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Azerbaijan



Azerbaijan have a decent entry, a strong song and if Samra sings it well on the night then this will do well. Actually, it'll do pretty well anyway as Azerbaijan have lots of money and the top guys there would like the opportunity to do some more trading through hosting the competition in 2017,

In a year when almost anyone can win - there being no obvious favourites that I can identify - anything can happen and this may sneak in to the Top 10 more by luck and friendly votes than anything else but that sort of placing is, I reckon, pretty much assured.

I would not say the same for Serbia, who have a distinctly unpleasant and frantic sounding song, with its inevitable key change and crazy high notes too being quite annoying. It does have the regulation Balkan flute and big drum so may find a few votes in the region and from states unsure of who else to vote for. I don't like this much.

Lithuania



Not renowned for their success in Eurovision, one of their best efforts was 14th in 2012 and it was the same singer who got them there that time. It's a reasonably good track, lively and sung with some energy and passion, although not much accuracy note-wise. It will get some votes and ought to qualify too. This recording is rubbish, though, so he'll need to better on the night but I reckon they might make the left hand side of the scoreboard.


Latvia

A jolly song about a Cake to bake. OK. Cool and cheerful song that will have some panel members tapping their feet and maybe voting enough to get them in the Top 10 this year.


Estonia

Tanja has a go at Loreen's style with the solid electro beat and a convenient male dancer. She shows a lot more flesh than her Swedish predecessor and moves around a bit quicker. It's a decent track but I don't see it being that popular or unpopular.



Sweden

So we know they'll be making a good effort. Almost all their entries stand as potential chart acts in their own right. This is no exception. More serious ballad, building as ballads usually do in Eurovision to a drum-assisted crescendo but not too annoyingly so. The echo is quite important but I am not sure she'll get that on the night. Neverthess this will appeal across the board and see Sweden into the Top 10, and, I reckon, quite high there too.



Iceland

A bit crazy - all good stuff about not having prejudice, a bit too politically correct for me and too obviously put together for Eurovision. Not something I want to play again and doubt whether many others will but it's a safe vote for countries so expect it to get enough points to keep away from the bottom.



Albania

They always seem to make the main competition and have some pretty individual entries that you either love or hate. This one has the ballad and bloke with a guitar doing rock stuff. The girl looks angry most of the time and it's an Evanescence type of track. Strong but it lacks any hook or, to be honest, much appeal - that singer isn't particularly watchable.



Azerbaijan

They'd love to win again and do keep making strong efforts. Here they come again this year with a potential #2. Pretty girl with gentle song that sounds like it ought to tell a story.




Nice enough but at digging out burning bullets from his chest I began to wonder what it was all bout. Ah, of course, it's all about trying to win this thing and that's not a bad effort at all.

Ukraine

Well, you have to worry with the title Tick Tock. The country will be getting some sympathy votes I suspect this year. I hope the singer doesn't come from Crimea or they'll be all kinds of problems. Assuming she isn't and that Ukraine hasn't been wiped off the map in its entirety then this is a jolly number but a bit desperate and tries a bit too hard. As always the girl is lovely and we'll be guaranteed some pleasant viewing. Sure, left hand side of the board but not a great deal more this year.



Belgium

It really is time Belgium did better. here we have someone who looks like he won a Belgium's Got talent contest and is still wearing the same suit. Big chap, good voice, near opera style. Singing about mother, he is guaranteed to get some votes - no-one would want a song about mother to get nul points now would they. The Balkans will like this so there's a few votes guaranteed - and Italy and Malta too. Serbia won with something like this a few years ago. We should watch out for this as it is one of those that might just sneak up on the night if he sings really well.



Moldova

No, I don't want to listen to this again. This is one of those annoying tracks that is oh so serious but never really gets anywhere.



San Marino

Maybe is the title and maybe this will be the year when little San Marino gets into the main competition and scores a few points. I can't see this getting many and it is a bit forgettable but, like Andorra, it's time we heard more from the little places.




Portugal

This started encouragingly enough - something we can dance along to perhaps in Latin style - but then it all goes a bit wrong. In fact it just goes on and that girl looks so angry. I would not want to meet her on a dark night in a Lisbon ally. Expect to see plenty of legs on show on the night and she may be able to hold that last note and not frighten us too much.



The Netherlands

Something modern and interesting from Holland this year. They had a good entry last year and are really making quite an effort these days. This is folksy but with an insistent back beat and it grows with nice harmonies and it will appeal to Country fans too. I can imagine Mumford & Sons doing this and it would be #1. Now I think of it, we should have had them doing the UK entry.

I like this a lot. I would like to see it do well and feel it really should.




Montenegro

With so many entries being in English it was a pleasant change to have this in Montenegran or whatever they speak over there. This is all good classic Balkan fare. Violin, strong drum beat, good solid singer from a bloke of indeterminate age. Nice as far as it goes.



Hungary

This is the last that is available at the time of writing. A plaintive number to start. Then it starts and is much more commercial with a Bruno Mars feel. That's no bad thing and this could be quite successful. No-one bothers much about Hungary these days and they seem nicely placed between the Balkans, the East and the West so they may be a good political choice this year. Nasty subject matter. This is not cheery Eurovision pop, though. It's one of the tracks that could make the charts over here if released.




Here are the last six reviews - the five founding nations of the contest who get automatic entry to the final and the host country. France and UK are the main ones to watch out for.

Germany



Nice ballad, well-written and performed. A likely hit across Europe but not a winning Eurovision entry. I can't quite put my finger on why but I think Engelbert wins out on tracks like this, despite his age.

Spain



You'll have to go here to see the Spanish entry for some reason best known to the organisers and their lawyers. after a quiet start and slow build there's a lot of passion and it is remarkably well sung. It lacks something, though, to really make it memorable. A good effort but not a winner this year either for one of the major players.

Azerbaijan



They'll get plenty of mid-range votes as the host. An oval-faced, hard-voiced girl sings this year and, whilst she is spot-on with the notes and all that, the song itself isn't that great and we'll be looking for another venue next year.

Italy




Boom boom boom. No, it's not that bad at all! In fact this is a highly complex track that is performed really well by the girl. maybe it's too clever for the Eurovision audience, though, and a touch over-produced. Certainly the video version was. A nice effort from Italy, who we don't see much of these days. I'd like to see it do well but it could just struggle to get the left hand side of the board.

France




Now this is a clever entry. the whistle is really really catchy and the girl is really really pretty. Add the fact that she can sing well and this is a potential winner and has to be top 5 unless the live performance fails to inspire. The video is good and, of course, much depends on what she wears, who does the whistling etc. Nevertheless, if you watch this you will remember it and that, to a great extent, is what matters when attracting Eurovision voters.

UK

I've dealt with Engelbert before so don't need to repeat his video here. As I said then, 45 years ago I would have turned off the radio at the merest possibility of his songs being played but I'm a bit older now and ahve to put all that behind me somehow! It is a very well crafted song and he can be relied on to do a great job with it on the night. There will be votes for the song, votes for the guy so he's sure to do reasonably well. Win? I don't see it but, if the voters like ballads, JEdward mess up the vocals, several pretty girls split the pretty girl vote and malta and Norway fight over theirs then the UK do have a chance.

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