Here is a brief overview of the first semi final of Eurovision 2012. I have also included a prediction of the ten qualifying countries as well as a prediction of their final position. Of course these are only my opinions so please feel free to disagree! It's difficult to judge these songs before seeing the performances - no doubt this list will change before May 22nd!
"Euro Neuro" performed by Rambo Amadeus
I like this! Although it’s possibly too weird for most, hats off to Montenegro for trying something very different. It's essentially a man rambling to music but extra points for a song which manages to fit in the words "nationalism" and "nudism". It’ll be interesting to see how it’s performed live since the donkey and topless women featured in the video won’t be allowed on-stage!
Qualifying? No – too outlandish for most.
"Never Forget" performed by Gréta Salóme and Jónsi
This is a dramatic and moody ballad. I think the transition to English has really strengthened this and both singers can belt out a tune. It builds nicely but I’m not sure if it’s instant enough to be a hit with the average viewer.
Qualifying? No – although the juries are likely to appreciate the atmospheric performance.
"Aphrodisiac" performed by Eleftheria EleftheriouGreece know how to “do” Eurovision these days. A pretty girl with a catchy pop song and strong choreography. This is similar to their entry from 2008, "Secret Combination" which came third. If the performance is reasonable this could see Greece doing well. Note that the preview video is taken from their national final which was held in a shopping centre. It seems that austerity has even reached Eurovision in Greece!
Predicted position in final: 7-12
"Beautiful Song" performed by Anmary
This is a bizarre entry, it's very radio-friendly but ultimately a song with nonsensical lyrics. Normally I dislike songs which name-check anyone let alone “Irish Johnny Logan” however I really like this! It has a good melody and she knows how to work the camera. Extra points for the surprise airport flash mob in the video!
Qualifying? No – I think the average viewer will struggle to understand it
"Suus" performed by Rona Nishliu
Albania is a country that knows how to stage even the weakest of songs. This starts out as a very slow ballad and the singing is understated. Then the Mariah Carey style
wailing singing begins. Whilst this style is not everyone’s cup of tea I think the juries will go for this in a big way. She’s got a good voice and she’s not afraid to use it.
Predicted position in final: 16-20
Predicted position in final: 16-20
"Zaleilah" performed by Mandinga
The first contender for victory this year. This is a turbo-folk song from Romania which will appeal to the Balkan countries. It’s insanely catchy, happy and rather feel-good. I can see this doing very well indeed and a bet on Bucharest 2013 might not be a bad idea.
Qualifying? Yes – with ease and if it gets a good draw in the final it might be one to watch.
Predicted position in final: 1-5
"Unbreakable" performed by Sinplus
The Swiss national final was a highly anticipated event this year and saw the return of the very first Eurovision Song Contest winner, Lys Assia. At 86, she's a sprightly woman and a legend in her own right. There aren't many OAPs who can stand in crowded nightclubs in stilettos at 3am like she did in Oslo! I even
flashed her showed her my kilt.
Alas it was not meant to be and Lys was not selected, Switzerland therefore lost out on what would have been an excellent media story. "Unbreakable" is similar to their 2009 entry, "The Highest Heights". This song could be a radio hit in the UK. It’s a good, credible pop song and deserves to be in the final. However it’s at an immediate disadvantage in that “nice” doesn’t always cut it.
Qualifying? No – although very borderline.
"Would You?" performed by Iris
This is a quiet ballad performed by a pretty girl. However it is incredibly dull and does not seem to go anywhere. Would you? I’d rather not if it’s all the same.
"När jag blundar" performed by Pernilla Karlsson
This is another quiet ballad and it's a rather unusual one. It's an interesting choice for Finland as it’s in Swedish. However with Sweden and Norway unable to vote in this semi it might lose out on valuable points. Pernilla bears more than a passing resemblance to Debra Messing from "Will & Grace". The woman
flailing dancing around serves as a welcome distraction of what is essentially a rather dull song.
"Time" performed by Izabo
After the failure of Dana International to qualify to the Eurovision final last year, Israel have changed direction and opted for something different. This is a very interesting choice, the song is a happy, quirky and a competent piece of music. Izabo are an established band and know what they are doing. They will perform the pants off this song and will sail into the final.
Predicted position in final: 12-15
"The Social Network Song" performed by Valentina Monetta
San Marino caused a storm of publicity when it was announced that their entry for Eurovision 2012 would be called “Facebook”. This contravened the rules of the contest and they had to change the title. The song remains the same, except "oh oh" has replaced "Facebook" in the chorus. I personally love this song. It's an unashamedly trashy and fun pop song. Oh and I admire Valentina for having the
audacity guts to pretend to be a teenager when she isn't and hasn't been for a while! She reminds me of a character from Bad Girls - Shell Dockley anyone?
Qualifying? No - the final will be all the more poorer without this though.
"La La Love" performed by Ivi Adamou
Cyprus is back with their strongest entry in years. This is a good pop song and one which, when played to non-fans, has been listed as an entry which stands out. Ivi mimed during the national final so the jury is out on what the live performance will be like but it’s certainly one which will get people up on the dance floor in Baku. If she pulls off a good performance it could see Cyprus up there in the running.
Predicted position in final: 5-10
"Should've Known Better" performed by Soluna Samay
This is a pleasant enough song and the live performance is strong. However this bears more than enough resemblance to Seal’s “Crazy”. I personally don’t really like this one that much and find her jacket and hat combo is very irritating! Still, I think it will pick up the votes along the way.
Predicted position in final: 8-12
"Party For Everybody" performed by Buranovskiye Babushki
This is one of the most anticipated acts of the 2012 contest and has arguably had the most publicity out of all the entries this year. It is of course Russia’s grannies who beat Eurovision winner Dima Bilan and Tatu's Yulia Volkova in the national final. What starts out as a slow song turns into a disco stomper. This is a fun entry and I defy anyone to watch these ladies and not smile. Vocally it's not great but it doesn’t need to be, it’ll get those votes! Watch the juror's face at 1.54 in the video! Another trip to Russia is not entirely out of the question.
Predicted position in final: 1-5
"Sound Of Our Hearts" performed by Compact Disco
After Hungary's return to form last year, this is a credible entry performed by a competent group. This song is inoffensive albeit a little repetitive, ultimately it doesn’t do much for me. Good video though.
"Woki mit deim Popo" performed by Trackshittaz
Every year there's a "crazy" song in Eurovision and this is it. This will no doubt be a sticky point for commentators across Europe. How does one get away with broadcasting the word "Trackshittaz"? When this song was selected it upset a few fans. Rap and Eurovision don't often go together easily. This is noisy and brash but ultimately very different. It stands out by a mile in a rather dull semi. There's effective
gimmick work choreography and to quote Sir Terry Wogan, I see this "going big in the hall". I think it will qualify but ultimately the jury vote in the final might be where it falls down.
Predicted position in final: 20-26
"Lăutar" performed by Pasha Parfeny
This song is jazzy, Latino pop song, it's instant if not a little repetitive. Pasha has a good voice and performs this song with ease, he looks happy on the stage (but needs to ditch those trousers!) Overall this comes across rather well. Guaranteed 12 points from Romania.
Predicted position in final: 18-24
"Waterline" performed by Jedward
Compared to last year, Jedward have been quiet so far this year – do they have any tricks up their sleeves? This song is not as instant as “Lipstick” but I like it a lot. The lads are growing up and this entry reflects that – it’s a love song! I think it would be more effective if they ditched the flamboyant costumes and big hair and kept it simple. However that wouldn't really be Jedward. Mentored by the Eurovision legend that is Linda Martin, this will be a performance to remember for sure!
Predicted position in final: 10-15
Predicted Qualifiers from Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final One:
(in no particular order) GREECE