Maybe this is not an exact science. The conclusion - will this qualify or not - is maybe more of a gut feeling rather than the ultimate analysis. There will be a time for ultimate analysis as well - closer to the final, when we know about rehearsals and stuff - and then my predicted qualifiers will be no more then ten per semi.
Demy / This Is Love
It probably shook the Greek delegation to miss out on a place in the final last year, so they went back to the safest thing they could think of. They organised a small national final where Demy - who's a bit of a star back home - sung three songs written by top composer and producer Dimitris Kontopoulous who had his fair share of success at Eurovision and almost won the whole shebang for Russia last year. The big question mark here is why a good performer like Demy couldn't get a better song than this tired old charter disco? If Kontopoulous is such a genius, how did he fail to come up with something strong than this pretty dated song?
Borderline. There are good elements here - the verses build nicely and the orchestral crescendo before the last chorus is cool. Greece is the only country in this semi turn up with a party vibe on top volume. But the chorus is super duper flat and disappointing.
My grade: 2/5
Demy / This Is Love (Greece 2017 preview)
Kasia Moś / Flashlight
Poland always had a thing for drama and this ballad comes in an excellent arrangement with intriguing strings and a very big drum sound to increase the effect. Kasia is a good singer too but this song would have needed an extra minute to fully unfold. Now it just builds and builds and then suddenly ends without reaching any kind of climax. The bridge between the verse and the chorus is a bit clumsy and clunky too. But maybe none of this will matter in the end.
Probably yes. Last year, Poland ended third in the televote with a slightly underwhelming entry and unless the Poles in exile around the continent have taken their enthusiasm down a notch or two, this one should storm into the top ten. If it deserves to is another question entirely.
My grade: 2/5
SunStrike Project / Hey Mamma
Usually a quite strong player, Moldova has three rough years behind them and would deserve a break and some positive vibes. To achieve that, they re-remployed SunStroke Project who in all fairness didn't do too well on their first attempt but ended up being a worldwide internet phenomenon. Now they stand on their own - sadly no Olia Tira in sight - but still have the saxophone and the violin at hand to spice up the package. Plenty of good mood and quirky dance moves but the song in itself is a bit square and unspectacular and gets a bit too repetitive for its own good.
Borderline. Europe will have to be at its chirpiest to vote heavily for this. Perhaps too much of a recycled version of something seen and heard before to do really well. Enjoyable but old news.
My grade: 3/5
SunStroke Project / Hey Mamma (Moldova 2017 preview)
Svala / Paper
After what seemed like an endless stream of perfectly well intended and totally harmless ditties, Iceland found their groove again. Nobody could be happier about that than I am and I welcome the oddly captivating Svala onto the ESC stage. However, she did have some bad luck when she was drawn into the same semi as some other females inhabiting the same sort of dark and moody electro soundscape and she will have to compete with the likes of Belgium, Azerbaijan and Latvia for the viewers' attention. That could prove to be a bumpier ride than it should be.
I sure hope so but there is also the risk of this one being three points short and ending in eleventh place. I keep my fingers crossed that the gamble will pay off and that we will see more edge from Iceland in future contests. Edge is what they do best.
My grade: 4/5
Svala / Paper (Iceland 2017 preview)
14. CZECH REPUBLIC
Martina Bárta / My Turn
Compared to their first short and disastrous run of entries, also Czech republic seems to have found their own thing. Soulful, earthy, organic stuff delivered by top class singers. The kind of thing that is lovely to listen to but that possibly stands a lesser chance of getting noticed and voted at a song contest. Martina has a wonderful voice and this could have been a very classy track on a very solid album in the late 1970's. That is a compliment, in case you wondered.
No, unless Martina totally pours her heart out for all the viewers to see. Then she could stand a tiny chance, but most probably this piece of impeccable songwriting needs a listen or two too many and will make an early exit.
My grade: 3/5
Martina Bárta / My Turn (Czech republic 2017 preview)