Well here we are. One week to go until the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and today it’s the last of our preview blogs for this year. As well as taking a look at the final trio of entries, we’ll also be seeing who the bookmakers reckon are in the running to take the title this year.
First up in the previews today are the hosts, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s win last year was, in a way, inevitable, as they had gone all-out to win in previous years and had got closer and closer. Ell and Nikki’s victory has brought the contest to Baku, and hoping to impress the rest of Europe in front of the home crowd when she performs 13th on the night is Sabina Babayeva, singing When the Music Dies. Sabina goes for the full-on diva thing here, in a flat that’s clearly in need of new central heating.
There’s a tradition in Eurovision that the hosts present an entry that’s solid enough to perform respectably in the voting, but not so strong that they risk having to foot the bill for a second year (though of course Ireland in the 1990s, try as they might, never quite got the hang of this). The Azerbaijan entry definitely falls into this category – it’ll probably achieve a Top 10 finish, but the contest is sure to be headed West after 26 May.
Performing 19th out of the 26 in the final will be Spain. It’s getting on for a decade now since the Spaniards last had a Top 10 finish in Eurovision, their results in recent years having been poor-to-middling. They’re hoping to get back in the game this year with Pastora Soler, who gives a belting performance singing Quédate Conmigo, or “Stay With Me”. There’s lots of slow-motion dancing before, near the end and for no apparent reason, Pastora acquires a load of feathers and chucks a bucket of water over her dance partner.
Back in the mid-1990s, you could barely move for big ballads like that in Eurovision. It might get a decent amount of votes next Saturday, but will need a really strong, compelling vocal performance. And preferably no feathers.
And so to the very last country to get the preview treatment this year, Germany, who’ll be taking to the stage straight after Spain on the night. Germany of course got right back in the game a couple of years ago, as following on from a pretty dismal string of results they won courtesy of Lena. Lena then represented them again last year, this time just about scraping inside the Top 10. This year they’re represented by the puppy-eyed, check-shirted Roman Lob, performing Standing Still. The song, to be frank, is Matt Cardle-level dull, and viewers are best advised to amuse themselves by constructing some cub-based Eurovision slash fantasies involving Roman and Ott Lepland.
Mmm, Roman and Ott. I’m sure Germany and Estonia could do with finding new ways to strengthen diplomatic relations. Ahem, anyway. The song? Yes, well, bit balladed-out now to be honest. Again, I think Germany’s performance will probably be respectable rather than spectacular when it comes to the vote.
And that, girls and boys, is that. Forty-two countries all previewed and commented upon. So who’s going to win? As I’ve mentioned previously, Sweden are the hot favourites, followed by Italy and Russia. The bookies also seem to think Engelbert stands a good chance, with many having the UK as 4th favourite (although to be fair, our chances are always bigged up by the bookmakers). Serbia, Iceland, Romania and Denmark are all seen as likely contenders for a Top 10 placing at least, with slightly longer odds on Ireland, Spain, Germany, Norway, Greece and Cyprus. Down at the other end of the odds, those who are feeling particularly brave (or foolish) may be tempted to have a flutter on Montenegro, Portugal or San Marino. And frankly, if you put a bet on San Marino to win with the F***b**k song, you presumably want to lose money.
One final thing: where will you be watching the Eurovision final next Saturday? At your own place? Maybe at a friend’s? Or at a venue that’s showing the contest? If you’re not sure and at a bit of a loose end, then you could do a lot worse than come to the LGBT Labour Eurovision Party, which starts at 7pm next Saturday, at 2022nq on Dale Street, Manchester. There’ll be food, drink, a raffle and other fun stuff going on. Tickets are £10 and for more information, you can go to the Facebook (uh oh oh) page here.
It’ll be a fabulous evening – but then any evening involving Eurovision is guaranteed to be fabulous. I’ll be live-tweeting both semi-finals and the final – you can follow me @crispeater. And I’ll be reviewing the whole shebang on here next Sunday. Until then, have a fabulous Eurovision, whatever you’re up to (and wherever you’ll be)!