It’s time for part four of our 2017 Eurovision Song Contest preview party. ‘The one where they finished talking about the first semi-final’ in ‘Friends’ speak. Who are our early favourites and which songs seem destined for the dumpster? Obviously, we know nothing, but that isn’t going to stop us having our say. Nor should you let it stop you. The ‘reply’ function is made just for this.
Today, it's the fourth (and final) part of the first semi-final. We'll hear these songs on 9 May.
Czech Republic - Martina Bárta - My turn
Phil - Nice voice - shame about the song. It's one of those "walking" beat type of songs that lilts along quite nicely but it doesn't really have any substance, if we're honest and that's a shame.
Phil's Score : 4 Points
Mo - The video is a bit ... weird, but I suspect it's meant to celebrate diversity. Martina has a lovely voice - if a tad heavy on the accent - but she's been lumbered with an absolute dog of a song. Like the sort of thing Portugal flopped with ten years ago.
Mo's score: 2 Points
Valentina - Oh poor Czechia... I really thought after last year we were getting somewhere with your qualification record! Martina has a fantastic voice, but this song is just dirge... and boring dirge at that. What were they thinking?
Valentina's score: La République Tchèque - 2 Points (for trying, if failing miserably)
Monty - From the very, very first time I heard that clunking repetition in the opening line of this song I’ve been bored to tears with it. Martina is already beleaguered by having a ballad in a year there’s too many of them vying for the same votes, but she’s also beset by one that’s as dull as ditchwater and never even threatens to be interesting. It must be terribly dispiriting to know you’ve got the biggest gig of your life but you’ve been saddled with such a duffer of a song.
Monty's score: 0 Points
Cyprus - Hovig - Gravity
Phil - I listened to this at work this afternoon and sadly it passed me by. Lord G:Son has had better songs in the contest for better countries that are not desperate enough for his services. This seems to be a bit rubbish, and just drifts past, much as I expect it to do at a European level.
Phil's Score: 3 Points
Mo - I've heard this at Eurovision way too many times. It's tired and formulaic. G:Son appears to have passed his peak and has chosen to dump one of his lesser efforts on Cyprus. I've tried to like it, but I can't work up any excitement.
Mo's score: 2 Points
Valentina - I disagree with these miseries - I quite like this one! OK so it's unlikely to win, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the beat. And I think this kind of song will go down well in the hall, regardless of whether it qualifies or not.
Valentina's score: Le Chypre - 6 Points
Monty - He’s got everything he could have hoped for lined up: with his Armenian descent, Swedish songwriter, and the traditional Hellenic love-in with Greece he could notch up both jury and televoting 12s from all three nations who perform alongside him on the Tuesday night. So that just leaves the song then. This is where I feel he falls down. It’s not unpleasant by any stretch, but it suffers from being neither nowt nor something. Its mid-tempo beat pulses with a sense of marching forward, but it never feels like we’re being driven somewhere truly exciting. Competition for qualification feels like it’s going to be tough this year, and Hovig might need a little more than the support of friendly votes to help him through.
Monty's score: 6 Points
Armenia - Artsvik - Fly with me
Phil - It's almost like the Armenians have run out of ideas and have decided to go all generic pop. This has hardly any redeeming features, apart from possibly the outfits in the single camera video. Artsvik also seems to have her bun tied rather too tightly, as it's clearly stretched her facial skin. But it's the song that matters and that happens to be incredibly disappointing. It sets itself up to be the sort of big ethic number that the fanz are used to, but ends up being a somewhat damp (Turkish style) squib. Totally forgettable, but clearly the only one in its genre.
Phil's score: A facelifting 6 Points
Mo - Eurovision this year is terribly generic. There's little in the way of ethnic bangers, so we should thank Artsvik for filling a rather obvious gap. The video looks to have cost tuppence to make, but it gives a good idea of the staging. It will stand out and it's certainly coming from a woman with a decent set of pipes on her. Its biggest failing is that whilst it's terribly engaging, you've forgotten it the very second it ends.
Mo's score: 6 Points
Monty - The music has a nebulous quality, almost minimalist in places, as do the lyrics, making both sound and interpretation difficult (deliberately?) to pin down. Still, I can’t read anything obviously anti-Azerbaijani about it so at least it’s not another last-minute political scandal: I’m not sure Jon Ola Sand could cope at this stage. I’m really drawn to it, even though I can’t quite work it out. There’s something that makes you want to listen to it, and then listen to it again. It’s all the better that it’s not easily defined. But will a quirky rhythm and an off-beat sound be enough? I would think so, for qualification, but I’m nothing if not intrigued to see how this is staged and how well it does.
Read Monty's full Countdown review
Monty's score: 12 Points
Valentina - Armenia kept us waiting with baited breath for this entry and once it was revealed I was... utterly confused. I'm fairly sure the only lyric is "eeeeeeeeeeeeee" and a cluster of other weird vowel sounds... but yet it's strangely hypnotic! I think that as this song is a bit of an acquired taste, it's the kind of thing that staging will be crucial. Either it'll be stunning and catapult Armenia into the final, or leave it languishing in the semis. Curious to see what the rest of the continent makes of it!
Valentina's score: L'Arménie - 8 Points
Slovenia - Omer Naber - On my way
Mo - This sounds like the stuff Ireland kept sending in the mid naughties. It's a proper legs apart, near flawless performance of a very dated song. Ten years ago, it might have done OK, but really, this feels destined for the reject bin. It's a shame as given what else is on offer in this round, I actually ended up wanting little Omar to be in with a shout.
Mo's score - 5 Points
Valentina - Is Mr Naber the only Slovene with permission to enter Ukraine? Seems so! I know I'm in a minority liking this song. Yes, it does sound like the finale from a West End stage show (and not one of the best calibre at that!) but I like that kind of sound! Opinion seems firm that this won't make it into the final, and sadly I agree.
Valentina's score: La Slovénie - 7 Points
Phil - Apparently I am the last one to review this ... So I got told by Mo. My first issue was "Why are people trying to win a contest in the wrong decade all of a sudden?" Clearly people have caught the so-called BBC disease but this song is so dated it could have entered EMA 1993 and probably won. Omar can sing, but this is cliche-ridden and just so old-fashioned. Having said that, though, he can hit the notes and they are all in the right order which is a bonus ... but even he can't polish this turd, surely?
Phil's score: 2/6 in old money - in decimal 4 Points
Latvia - Triana Park - Line
Phil - It's nothing other than background filler on an album, and that is the kiss of death when it comes to Eurovision. I can see where it will get its votes from: the hipster portion of the audience. Contrary to Mo's comment, it does have a hook ... but the rest of the song is built so heavily around it that it does just melt into the background. It has nothing that makes it stand out or say "vote for me", which means people won't and no matter how good it can be, if it scores nothing, it goes nowhere.
Phil's score: 3 Points - because I couldn't remember it
Mo - This sort of reminds me of that Slovenian song with the girl who never took off her headphones, except that one had a chorus and Triana Park rely on a range of alternative head ware. Sadly, that's about the most interesting thing about this. It's so lacking in hook that I forgot it was even on. I've heard this sort of tripe played in achingly trendy bars early evening before the grown-ups take over. I don't expect to hear it twice in Eurovision week.
Mo's score: 1 Point
Valentina - Bleh... I actively dislike this song. Firstly, it sounds like a (bad) carbon copy of a recent song in the charts that I didn't care much for either. Secondly, it's just so so bland and uninteresting. Even the whole rave look and set up of it just feels so forced. Supernova has sent some great songs to Eurovision in recent years, but if it were down to me I'd be leaving this in the semi.
Valentina's score: La Lettonie - 0 Points
Monty - I’m surprised when it comes to the preview videos at how much I like this. It’s cleverly shot so as not to have to show her singing through much of it, and to have her delivering some carefully choreographed moves at others. It’s turned into a very fine slice of dance music that will bring the EuroClub alive. But that’s on the record. Triana Park has to pull this off live without any studio tweaks, retakes or editing. I’m going to believe that Agnese has it in her, as now I’ve warned to it I want this to do well, not least because I’ve got the spunky drummer in my eye (and you know how much that stings) and I’d like a second look at him on the Saturday.
Monty's score: 10 Points