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This blog is about music videos. If you want to know what I think of the songs, you can find my exciting and witty opinions at The Singles Jukebox.

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Paula Selling & Ovidiu Cernăuțeanu - Miracle (Romania)

Paula and Ovi represented Romania in 2010 with a slightly less boshing but no less fun piano-duet “Playing With Fire" where (you’ve guessed it) the pianos were on fire, so after setting the sprinklers off a water-type piano seems logical, and… thence a grass-type piano? It might serve them well in the Pokemon Musical, but I think their best hope on Saturday is mid-table (I think qualification is fairly safe).

But wait a minute - Spain posted an extremely similar but slightly more expensive looking Dancing-In-The-Water-Trough video a whole month before these guys! VIDEO PLAGIARISM KLAXON!!

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The Shin and Mariko - Three Minutes To Earth (Georgia)

I played the entire Eurovision 2014 CD to my work colleagues this morning and this was unanimously voted as Worst Song. Possibly ever. Even if it is about aliens (debatable at best).

What about the video? Well, it’s set in the Tbisli version of the Eden Project (patches of astroturf and an xmas tree left over from last year), where a spaceship has landed. Everyone ignores it and concentrates on yodelling or making jerky arm movements in the jazz style. No aliens are visible. Genuinely baffling! It’s not exactly shrieking COME TO GEORGIA. Perhaps they are actively trying to get people not to come to Georgia?

There’s some amazing fashion choices to make up for it though: the main yodelling dude has a handcuff print green shirt; the lass from Olive has turned up dressed as the Aquarius-themed set of mystic candles I received for my birthday in 1994; guitarist is rocking a James May jacket/big-collared shirt combo and everyone else looks like Lower Clapton Road on a Sunday afternoon. Achievable yet batshit outfits for everyone!

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Eurovision live-blog - Semi-final #1

Hey-ho readers! As is tradition I will be contributing my thoughts to the Singles Jukebox live blog this year for the semis and (hopefully) the final. Come and join us - you don’t need to be registered to comment.

There are only 31 semifinalists this year, down from 33 in 2013 - some big names are missing. No Serbia, Bosnia, Turkey or Cyprus, and Croatia seem to have finally given up altogether after a string of shit results. So it’s slightly easier to qualify this year.

My predictions: Armenia (bookies’ favourite), Ukraine (cracking), Russia (problematic), Azerbaijan (trapeze), Sweden (no video, quite strong), Estonia (ballet), Hungary (trigger warning), Belgium (dreadful, also no video), Latvia (cake), Netherlands (hazard).

As long as Ukraine get through I’ll be happy. Apparently Latvia are on the verge of splitting up after a fraught rehearsal schedule so it’ll be touch and go whether they play at all!

(EDIT: 7/10! Not bad - and bloody hell, San Marino!)

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Tolmachevy Sisters - Shine (Russia)

PROBLEMATIC. Russia may well be up against it this year for various reasons:

1) Ukraine ooof
2) Gay rights double ooof
3) there is another act featuring twins this year which have a better song (I will get to it eventually)
4) They have STOLEN GINA G’S LIGHTBULBS <— deal breaker IMHO

But SIGH they will almost certainly a) get through to the final b) get in the top 5 anyway because it’s Russia. At least it’s not grannies this year, eh?

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Ruth Lorenzo - Dancing In The Rain (Spain)

It’s our Ruth! You may remember Ruth from X Factor 2008 aka The Alexandra Burke Year (also ft JLS, Diana Vickers etc). Ruth did that cover of ‘Purple Rain' which was pretty good (but not as good as A-Burke's Toxic).

As such this is Spain’s most professional entry for Some Years (my fave is still Brujeria from 2005 though). The beat is beefy, the hook is merciless and Ruth gives it plenty of welly. Having some English lyrics will help too - for some reason Spanish singing just doesn’t seem to go down well with the voters.

The video sees a handsome dude interrupting Ruth while she’s repainting her warehouse. Together they pull off some Kate Bush worthy ballet moves in a water trough (dancing in the DRAIN more like) which Ruth was previously using to wash out her paint brushes. No shoes (hazardous!) but I’ll let it pass: the only situation where barefooted Eurovision entries are acceptable is one where proper interpretive dance is involved, cf Loreen. WATCH OUT ESTONIA.

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Valentina Monetta - Maybe (San Marino)

If you are experiencing some deja vu let me set your mind at rest: this is indeed the same lass who sang for San Marino last year. And the year before. Any suggestion that Valentina is actually funding SM’s entire Eurovision participation herself and is thus guaranteed selection is pure speculation.

I totally love her of course: she has the demeanour of a nursery assistant reading the Gruffalo out loud and doesn’t seem to notice/care that her songs are awful (dramatic strings undermined by weak sauce beats and unmemorable chorus hook), but is determined to ham them up to the best of her ability nonetheless. Hand gestures! Constantly smiling! Unfortunate peanut-smuggling dresses!

Without any Facebook gimmicks or ugly-duckling self-esteem boosting this year, the video’s macguffin is a piano that plays itself on landlocked San Marino’s finest sandy beach (hmm). Said ghost piano is not included in the live performance: another 14th place in the semis beckons.

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Aarzemnieki - Cake To Bake (Latvia)

Cake song #2 is from Latvia, and I will concede that the cake in question here is a true cake. None of your cheesecake or experimental Heston Blumenthal shit happening here. The only issue is that our over-achieving chef seems a bit hazy on the recipe. I will forgive him and his insufferably twee mates because a) I like their hipster scarves b) Latvia looks pretty c) there is a SMALL DOG in the video d) they are holding up signs saying ‘cep’ which according to Google translate means ‘baked’ so there is an outside chance their cake has weed in it.

This lot are in a different semi-final than Belarus (and the similarly-folky Malta) so they may well have a chance to qualify here. They don’t have much in the way of special effects - unless they decide to pop out from a giant cake - so it really depends on everyone’s twee tolerance (twollerance?) levels.

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Teo - Cheesecake (Belarus)

FINALLY I have got round to the cake songs. First of all is Belarus’s effort, which is cheesy both in musical nature and in cake nature. My sister, who has actually baked cakes for money, confirmed to me on the phone earlier that cheesecake is in fact not a cake but a DESSERT, as you don’t put it in the oven. I quote: “Unless it’s one of those weird cheesecakes that have an egg in and pastry and wait that’s a PIE" <—- of course as we all know there is nothing that is not a pie, but this universality does not apply to cake! Just ask the Jaffa Cake dudes. Alternatively you can read this informative page about the Jaffa Cake wars on the HM Revenue and Customs website. “On going stale, a Jaffa cake goes hard like a cake rather than soft like a biscuit."

Teo plays a grim Robin Thicke character who is scared of commitment (i.e. very stale and soft like a biscuit). At least I hope it’s a character. The video is creepy, unimaginative and displays a casual misogyny that makes Poland’s boob marathon look positively harmless. The lyrics are clunky too - I wonder if they will bleep out the Google Maps line like they did for San Marino’s Facebook song the other year? They could double up on the Teletubby honking noise, I guess? I will cry if this makes the final.

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Mei Finegold - Same Heart (Israel)

Bit of a change in mood here but no less awesome: Mei has tattoos and a SAMURAI SWORD and is going to mess you up big style round the back of the bikesheds later. She has an excellent SeriousFace, sharp dance moves, enough eyeliner to supply a Cleopatra lookalike competition and I am basically a little bit in love with her? It helps that her raspy goth-bosh is half Dragonette, half Infernal, and entirely right up my street. There’s even a key change! Israel haven’t made the final since 2010, and if this doesn’t see them through it will be a travesty.

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Maria Yaremchuk - Tick-Tock (Ukraine)

After yesterday’s dross, today we’ll have a couple of songs I actually like! First up is Mariya for Ukraine, who would quite possibly be unable to stage the competition in 2015 if they won this year. And they might just do it with Tick-Tock! I can imagine both Britney and One Direction singing this which is always a sign of a good pop tune. My heart is like a clock and steady like a rock!

The video has an (understandably) low-budget Nicole-Scherzinger-does-a-Janet-Jackson-impression vibe about it, with a weird focus on cgi-looking swinging stage lights. However I like her big floppy hat and her backup dancers are more than competent. This is my favourite Ukrainian entry in years! Best of luck, Maria.

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