Well, this is it. Time to wrap the big review up for this time with a post containing the six songs already qualified for the big final. And it is very pleasant indeed to note that the "big" countries have all taken their positions seriously, making more of an effort than they have in the past.
1. UNITED KINGDOM
Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free
If the BBC aimed at getting extra coverage for bringing on the oldest solo singer ever in Eurovision, they must have been sorely disappointed when the Russian babushki came on and stole their show. But there is far more to this entry than mere gimmicks.
Engelbert Humperdinck is, indeed, a star performer whose experience will come in handy on a big event like this. I surely thought Blue would handle the pressure better last year, this year's entrant will probably fare better. There is also a very well crafted song to be found here, sincerely and gently performed. Unlike most it isn't targeted at the younger viewers but at the older - they watch too, and they vote.
No. It would be a huge surprise if this song came anywhere close to victory, but it is a very dignified and worthy entry that will recieve extensive airplay all summer at radio stations aimed at a more mature audience.
My grade: 3/5
Anggun - Echo (You And I)
France is keeping the high profile they have maintained since sending Sébastien Tellier to Belgrade in 2008 - maybe they are not sending in the easiest or most graspable entries, but they are certainly making an effort to keep this contest interesting. Anggun has been a star in France since 1997, and French television has seen her as a promising ESC entrant for years already.
Her song is a joyful, proud and original little pop pearl - again not taking the easiest path into the hearts of the televoters but providing something a bit more challenging for the listeners to chew on.
No, unless the French manage to stage a visually supportive show around this entry to make it stand out better for the audience. Definitely a hit single, but possibly too demanding for the average viewer.
My grade: 5/5
Nina Zilli - L'amore è femmina
Last year, Italy made an effective comeback after a lenghty absence and was rewarded with one of their best placings ever. Given how much Europe had longed for the Italian temper and sense of know-how in the field of pop music, my antennae are beginning to whisk frenetically at this point.
The song Nina intended to sing at first might have been better and the current song might have sounded better in Italian only, but when this bombshell makes her grand entrance, filling her little song up with sex appeal and joie-de-vivre, it could very well be that Europe cannot resist.
Yes. Europe has always had a fondness for Italian songs and performers, not always shared by the Eurovision juries. With a performer like Nina Zilli, a recognisable sound and a juicy chours like this it could very well spell victory in the end.
My grade: 5/5
Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies
The host country sticks to their winning formula and has bough another song by the same Swedish team who wrote Safura's "Drip Drop" as well as last year's winning entry. In this year when a large number of countries have borrowed songwriting talent from elsewhere, who is to blame Azerbaijan for sticking to a winning formula?
Too bad that the formula didn't come up with anything stronger than this, then. The song is rather a tired re-write of things heard before (most notably "Stop" by Sam Browne) and performed by a good but not particularly personable singer.
No, I would not think so. If it is performed really well with an effective stage show, it could be a contender for a top ten placing, but not much more than that.
My grade: 1/5
Pastora Soler - Quédate conmigo
This could very well rate as the most positive surprise of the year. For quite some time now, Spain has sent in real non-contender entries, lacking force in all departments. Either the songs have not been good enough or the performances have not been good enough or both of these in combination.
This year, it all seems to come together when a warm, strong, big voice meets a warm, strong, big ballad that might be a bit old-fashioned but very well crafted and instantly understandable for the bigger part of the audience.
Yes, I am beginning to think so. Spain will need a bit of luck - a lot depends on who gets drawn right before them in the final - but this could be the song that gets embraced by both televoters and juries alike.
My grade: 4/5
Roman Lob - Standing Still
Germany is also sticking to form, going back to the same talent show format that gave them a second victory in the form of Lena two years ago. It seems to have worked again as the winner, adorable starry-eyed pop boy Roman, has hit home with the masses and is currently enjoying solid success in the domestic charts.
I'm happy for him and I am happy for German television, but I have a feeling that the German flag will end up a little bit further down the scoreboard this time. This song is perfect radio pop that you will recognise and appreciate on the airwaves, but that possibly be a bit too streamlined and laidback to stand out in a competition like this.
No. Worst case scenario is that this will be the song that falls between the seats and ends up close to the bottom. Not because it is bad, but because it will ultimately not be anyone's favourite. The thing that can save it from failure is Roman - if he really delivers on the night, I might be completely wrong here. And I wouldn't mind.
My grade: 3/5