The first of a staggering six duos to feature in Semi Final 2 comes courtesy of the “stepped straight out of the pages of an H&M catalogue” Monika and Vaidas representing the small Baltic nation of Lithuania. Originally designed as a song for a soloist the perky duo convinced the Lithuanian voting public that the song was better serviced by a duet. The result is jaunty, clappy, Eurovision friendly pop song which kicks off the second semi in style. This is the kind of traditional Eurovision entry that everyone looks forward to and it could result in the Lithuanians sneaking into the final. Watch 'This Time'.
One of the emerging trends at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is the extraordinary number of teenagers representing their nations. County Tipperary’s Molly Sterling is the first of five teenagers to feature in Semi Final 2 where she’ll perform her stripped back piano driven ballad 'Playing with Numbers'. Reminiscent of Missy Higgins and Gabrielle Aplin, Molly’s entry will be stark and devoid of glitz... not sure how the viewing public will receive that? With the Irish having less than impressed over the last few years it’s difficult to see a reversal of fortunes with this offering. Nice but you may only get to see this entry once. Watch 'Playing With Numbers'.
Off the back of their best ever placing at last year's contest San Marino have decided to send a duo (surpise!) comprising of teenagers (on trend). This will be the youngest duo to ever perform on the Eurovision stage but their age should not pose a hindrance to their performance. Both participants have excellent Eurovision pedigree having taken part in Junior Eurovision (for Malta and San Marino respectively) and the song 'Chain of Lights' is reminiscent of many of the entries performed at the junior version of the contest. The string driven ballad is an innocent and charming affair and one can be forgiven for thinking Michele might be a long lost Jonas Brother. San Marino will be hoping 'Chain of Lights' will emulate last year’s result and qualify to the final. Watch 'Chain of Lights'.
A veteran of 10 albums, Montenegrin Knez is one of the older participants in this year’s contest and will offer for consideration his strong ballad 'Adio' delivered in his native tongue. After successfully qualifying for the final at last year’s contest with a male-led ballad in local language, Montenegro appear to not be messing with a potentially winning formula. Knez’s entry builds to a satisfying crescendo and the Montenegrin language is beautiful when entwined with traditional instruments. An admirable effort in a year dominated by stripped back ballads, duets and teenagers. Watch 'Adio'.
The second entry to carry the title of 'Warrior' comes from Malta’s ambitious Amber. After five attempts to represent her nation, plucky Amber finally won the chance to represent her home with 'Warrior', a dramatic drum driven ballad. This is one of the contests more contemporary ballads combining musical styles which should appeal to a broad variety of voters. Don’t stress though there’s nothing here that will trouble Guy or any of the other front runners for this year’s crown. Watch 'Warrior'.
Dramatic, dark and unlike anything else in this year’s contest, Norway’s disarmingly handsome duo of Mørland & Debrah Scarlett offer the best duet of the competition. An intensely dark love ballad 'A Monster Like Me' promises to deliver a “wow” moment on stage. Kjetil Mørland's sexy broodiness and Debrah Scarlett’s ethereal beauty will leave the audience mesmerised and this melancholic entry should deliver another sterling result for Norway. Dark in tone and promising some hypnotising staging, this entry is a contender; a return trip to Oslo in 2016 is not out of the question. Watch 'A Monster Like Me'.
Former Voice of Portugal semi-finalist Leonor Andrade will represent her homeland with a middle-of-the-road rock track performed in her native tongue. Mildly reminiscent of a younger Vanessa Amorosi, Leonor’s entry won’t trouble the scoreboard too much come voting. Portugal has been one of the main stays of the contest and one of a handful of countries that really deserve a win. Although this entry is pleasant enough it’s ultimately forgettable and will struggle to see its way out of this Semi Final. Watch 'Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa'.
The fourth duet of Semi Final 2 comes via the Czech Republic returning to the contest after a six year hiatus. The Czech Republic has one of the worst voting histories of any country in the contest; with their highest score to date being a meagre nine points. However, nothing will distinguish the humiliation of their first ever entry which received the feared “Nul Point”. But 'Hope Never Dies' and Marta and Václav will be doing everything they can to prevent history repeating. Fortunately this passionate duet is a solid effort and should see the Czechs score their highest votes in the contest to date. This may not be enough to see them qualify for the final but getting double digits in the voting will be a monumental achievement given their track record. Watch 'Hope Never Dies'.
At only 16 years of age, handsome French-Israeli performer Nadav Guedj will be the youngest performer in the Wiener Stadthalle come May. The youngster will deliver a refreshing Middle-Eastern infused dance floor jam which, thankfully, promises to rescue the audience from the depths of ballad despair. Catchy and cute 'Golden Boy' is fluffy fun and will capture the imagination and approval of teenager voters. With such a pop-deficit in this year’s contest Nadav will find himself in the final where he’ll square off with Australia's Guy Sebastian and Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw for the catchiest pop song of the night. Watch 'Golden Boy'.
This is one of the best entries Latvia has sent to the contest in a long, long time. Aminata, a native Latvian of African-Russian heritage, offers the contest 'Love Injected' a stylishly slick electronically infused R&B track. This hypnotising entry echoes Swedish R&B queen Beldina and is a less frenetic version of Norwegian Margaret Berger’s 2013 entry 'I Feed You My Love'. Stark and powerful, assured and mesmerising, this great effort will be rewarded with a ticket into the Grand Final. Watch 'Love Injected'.
Easily the best male ballad in this year’s contest 'Hour of the Wolf' comes courtesy of one of the best performed nations in recent Eurovision history: Azerbaijan. No stranger to the Eurovision stage, Azerbaijani Elnur has already represented his nation in 2008 when he finished 8th in the Grand Final performing as part of the duo Elnur & Samir. 'Hour of the Wolf' is a soaring hymnal ballad containing a killer key change (finally) that promises to transfix the Viennese audience. As a recent winner of the Turkish version of The Voice, Elnur’s profile coupled with such a powerful song will accumulate plenty of points. One to watch. Watch 'Hour of the Wolf'.
Iceland is arguably the nation most equally deserving of winning the contest alongside Portugal. Iceland debuted in the contest in 1986 and has entered songs in 27 contests since finishing runner-up twice. This year Iceland will bid for the crown with a teenager (on trend) from Northern Iceland singing an anthemic ballad (also on trend). What starts as a bit too cutesy 'Unbroken' cleverly morphs into a solid pop song which will benefit from some Frozen style staging. Catchy and sing-a-long, this is one of the stronger songs in Semi Final 2 but is it solid enough to claim Iceland a much sought after win? Watch 'Unbroken'.
The bookies favourite and the red hot bet to win the 2015 contest comes courtesy of former Swedish Idol Contestant, the casually handsome Måns Zelmerlöw. Måns has attempted to win the Swedish National selectionMelodifestivalen twice previously but his Avicii-style dance offering 'Heroes', accompanied by some dramatic staging, proved the third time was the charm. As a performer Måns is charismatic and 'Heroes' is undeniably the most upbeat song in this year’s contest. Sweden is deserving of its favouritism and will be the major roadblock to Guy being able to take top prize this year. We’ll be hearing this a lot come the Grand Final… "and our twelve points go to... (dramatic pause)... SWEDEN!” Cue applause and flag waving. Watch 'Heroes'.
Continuing with many of the key themes of this year’s contest, Mauritian native Mélanie René will take her ballad of empowerment to Vienna in hope of qualifying Switzerland into the Grand Final. Unfortunately for performer/composer René, her nice ballad is "more of the same” and may get swamped by slightly better entries in this year’s contest. Watch 'Time To Shine'.
One thing Cyrpus should have done was send a killer pop song to Vienna as they could have easily cleaned up in this year’s contest. Instead we’ll get a charming guitar driven ballad that’s a little reminiscent of Extreme’s 'More than Words'. Mirroring the issue facing the Swiss entry, the Cypriot’s chances will also suffer from the sheer volume of very similar entries that it will be compared against. Fortunately Karayiannis has drawn a late run in the Semi which often bodes well for advancement into the final. The highlight of this entry is a well-timed and unexpected acapella interlude three quarters of the way into the song. Watch 'One Thing I Should Have Done'.
Watch out everyone, the Slovenia entry this year is a corker and one of the entries touted as a potential winner of the glittery top prize! Married couple Marjetka and Raay, known as Maraaya, will perform Slovenia’s best entry in the contest to date with the perfect slice of indie-pop 'Here for You'. The glamorous headphone wearing Marjetka will showcase her fabulous Duffyesque-style vocals across this addictive track. Start practicing how to spell Ljubljana, Slovenia’s stunning capital, which could be the most unlikely of hosts for the 2016 contest! Watch 'Here For You'.
Rounding out this year’s Semi Finals will be Poland who have traded their buxom milkmaids for a “heartfelt” ballad delivered by seasoned performer Monika Kuszyńska. Kuszyńska, a successful recording artist in her native Poland, was injured in a car accident in 2006 which left her partially paralysed and threatened to destroy her successful career. Her entry 'In the Name of Love' translates the theme of this year’s contest “Building Bridges” into a sweet ballad containing a message of hope and tolerance. An admirable effort, and a complete change in direction from the 2014 Polish entry, this is a reflective and powerful way to finish the 2015 Semi Finals. Watch 'In The Name Of Love'.
Tune in to watch Semi Final 2 on Saturday May 23rd, 7:30pm on SBS ONE.