Yes, it's that time again. All the entries can be seen and listened to and we can start to try and figure out whether there might be any surprises, just how good is that favourite and I can do some very complicated sums to ensure that I don't lose any money.
The video link above plays all the 16 entries in the first semi final. I may select a few later and promote them as my own tips for the Top 10 but for the time being I shall just add a few comments on each below.
This may be all you ever hear from me about many of them!
MoldovaThey've made a reasonable effort with this average 80s style song. It's not Wendy James, though, and just doesn't stand out, probably not making the final.
Armenia*An interesting song that tells a story with a Celine Dion sound-alike, a younger girl and some serious bloke. A well-written track with a fine strong ending but I am not sure it'll grab the attention and votes it will need.
Netherlands**Why yiy yiy yiy. There, you'll remember that bit. Not quite the class act of last year's marvellous Common Linnets' runner-up but the low lands are trying again. With a decent female singer, neither young nor blonde, it has a catchy phrase or two but it doesn't win any awards for its lyrics. I sort of like it and do wish them well, although I am not totally sure why yiy yiy.
Finland*I remember Lordi winning and this sounds just like them, several years older. A bunch of strange old folk. They are all said to have learning disabilities, whatever that means. Brave effort and I don't think we have ever had this sort of entry before although some may have been verging on the insane. It's a punk band of sorts but not a memorable track other than visually being so weird. They ahve got a lot of early attention, though, and I suspect they my pick up quite a few votes just for the effort made. Remember last year's winner probably gained a significant proportion of votes for the statement being made rather than the song or singing. I dislike it but can't discount it.
Greece*Breathless Maria-Elena seems to be trying too hard. Greece always do seem to be in or near the Top 10 and ought to repeat that again with this solid song. It's not spectacular and gets quite confusing towards the end as you're not sure quite where the song is going. She certainly makes the most of the title. It's not a winner, though. If you want a pretty blonde in a nice dress, choose Russia.
Estonia***The first three star track I've heard. A good song, with two excellent contestants who seem to know what they're doing. Why didn't you wake me up? should have been the title but it isn't. And the bloke's called Stig so he has to do well! I'm not sure it is a winner but I'll do my bit to promote it and see what happens.
Macedonia*They've struggled in this competition so far. This is much better, nice although not very memorable. It could be one of those that surprises us all later.
Serbia^One of those songs with a message that people tend to like in Eurovision. It is quite strong. I can see this getting a good bit of support although I am not sure how popular Serbia is these days. I don't like it much at all but it has a similar quality to last year's winner from Austria that may suit the current Eurovision mood. First pretty definite Top 10 contender.
Hungary^****The first Top 10 likely entry that I enjoyed. A clever song, also with a message. I like the way it builds and if the individuals can repeat that excellent performance effectively on stage live then they'll get support. It all works well with 4 minutes on a video but with a silent background and just 2 minutes it may just fail. A possible surprise for everyone as it sits at over 900-1 at the time of writing!
Belarus**No. From the start. Good violin, though. Then it starts to get catchy so perhaps it may have a chance after all.
Russia^**Nice blonde girl with strange focus effects in the video that emphasis her blue eyes but also slightly disorts her mouth in a disturbing way. This is, though, a very strong song and she will, hopefully, be back in proper focus on the stage. You get the feeling Russia really do want to win this and, with more control over the venue for 2016, they can put a stop to all this beard rot. There is just something missing in this song to make it really special so I see it easily making Top 10 (subject to my not finding another 10 in the ones I've yet to hear) but not the top spot. Politics always seem to help Russia although this year hasn't seen them quite as warmly appreciated across Europe and could affect votes. Ukraine are nowhere to be seen this year. The song ends a bit strangely too.
Denmark^***A relaxed pop song with a likeable lead singer. This is the first that I would expect to appeal to younger viewers who have largely been overlooked so far. In the absence of any competition for their votes it could do well but I wonder if it is interesting enough to win. Much depends on how well the group can perform this live. Denmark have really been finding good tracks recently. Likely Top 10.
Albania*A good entry, well sung and written, but lacking something we can hang on to and remember. It's a pity as she tries hard to convince us to vote.
RomaniaI just don't know what to say about this one. They start by going for the gentle, scenic ballad that often does well here and it then turns into quite a reasonable pop song. In many ways it's quite appealing. But will it even make the final? I just don't know.
GeorgiaA hard-looking woman, the sort that used to be all over Eurovision entries a few years ago. They were either gorgeous, soft and blonde or super-fit raven-haired, black-eyed tough women that were sexy but in a frightening way. This is top volume, top speed stuff from start to finish but it still just passes me by. They need Katie Melua back.
So that's the first Semi Final. I will look again at some of these. I haven't spotted an obvious winner amongst these. The bookies have Estonia, Finland and Russia making the Top 10 at present. In that order but none are favourites.