A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
Very welcome - I hope you'll like it here!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Semi 1: 07 Russia

I will be frank and honest with you: I was really biased against this song already before I heard it and didn't want to like it. Even so, I was surprised by how little of a song these sisters have to work with.

Tomalchevy Sisters - Shine (Russia 2014)

I am not even going to waste too many words on this, but here goes. I am in no way hostile towards Russians, Russian culture or Russia as a country but after recent events I am not particularly keen on seeing Russia doing well. An ESC hosted by Russia under the current circumstances is not what I dream of.

They are surely aware that quite a few people share my sentiments, so I had expected them to enter a killer entry, something bound to fight for first place. Instead we are having quite a lean little midtempo song, performed without any greater amount of charisma or personality.

As for the lyrics, asking us to show the world some love? Sure thing, Russia. You first.

Qualifier: Yes, but only because Russia always qualifies. Wouldn't mind a great deal if I was wrong here.

My grade: 2/5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Semi 1: 06 Albania

I'm a fan of free choice of language. I think it is good that every country can decide for themselves what language suits their song better and have a greater shot at being understood by a larger audience. But reaching an audience isn't always stuck in the words you are singing.

Hersi - One Night's Anger (Albania 2014)

First of all I must state that I think Albania's entry is pretty good. It builds nicely and bears echoes from Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" - a rare source of inspiration for eurovision entries. Hersi has an interesting voice and the new arrangement has a good sound. I just feel the song lost something in translation.

Exactly the same happened in 2011: Albania switched to English and suddenly a lot of the emotion ebbed away. I don't feel the performer's presence in the words as much as I did in the original version.

Maybe it will be back in the live version, but in this clip I'd long for some more passion and conviction.

Qualifier: Probably. A good song is a good song and should attract enough votes to beat at least six other countries. Even if it could be better than it is at this point.

My grade: 2/5

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Semi 1: 05 Iceland

At first I thought Iceland was doing something radically different compared to the last few years - jaunty upbeat men performing their Blink 182-flavoured song in bright tracksuits - but now I think they are basically staying true to form.

Pollapönk - No Prejudice (Iceland 2014)

True to form in Iceland's case is to be pleasant enough to make it relatively comfortably through the semi only to end up in the lower regions of the final result.

It could work out also this time. In a semi sporting more than its fair share of ballads and midtempo, anything jaunty and jolly is bound to stand out. Also visually, this gang will break out of the mainstream.

It could also be a stab at what Latvia did best recently: make an enjoyable and fun preview of a song that ultimately proves too weak to stand a chance live on stage.

This piece of punk for kids could go either way, really. (But it gets a couple of bonus points from me for the positive message and the rainbow flags. Well done.)

Qualifier: Yes. It still feels like a qualifier. But I am far from sure. If it makes it, it won't be by any larger margin. And in the final it will be shark feed.

My grade: 2/5

Friday, March 28, 2014

Semi 1: 04 Sweden

Many people were so happy to finally see Sanna Nielsen win Melodifestivalen on her seventh attempt. For a young veteran who slowly made her way into the hearts of Sweden, this was a very well deserved triumph, and I was very happy about it too. Then came Ace Wilder and ruined the whole thing for me.

Sanna Nielsen - Undo (Sweden 2014)

Sanna's song is elegant and classy, she sings it impeccably and the chorus is easy to remember, even if it isn't a piece of cake to sing along. All of these ingredients would normally make for a really great entry. They do. But they are also part of a very classic recipe for this contest.

Ace Wilder was everything that Undo is not. Wild, eccentric, unexpected. Not safe.

That very notion punched a hole in my balloon, so to speak. Her ballad shrunk a great deal in my eyes and it hasn't grown back on me as yet. And even if I am still very happy about Sanna finally winning, I'm less optimistic about her chances to make a splash internationally.

Qualifier: Yes. It will be distinct enough to stand out in a field of sixteen semi finalists. But how much will she stand out in the final?

My grade: 3/5

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Semi 1: 03 Estonia

If the running order makes Armenia no favours it is even worse for Estonia and could possibly cost them a spot in the final no matter how much Tanja would deserve it.

Tanja - Amazing (Estonia 2014)

Even if it would be easy to label this song as merely a Euphoria-lite it still remains a very ambitious entry with a polished and impressive stage performance by Tanja who dances like her life depended on it and yet doesn't miss a single note.

Had Estonia had better luck and found themselves in the last half of this semi there would be no doubt in my mind that Amazing would sail smoothly into the final, but now I'm far from sure. Will it leave an impression that is strong enough to make the viewers at home pick up their phones thirteen songs later?

Hopefully. It would be well deserved. But success comes to the people who impress the viewers, not necessarily to the people who deserve it.

My grade: 3/5

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Semi 1: 02 Latvia

Those poor Latvians would really deserve a little bit of happiness now that they have failed to qualify for the final on five consecutive occasions. But perhaps they could cheer themselves up with some cake instead?

Aarzemnieki - Cake To Bake (Latvia 2014)

Latvia hasn't just missed out - they have failed miserably, ending last in their semi no less than three times out of these five attempts. And at a first look, it doesn't look promising for Copenhagen either.

This ode to the art of cake baking is pleasant but very simple. A bit too simple to particularly impress anyone. But then again - it has loads and loads of likeability and that is a thing that should never be sniffed at.

Before the three minutes are over, you are very likely to find yourself in your happiest mood, wearing your widest smile, singing along to the imbecile lyrics and feeling very good indeed.

No. Sorry to spoil the party but this will not qualify. Latvia has pulled this trick off in the past: with the aid of a happy and likeable preview clip they make us believe the song is a stronger contender than it really is. But I reserve the right to like it anyway.

My grade: 2/5

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Semi 1: 01 Armenia

The running order is no longer established by a draw in order to give every song the best possible starting position. So it would be nice to know why the first semi kicks off with this particular entry.

Aram Mp3 - Not Alone (Armenia 2014)

When Armenia announced that their internally selected entrant was a comedian-turned-singer I must admit to radically lowering my expectations but I was proved very wrong indeed. This is a modern, intriguing and very ambitious entry with a long and intense crescendo that finally turns into the most credible dubstep element to date in the ESC.

Passionate, tempestuous, exquisite.

But also the kind of entry that would need a couple of songs in front of it in order to stand out. You benefit less from being different if you are the first one on stage and the audience has nothing to compare you to. The choice of having Armenia open the semi is really hard to understand.

Not Alone is also a top favourite with the bookies. Why waste a song like that so early in the running order?

Absolutely. No bad starting position in the world could hold this entry back at this point. It will qualify with ease and then hopefully have a better spot in the final.

My grade: 5/5

ESC 2014: der Countdown läuft

Finally we have all the preview clips as well as the running order for the 2014 semi finals and it is time to start evaluating things properly. What kind of songs do we have coming? Who stands a chance and who will be totally lost?

Will it be easier to predict the qualifiers when there are fewer entries and fewer songs will lose out? Or will it be just as unpredictable as always?

And will my predictions be correct at all?

If you can't wait to read my precious thoughts, you can warm up by reading my reviews from last year. But I will focus on 2014 from this moment on and all through April.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Belgium in need of better songs

After two internal selections in a row, Flemish broadcaster VRT decided to go for a big national final instead this time. A great idea. If you can organise a good selection show where you invite the audience to take part, it is always better than just making a choice and keep the viewers out of the game.

But then there are better and worse ways of doing the open final thing.

VRT decided to have hopeful talents audition in front of a panel of judges by singing cover versions of famous eurovision entries in order to qualify and only then find themselves a song to compete with. Very much in the vein of The Voice or X-Factor, you start with the talent and focus on voices and performing skills.

This isn't a talent show, though. This is Eurovision. Different game, different rules.

One of the main rules of Eurovision is that great talent very seldom makes up for a lack of songs. It doesn't matter how good you can sing if you don't have a meaningful entry to wrap your vocal chords around. And in Belgium you can really tell that the songs have not been a priority this year.

Out of the six finalists there is only one that has a song I believe in. That is pretty meagre for a national final. Most probably, the winner will be a pompous over-blown ballad with pathetic lyrics about how attached grown up men can be to their mothers.

So be it. Tastes differ. If the Belgians love that song, it is their choice. But I think VRT would be better off next time if they started by finding six really terrific songs and then went looking for suitable talent to perform them well.

By the way, this is the song I'd select. Classy and emotional, performed by a Flemish Jeane Manson.

I bet the Belgians won't vote for it.

Sil - What's The Time In Tokyo? (Belgium NF 2014)

The taste of Knut

I knew it, didn't I? I predicted Silent Storm to win hands down in Norway and I do believe it was the best choice, the one likely to produce the best result in Copenhagen.

Still, I'm a bit disappointed that Norway left Knut Kippersund Nesdal last out of the four super finalists in the end. His song could have been stronger, but the kid is a star. The confidence, the voice and his ability to handle a minimalist but effective choreography all really impressed.

If there is any justice in the world, his new record deal with Universal will allow him to lay his hands on some great material and record a bright and sparkling pop album that would showcase his abilities even further.

Hopefully Knut is a real winner despite his 4th place. I surely want to see and hear much more of him.

Knut Kippersund Nesdal - The Taste Of You (Norway NF 2014)

Knut Kippersund Nesdal - The Taste Of You

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Norway: Knut is my winner

Tonight, Norway will decide their entry for Copenhagen among nine candidates. I must admit to not having followed the semi finals particularly carefully last weekend, but I will still speculate a bit on the outcome.

It is always interesting when countries change their selection modus, especially as the melodifestivalen formula with many weeks of semi finals seems to be wearing the audiences out a bit and most of the Nordic countries try to find other ways of conducting their national finals.

If organising three semi finals during one single weekend is the way to go remains to be seen but at least this new system resulted in a more than decent line-up for tonight's final.

1. El Cuero - Ain't No Love In This City No More
This being the only rock song in the running, it is a bit puzzling that NRK chose this to open the show. Quite a catchy little number but hardly tough enough to stand out at the ESC.
Grade: 2/5

2. Elisabeth Carew - Sole Survivor
An easily accessible pop chorus in a modern chorus that would benefit from a better performance. Elisabeth is nice but doesn't really nail it, neither the notes nor the presence needed.
Grade: 2/5

3. Knut Kippersund Nesdal - Taste Of You
Clearly my favourite in this line-up. Rick Astley from Hedmark gives a very inspired, energetic and ambitious performance and the only problem in my book is that the actual song doesn't quite measure up to his talent. I would be surprised if he won, but he is my personal winner and I am eagerly awaiting more tracks from Knut.
Grade: 4/5

4. Dina Misund - Needs
A fresh and pleasant effort following this year's eurovision trend of incorporating a country-western-influence into your song. Well sung but ultimately not memorable enough to win.
Grade: 2/5

5. Mo - Heal
Pretty much the same situation as with Tooji two years ago where the singer is more interesting than the actual entry. Not a bad chorus but the song relies a bit too much on the appeal of its modern arrangement.
Grade: 3/5

6. Linnea Dale - High Hopes
An equally modern, more interesting but also more difficult piece of soft electropop, completed by a good vocal performance. Would be an intriguing but very risky choice for Copenhagen.
Grade: 3/5

7. Charlie - Hit Me Up
Teeny pop that is more modern than developed but helped by a sweet performance. A good radio song but in this contest, the girl would need something with a stronger handle.
Grade: 2/5

8. Carl Espen - Silent Storm
This is the song everyone thinks will win. It isn't my favourite but I'm equally convinced this is our winner. It is original, unusual and delicate and would distinguish itself nicely also in an international final. It just doesn't fully hit home in my heart of stone but that probably matters very little in the end.
Grade: 3/5

9. Oda & Wulff - Sing
An almost offensively happy and positive ending to the presentation. Also original in its own way - and catchy - but a little bit more chemistry wouldn't hurt.
Grade: 3/5

Tobson predicts: There isn't much to add. Anything but a minor landslide victory for Carl Espen would be a surprise. I hope Norway at least will vote Knut into second place and make him the star he deserves to be.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sergej sings his heart out

Montenegro presented their song for Copenhagen and knowing Sergej Ćetković has quite a following also in other parts of former Yugoslavia there was a certain sense of expectation connected to this entry.

It seems Montenegro let their fans down as most voices on Twitter seemed truly underwhelmed by what they were served. I decided to have a look for myself.

Supposing Montenegro is in the ESC mainly in order to market themselves as a splendid tourist destination, the preview clip is a bullseye. Beautifully filmed in breathtaking sceneries, the only real downside being a certain amount of heteronormativity, it accompanies the song really nicely.

The song is your typical Balkan ballad featuring the famous flute as well as a smoothing male vocal full of longing and restrained passion. Not bad at all if you are into that sort of thing.

All in all very much a male version of An me thimase, last year's Cypriot entry. Melodic, pleasant, well sung and fairly unlikely to pick up any larger points from any direction.

Sergej Ćetković - Moj svijet (Montenegro 2014)

Melodifestivalen 2014: the day after

Often being a eurovision fan is pretty easy in the sense that you mainly need one emotion at the time. If your favourite wins, you are happy. If your favourite doesn't win, you are angry. Or disappointed.

It is the day after Melodifestivalen 2014 and I find myself with very conflicting emotions concerning the outcome.

First of all, I am so happy for Sanna Nielsen who finally got her long-awaited and well-deserved victory. Now she might have landed herself a pop hit that could add more layers to her already very successful career.

Without a doubt she will shine also in Copenhagen, even if the abundance of female vocalists armed with various degrees of mid tempo already chosen could make it a bit more difficult for Sanna to stand out just as much as many seem to anticipate.

I could come to change my mind at some point, but "Undo" doesn't feel like a eurovision winner at this point. It is impressive in many ways but perhaps slightly too professional and controlled to win.

And then there is the disappointment that Sweden came so close to taking a chance with Ace Wilder. Sending in something wild and crazy and running an actual risk of displeasing people. It would have been so refreshing to see Sweden - the country of cool at the ESC - do something as unexpected as that.

All Ace would have needed to win was two points. Which makes me wonder how carefully put together those international juries are. They all agreed Ace was top three material with the notable exceptions of Germany and Malta. Isn't that odd?

At the same time it was a good thing that the winner of the televote also won the whole thing in the end. Had Sanna lost a second time because of the juries, there would have been quite some outcry from the public. As you see - conflicting emotions also here.

I also note that the heyday of the cute boy singer seems to be over. One Yohio, one Oscar and one Anton was more than the audience could digest but I was a bit surprised to see Anton being the one to truly crash and burn at the bottom of the results. I really thought his song was better than that.

The show stayed true to style - some entertaining moments but overall pretty lacklustre. If you want to put on the biggest show of the year, a good line-up is not enough and SVT will have to rethink their conception quite a lot for next year.

So, I'm pleased and a tiny bit disappointed at the same time. Just as I was in 1998 when the Swedish juries rejected the modern and avant-garde "Avundsjuk" by Nanne Grönvall in favour of the beautiful-but-ordinary "Kärleken är" by Jill Johnson.

Nanne - Avundsjuk (Sweden NF 1998)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Melodifestivalen: and our winner is...

It feels unusual that Sweden isn't even close to being the last country selecting their eurovision entry this year, but today is the big day when the international juries and the Swedish televoters will battle it out to see who becomes the Swedish representative in Copenhagen.

And it feels really exciting, I must admit that.

Firstly - the line-up is the best since 2009. There are not just one or two good songs but at least five or six songs that could go to Eurovision and do reasonably well there. Hardly no filler material in the entire final.

Secondly - there is a good chance Sweden will decide not to play safe and go for a quirky and risky choice of the kind that could go terribly wrong just as well as pay off immensely. That mere possibility - that one of the safest players in eurovision history - could go into gambling mood is refreshing enough to fill my stomach with happy colourful butterflies.

Abba was a risky choice. So was Lasse Holm and Monica Törnell in 1986. And that was pretty much every risk Sweden took since the contest turned to colour.

I already reviewed and ranked all the songs earlier, so here I will gamble a bit as well and predict the final placing instead.

1. Anton Ewald - Natural
Last year, I found his entry silly, repetitive and annoying and I still insist this new one is better but less instant. The boy dances gently through his choreography but trips over a couple of his notes while singing instead.
Place: 4

2. Ellen Benediktsson - Songbird
One of the best vocals of the evening and this chorus is still pretty and captivating, but ultimately most people - not all - will prefer more exciting entries once it is time to vote. Ellen seems to have an excellent future ahead of her and would probably just be better off not winning tonight. Which she won't.
Place: 6

3. Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco
Alcazar should probably blame it on the jury instead - unless half the jurors are eurovision fans who love this trio for everything they did in the past, they are not likely to sprinkle any larger sums over this disco tribute. There will be love from the televoting, but surely not enough to win.
Place: 5

4. Oscar Zia - Yes We Can
More often than not the song in last place isn't the worst one, it just ends there because it isn't anyone's favourite and there are not enough points to keep it floating. My guess is that is Oscar's fate tonight. Not because he is bad but because he is nobody's top choice.
Place: 10

5. Linus Svenning - Bröder
I still don't feel anywhere near as touched by this song as I probably should, yet I'm aware many people do. Could go anywhere when the phone lines open, but I doubt the juries will be all too enthusiastic about it.
Place: 7

6. Helena Paparizou - Survivor
In almost every country in Europe this would be a red hot favourite to win, but Helena doesn't entirely click with the Swedish audience. She isn't modest enough and takes up a bit too much space with her huge personality. She could very well be the jury winner but is likely to fall back quite a bit in the televote.
Place: 3

7. Yohio - To The End
Waiting for a star to fall. An OK but anonymous song paired with a decision to tone down his spectacular image from last year leaves Yohio with a clear lack of a buzz surrounding him this time. And if the juries don't vote for him, he can only rely on his hardcore fans. And how many of them are really left out there?
Place: 9

8. Sanna Nielsen - Undo
A long time it looked like nobody could snatch the victory away from her this time, but my guess is that Sanna will be left in second place again. She has a fine song and sings like the goddess she is, but in the end the whole package is probably a bit too expected to be our winner.
Place: 2

9. Panetoz - Efter solsken
You can win in various ways. Getting to the final has changed the entire map for this happy bunch and instead of being a one-hit-wonder curiosity their album looks set to sell rather well. Panetoz are definitely one of the winners even if their final score is unlikely to be particularly high tonight.
Place: 8

10. Ace Wilder - Busy Doing Nothing
The first time I heard the full version of Busy Doing Nothing it was love at first sight. I'm not sure about the last time this happened, but it seems more people than me had the same sensation. The underdog has grown into a firm favourite and a very likely winner and - if so - the most musically daring entry Sweden sent to the ESC since Abba in 1974. A good way to celebrate that it's been 40 years since Brighton. My winner.
Place: 1

You never know who is on the jury and it is hard to predict what they will go for. My guess is that the juries will have Helena in their top spot - but perhaps not by a very large margin - and that the televote will put Sanna in second place and make Ace a clear winner.

Would Ace stand a chance in Copenhagen? Would they have to change the number and add more backing singers? I have no idea. It feels like it is not important at this stage. 

Give me Sanna, Helena, Anton, Alcazar or even Panetoz as winners and I will be fine with that. But if Ace wins, me and my colourful butterflies will go into a happy spin. 

Be brave, Danes!

Dear Denmark,

you are just about to select your entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest. I must say you have done really well for the last few years, being last year's winner and this year's host country and all, so you hardly need any advice from anyone like me.

But still, I'd like to share some thoughts with you before your final starts. You see, you have meant so much for me through the years. Already as a very young fan, I singled out Denmark as one of the countries I liked almost without exception.

This was in the happy 80's where - admittedly - there was a distinct taste of plastic to most of your entries, but in the 80's we loved plastic. I loved you for it. I still do.

Lately, however. Last ten years or so. I don't know how to put this in a kind way, but as I consider us very close friends it is my duty to say it anyway, so here goes. Lately, your songs haven't meant a lot to me. They are nice and polished. Often catchy. Often pretty inoffensive too.

I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of an edge, Denmark. Some real emotion. I'd like to see you go out on stage, pull a face, do something unexpected and run the risk of not being liked. I know you'd like to, I know you have it in you.

I know you have it in you, because many songs in your national finals through the years tell me that you do. Here are two examples - from the extravagantly fabulous Sanne Gottlieb - to inspire you, to convince you it can be done and show you that I am truly a friend and nothing else.

A friend who takes the liberty of expecting a little bit more from you.

Sanne Gottlieb - Uden dig (Denmark NF 2000)

Sanne Gottlieb - Tog jeg fejl? (Denmark NF 2001)

Fingers crossed for Slovenia

It was so close that we wouldn't have Slovenia present in Copenhagen, but in a surprise move they decided not only to participate but also to organise a national final.

That's an unexpected twist, but I am genuinely happy to have Slovenia in the competition. I have always been very fond of their entries even if they, like an ex-Yugoslav equivalent of Finland, have a hard time getting anyone to vote for them.

I haven't listened to the songs for tonight's EMA but wish them the best of luck. Also very much like Finland, they have been notorious for not selecting the best songs on offer through the years, but that is no excuse for not getting it right this time.

I'm hoping for a song that could make it into the final again, but in my book it is still worth more being good than being successful. Like their first ever entry - possibly still my favourite Slovenian entry - which was melodic, original, colourful and scored a grand total of nine points.

1 X Band - Tih deževen dan (Slovenia 1993)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Is it OK to care about Eurovision?

Last Saturday, during the last stages of Andra Chansen when the second duel had just been announced and things started getting interesting for real, something happened that rarely happens. My interest just suddenly shrunk and vanished.

I had accidentally flipped from my Twitter feed onto a news site and suddenly disturbing headlines and pictures from Ukraine overwhelmed me and Melodifestivalen seemed very unimportant in comparison.

The political situation in Europe is very tense and very worrying and during the last week, whenever I felt like posting something on this blog, I couldn't help thinking that a little song contest is a very trivial thing in the big universe.

In short: is it OK to use your time and energy caring about Eurovision under these circumstances?

The answer I came down to is: Yes. It is. It isn't just OK, it is even pretty important. Necessary. This is my defence speech on why that is so.

In 2012, I wrote a column I was pretty pleased with about what was wrong with the contest in Baku. How it stole the fun away from us, how we suddenly talked very little about songs and key-changes and choreography and turned our full attention to politics of all sorts.

In my opinion, the ESC is our joint coffee break where all of Europe can take a little time off from everyday life and just have fun together. Do something light-hearted, listen to some songs, look at some performances and just feel like we were one unit for once.

So this is my disclaimer for the rest of this season as well as for all eternity: I will keep blogging about Eurovision even if it is a bit trivial. Because trivial is what we need to get by. Whatever happens in the news, I hope the Eurovision Song Contest will be the last european institution standing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Melodifestivalen: who gets a second chance?

Andra Chansen used to be that calmer week of Melodifestivalen where two lucky losers won the chance of further exposure in the final. Less important than the other weeks by far, and a well-needed break between the semis and the suspense of the big final.

Then last year Robin Stjernberg turned everything upside down, proving also a song from the second chance round is capable of winning. The big question is if the same thing will happen again. Will it happen this year?

No. Most probably it won't. That kind of thing will probably happen about once every tenth year or so also in the future.

But the songs selected tonight could turn the dynamics of the final upside down and in that respect Andra Chansen is far from unimportant.

So how will it go, then? In the first round, four of the eight songs will be voted off the show. I think and hope those four will be Ammotrack, State of Drama, Ellinore Holmer and Linus Svenning.

After that you can never know. The song in first place will battle the song in fourth place while the song in second place battles the one in third. But I'd prefer Helena Paparizou and JEM in the final. I could definitely live with Outtrigger as well while Martin Stenmarck would be dull.

Tobson review: Estonia picks their entry

For the last two years, I've been seated in the Nokia kontserdimaja in Tallinn to see the big final of Eesti laul live. Almost all the way back since the tiny Baltic state made its debut back in 1994, Estonia and their entries have been very dear to me, getting special attention from me and my critical eyes.

This year I won't see the final live at all, but I followed the semi finals closely and feel ready to predict the outcome of tonight's show.

As if there was ever a point in trying to predict what the Estonians will do. Most of the time they surprise you and if they don't, then that's a surprise too.

1. Brigita Murutar - Laule täis taevakaar
The big exclamation mark for me this year. What seemed like an inoffensive little ditty has grown into a simple but catchy song that could possibly appeal to rather a large section of the audience. I doubt the jurors will stand up and clap along, but it has grown into a bit of a personal favourite.
Grade: 4/5

2. Traffic - Für Elise
At some point this felt like a bit of a dark horse and a potential winner in the end but then the live performance turned out to be slightly less vibrant than the song itself and this spot in the running order does it no favours either. I wouldn't discard its chances just yet but it feels less and less like a hot favourite.
Grade: 3/5

3. Norman Salumäe - Search
Another grower, helped along by some intriguing camerawork and the rare and peculiar stage presence of Norman himself. Not as strong as his other entry with August Hunt (rejected in the first semi) but pleasant all the same.
Grade: 3/5

4. Wilhelm - Resignal
Artistic but introvert and pretty un-catchy pop. In the worst case scenario, this is exactly the kind of entry that the wrong kind of expert jury would shower in points in order to show how eclectic their own taste is. Talented band but the song wouldn't go far in Copenhagen.
Grade: 1/5

5. Lenna - Supernoova
Lenna's third solo effort is another strong rock ballad - efficient, polished and made to enthuse the local radio stations and promote her new album. It could be a winner - perhaps because the audience would think it is Lenna's turn to go - but it could a bit too demanding to stand a real chance internationally. I predict another second place.
Grade: 4/5

6. Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band - Maybe Maybe
At this point in the show, this song is sure to stand out from the rest. It's a pleasant and catchy - but ultimately too underdeveloped - little effort.
Grade: 2/5

7. Maiken - Siin või sealpool maad
Elegant and traditional, but perhaps one ballad too many in this line-up. Maiken has never sounded better vocally and could be rewarded for that, but it doesn't feel like a winner.
Grade: 2/5

8. Kõrsikud - Tule ja jää
Being original never hurt anybody in a contest like the ESC and these gents would surely leave a lasting impression also on a european audience. The song is soft and melodic but could be stronger without harming anyone.
Grade: 3/5

9. Tanja - Amazing
Being the first song in the first semi put Tanja a bit in the shadow of a number of other songs, but her new place in the running order highlights what an effective entry this is. Well sung and impressively staged. A tiny bit too Euphoria-esque for its own good but not an impossible surprise winner in the end.
Grade: 3/5

10. Sandra Nurmsalu - Kui tuuled pöörduvad
Perhaps not quite as distinct and special as Rändajad, Sandra's new song stands out as the most obvious choice out of the ten candidates. There is a danger in being the favourite, as the expert juries more than once have decided to keep their votes down for anticipated winners in the past.
Grade: 3/5

Tobson predicts: The experts and the televoters will select two songs for a super final before the viewers alone decides who will be the overall winner. The logical super finalists would be Lenna and Sandra, where the audience probably would go for the possibly more instantly graspable Sandra who would probably also have a wider appeal internationally.

Then again - if the experts decide to be a difficult bunch, they could keep Sandra out of the top two. And if one song would sell itself in a big way to the viewers, it could make its way into the final and win by a landslide there. Then it could be Traffic or Tanja, or even my personal favourite Brigita.