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Well that was fun. remarkably, I managed to predict all 10 of the acts from Group 1 that will make the Final on Saturday.

[Credit for the photos to Photographers Andres Putting, Elke Roels and Thomas Hanses (EBU) Date added 21/May 2012 Topics Eurovision Song Contest, Baku, 2012,]

In no particular order, they are:

Iceland


The violin was there and they cut the looooong break near the end too which worked well. If they can borrow a wind machine from somewhere they could do well.

Greece


Possibly the prettiest girl in the contest this year. Not the strongest song nut she performed well and, come on, the song has maniac rhyming with aphrodisiac so it has to stand a chance. Greece always seem to do well but don't expect too much this year.

Albania


This is that extraordinary track that has the most dramatic style of any for a long time. A serious entry. It will appeal to all those who might have been shaking their heads at the mini skirts and oh oh ohs. Massive outsider yesterday but now a real contender.

Romania


This girl, I mean track, is much fancied! I didn't think they'd manage to attract as many votes without the beach background, tiny bikinis and general appeal that the promo video had in spades. However, she did well and it's a catchy little number that people seem to like.

Cyprus


Great track but not that well performed this time. One of my early predictions. Not so sure now.

Denmark


Another early favourite of mine. Good singer but, again, not a brilliant performance compared to her previous efforts.

Hungary


I suspect this scraped through the semis and doubt that it will make the left hand side of the board on the night so nothing to worry about there.

Moldova


Everyone seems to like Moldova, or feel sorry for them. I mean they haven't a hope of affording to host the contest so it's lucky that this track isn't going to get a great deal further.

Ireland


JEdward were the last to be announced. after a lacklustre performance they may feel fortunate to have got through. This is one hell of a great song but they need to mime to a backing track to stand a chance of getting in the winning zone.

Russia

Yeah, and Russia got through.

Ok, folks, here we go. I've been through all the first semi final contenders and here are 8 that deserve a mention. The Eurovision.tv site has some very smart very widescreen videos this year which are reproduced here rather smaller. The other 10 really are not worth troubling with - some real disasters there you can check out in your own time.

The ones most likely to get through the first round, therefore, in alphabetical order:

Albania

This is an extraordinary song and an extraordinary video too. I have no idea what either are about but maybe that's Albanian 21st Century art. I have previewed this before and said that if the singer managed to reach all the notes this could be impressive. It was a bit of a screech before but in this take she's superb. It's not something I would rush out and buy nor will it appeal hugely to many Eurovision voters but it has got something about it that makes it stand out. It sounds like a typical 8th placer with respectful votes from quite a few but it's not a winner.



Cyprus

I have already promoted this big time. It's a very catchy number and if the girl performs well it should do very well. She does have a lot of competition in the pretty dark-haired girl singing pop songs category, though, so may well suffer from split votes there. despite what I said in the introduction, however, the 'official' video is terrible and totally does not do the song or the singer justice with some silly fairy tale about Snow White. So I've added the far better, albeit very scratchy, one here.



Denmark

This is great, a very US-influenced young girl leading a band with a well-written song that will definitely appeal to lots of the younger voters. She's right on tune and looks like a very young Britney or Christina mixed with someone else I can't quickly identify. Nice but that doesn't mean it's interesting enough to win.



Hungary

Theirs is a strong song - quite a protest too but, without the smart video, I doubt if it will get far. It may not even make it past the semis but I included it as there has been a lot of talk about it and the guy is very popular.



Iceland

This is a nice track, two people, which is often a good combination these days, and it seems to have come from the same stable as Denmark's 2010 brilliant number. The girl sings and plays a violin and the boy's bearable too, something which might have cost Azerbaijan a win last year as he just made us all laugh but luckily there weren't any other real contenders at the end of the day. There's a massive pause near the end which will really confuse the audience. That trick has been used many times before but seldom in Eurovision so it'll help make this a memorable track and may give Iceland their highest showing in this competition. I think it is a contender.



Ireland

Well, this has to be the best song but... can JEdward sing it live? The official video shows their badly synchronised efforts from the performance when their song was selected but, thank goodness, the soundtrack is the good studio version. Now, if they can pull off a good mime, stay fairly still and no one notices they'll win. In other words, they may well not win. Your guess is as good as mine.



Moldova

Great trumpet, rhythm, a jazzy, modern, fun feel to this. It's a bit wacky but I reckon it could have a lot of appeal. The guy singing is good and should come across well on tv and the girls are stunning. It's cool and unpretentious which I admire from this little state that has tried hard over the years. Remember the upside-down flower pots last year? At one point they were Top 3!





Romania

I have just written about this in my last post. A good number and nice video. Could do well.


Russia

If you haven't already heard, Putin has persuaded some old ladies from some distant village to perform. They look pretty sad, despite the grins, and he really is taking the p*** out of Europe with this entry. His nation has tried very hard to win in previous years with some very impressive entries but this is plain ridiculous and I won't even give it another airing here. If you want to watch five or six old women in dresses made of red carpet singing, unbelievably, in English about having a party then go and find it yourself. Putin's boys will ensure that it gets through the semis, though. If it doesn't then there'll be hell to pay.



Whatever happens in May, you'll be hearing this as it's bound to be an enormous summer hit throughout Europe. One day the States will get it too but not just yet. We're talking Trance, JLS, Lady Gaga, short skirt, legs, Night Club and almost every hook and trick that can be thrown into a pop song. There's some annoying autotune and the otherwise lovely Ivi Adamou does have a slightly unnervingly large mouth but this is the track that should bring Cyprus douze points from nations other just the traditional UK. It's all good late 90s stuff and if Ivi performs well on the night this could be a winner.

Perhaps next time they record her for the official site they might try and persuade the audience to look a bit happier (getting some young people in there would be a good idea for a start) and someone needs to give the girl some ideas as to what to do with her legs which occasionally seem to be at odds with each other.

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