Who will win the actual song voting? The juries and TV voters will decide.
Right now, it appears to be a question of "can anyone beat Denmark?"
Our own TOP TEN, after Denmark, are, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER only and not in the order we would vote: Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Russia, San Marino, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Below are a few of our subjective impressions of the competing songs, music, lyrics and artists.
We have our own personal favorites, of course, in our own top ten above, but we have greatly enjoyed listening to all the songs and reading about the music makers from each country. Thank you to all. Each entry has something interesting to tell, even if it does not emerge as the ultimate winner.
The Eurovision Song Contest is only in part about winning and losing. More importantly, it is about culture and music among the European family of peoples. This unique event fosters a common sense of heritage and identity in Europe and is always of interest for that reason, much as sports often serve a similar purpose for the community of humankind at international events like the Olympic Games.
Sometimes winning is overemphasized, or, to put it another way, nearly everyone in Europe "wins" through the Eurovision Song Contest.
One thing to remember is that official videos of the entries -- to which we link below -- can often be better than the on-stage performance at the Eurovision Song Contest, where one has to sing "live", and it is the latter which is determinative, so one can not rely solely on the videos to gain an accurate view of the chances of an entry in the contest. The day of competition is determinative.
Countries Exempt from Semi-Final Competition and Automatically Qualified for the Final
- SWEDEN (last year's winner with Euphoria by Loreen)
Sweden - Robin Stjernberg - You
Stjernberg! Although we tended in favor toward La La Love by Idi Adamou of Cyprus last year, we did also very much like Sweden's ultimate winner Euphoria by Loreen, a song that had broad appeal among voters. Sweden's 2013 song You by Robin Stjernberg is a change in style from the 2012 winner, and comparable success in 2013 for Sweden is unlikely.
- GERMANY: Teutonic Eurodance
Germany - Cascada - Glorious
Eurodance! We are fans! The Eurodance song Glorious by Cascada has several million hits online already at YouTube, surely many from the great number of devoted fans in Germany. We like this song because its theme concentrates with optimism on the youth of our time and their future. However, Eurodance has historically not done well at the Eurovision Song Contest. This year should be an exception, but Cascada is unlikely to garner sufficient votes throughout all of Europe to win. Being from Germany, we nevertheless say "toi, toi, toi", which means "good Luck!"
- UNITED KINGDOM: Bonnie Tyler (!) in the prime of life!
United Kingdom - Bonnie Tyler - Believe in Me
Oldies but goodies! Bonnie Tyler and her special voice and song have enriched the lives of millions over the years. Bonnie is now 61 and is unlikely to win the Eurovision Song Contest, just as the famed Engelbert Humperdinck, age 76, last year did not win for a nostalgic, traditional United Kingdom. Nevertheless, Bonnie is a great addition to the Eurovision spectacle, regardless of the voting. Go, Bonnie, go!
France - Amandine Bourgeois - L'enfer Et Moi ("Hell and Me")
50 Shades! The French entry merges a young female pop rock singer with a song that relates to BDSM and, in the video to the song, shows various pictured subjects of the macabre, we suppose all intended in the trend of the immensely popular risque book series 50 Shades .... Voters will have to decide how this borderline toxic mixture fares at Eurovision.
Italy - Marco Mengoni - L'Essenziale
Another Italian stallion! Italy continues in its tradition of solo performers singing a typically Italian song described by its songwriter/singer Mengoni as: "an Italian-style ballad in the tipping point between love and social issues". Songs like this are of course very popular in Italy (currently millions of YouTube hits) and every once in a while they are successful on the international stage. Again, the voters have to decide if this is one of those very rare compositions that extend beyond the country's borders.
- SPAIN: Back to Celtic Roots
Spain - ESDM (El Sueño De Morfeo) - Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until the End)
Celtic! Spain presents a sweet song and a fittingly sweet lead female singer and presentation. The song has not been a sales magnet in Spain since its debut, so that a high placement at the Eurovision Song Contest would be a surprise, but it is not excluded.
Semi-Final 1, May 14, 2013, Malmö, Sweden
- AUSTRIA: The Starlit Sky Shines
Austria - Natália Kelly - Shine
Shining! 18-year old Natália Kelly represents Austria with her debut single. She is of Austrian ancestry and has roots in the USA and Brazil as well, showing the international nature of the Eurovision Song Contest. "Shine" is a breathy pop-type song that will give Kelly's singing career a boost.
- ESTONIA: Continues Tradition of Solo Singers, but as a Duo
Estonia - Birgit Öigemeel - Et Uus Saaks Alguse
A Duo as One! Birgit is a female singer with a nice voice who sings a pleasant song the translated title of which is "New Beginning", an idea that incorporates her expecting, pregnant status. Something new for Eurovision. Why not?
- SLOVENIA: Female Singer with a typical Eurovision Song
Slovenia - Hannah Mancini - Straight into Love
Mancini is a name of fame in music! This zippy dance song is sung by Hannah Mancini, who was born in America, but is married to a Slovenian, showing once again the broad international flavor of Eurovision. Mancini has appeared on the Jay Leno show in the USA and previously worked in Hollywood on Disney films soundtracks.
- CROATIA: Top Harmony, Melodious Song in the "Old Style"
A Musical Challenger in Accession mid-2013 to the EU
Croatia - Klapa s mora - Mižerja (Misery) -- see lyrics
The darkhorse challenger! We really like this entry for its sheer musicality. "Misery" is melodious and soulful music in the "old" tradition, and should have a strong following among older generations, which could translate into a strong showing at Eurovision. We expect a lot of votes here from Eastern Europe, which could give Croatia a high placement, maybe even a win.
- DENMARK: Wonderful Musical Talent and Performing Art
The Clear Early Betting Favorite Thus Far
Denmark - Emmelie de Forest - Only Teardrops
Perfect! Nearly everything about this song is perfect: song, singer, musicians, costumes, performance, yes, even "a royal touch".The Wikipedia writes about the singer: "Emmelie de Forest [is possibly] the great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, as her grandfather, Count Maurice Arnold de Forest supposedly was an illegimate child of King Edward VII." Her grandfather married into the Swedish nobility (Armfelt family)."
We definitely agree that this fabulous song must be viewed as the favorite. It dances in one's head for days after hearing it several times. Denmark must worry, however, that voters could find this song somewhat similar to last year's winner and the crowd may be in the mood for something different. It is also clear that this is a "Eurovision" song but may not be a musical piece that tops radio charts or YouTube song hits. Hence, a win by favored Denmark is by no means guaranteed.
- RUSSIA: A Surprisingly Soft Song with a Sweet Message
Russia - Dina Garipova - What If
What a Soft Song! Human talent has no geographic boundaries. Dina Garipova not only represents Russia but is from the lesser known city of Zelenodolsk in the Republic of Tatarstan. The budding journalism student at Kazan University has a superb female voice and presents a moving, emotional song that should find many adherents. The bookmakers have Russia in the top 6 for Eurovision 2013 and that should not be far off the mark.
- UKRAINE: Fantastically Done from the Central European Plains
Ukraine - Zlata Ognevich - Gravity
Ready for Hollywood! The song "Gravity" is presented by Zlata Ognevich, a top female singer, together with superb backups, a great song and excellent lyrics. This presentation has bounce and élan and is Broadway and Hollywood ready. The magic-bubbled Disney-like unicorn and butterfly video is "cool". Make sure you see it. We doubt if "Gravity" can gain enough votes to win against this year's very strong competition, but it should do well.
- NETHERLANDS: Dutch superstar Anouk with a love ballad titled Birds
Netherlands - Anouk - Birds
When "for the birds" is good! The Dutch song entries have struggled at Eurovision in recent years and in 2013 the Netherlands now sends their superstar Anouk Teeuwe into the contest. Her unusual song "Birds" adds color to the Eurovision musical spectrum. The entry is perhaps too unique to capture enough excitement among voters in all countries, but it may do well regionally. In any case, well worth a listen.
- MONTENEGRO: Putting a Country on the Map
Montenegro -- Who See -- Igranka
The winning video! This entry has bounce. Who knows exactly where Montenegro is located by geography and can identify its neighbouring countries? Montenegro is not well known, but their spicy rap song "Igranka" by the hip-hop duo "Who See" viz. "Who See Klapa" will surely help to put the country on the map -- if not the song, then surely the racy video that accompanies the song, which at this date already has over 1 million online hits. Win or lose, Montenegro raps!
- LITHUANIA: Indie Rock Spin-Off
Lithuania - Andrius Pojavis - Something
Something, in the shoes of love and faith! The song "Something" appears to be in the style of "something" that reminds this observer of a popular "indie rock" group. The lyrics have the singer/songwriter wearing the shoes of love and faith.
- BELARUS: A Question of Songs
Belarus - Alyona Lanskaya - Solayoh
Oriental! Belarus presents a song with a definitely Oriental beat that may find it difficult to garner sufficient votes in all European countries. Alyona Lanskaya originally won the Belarus final with the entry Rhythm of Love, later replaced by Solayoh. Opinions differ on which song is "better", but neither would appear to be a strong contender for the winner's circle.
- MOLDOVA: A Pasha on the Piano
Moldova - Aliona Moon - O Mie
What a Voice! Moldova has a catchy song, nicely sung by Aliona Moon (Aliona Munteanu), who last year was a backup singer for Pasha Parfeny’s team in Azerbaijan. As written at Moldova.org: "Pasha is the one who wrote the song “A Million” for Aliona and will play the piano along her song during the competition in Malmö." This song might do well in the competition, but again, who really knows. Only the voting will tell.
- IRELAND: An Song in Best Irish Music Tradition
Ireland - Ryan Dolan - Only Love Survives
Irish vibes! Ryan Dolan comes on the Eurovision stage in the Irish musical tradition of rhythmic pop rock music. We liked this song better the second time we heard it, and that is sometimes a problem with voting on a song heard only once. Some songs grow on you, others are less convincing if heard again. Ireland could do well with Only Love Survives.
- CYPRUS: A Female Singer with an Easy-Going Song
Cyprus - Despina Olympiou - An Me Thimase
Ballad in Greek! A sole singer singing a ballad in a language (Greek) most European voters do not speak will have a difficult time winning the Eurovision Song Contest, unless the song is stunningly original or marks an exceptional musical departure from what people know already. This is a nice song, but unlikely to enter the winner's circle.
- BELGIUM: Spokenly Song-like
Belgium - Roberto Bellarosa - Love Kills
Spoken like a song! This is one of the zippier Belgian entries in recent years, having a nice beat, but that is no guarantee that this entry will do better in voting, as Belgium has struggled at Eurovision in the past.
- SERBIA: Three Female Singers and an Eurovision Song
Serbia - Moje 3 - Ljubav je svuda
Terrific Trio! This is a likeable song entry with an active beat and a pleasant performance by three female singers, although there is perhaps not enough uniqueness in the song or presentation to build a winner, though the entry is a nice addition to the song contest.
Semi-Final 2, May 16, 2013, Malmö, Sweden
- LATVIA: "Here we Go", "Gone" in the Semifinals?
Latvia - PeR - Here we go
Here we go, gone in the semifinals? We have Latvian ancestors, but we think this somewhat "outdated in style" song may be gone early in the competition. "Here we go" has not been rated well at all at the bookmakers and we agree that it was not the right choice for Eurovision. We would have voted for one of the other national finalists in Latvia.
- SAN MARINO: Lovely Song
San Marino - Valentina Monetta - Crisalide (Vola)
Marvelous! The song, singer and presentation all mesh together well and we would put San Marino among the handfull of entries who might expect to be in the upper level of voting. Solo singers have difficulty beating out the competition because their possibilities of presentation are much more limited than larger musical groups. This song was thus a positive surprise, definitely.
- F.Y.R. MACEDONIA: Eclectic Mixture
F.Y.R. Macedonia - Esma & Lozano - Pred Da Se Razdeni
Eclectic! This entry is a rather eclectic song mixture that combines elements of folk and pop into an unaccustomed array of costumes and presentation.
- AZERBAIJAN: Solo Song by Male Singer
Azerbaijan - Farid Mammadov - Hold Me
Solo! Azerbaijan has produced some stunningly good entries in recent years. This year's entry takes on the difficult task of finding a male solo performance that can distinguish the singer and song from the field.
- FINLAND: Song as a Matrimonial Outsider
Finland - Krista Siegfrids - Marry Me
Matrimony! This is a fun-loving entry that is perhaps a matrimonial outsider with its marriage theme. Although the tongue-in-cheek entry is likeable, it may not be placed in the top ranks of the voters.
- MALTA: Simple as Music Gets
Malta - Gianluca Bezzina - Tomorrow
Simplicity! The idea of such a simple song is good, but one has to doubt that the song is catchy enough to place high in the voting. Plus points for idea.
- BULGARIA: Primordial
Bulgaria - Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov - Samo Shampioni (Only Champions)
Primordial! This primordial Oriental-tinged music is to our liking. Elitsa and Stoyan were in Eurovision in 2007 with the song Voda, which placed 5th, and we preferred that song over this year's entry.
- ICELAND: Male Singer with a Quiet Ballad
Iceland - Eyþór (Eythor Ingi) - Ég á líf
Nordic Ease! This song is such a quiet ballad that it is unlikely to stir up enough excitement to challenge other entries in the upper levels.
- GREECE: Too much Alcohol
Greece - Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis - Alcohol is Free
Booze as a theme? We like Greek traditional music and culture, but this "alcoholic" entry is not our cup of tea at all. In the Greek national competition we would definitely have voted for ΘΩΜΑΗ ΑΠΕΡΓΗ. This does not mean that this entry will not do well.
- ISRAEL: Solo Singer "Only for Him"
Israel - Moran Mazor - Rak Bishvilo
Costumes! The Israeli entry is translated as "Only for Him". There was some internal difficulty in Israel about the singer's design costume. Certainly presentation plays a role, but song and music remain paramount.
- ARMENIA: About the Earth
Armenia - Dorians - Lonely Planet
Black Sabbath! Terrific song by legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi! The English-language song is sung by Gor Sujyan who, together with his band, the Dorians, were selected out of a pool of 70 applicants. It is a tune that gets better with every hearing.
- HUNGARY: Alternative Music
Hungary - ByeAlex - Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)
One for Me is the title translation in English! It is interesting to see various musical forms tried on Eurovision, although it is difficult to know how the voting audiences will vote on this somewhat unusual entry.
- NORWAY: Highly Rated by the Bookmakers but Unlikely to Win
Norway - Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love
Norway and Norwegians! We love Norway and its people, but worry that this well-liked song could be currently ranked a bit high. The song has a top placement at the bookmakers, but it may have difficulty getting sufficient votes from all countries in Europe to occupy such a high position in the voting. Norway feeds us their love, and that is nice.
- ALBANIA: A Bit of Harder Rock
Albania - Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko - Identitet
Law to the Fore! Adrian Lulgjuraj, the lead singer, a young lawyer by profession, is joined by Bledar Sejko on the guitar in a "hard rock" piece for Eurovision.
- GEORGIA: Excellent Male and Female Duo
Georgia - Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani - Waterfall
G:son! Goergia has a song by Swedish composers Thomas G:son and Erik Bernholm. G:son composed last year's winner, Euphoria. It was his first win, but unlikely to be repeated this year, though this is a nice song.
- SWITZERLAND: Covering the Spectrum
Switzerland - Takasa - You And Me
From 21 to 95! This is an unusual musical group, as the Swiss entry ranges from 21-year-old Sarah Breiter to an Eurovision-record 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer.
- ROMANIA: Hitting the High Notes
Romania - Cezar - It's My Life
Contratenor! Cezar is a contratenor viz. countertenor, i.e. someone who sings at a pitch level equivalent to a female contralto or mezzo-soprano. He sings well and the song is good, but it is difficult to know how audiences will vote on this kind of an unusual presentation.