I probably should quit while I'm ahead on the prediction front, but here goes nothing (as my Mum would say). In no particular order, here are the ten countries I think will qualify for the final tomorrow night -
Macedonia (or FYROM if you're Greek)
The first thing that may leap out at you is that I've omitted one of the frontrunners for the Eurovision crown this year, in the shape of Switzerland. It's strange to find myself doing that, because I think it's a fantastic song, but it seems to have been completely drained of its dynamism in the two rehearsals I've seen. I'm still a little unsure about its prospects, however, because I haven't seen today's dress rehearsal, and frustratingly the reports of how Paolo got on are somewhat contradictory. Belarus probably wouldn't feature in my list on the merit of the song alone, but it's there because a) the choreography and visual impact of the performance is superb, and b) even with the new rules Belarus will still have one or two natural allies to boost its points tally.
The other point of uncertainty is what you might call the Kate Ryan factor - how many times have we seen a western European country with a superb song, well performed, yet inexplicably failing to qualify? It's not too difficult to imagine that scenario playing out again for, say, Iceland or Malta - especially since the Maltese entry is penned by the same Borg/Vella combination that came a cropper with Olivia Lewis last year. However, my instinct is that both countries will sneak through - perhaps assisted by the new jury vote.
And who will I be voting for? Call me peculiar, but it's definitely Albania for me. As I mentioned the other night, I only vote for songs performed exclusively in a language other than English, but even if I didn't follow that rule I'd do the same thing anyway. It's incredible to think it was way back at Christmas that I first had the chance to fall in love with Olta Boka's beautiful song. I've tried not to let my personal regard for it cloud my judgement in terms of its prospects tomorrow, but if there's any justice at all in this world...