Well, the musical joy that labours under the title 58th Eurovision Song Contest gets a little closer. As we meander through this bank holiday weekend, delegations from across the continent are arriving in Malmo, Sweden. For them, Monday sees the start of an exhausting round of rehearsals, press conferences and alcohol. I both pity and envy them at the same time. Having been a Eurovision delegate on numerous occasions, I can only confirm that by end he end of proceedings, your liver is knackered and your brain addled from the never-ending verbal ordure spewed out by press and entrants alike. One year I was party to a British journalist asking a singer "Although you haven't heard the other songs yet, what do you think about them?"
Anyway, time for us to have a quick look at the offerings in the second semi-final which will be beamed into your homes by BBC3 on May 16th. Amongst the entries are two of the pre-contest favourites. Norway are fielding Margaret Berger with the very bleak I feed you my love. This is a stark piece of electro-pop and it certainly stands out. Possibly a little too worrying for some European ears though. Also highly favoured in 2013 is Georgia's drab-fest, Waterfall. This sounds as though it has been churned out by a computer, having been fed with all the ingredients need to dish up a Euroballad. Singers Nodie & Sopho have little charisma yet this charmless ditty could easily hoover up the votes should it make the final. Which of course it will.
At the other end of the scale we can feast on a handful of duff old clunkers such as Romania's truly stupefying entrant, Cezar. The worryingly high-pitched warbling of this gent could have Europe tittering into its frites within seconds. This one is camp and then some. Another entry that should cause jaws to drop is Latvia's Here we go. Lurching into parody from the word go, the song manages to rhyme numerous lines and engage in a bit of cod-rapping too.
Fan favourites in Eurovision often come a cropper so it's worth keeping an eye out for San Marino's Valentina Monetta. She represented her country last year with a song about social networking. This time she performs a musical 'cut and shut'. Two separate songs appear to have been welded together and the continent may find it difficult to decide which one they are voting for. Switzerland's entry was chosen in a contest staged before Christmas, so this song is already approaching vintage status. It's presentation has been radically overhauled following rule-breaking references to the Salvation Army (yes, I didn't realise they were so controversial either). Their entry, You and me, is anthemic yet slightly lazy, as it wanders up and down the musical keys.
For fun, the Greek entry ticks many boxes. Alcohol is free, oh irony, is performed ska-style by a bunch of blokes in kilts. This one will have the Malmo Arena on its feet. Also watch out for FYR Macedonia's 69 year old singer Esma who gives it some welly whilst her twenty-something co-singer does his best to ignore her.
Amongst the rest there is Malta's Gianluca singing an Olly Murs B-side, a woman in a wedding dress from Finland, an X Factor style 'winner's song' from Azerbaijan and a busty woman with Deirdre specs from Israel.
I shall be throwing a few kroner at Iceland's Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson with his endearing Celtic ballad. Of course, it stands no chance whatsoever but is in a different league to the Romanian Rylan and the tambourine bashers from Switzerland. I wish him and his long hair the very best.