OK, I've finally managed to see all the countries' entries and, just before several get thrown out at the Semi Final stages, here's what you may or may not enjoy on the night. I guess I should start with a health warning. Some of these tracks and, indeed, my comments, could seriously damage European relations and your brain, possibly even in that order. Most of the entries, as is now traditional, are unbelievably bad but if it Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina make it through you will, at least, have a couple of ridiculously bad as opposed to just awful. It's an odd year with precious few precious or scary girls, old men or ugly people with gimmicks like girls appearing out of a piano but there may be a glass cube and some very strange trousers.
The betting seems to indicate that it's all over before it starts. Russia managed to organise that in 2008. This year over a third of the money placed at the time of writing is on France who don't know how to organise anything so that might mean it's a good song. It is but there are a few others. Just a few that might compete. Here are the potential top places. Videos for the most interesting available at the Eurovision 2011 page (another tab on this site). The figure is the decimal odds at Betfair at the time of writing.
Possibly the strongest and best singer starts really oddly but if the voters stay with it and don't go off for a pee thinking it's just a ballad then they'll realise that it is one of those anthem types that build and build and this has all the arms outstretched visual and big finish they'll love. It'll appeal to the Eastern bloc and places where they still like real music and the oldies will vote for it too. For the three minutes of fame required it is pretty much the right formula although I have a nagging doubt about that first section.
Second favourite but i don't know why. It's a competent number about 1273 Rockerfeller Street that's more a dance presentation with its tick tock stuff and a lot of effort in being in the right place. any song with surreal in the lyrics is worth a chance, I suppose, but it's not a winner.
United Kindom 10.5
Old Blue blew the dust off their outfits and do the honours for us. Doesn't do much for me, though. Yes, it's got the hook and they're able to sing but I worry just how the guy that does the high stuff every so often is going to deliver that without looking really silly. It just doesn't strike me as a winning song but at least we'll be up there in the top ten this year.
This is a possible winner and certainly a top 4. Well written and some nice politics involved if Hungary win on German soil after all these years. It's one of those slightly scary women, though, with an odd shaped mouth which won't help. She'll steal some of the French votes, though, and stop them getting all the 12s from the ballad lovers.
The pretty Lena is back. I don't think the same person has ever won twice in a row so you could say that she either has no chance because that can't happen or she will because maybe it's time it did. Listen to this one a few times and you start to get it and whoever wrote it has done a good job. Modern, this is one of the new generation tracks that a 2011 Europe could vote for. One of a very few, if not the only one. I like it a lot but wil the voters get the two or three listens it needs?
Now this chap won't get many boys voting for him as he has the type of look that they'll be jealous of and all the girls will wonder why their guys don't look and move like he does. He can sing, admittedly in a strange accent but Lena's was far worse and she managed. This is one really commercial track, the Swedes showing how good they are at this sort of thing without being silly and this will do really well. A potential winner. If he has the glass cube on stage then even more so.
For some reason everybody always votes for Azerbaijan, maybe just to see whether the presenters can pronounce it. So far this little country has done well each year but you have to wonder whether they've not tried a bit too hard this year. There's a very worrying-looking bloke that you really don't want to look at but as the nice girl gets entangled with him quite a bit you can't avoid him. It has a touch of the Denmark 2010 entry about it but less well presented, no big key change or wind. She could win for the little country but he could just as easily lose it for them. Maybe they'll swap him before the big day.
Bosnia & Herzegovina 19
Why on earth this ridiculous collage of very strange trousers, daddy dancing, old people with jackets that are much too short and guitars that just swing around meaninglessly as they jig around some quite large ladies is so well-backed I really have no idea. You'll get a good laugh, I suppose but it is not going to win unless the voters are all forgiving Greeks who liked the late 80s.
Annoying. Jedward. That'll explain why I don't propose to go any further.
Wo-o-o. Coming to get you. Now that's a scary intro from Russia. It may even lose them some votes they can't buy off before the day. Any song with I lot my mind somewhere between your face and your perfect shape gets my attention and leaves me wondering where he eventually might have found it. This is another pretty good-looking guy who'll certainly pull in 12s from the Soviet bloc but probably not from Georgia. So it'll do well but it all goes a bit wrong about two-thirds of the way through which is just as well for those who really don't fancy a trip to Moscow in 2012.
We're already now out in the wilderness in terms of betting odds, so anything that wins that's not been mentioned above will make someone a huge amount of profit. This is nothing like you'd expect from Norway, the country that gave us Fairytale from a very nice lad in 2009 and stole virtually all the votes. This year there are some girls with very big teeth and hair. If the camera keeps its distance and if the lead singer hasn't got a stupid dress and actually sings in tune for the first verse then we'll get to know more about what her Grandma said and be singing Haba Haba and generally quite liking it. It's a jolly sort of number. Not a winner but up there in the top 10 at the end, I reckon.
I almost turned off after the first few bars but this is the second prettiest girl in the contest so I didn't. She really can sing. Impressive, and one of the few who'll put on a good show on the night. She's not going to win, though, and Austria aren't that popular any year. Except 1966 when they won.
Hardly anyone is backing this but I have a feeling it will do well. It's a young guy who just seems to sing as he goes, almost making it up at the time, and it's all very politically correct saving the environment Green stuff. people may like that sort of thing this year. Strange to think he's singing for the same country that gave us the Dinosaur-like Lordy a while ago and won. Great words, actually, despite the correctness. Not like me to say that but I quite admire Finland for trying this and wish them well.
Another pretty dark-haired girl. Where are all the blondes this year? The video has a wind machine seemingly positioned purely to blow her dress off which is nice in a way and that's one of the reasons I hope she makes it through to the final. She can also sing and the song isn't bad either. If she performs it well on the night then it's one of those extreme outside chances that we just love to see beat the favourites.
From here on the odds get to the sort of level where you can make enough to buy a small house with a £100 bet but I've found a few more that might surprise people on the night, assuming they actually do get there.
This is one cool number, performed almost a capella by a very odd looking and not at all attractive bunch of people, who might be more successful in a 1940s bar rather than a 19-40s bar but ... but they are really professional, spot on tone and timing-wise and it's got something. It's different. maybe everyone will hate it but if you want to become a millionaire, put £1400 on this and hope.
A clever mix of ballad and rap but a bit out-of-date nowadays. Panned by YouTube viewers but I wouldn't write it off yet. It ends in fine style and the main guy is a good performer who may produce something extra on the night to lift his chances a bit. Not enough to do that well, though.
Now, how on earth could a song titled I Love Belarus possibly win? Just imagine some countries voting for that. No way. However, maybe they won't understand the English and it is a really strong, commercial and well-performed and produced track. They've also got the best-looking girl.
I'd like a tiny country to win. This is possibly the most exciting entry of the lot and I wish them luck. they show Greece how to rap and all the other rock chix how to rock. It's surprisingly good in places but I guess it still has no chance.
The other little place I like to see do well. This is one of the few old-style Euro Boom Boom Chukka Chukka tracks that we need to ensure don't die. Total crap but delivered in fine style and I'll look forward to it starting. And ending. We need Terry Wogan back, though, for the best effect.
That's about it. The others? Well, for what they're worth, which isn't much, here endeth the review:
Feel the passion? No. too frightened by her.
Rock chix that aren't really rocking. More like a rocking chair.
Blondish twins. Vaguely Corrs-like without the Corr. Slow start. Will it build? No. Weird video.
1970 gone wrong
Commercial but 90s. Had enough after the first half. Hope I didn't miss anything.
Oh dear. Wrong guy. Wrong song.
Trying to be an anthem but she can't reach the high notes. All much too serious and odd-looking.
Angels in disguise? No. Ear pain.
Ding bloody dong??!! Please. Someone dug up Dana. The nostrils are unnerving.
Eh? Why did they decide to join if this is all they can do. Where's the bunga bunga? Don't they realise this is Eurovision?
Goes neither here nor there. Nor will they.
I don't feel like calibrating, especially after that. Or celebrating. Yuck.
If I've missed any country out, sorry. They must be even worse.