Halfway through the first semi, time to attack five more songs fighting it out for ten spots in the final.
Glen Vella - One Life (Malta 2011)
It is so easy to love the smaller nations in Eurovision (there will be no less than three of them only in this review) - how they struggle, how much they invest of themselves into making a splash, how important it is for them to be seen.
It is very easy to love Malta for all the reasons mentioned above. It is also quite easy to warm to Glen Vella. He is so happy. He is so energetic. His trousers are so bright. Just too bad his song is not up to standard in any way. As soon as the intro ends and the static drumbeat takes over, this is a battle lost for poor Glen.
Malta used to send in quite good songs in the past, often ruined by nervous performances. Now that the singers seem to be up to the task, it would be time to bring out the strong melody lines again.
No. Glen can smile as sweetly as he wants, people will find better songs to vote for.
My grade: 1/5
12. SAN MARINO
Senit - Stand By (San Marino 2011)
I missed San Marino ever since they pulled out after their 2008 debut, and hope for them to stay put this time. Their atmospheric ballad has slowly grown into something of a personal favourite of mine. I realise it is probably a bit too soft and fluffy to grab the voters on a first listening, but more than one radio station around the continent could find a late night playlist favourite here.
Also, Senit delivers beautifully and would deserve every drop of European attention she could get. Maybe she would have been better off with a more distinct song, however.
No. I hope I am wrong, but it would be more than a slight surprise if San Marino makes the final cut.
My grade: 4/5
Daria Kinzer - Celebrate (Croatia 2011)
A basic lesson in how not to treat your Eurovision entry. From the start, we had a slightly anonymous but pleasant disco song in native language, sung by a slightly anonymous but likeable girl. So what does one do?
One way is to make the disco beat more square, write a ridiculously pointless lyric in English that in no way suits the performer and let the most evil stylist in the country loose on the poor girl. Then you get Croatia's entry this year.
No. Croatia has had a tendency of doing reasonably well even with weaker entries, but when the brilliance of Feminnem missed out last year this should, in all fairness, not stand a chance.
My grade: 1/5
Sjonni's Friends - Coming Home (Iceland 2011)
You all know the sad but touching story: the composer and original performer dies before the national final, and his best friends perform the song as a tribute to him.
There is a fine line between a tribute and an unpleasant riding on a sad situation, though. For instance, the English version can't make up its own mind as whether it is directed to an ex-lover or towards somebody who died. And if it is the latter, then what does the line "I can't wait for tomorrow [...] I'm coming home to you" mean exactly? There is something mildly disturbing about the whole thing.
But it is a pleasant little song that grows on you. It could very well be that I find myself liking it a lot come Düsseldorf.
Possibly. One of those really hard songs to predict. Will it come across as touching on stage, or will it just be old-fashioned. My guess is yes, it will make it. But not by a large margin.
My grade: 2/5
Kati Wolf - What About My Dreams (Hungary 2011)
Hungary is back with a bang after a year of absence, and here comes one of the strongest candidates for victory. Whatever some net rumours say, Kati is a strong live performer (check out her stuff from X-Faktor, if you don't believe me) and her song is a little masterpiece. A danceable, elegant disco knockout and by far the best dance track of the year.
I'm trying not to be political in this review (I will fail that mission with two more countries, wait and see), but it would also do Hungary a lot of good to be invaded by a large troop of journalists and Eurovision fans next year. They all need a bit of fun, it seems, and I can hardly think of anything more fun than ESC 2012 in Budapest.
Yes yes yes! If this does not make it, it is the biggest disappointment since Selma's failure in Kyiv 2005.
My grade: 5/5