Australia?? Yes, for some reason best known to the organisers, Australia gets to have an entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. No, I don't understand it either but then we've had Israel, Turkey and Russia, as well as lots of USSR states of old too. I've always thought Russia's inclusion was stretching 'Europe' a bit but when they were being friendly and co-operative and all was sweetness and light it seemed OK. Israel has always been a curious entry too but you don't like to argue with either Israel or Russia do you?
Anyway, here are the last six entries. These all get automatic passes to the Final and so can chuck whatever rubbish they please at us and many time in previous years some have done just that. Not having to get votes to participate in the Final took away some of the care in choice of song sometimes. Again, I feel a couple of nations didn't try that hard. Make your own mind up.
There's a vaguely Bruno Mars sound and beat to this. It's an OK pop song and pretty modern but not very memorable or interesting. All at the same tinny volume. No shade. I guess it's all sunshine in Australia. The singer looks as though he might be part aboriginal which is neither one thing nor the other but it did make me realise that I hadn't seen a single non-white face throughout all the performances I've seen so far.
I don't think Australia will do terribly well. They may squeeze into the Top Ten on votes from people intrigued as to why they're in the competition - a sort of welcome or thank you gesture like you give the host nation.
They've got another performer with long hair and a beard but this one is a bloke. A pretty solid, passionate performance although the falsetto bit didn't do much for me. All competent enough but unlikely to fare well and it'll just be the nods of votes for the host nation that'll keep them off the lower tranches of the listing.
France**A strong and well-sung ballad in traditional French style. I think it is about the war and destruction of a village on the coast somewhere. I like French female singers and this is a pretty classic example although she is a bit older than the 60s ones I admire most. A few years ago France had a tremendously good song that the singer messed up on the night and it fell from being favourite that evening to bottom later that night. If this lady does well and she can somehow connect a bit better with the voters than she does in the video then France could do well this year.
GermanyGerman girls singing in English have a strange accent but that didn't harm Nicole a few years ago. This is a tedious track. Doesn't stand a chance, I'm afraid, despite the girl's intense efforts. There's just nothing there. Compare this to the preceding and following tracks.
Italy^***I am sure I have heard of Il Volo before. That's more than I can say of any of the other acts this year. This group sing superbly and it is a good song too, in good, classic Italian style. The video is annoyingly totally irrelevant and puts one off the track rather than drawing us into it so that may mean it comes across better as the guys do it live on stage. If the voters are in a slightly more classic mood then Italy will easily take the prize this year. They are a definite contender. One of very few.
Spain^***I have loved Spain's entries recently, especially last year's by Ruth Lorenzo and an earlier year which had a video with a horse and a pretty girl that I thought was amazing but not many others did. Here we have a very attractive blonde and a strong song too. It's good Euro stuff this and ought to make the Top 10 but votes for Spain have been few and far between for reasons I don't understand in the past.
United Kingdom^***Well, when I first heard this I thought it was fun and UK doing something a bit brave and definitely an improvement on the annoyingly formulaic 'message' song of last year. We used to do so well in this competition but after several very dull years of ancient pop stars, dull performers and average groups we have become too accustomed to finishing up well on the right side of the board. This, I believe, will bring us back where we belong and should be a certain Top 10 and, for the first time in ages, I believe we have a serious chance of winning. It's a 20s or 30s tune, and if the two main singers do it well and have some nice backing there so that some effort to reproduce the video is feasible then they will get support from the voters.
Unless we have offended anyone we ought to do well. Oh, Russia. And that means null points from quite a few other nations too.
So, that's it. There go all this year's entries. 10 will be selected from each of the Semi Finals and then those 20 with these 7 will perform in the Final. Looking at the betting odds, there are predictions that some good entries might fall in the Semis which could have a serious impact on the overall results. I have y ideas as to the few potential winners now but the Top 10 eludes me at the moment. It's going to be a tough year and I may have to make several changes if the Semi Finals mess up my plans!
More about that later.