8. Germany – Texas Lightning: "No No Never"

Texas Lightning is a country band from Germany that specializes in gimmicky covers of pop songs. They are as country as Senor Coconut is Latino. I love the fact that Germany barely takes this competition seriously. How else would Stefan Raab’s “Wadde Hadde Dudde Da” make it to the final? The song is just adorable, though. Right now, they’re vying for my vote with the song from Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Hari Mata Hari. If I were voting, I mean.

7. Malta – Fabrizio Faniello: "I Do"

Fabrizio looks like Hal Sparks, he does, he does, he does, he does. “I Do” is one of those prototypical Eurovision songs, cynically calculated to compete but not even remotely good enough to win. Although, actually, I don’t completely hate this. Oh, there’s the key change. Cardboard. Pure cardboard.

6. Spain – Las Ketchup: "Bloody Mary"

Las Ketchup had a minor dance hit a couple years ago with a song popularly known as “The Ketchup Song.” I can’t remember what it sounds like, but I’m sure their song tonight sounds like it. They’re doing choreography in office chairs, while two modern dancers wander around the stage. The song is pretty awful, on a Pussycat Dolls level. They’re dressed in red, by the way.

5. Norway – Christine Guldbrandsen: "Alvedansen"

Christine is impossibly cute. She has three back-up singers and two “violin players,” who “play” like they’ve never touched a violin before. The song has a modern Celtic feel to it. You know, the type of Celtic music you see on PBS pledge drives. Mediocre. The song title translates to “elf dance,” by the way. (I’m assuming. It looks like it would translate to “elf dance.”)

4. Latvia – Cosmos: "I Hear Your Heart"

Cosmos is an a cappella group. Unlike the other numbers so far (and indeed, likely for the rest of the night),† they’re clearly singing live. All the signs of good a cappella are here: tight harmonies, smooth beat boxing, lame choreography, a constipated-sounding tenor singer. Unlike most a cappella groups, Cosmos has a small metal puppet. The puppet is so lame, I stopped listening to the song and tried to figure out why they needed the prop.

† Actually, one of the rules of Eurovision is that you have to sing live. Obviously I didn’t know this at the time.

3. Israel – Eddie Butler: "Together We Are One"

Israel isn’t in Europe, but gets to compete because, come on, who doesn’t love Israeli pop? The song is a generic “Wind Beneath My Winds”-type ballad, with Hebrew and English lyrics. Eddie Butler is a good singer, but the song is trite. Also, is it me or is it weird for Israel’s song to have a gospel breakdown near the end? Decent crowd response, though.

2. Moldova – Arsenium and Natalia Gordienko: "Loca"

I should mention that between songs, they’re showing little travelogues for Greece with better music that most of what you’ll hear tonight.

Anyway, Moldova. As I said during the semis, take it as a given that the dancing is bad. The song has a slow reggae beat with a bit of an R&B orchestration. The rapper has been on stage the whole time, but suddenly came in to do his solo riding on a Razr scooter. Competent, but dull.

Last Year's Winner

Helena, the singer who won Eurovision last year, is performing her winning song, “My Number One.” It’s like Anastasia singing a Britney Spears rip-off written by an Eastern Mediterranean songwriter. Must have been a weak year in 2005.

Opening Number

Feel the rhythm, y’all, it’s Eurovision time! The crowd goes wild as the opening number kicks in. As the 2004 Summer Olympics proved, no one does opening numbers like the Greeks. The song is awful, with lyrics like “Praise the man who raised his voice” and “Praise the resonating winds,” but it’s still better than the song from the Netherlands.

Tonight’s hosts are floating to the stage from across the arena on wires right now. The female host, Maria Menounos, is an American who speaks fluent Greek, while the male host, Sakis Rouvasis, is an actual Greek. He once came in third at Eurovision.