Eurovision '09: Preview

After Georgia pulled out/was forced to pull out of this Eurovision Song Contest with their gun-to-head song called "I Don't Wanna Put-in" (get the "pun?"), what can we expect from ESC? You know I'd only do this for you, my lambs. I've sat through every.single.entry and this is the cream of the crop (in more ways than one).

Armenia: Bizarre video - part glamorous folklore, part gym class, part street dance. Surprisingly catchy but maybe be too weird for mainstream Eurovision.

Belarus: Mullet plus "his admiration with the vocal capabilities of Ian Gillan inspired a spiritual journey into the creative heritage of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Even today Petr cherishes the hope to perform the part of Jesus in the famous rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar." A must-see video (for about forty seconds).

Bulgaria: A former mime(!) who sounds a bit like Jimmy Somerville. Classic Eurovision, in other words. In my weak moments I might put this on my iPod.

Estonia: The song reminds me a lot of Georgia's 2007 entry whilst being really interesting in its own way. I also rather covet the singer's hair.

FYR Macedonia"I can't see it qualifying, unless Europe is overwhelmed by a simultaneous and collective wave of nostalgia for early Bon Jovi b-sides."

Norway: Full-on favourite to win - with good reason. Bloody catchy and upbeat. Looks even stronger now I've sat through the other countries.

Slovakia: Jesus, I've got records older than that girl. It is the year of dull ballads but at least this one has drama. Reminds me of Cyprus in 2000 (amazing and underrated).

Slovenia: Quite a year for violins. You only need to watch it from the 2.10 mark on maybe twenty seconds onwards. That dress. The voice. The song. Words fail me.

Turkey: Hotly tipped to win or go top three - and while it is certainly one of the most interesting songs this year, in a stronger year it'd just go top ten. Not a patch on last year's Turkish entry (one of my favourite songs of the noughties in a completely un-ironic way).

Acts hotly tipped: Norway, Greece and Turkey. Finland and Ukraine are outsiders. Estonia is the dark horse.

And as Germany has just roped in Dita von Teese to help with their stage show, they'll get some votes now. UK is completely deluded in its belief that a Lloyd-Webber dirge will win, of course. I expect Denmark to land midfield, bless Brinck.

Over all: A really weak year (unless you like boring ballads).