Are Ireland's Eurovision dreams set to soar or to flop asks Karl Fradgley - Eurovision mega-fan?
Tonight Ireland take to the stage on a big hot air balloon, in the second semi-final for Eurovision 2017.
We take a look at Brendan Murphy's competition and preview the other 17 entries.
Ten songs to qualify from 18 .... seems like like good odds right? Well as far as Ireland is concerned - it looks set to be an uphill climb.
Serbia kicks things off tonight with "In Too Deep".
Good, modern production to this and looks a safe bet to make the final. Hints of Kylie Minogue about this one. It's nothing near a winner but should qualify.
I miss the Ethno Balkan entries though .... there is a serious lack of that this year.
Another mid-tempo, Americaa sound, this time from Austria -"Running On Air" is competent and well performed but its a little too meh to score very highly. Lots of fans liking this - I skip it on the playlist but it could surprise and make the final.
FYR Macedonia is up next "Dance Alone" and this just great.
Easily this countries best entry to date, Jana Burleska looks to take her country to the final for only the second time since 2007. What was that about bloc-voting? hmmmm.
Anyway I love this and it totally deserves to be performed again on Saturday.
Up next .... teeny, tiny Malta with "Breathlessly"
A classic eurovision style ballad, this is as cliched and bombastic as it gets. Belted out, wind-machines and big hair, this could sneak into the final although if it does it will be battling it out with Spain for last place.
Question .... where would you hear a Yodelling and Rapping mash up?
Why at Eurovision of course. Romania's entry "Yodel It" bursts onto our screens featuring a man-bun, a yodelling diva and the worlds biggest confetti cannons. Now this my friends is what Eurovision is alllllll about. Love it !
Following the Romanian madness is the Dutch entry.
This is one to watch I think. OGENE are the band and "Lights and Shadows" is the song. There is nothing groundbreaking or original about this but .... the live vocal is just sensational. Think Wilson Phillips meets Destiny's Child. A girlband has never won Eurovision. I don't think these gals can change that but I can see this in the top ten in the final. The fact they are all sisters, the song is about their mom who has terminal cancer and it was written by their dad, all adds to the power of this entry. I think the publi will vote en masse for this.
Hungary is next - "Origo" is a song in half Romany and half Hungarian.
Badly needed Eastern European ethic sounds at last. This is what we come to Eurovisionland to see. it's not as accessible as Armenia's entry but it is a breath of fresh air and another potential qualifier. I told you Ireland has a tough fight on its hands.
Denmark is represented by Australian singer Anja Nilson.
It's europop but its middle of the road really. Just lacks real bite. Australia is not voting tonight so that guaranteed high score is out of the equation. i think Denmark may miss out on the final for the second year in a row.
Ok so Ireland is next - "Dying to try".
Now I want to qualify this by saying - I quite like the song and the team behind it have gone all out with the stage performance to try and elevate this from mediocre to not mediocre ..... but the problem is that it's all just too mediocre. Brendan does his best and all that but he has none of the charisma that the other you male singers in the contest have - Bulgaria, Israel, Australia. For this reason alone I think people could just forget to vote for us.
The stage show is good as is the vocal. i could be wrong and it might scrape into the final. At the moment though neither the bookies nor the fans think it will.
If we don't make it - then I daresay chants of Bloc-voting, Political voting and bla bla bla we should pull out bla bla will be all over the news and radio tomorrow. The thing is though - we have qualified as often as we have missed out so none of that makes any difference. we just need to start sending good songs again. It's not that hard. Good luck tonight Brendan - would love to see Ireland in the final again so fingers and toes are crossed.
San Marino - "The Spirit Of The Night"
This is just horrendous. there is not much else to say really !
Croatia follows the San Marinese car-crash
The song is "My Friend" and is performed by Jaques Houdek and Jaque Houdek - Yes people this is a man duetting with himself! Only at Eurovision .... only at Eurovision!
Norway is going for a touch of hip hop this year.
"Grab The Moment" stands out in the line up cause it's different to everything else. It's a very odd entry - a sort of love it or hate it song. Personally I hate it !
The Swiss entry is "Apollo" by pop rock band Timebelle.
Now I like this alot - its cool, and smooth and very contemporary. Fans are riting this off as a non-qualifier but I love the breezy, airy presentation and the vibe is summery and fresh. I'd love it to qualify but I think it is very borderline
Belarus - The Story of My Life
Despite the English title this song is in Belarussian and Russian and one of the few entries not in English this year.
A breath of fresh air with banjos and toe tapping this is a delight and again another country sending its best ever entry. With no Russia to vote for this is going to do very well in the grand final on Saturday.
Bulgaria is next.
Another contender for the win on Saturday and doing what Ireland is doing only ten times better. "Beautiful Mess" is performed by 17 year old Kristian Kostov who to my mind looks set to become an international star after Eurovision. I reckon this will win the semi - it is very strong.
Lithuania - I don't really know what to say about this one.
"Rain Of Revolution". It's like six songs all mashed into one and it's very confusing. It is kind of awesome in a bizarre way and was a shock winner of the national final in Vilnius. If it qualifies it will be a surprise.
Estonia follows it's neighbours onto the stage.
Another duet and both these artists have appeared at Eurovision before. "Verona" tells the story of two star crossed lovers who are lost in Verona ... This is big fat 80s throwback and milking that for all it's worth. A big fan favourite this its is as cheesy as a gorgonzola and cheddar cheesecake! I can see this falling flat on the night and missing out.
Last but by no means least is Israels Imri singing "I Feel Alive"
Clearly the looker of the bung - Imri is giving it loads. A perfect, uplifting ending to proceedings, this should sail into the final and I reckon if he draws the first half on Saturday he will open the show. Good enough for the final but nothing like a winner.
8 of these songs will miss out on the final, There are a few obvious no hopers but a good 15 in the running for 10 spots.
So who is in and who is out - Definitely in are Bulgaria, Belarus, Romania and Netherlands. Likely are FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Israel. I think Hungary and Switzerland will make it leaving one place for Austria, Ireland, Estonia, Malta or Croatia. It's a very tough call but I am gonna plumb for Estonia.
I hope I am wrong but I'm afraid Ireland will have to sit out the final again this year. Balloon deflated and and pride battered - says he - jumping the gun.
In or out next Saturdays grand final promises to be a wonderful show.
Good Luck Brendan ... you're gonna need it!