10 MaltaThere's a certain Carrie Underwood feel to this lady's intensity and she can certainly sing. The song is still not great and not exactly memorable which is why it doesn't rate more highly but, out of the dark haired big ballad ladies with serious songs this year, she is likely to be the third favourite amongst voters. It is difficult to choose between her and Italy who probably have the better singer but my current thinking is that Malta will get a few more votes.
9 FranceAlready high in the charts in several countries, France have a good-looking bloke and a very catchy number, satisfying two of the criteria to do well in this competition. I just wonder whether it may not have peaked too soon and I am also unsure whether the live performance will match the video. In the blokes poll, he is likely to be a good second.
8 CyprusThose voters who like a rough-looking band of slightly older blokes and those who just like a bit of earthy singing and live euro-ballad-rock have few choices this year which ought to propel Cyprus into the higher regions of the board this year. It's a good driving number, well-sung and I suspect the band will be good on stage live too.
7 BulgariaThe young girl pop star will always have a place in the Top Ten and this year it's the girl from Bulgaria. She is very popular there already and has a fairly good track. Not brilliant but it will get plenty of votes from those who like this sort of thing. Fairly modern with a hint of politic and rebellion in there too. She also has little competition in the sector.
6 UkraineA very powerful song and a tremendous performance will make this entry not only much talked about but also voted for by Ukraine's many friends out there. It has the potential of being a winner but I feel it may be just a little too dark and heavy on the political side to attract as many votes as would be needed. It will get respect, however, across the board and, in a year when there seems no obvious runaway winner, the middle ranking points mean a lot.
5 RussiaBig Red are predicted widely to win this year. They have a good song and the compulsory good-looking bloke to sing it. He is a major star in the big country and will appeal hugely to Russia's neighbours too, where voters may well have his albums on their shelves already. I just feel that this track is missing something. It is all big, dramatic back-screen projection and digital this and that but whilst that is enough to get it near the top I just feel it will fall at the final hurdles when the 40-odd countries allocate their top numbers on the night. He is the #1 ballad guy, though, this year.
4 AustraliaA fabulous singer who will be really popular and I am confident she will put on an excellent performance too. It is just a shame that the song isn't better. Australia could have taken the 'Europe' crown this year with this girl but someone has chosen the wrong song for her. That's probably just as well as it is a long way to Sydney for every other entrant in this competition. Miss Im is, though, the best female singer this year.
3 SpainI am going out on a bit of a limb with this one. It is, though, one of few pop songs this year and voters do need a pop song. It is catchy, cheerful and even has its own dance attached. I am not keen on the way they dress Barei in the videos I've seen so far and some of the dancing has been embarrassing but I am ancient now and may not appreciate what youngsters really enjoy now as much as I may need to. This has a lot of fans from what I can gather and is possibly the only track that'll get your foot tapping. It will get votes and, possibly, this year is a good one for an average pop track to do well.
2 CroatiaOne of my favourites, this is a beautiful and quite atmospheric song. Unusually, the artist, Nina has been pretty well hidden from us so far so I don't know how well she will actually perform this on the night. I am hoping she will look and sound as good. It is a good, well-written song and has a Balkan feel but also a Celtic feel so covers quite a few important bases from the start. If it's a folk sort of year then this is the one to vote for.
1 SwedenSo here it is. I do believe we will be back in Sweden again next year if the young lad singing about not being sorry performs this well. It is quite unlike anything else this year and the boy is a popular star over there already. He knows how to perform on stage and the track will be popular across a wide range of current genre pop fans. Assuming the votes do allow a good flow of the younger element preferences and aren't all from crusty old communists and Balkan warriors then the boy will do well.
Other entries that I feel are worth a mention and may still surprise us include: