It doesn't feel like too long ago that I did this while warming up for Düsseldorf - now it is time to start going through the entries before heading off to Baku...
These reviews are purely my personal point of view, including my prediction about how I think the song will fare in the contest. All these views are, of course, going to change when I see the entries on stage and all and then I'm free to change my mind again et cetera. You know all this.
But let's kick off, shall we?
Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro
When I first heard this song, I didn't know what to think as I couldn't quite make head nor tail of it. Humour is a difficult art form at the ESC, and I'm not too convinced that Rambo Amadeus will have the same effect on Europe as Verka Serduchka had, for instance.
Which is a bit of a shame, really. There is more to this song than just the joke. It is quite original, inspired, poetic and obnoxious, as well as catchy. You can dance as this at the same time as you try to sing along to the gibberish of the verses.
No. It is hard enough to convince Europe to vote for comedy songs, even harder when you are the first performance on the night. People have nothing to compare it to and are probable not to see the brilliance of this.
My grade: 3/5
Gréta Salóme & Jonsi - Never Forget
A bit of mystery and a bit of drama in a passionate duet, based on Icelandic folklore. Their voices blend nicely together and the slightly heavier arrangement gives an extra touch to this entry, but I can't help feeling that something is missing. It is good, but perhaps not good enough. I find myself entertained for the moment but there are other songs that tickle my senses more than this one.
Possibly. Iceland has had a remarkable ability to make their songs work lately, especially in the semis.
My grade: 2/5
Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac
I don't know about you, good people, but I feel like Greece has taken a good idea a bit too far already. The neverending beach party goes on and on, with yet another catchy chorus and yet another happy performer, and there is no doubt in my mind that a fresh and exciting stage show will be in place to cover up the fact that this song is really rather bleak. This is the kind of game that Greece used to play to perfection, but I would want something different for next year.
Probably. Unless the average tv-viewers also find themselves with a too distinct taste of déjà-vu at the sight of this.
My grade: 1/5
Anmary - Beautiful Song
When Anmary won the national final, I dismissed the whole thing as just another silly entry. But then again, Latvia is quite good at being silly in a good way - they pulled it off before. As neither the song nor Anmary seem to take themselves too seriously, this turns into a pretty enjoyable little bagatelle that will have you hum along for three minutes. If they manage to come across as happy and carefree on stage in Baku, maybe Europe will still be humming this when it is time to start voting.
Probably not. Had Latvia been drawn later in the running, there would be a fair chance of this one standing out in a positive light after too many serious entries. Now it will probably just be a (very pleasant) pause.
My grade: 3/5
Rona Nishliu - Suus
Last year I had a hard time deciding what I really thought of the Albanian entry, but that was piece of cake compared to this time. What we have on our hands here is a very demanding entry without a trace of a hook, not for a second trying to be easy or inviting. The kind of song that has usually turned televoters away in a most brusque fashion. But Rona sings it so well and invests so much emotion into the song that I'm willing to believe at least the juries could fall for it.
Possibly maybe. Last year, the juries pushed Lithuania into the final on the strength of a vocal delivery only. If the juries are similarly composed in 2012, this one could be the one entrant to appeal to their more artistic side.
My grade: 2/5