After today, we’re approaching the halfway mark. And we do it in style today as we review the bookmakers’ favourite, a returning artist and a proper fan favourite: Russia, Lithuania and Spain. Can these three make more of an impression than most entries this year? Will Croatia’s top spot be in danger?

RussiaSergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One

Liam: Well of course we have the favourite here, and much like Sweden last year, I don’t think you can call this the best song. But, you can assume this is going to be the best overall package, you know this is going to be choreographed within an inch of its life. This will only win if the handful of songs that can challenge it manage to nail their staging. That being said, I love the fun, overdone, 2006 feeling of this, and at least it’s Russia doing something that feels like Russia. Over the top and ostentatious rather than another contrived peace ballad.
Score: 9/10

Sophie: ”Thunder and lightning it’s getting exciting” – such poetry! This song is definitely made for Eurovision and that’s why a lot of people will probably vote for it. I wouldn’t though, as I don’t see anything special in it. But still I’m more or less happily singing along.
Score: 5/10

Nick: Yes, it’s all predictable and yes, the lyrics scream ‘cheesy’, but the song works. He can sing, he can deliver a show and you can bet on it that he will have a performance of the highest order. I really like this, but a bit of originality would have been a good idea.
Score: 9/10

Wivian: It starts out ok, and I was actually quite optimistic there for just under a minute…then a part of my soul died a little… And judging by a few of his earlier live performances I’ve listened to, this might not be pleasant live. But the first (almost) minute is ok, so I’ll give Sergey (which happens to be one of my fave men’s names) 3/10.
Score: 3/10

Dimitris:  I wasn’t into this song that much when it first came out. But now I really love it, it’s very memorable. And I am impressed by the fact that he can pull of a great live performance. With a great staging, this could be our winner.
Score: 9.5/10

Katarina: I always have high expectations for Russia because I usually love their songs, and when Sergey, one of my favourite artists, was announced as their representative, I was sure we’d get an absolute hit. And look, I wasn’t disappointed! Many fans will say it’s dated and I can understand those opinions, but for me, it’s a great upbeat song with an even better performer. We could already hear this one live and I think it’s safe to say Sergey’s vocals will be on point on the night. Since it’s Russia, I expect an outstanding staging and we might be heading to St Petersburg next year.
Score: 9/10

Peter:  I know this is very divisive, mainly on account of it not sounding “up-to-date” but I think that’s part of its charm. It’s not trying to sound like a chart hit and failing, which I think is a much bigger crime than sounding completely and unashamedly like something from Eurovision 2006, which let’s face it, was a great time. We know that Russia will give this the performance it needs to hoover up votes, so don’t count this out by any means.
Score: 9/10

LithuaniaDonny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night

Liam: Donny is back and with a far better song than he had in 2012. This is fun and frivolous and doesn’t really go anywhere, but I enjoy it anyway. It is a tad too generic to do well, but at the very least it’s one of the best produced things Lithuania has sent in a long time.
Score: 7/10

Sophie: I’d say this goes hand in hand with Russia – made for Eurovision and good to sing along, but not really anything special. I’m expecting Donny to come up with a performance at least as creative as wearing a blindfold to ”Love Is Blind”…
Score: 5/10

Nick: This is much, much better than Love Is Blind. Donny has sort of grown up and comes back to Eurovision with a really decent effort which sounds really close to chart-friendly. It’s produced well, sung well, let’s see if it’s performed well in May too. For now, I remain hopeful that Lithuania can do well this year.
Score: 7.5/10

Wivian: I’m not too convinced by the chorus, but I still like this song more than I thought I would, based on his 2012 entry. He is a fairly solid live performer, I like the verses, he is good on stage…so, though it’s not really the kind of music I normally go for, all in all a pleasant surprise.
Score: 5/10

Dimitris: Another returning artist from 2012. But at least his 2016 song is way better than his 2012 song. However, there’s something in the song that makes me not completely love it. It’s still a really good song. I can see Lithuania doing pretty well this year.
Score: 7/10

Katarina: This is so much better than Donny’s 2012 entry! It’s a great song, although it might just be a bit too slow for my taste, but I still love it. I liked it before their NF already and it keeps growing on me so who knows, I might end up having Lithuania in my top 10 by the time Eurovision is on.
Score: 9/10

Peter:  It really bothered me for a while that this never properly kicks off and is almost impossible to dance to, but now that I’ve got my head around that it’s actually not a dance track but more of a “club ballad” I can enjoy it, albeit in a budget Danny Saucedo sort of way. Should be an easy qualifier but I think it might be a bit generic to scale the dizzying heights of the scoreboard.
Score: 7/10

SpainBarei – Say Yay!

Liam: I’m not sure why, but this song does almost nothing for me. I find the song title annoying, I find the lyrics dull and musically this doesn’t tickle my fancy either. In fact the only thing I did like about this song was the National Final version where the backing singers had a bit in Spanish, and now that’s gone. So this is super bland to me. There’s always a few songs that the fans at large love every year that leave me cold, and I suppose this is one of them.
Score: 2/10

Sophie: A great lot of fun! I’m dancing and singing along with all my heart, but sometimes it’s giving me a headache. Maybe a bit of an energy and tempo overload.
Score: 7/10

Nick: The lyrics of this are not my cup of tea whatsoever. Say yay, hurray – didn’t take more than a minute to write that. That said, it is really catchy and she sells it. I have no idea how this will do in Stockholm, but this is not a bad song at all.
Score: 7.5/10

Wivian: I‘ll happily sing along and dance to this song, but I can‘t picture myself ever thinking „Oh, I really need to listent to „Say Yay!““ Barei is a good performer, and also super nice, and I can picture a really fun performance on stage in Stockholm, so I think this is another 5/10 for me.
Score: 5/10

Dimitris: The song has a very catchy tune, it’s very addictive and the final version made it even better. It wasn’t my favorite from the selection, but now it definitely is. This could end up doing either really well or really badly, and I hope it is the first.
Score: 9/10

Katarina: If it wasn’t for Australia, I’d say this is the most overrated entry this year. I enjoyed listening to it a few times but it’s already too boring, and I’m afraid it definitely won’t stand out among other, much better upbeat songs. The only thing that could save this is Barei herself and her charisma, but sadly I can’t see her anywhere near the top.
Score: 6/10

Peter: The lyrics to this are fairly basic, but at its heart it sounds like something from the charts, but still full of infectious Eurovision fun, which for me is the perfect balance. Barei needs to make the performance a lot tidier than her national final outing, but has to be careful not to lose the lively enthusiasm. It’s a fine line, but if she manages it, this could be Spain’s best result in years.
Score: 8.5/10

The story so far…

The bookies’ favourite, Russia, are currently in second with OGAE, but not with us. A few low marks throw Russia down to fourth place, behind Croatia, Germany and Serbia. Still, Sergey gets a respectable fourth place. In fact, all of our entries made the top ten today. Lithuania, scoring just below 7, comes in at #8, with Spain following at #10. Still, Croatia is the only entry to score an average over 8/10. Can anyone stop her?

  1. Croatia – Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse: 8.21
  2. Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost: 7.93
  3. Serbia – Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter): 7.86
  4. Russia – Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One: 7.64
  5. Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat: 7.44
  6. Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave: 7.21
  7. Israel – Hovi Star – Made Of Stars: 6.79
  8. Lithuania – Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night: 6.79
  9. Sweden – Frans –  If I Were Sorry: 6.72
  10. Spain – Barei – Say Yay!: 6.43
  11. FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi – Dona: 6.29
  12. Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer: 6.00
  13. The Netherlands – Douwe Bob – Slow Down: 5.71
  14. Moldova – Lidia Isac – Falling Stars: 5.36
  15. Ireland – Nicky Byrne – Sunlight: 5.29
  16. Finland – Sandhja – Sing It Away: 4.89
  17. Poland – Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life: 4.36
  18. Switzerland – Rykka – The Last Of Our Kind: 4.29
  19. Greece – Argo – Utopian Land: 3.43
  20. Belarus – Ivan – Help You Fly: 2.71
  21. San Marino – Serhat – I Didn’t Know: 1.64

Tomorrow, we’re moving on to the Czech Republic (or Czechia, whichever you prefer), Cyprus and Slovenia. A ballad, a rock song and country music. How will that go down with our team?

Media Liaison: One of the founding members at escXtra. I'm the Dutchman who loves every little idiotic Eurovision fact there is. I usually listen to a lot of Eurovision music, but when I'm not, I listen to country music, schlager and pop, but mostly artists like Tina Turner, Emma, Ilse DeLange and Helene Fischer. On escXtra, you can find me doing pretty much anything that needs doing: Interviews, liveblogs or just your daily portion of news!

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