi-finals.
GREECE (Demy – This Is Love): MUCH BETTER GREECE! After last year’s Utopian let-down, they seem to have brought back the dance banger – and, what’s more, I love it!
HUNGARY (Joci Pápai – Origi): I believe this is Hungary’s first ever Eurovision song sung in full Hungarian. It’s not bad but it’s not good either. It’s still better than some of the songs on offer this year, though, so I can live with it.
ICELAND (Svala – Paper): Poor Iceland. Much like fellow Nordics Denmark, they’ve been robbed for the last two years, so let’s hope they make it back into the final this year. This song is wonderful!
IRELAND (Brendan Murray – Dying To Try): For the second year in a row, another ex-boybander is singing for Ireland (it’s more Hometown than Westlife this time round) and, what’s more, they’ve had the help of Louis Walsh in the choosing process. Sadly, in some of the live videos, Brendan sounds like he’s been having trouble with his vocals. He needs to sort that out – we need Eurovision’s most successful country back in the final! (I SO wanted them in the final last year, as I loved Nicky Byrne (and still do) but, sadly, his vocals were a bit off-key and my second country were ROBBED!)
ISRAEL (Imri Ziv – I Feel Alive): OH WOW! I LOVE this one! Israel actually have one of my top 3 songs this year and will be waving my arms Francesco Gabbani-style to this song. Anyone got an Israeli flag I can borrow?
ITALY (Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma): Speaking of Francesco Gabbani, here’s MY FAVOURITE SONG OF THE YEAR! Last year, Ivan from Belarus wanted to appear on stage with live wolves, which was turned down. This year, Italy have gone one better – they get a guy to dress up as a gorilla and do a funky dance routine and, what’s more, the song is rather jolly and upbeat and Francesco himself isn’t too bad looking either. (Whoops… did I say that out loud?)
LATVIA (Tirana Park – Line): This one’s a bit shouty for my liking. Sorry Latvia. Next!
LITHUANIA (Fusedmarc – Rain Of Revolution): Sorry, Lithuania, but this is crap! D- for effort. See me in my office and we’ll discuss what to do next. Moving on…
MALTA (Claudia Faniello – Breathlessly): YAY! Claudia FINALLY made it to Eurovision at the ELEVENTH(!) time of asking! Unfortunately for Malta, however, the song is a bit, well, dull and I can’t see them making it past the semi-finals this year. I do like you, Malta, and I know you can do so much better than this. You should have sent Kevin Borg or Janice Mangion if you wanted to reach the final again. Sorry. PS: I’m coming back in September. Hope you’ll forgive me.
MOLDOVA (Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma): EPIC SAX GUY IS BACK! And it’s a little foot-stomper of a tune as well! Love it!
MONTENEGRO (Slavko Kalezić – Space): A topless bloke with weird hair singing a crap song about stars and space? No thanks. Next!
NORWAY (JOWST – Grab The Moment): I actually hated this one at first but, weirdly, it’s grown on me. It’s still not my favourite from the Scandinavian/Nordic countries, mind you (that accolade goes to Denmark and Iceland) but, if it gets Norway back into the final, I won’t mind.
POLAND (Kasia Moś – Flashlight): I’m afraid to say that this song does nothing for me. Kasia can sing but it’s a bit bland and boring if I’m honest. Sorry Poland!
PORTUGAL (Salvador Sobral – Amor Pelos Dois): BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING. This will probably either send me to sleep or make me go to the bog for three minutes. Sorry Portugal. You might be back this year but I’m afraid you won’t much further than the semis with this song. I’m out, and so are you. Next!
ROMANIA (Ilinca & Alex Florea – Yodel It): Another country with a really weird song is Romania. And it’s not the first time they’ve sent something that’s, well, odd (remember Cézar from 2013?). Welcome back Romania, and good luck. You’re going to need it.
* RUSSIA (Yulia Samoilova – Flame Is Burning): On the one hand, I can see why Russia thought sending a wheelchair-bound singer to Eurovision was a good idea (they’ve been booed in previous years due to their political views and the banning of gay propaganda). On the other, the song was a bit, well, dire. Unfortunately for them, Yulia herself confessed to being pro-annexation of Crimea and performed there since Russia annexed them from Ukraine. Ukraine didn’t like it, wanted her banned under new laws, and then they got their wish when Russia withdrew exactly a month before the contest. Is it really a shame? I’m not sure. I preferred (in fact, I LOVED) Russia’s song last year but this one really was bland and boring. Hope they come back next year with something that isn’t likely to send me to sleep. That is all.
SAN MARINO (Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson – Spirit Of The Night): Has someone been scraping the bottom of every barrel in San Marino again? Is this REALLY the best they could come up with? Still, at least it’s upbeat, so it’s not all bad.
SERBIA (Tijana Bogićević – In Too Deep): Another country with a decent little upbeat song is Serbia. Tijana can sing and she’s swinging in a hoop. Oh, and there’s a fit topless bloke in the video as well. What more do you want?
SLOVENIA (Omar Naber – On My Way): The words bland, dull, boring and sleep-inducing spring to mind. Stick to the winter sports, Slovenia. Next.
SPAIN (Manel Navarro – Do It For Your Lover): Oh dear, Spain. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. You’re usually so much better than this. Does anyone have Enrique’s number?
SWEDEN (Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On): Whilst it’s better than last year’s dross, they still didn’t send either of the songs I wanted, so I won’t be supporting Sweden again this year. I don’t like this song. Oh, and can Robin cut down on the swearing a little bit? I know I swear a lot but it really isn’t necessary on the Eurovision stage. Thank you.
SWITZERLAND (Timebelle – Apollo): This isn’t a bad little song but my favourite Swiss song of recent times was the guy with the violin. That one qualified. I can’t see this one getting much past the semis. Sorry Switzerland. Must try harder.
THE NETHERLANDS (O’G3NE – Lights And Shadows): Another band with previous Eurovision experience are these lovely ladies from Fijnaart except, when they sung at Eurovision the first time round, it was in the junior version. This song isn’t too bad, despite it being a ballad, and I hope that, for the second year in a row, the Dutchies make it into the final. It isn’t the same without them!
UKRAINE (O.Torvald – Time): This year’s hosts (without the mosts). Did someone in Ukraine lose the memo that songs called Time don’t always fare too well on the Eurovision stage? Israel tried it and failed dismally, as did Belarus, so I don’t expect this one to do so well either. Not only that but the song’s a bit rubbish anyway. I can do rock but this is just crap! Make the most of hosting this thing this year, Ukraine, because it’s not going back to Kiev next year.
UNITED KINGDOM (Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You): If, like me, you’re a massive fan of Midsomer Murders, you may recognise this young lady. Lucie can sing, she can act, she’s got the good looks and, what’s more, she’s delivered a decent-ish song for us with the help of previous Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest, who won back in 2013 for Denmark. Whether it’ll help bring it back to the UK remains to be seen. After all, we have just signed the papers to leave the European Union…
And that’s it! But who’ll win overall? All will be revealed on 13th May…