The first five contained some good and some not so good... In this bunch of songs, the line-up will take a turn for the better, at least in my book.
Filipa Sousa - Vida minha
Portuguese television really tried to shake up their national final this year by auditioning vocally secure performers and then commission suitable songs from them. All that effort, and still we end up with a song very much like many others that RTP contributed in the past.
There is nothing wrong with Filipa, there is nothing technically wrong with the song, but I can't help but wonder when the message will start sinking in. When will the Portuguese realise this is not the sort of entry that anyone votes for? They had a good string of entries a couple of years ago, but now I wonder if they even want to win.
No, most probably not. The people who voted for "Senhora do Mar" in 2008 will still like this, but the competition for ballad points in this semi final is absolutely crushing. A Portuguese qualification would, and should, be a big surprise for most.
My grade: 1/5
Gaitana - Be My Guest
If there is one country that never lets us down completely, then it must be Ukraine. Every year, they send in good songs by good performers and on top of that they stage something really effective on stage, to further enhance their entries.
This year is no exception, as the Ukrainians take the opportunity to promote the upcoming football championships with a hit tailormade to be the official Uefa song of 2012. Gaitana is also a sparkling and exciting presence, who is sure to blow extra life, energy and conviction into this, and I can't wait to see what this will look like in Baku.
Yes. The song is maybe not the best one Ukraine ever sent to Eurovision, but this entry will surely be bigger than the song come May.
My grade: 3/5
Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited
Had this song contest been an arena where only musical aspects had been taken into consideration, then Bulgaria could be sure of success this year. This is a very pleasant house-light-production that you can enjoy both listening to and dancing to, and Sofi Marinova is a vocal asset that feels steady and reliable throughout the entire number.
But this is a televised event where people are also able to see what songs look like and that is where this team has to start working. The performance in the national final is static and uneventful, the dress is ill-advised and whenever Sofi has no singing to do she starts feeling lost on stage. This clip also contains dancers, but it is not obvious that Sofi and her dancers will look good together.
This could turn out to be a real mess, and then nobody will listen to the song.
Yes. I want to believe that the Bulgarians will get on top of things and sort their performance out. I really want to see them back in the final again. I feel they belong there.
My grade: 3/5
Eva Boto - Verjamem
This entry manages to pinpoint the problem in using a casting show as eurovision selection. You find an excellent girl like Eva Boto, who sings fantastically and has a very fresh appearance, but then suddenly you need to find a song that will suit her.
I might be old-fashioned, but in a song contest you need a strong song coupled with a performer that can deliever it in the best way possible. In this case, I feel that Eva and the song (written by the man behind "Molitva" as you can tell) never completely embrace each other. She sings it brilliantly, but it doesn't feel like her song. It feels like it was written for somebody else, somebody different, and I can sense that.
I think Eva would have been better off with something slightly more youthful, slightly more in tune with what she knows and where she is in life.
Possibly. It is still a well-crafted song and Eva is a real talent. If the televoters won't play ball, the juries should recognise the vocal qualities here. But it could just as well end up a few points short of qualification.
My grade: 2/5
Nina Badrić - Nebo
When your national final keeps giving you dismal entries and bad results, it is never a bad idea to scrap the whole thing and call up a real star and ask them to do the job for you. Nina Badrić is a real star and her mere presence will probably make it easier for Croatian television to convince real talent to give the ESC a shot next year.
Just too bad that the star in question seems to have selected a song that means a lot to her personally rather than finding the best possible entry. This is a fine song with a clever construction, and a good showcase of her own songwriting talent, but it takes too many listenings for the chorus to truly impose itself for this to be a real contender.
Yes, anything else would be a big surprise. But this star might have to content herself with a place a bit further down in the final.
My grade: 3/5