| Željko Joksimović
||Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar (Serbian)
Music/Lyrics: Željko Joksimović/Marina Tucaković, Miloš Roganović
Željko is a Eurovision veteran! This is the second song he has performed, the fourth he has written and he hosted the contest in 2008. He took no chances when accepting the approach from Serbian broadcaster, RTS, to represent his country. He gave everyone what they expected, an ethnic ballad oozing beauty with an effective string arrangement.
||Macedonia – Kaliopi - Crno I Belo (Macedonian)
Music/Lyrics: Romeo Grill/Kaliolpi
The song starts quietly enough but develops into a quality piece of Balkan rock. Kaliopi was always likely to put everything into her performance. In the event, she tried a bit too hard.
| Joan Franka
||The Netherlands - Joan Franka – You and I (English)
Music/Lyrics: Joan Franka, Jessica Hoogenboom/Joan Franka
The Netherlands has not had the best of luck in respect of reaching the final. Many thought that Joan would change that and she certainly deserved a place. The song is very pleasant, melodic and hummable. Questions have to be asked about the wisdom of wearing American Indian headdress, it was very off-putting.
| Kurt Calleja
||Malta - Kurt Calleja – This Is the Night (English)
Music/Lyrics: Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja/Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja
Are you ready for more dodgy choreography? Then we’ll begin the Maltese song. Many were surprised when Malta were announced as one of the qualifiers on Thursday night – or very early Friday morning for those in the host country! Kurt’s pop song was spoiled by the playground style dancing which featured at the end of the chorus. This included his two guitarists, possibly making this the most amusing choreography since Liliane St Pierre in 1987.
||Belarus – Litesound - We Are the Heroes (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dmitry Kariakin, Vladimir Kariakin/Dmitry Kariakin, Vladimir Kariakin
After Presidential intervention helped them get this far, the pressure was on Litesound to deliver. To be fair, they did all they could with their conventional rock song – sometimes the people just don’t like what is on offer enough.
| Filipa Sousa
||Portugal - Filipa Sousa – Vida Minha (Portuguese)
Music/Lyrics: Andrej Babic/Carlos Coelho
The Fado is always a welcome addition to any contest, adding as it does a cultural respectability in these days of the free language rule. Filipa, who won the Portuguese final convincingly, could have done no more, it just wasn’t to be.
||Ukraine – Gaitana - Be My Guest (English) 64 points 8th
Music/Lyrics: Gaitana, KIWI Project/Gaitana
Oh dear! This is a song better heard on disc than watched live. In her excitement, Gaitana shouted rather than sung the words and the garland on her head looked awful and out of place.
| Sofi Marinova
||Bulgaria - Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited (Bulgarian)
Music/Lyrics: Krum Geopriev, Iasen Kozev/Donka Vasileva
If this had been the Eurovision dance Track Contest, Sofi would have been right up there. It’s great if you are happy on the dance floor but as a song, it starts running out of steam before the end. She can count herself the unluckiest person in Baku as she finished in equal tenth, only missing out on the final due to the count back system of separating tied songs.
| Eva Boto
||Slovenia – Eva Boto – Verjamem (Slovenian)
Music/Lyrics: Vladimir Graić, Hari Mata Hari/Igor Pirkovič
Eva looked a cast iron certainty to reach the final. It’s an excellent but different Balkan ballad which was effectively presented, she sung it well and there were enough neighbours in the same semi-final to help her score enough points to secure a berth in the final. It seems that sometimes, 2+2 does = 5.
| Nina Badrić
||Croatia – Nina Badrić – Nebo (Croatian)
Music/Lyrics: Nina Badrić/Nina Badrić
The Croats sent a big name in Nina. She had been waiting many years for her moment having been in the Croatian ‘Dora’ contest more than once. Her passionate yet understated ballad, which she performed professionally, seemed another one destined for the final but caused gasps aplenty when Nina wasn’t among the lucky ten.
||Sweden – Loreen – Euphoria (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thomas G:son, Peter Boström/Thomas G:son, Peter Boström
Euphoria indeed as Loreen not only won, but came close to scoring the highest number of points in contest history. Her freestyle dancing led to comparisons with Kate Bush. Her song, which is perhaps unworthy of such a victory, will be a club anthem in Scandinavia for years to come. She also achieved chart success in many other European countries, making Euphoria the most commercially successful Eurovision song for many years.
| Anri Jokhadze
||Georgia - Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Joker (English)
Music/Lyrics: Rusudan Chkhaidze/Bibi Kvachadze
Anri, like Montenegro’s Rambo Amadeus, seems to have swallowed a rhyming dictionary! What results is a rock-fuelled mish mash of nonsensical babble.
| Can Bonomo
||Turkey - Can Bonomo – Love Me Back (English)
Music/Lyrics: Can Bonomo/Can Bonomo
Can didn’t receive the warmest of receptions when he was announced as the Turkish choice. Turkey missed out on the final last year and can consider themselves lucky to be back on stage in the Saturday extravaganza this time. Cheap gimmick alert! Can’s backing dancers form the shape of a boat from the cloths they had previously been waving around while accompanying Can’s ethnic Turkish song, which also has hints of Greek music – controversial!
| Ott Lepland
||Estonia - Ott Lepland – Kuula (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Ott Lepland/Aapo Ilves
An example of how to nearly turn virtually guaranteed success into disaster! Pre contest, Kuula was a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that went big at exactly the right moments. Whether pre-planned or not improvised, Ott used a different vocal arrangement in the semi-final whose only effect was to lose the neatness of the song. Anyway, it worked so the same vocal arrangement was used in the final as well.
| Max Jason Mai
||Slovakia - Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes (English)
Music/Lyrics: Max Jason Mai/Max Jason Mai
Far and away the rockiest song of the whole contest. Max isn’t the most convincing rock star and only fans of heavy metal were likely to support it.
||Norway – Tooji – Stay (English)
Music/Lyrics: Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström/Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström
Many were sure that Tooji’s pop/dance track would qualify but no-one foresaw how narrowly it would do so – only beating Bulgaria on the count back system after a tie. It’s therefore not surprising that he propped up the scoreboard in the final.
| Maya Sar
||Bosnia and Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam (Bosnian)
Music/Lyrics: Maja Sarihodžić/Maja Sarihodžić
Jolly or straight-laced is what we usually get from Bosnia. Korake Ti Znam falls firmly into the latter category. Maya starts her soft and gentle song at the piano before, somewhat predictably, she walks away from it towards the end for the big finale.
| Donny Montell
||Lithuania - Donny Montell – Love Is Blind (English)
Music/Lyrics: Brandon Stone/Brandon Stone, Jodie Rose
How this came third in its semi-final is a mystery! The sparkly blindfold (this is Eurovision, it couldn’t possibly be a plain blindfold) gimmick looked ridiculous, his dancing was worse than a drunk uncle at a wedding and the song, which starts promisingly, descends into a disorganised mess!