Here goes, another five entries from the first semi final, complete with my grades and my predictions. Feel free to give your own opinion in a comment!
Mandinga - Zaleilah
Here comes the first serious contender of the year, I feel. This one has a lot more gravity than the five songs preceeding it, and Romania has apparently set its aim at becoming the summer hit of the year. This is easy to retain, it has a very summery flavour with the drums, the bagpipes and the accordeon and the chorus has a very graspable hook.
This will do very well, surely, but personally I'm not completely convinced. I feel the verses lack something and the bridge is too much of a let-down for this to be a personal favourite, but rest assured that won't bother the large masses a bit.
Yes. Romania goes bang into the final and can, with a bit of luck in the draw, aspire to quite a high placing there.
My grade: 3/5
Sinplus - Unbreakable
A brave attempt of creating a piece of modern radio-friendly rock along the lines of The Killers, and that is a good initiative in my book. These two brothers are likeable and, pronounciation aside, deliver their entry in the best possible way.
The problem is that this song would have needed some more complex writing in order to stay interesting for three minutes. There is too little going on and I find myself tiring of it when there is a whole minute left.
No. It is never an easy ride for Switzerland to get into the final these days and when the song isn't stronger than this it will be close to impossible. Swim against the stream, indeed.
My grade: 2/5
Iris - Would You?
Two years ago, Flemish television sent a sweet lad with a sweet song and landed their best placing since 1959. Now they wanted to repeat the trick with a sweet lass named Iris instead, and she shares quite a few of the qualities Tom Dice had: young, fresh, equipped with a good voice and an ability to nail the camera.
Just too bad that everyone involved forgot that you need a decent song as well.
No. This half-ballad-half-pop-hybrid never takes off and poor Iris is left with nothing to work with. What good is a pleasant voice when you have nothing to sing?
My grade: 1/5
Pernilla - När jag blundar
Finland keeps exploring its softer side with another ballad entry, this time in the second national language Swedish (mother tongue for six percent of the population). Singing a song about how lovely your mother is could easily turn into a large chunk of musical cheese, but Pernilla pulls it off very nicely. Warm, sincere and appealing, and judging from online reactions it seems this song has a way of reaching also people who won't understand the words.
Hopefully. It is always hard to judge your "own" entry - especially when your entry is Finland, well known not to do so well every year. But Pernilla, with her strong presence and likeability, would very much deserve a spot in the final.
My grade: 4/5
Izabo - Time
Israel does what Israel does best - a fun, quirky and upbeat entry complete with a cheerful delivery and strong melody line. (All that is missing to make this the perfect Israeli entry would be Izhar Cohen's troop of dancers from 1985, but I guess you can never have it all.)
This was an early favourite of mine and it still stands out in a very positive light, even if it seems to be way more divisive than I would ever have imagined at first.
Yes. This group is confident and fabulous, and so is the song. That must break through to juries and televoters alike.
My grade: 5/5