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Eurovision Preview

If you love a bit of cheesy TV, then you'll be parked on the sofa tonight watching the bohemoth production that is Eurovision. Regular contributor James Jack spends far too much time watching this stuff! Follow him on @materialista27.

As you should all be aware, this Saturday night sees the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. If this is the first you're hearing about it, you've missed two cracking semi-finals, including most of the novelty acts who have now been sent home. Tuesday night saw ten qualifiers produced for Saturday as did Thursday night. These twenty acts will join the big 5 (UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany) and last year's winner and venue for the final, Azerbaijan, or as the host of the show will say, AZ-ER-BAI-JAN. The songs for the final have been drawn in a semi-random order and the order in which I preview them will be the order in which they will perform. The results will be provided by a 50:50 split between the public vote, and a jury of musical experts from each country that entered, regardless of whether they made the final or not. Points are allocated 12,10,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, and the country with the most points gets the dubious honour of Eurovision winner and the expense of hosting next year's show. As my twitter followers may have noticed, I tweeted along to both semis, so I will include those thoughts too where appropriate.


1. United Kingdom

Entry: Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free



Politics: Who knows how many votes the UK will get, there are the usual few countries that hand over their twelve points, but as the UK has generally steered away from winding up Europe, it looks like for once the song may be judged on it's merits which can only be a good thing.

Last Year: 11th

Best Result: Winners 1997, 1981, 1976, 1969, 1967

Hero: Sir Cliff Richard, typical of the UK's involvement, he finished 2nd in 1968 (UK has 14 2nd place finishes) and third in 1973

Best Friends: Ireland, Austria, Portugal

Music: A dreary ballad, had me searching for a rope. It's poor, I have no idea why anyone would want to pick up their phone and vote for this.

Best Odds: 20/1 (bwin)

Prospects: Despite 'The Hump' getting involved, this song was doomed to fail. 11th-15th for me.


2. Hungary

Entry : Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts



"Hungary making a bid for an electronics advert soundtrack. It's garbage, get it off. "


Politics: Suffered ever since the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that episode of McGyver that is just film from the Italian job. As with many Eastern European countries, they got their best result on debut and have been rotten since. Somehow they have friends in Scandinavia and that could help them get a few votes as the Scandinavian bloc has a near full quota.

Last Year: 22nd

Best Result: 4th 1994

Hero: Fredeika Bayer, owner of that fourth position finish

Best Friends: Finland, Iceland, Poland

Music: Rocky ballad, performance exhibits some passion, but the lyrics are meaningless and weak.

Best Odds: 250/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Grim, it's not the greatest of songs and it's not the greatest position in the running order. I don't think they'll finish last though.


3. Albania

Entry: Rona Nishilu - Suus



"Scream if you love Albania, oh she has.

"Albanian hairstyles are a bit behind the rest of us. "


Politics: Firmly in the Balkan bloc, they have been competing since 2004 and they only seem to miss the final when they sing in Albanian, so it is a surprise to see them get this far. They don't have many enemies, but they don't have too many friends either. They should chuck a few points the UK's way as Albanians are mad for Norman Wisdom.

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: 7th 2004

Hero: Anjeza Shahin, their first ever entry

Best Friends: Macedonia, Greece, Switzerland

Music: She stands on stage, sings for a bit then starts bawling. Just like bonfire night, keep your dogs away from this.

Best Odds: 150/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: I hate it, you'll hate it, the whole of Europe will hate it. Probably last.


4. Lithuania

Entry: Donny Montell - Love Is Blind



"The diamante blindfold and disco music makes me sick."


Politics: Part of the ever increasing Baltic bloc, they can count on Estonia and Latvia's votes, as well as a few from the Scandinavians, Russia and Belarus. No real hope for widespread support across Europe however as they haven't made much of an impact, and their song isn't good enough to warrant that support.

Last Year: 19th

Best Result: 6th 2006

Hero: Ovidijus Vyšniauskas, he couldn't even get a point in the semi-finals

Best Friends: Latvia, Ireland, UK

Music: First half ballad, second half disco. All rubbish and painful to listen to.

Best Odds: 250/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Dead in the water, will be happy if it finishes in front of Albania, should be embarrassed if it doesn't.


5. Bosnia

Entry: MayaSar - Korake ti znam



"Bosnian ballad makes me weepy. "


Politics: Solid member of the Balkan bloc, and based on the dross that precedes them in the running order, could be a hoover for points. If you take into account that the other Balkan entries are mince, this song could get a fair few 12 pointers, so could end up giving layers a red face.

Last Year: 6th

Best Result: 3rd 2006

Hero: Hari Mata Hari, the 3rd place getter

Best Friends: Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia

Music: A powerful ballad in Bosnian, not an elaborate performance, but she's got a great voice, and that's what should matter.

Best Odds: 150/1 (Bet365)

Prospects: I'm a big fan and given the position in the running order, a good recent history at the event and the fact that it goes against the grain by having a slower song, I give it a big chance, certainly bigger than the layers do.


6. Russia

Entry: Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody



"Tatu they are not. "

"That had winner written all over it. "


Politics: The supreme power in Europe, literally has the power to turn out the lights. Putin's (re-)election wasn't to warmly received in Russia, however the UK, France and Germany will be delighted that their gas supplies are safe for now. It remains to seen if they can retain the crown so soon after their 2008 triumph, but the anti-Stalin grannies could do it.

Last Year: 7th

Best Result: Winners 2008

Hero: Dima Bilan and Evgeni Plushenko, one of the finest choreographed performance in the history of Eurovision.

Best Friends: Estonia, Latvia, Israel

Music: It's 6 grannies singing a song the Cheeky Girls would be proud of whilst their magic pasty oven spins in the background. What's not to love?

Best Odds: 13/2 (Ladbrokes)

Prospects: Hilariously strong, the song blends the traditional Eurovision cheese with a back-story that would have X factor finalists weeping. The Babushki are trying to raise money to rebuild their church that was torn down by Stalin's forces 70 odd years ago. Aww. Well worth a cheeky fiver.



7. Iceland

Entry: Greta Salome & Jonsi - Never Forget



"Iceland were strong, they could smash this tonight. "


Politics: Mostly neutral in European affairs, until they started messing with British fish, collapsing economies and destroying holidays with their volcanoes.

 They vote in the Scandinavian bloc, but they're the outsiders of that group. Most of Europe's holiday makers have gotten over Eyjafjallajokull so they might get some votes.

Last Year: 20th

Best Result: 2nd 2009, 1999

Hero: Jonsi, this is his second appearance representing Iceland

Best Friends: Sweden, Norway, Denmark

Music: Strong ballad, Greta plays the violin, it's in with a shout, despite her horsey looking face.

Best Odds: 80/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Decent EW shout, will get plenty of Scandinavian votes and should be strong with the juries.


8. Cyprus

Entry: Ivi Adamou - La La Love



"Surely she used to be a bloke? Cyprus out tonight I think. "


Politics: Not much of a player on Eurovision scene due to their dodgy geographical location and political position stuck between Greece and Turkey, although Greece and Turkey tend to exchange 12 points like teenage saliva. Cyprus usually suffers as their public vote to choose their act often ends up picking a young, unknown Cypriot to represent them.

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: 5th 2004, 1997, 1982

Hero: Lisa Andreas, 5th in 2004

Best Friends: Greece, UK, Malta

Music: Upbeat dance number with what appears to be a dancing bench. It's kinda catchy and I'm happy to say I've changed my view from Tuesday night

Best Odds: 50/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Without too many allies across Europe it's going to be tough to scrape the votes together, especially as the other dance tracks seem to be more popular with the public. The dance bench is worked into the performance well, but nothing else seems to happen.


 9. France

Entry: Anggun - Echo (You and I)



Politics: It's early days yet for Francois Hollande, but the noises being made form Paris aren't likely to be received well by the rest of the EU. The other Eurozone countries might have to preach their austerity in terms of donating points to France. We don't have a semi-final result to gauge what that level of support is, but my guess is they wouldn't have qualified.

Last Year: 15th

Best Result: Winners 1977 1969 1962 1960 1958

Hero: Marie Myriam 1977 winner

Best Friends: Switzerland, Norway, Greece

Music: Awful, it offends my ears, repetitive tuneless crap.

Best Odds: 150/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Dire, it's a horrible song, they're knee deep in controversy, and to top it all off they're French.


10. Italy

Entry: Nina Zilli - L'amore è femmina



Politics: Where do you start, since the disposal of Berlusconi and the downgrading of their credit rating, the Italians haven't exactly been the most popular in Europe. At least Berlusconi wasn't strung up from a lamppost. They also tend to go in the huff with Eurovision and pull out every few years, so I suppose we should be thankful they're here this year.

Last Year: 2nd

Best Result: Winner 1990, 1964

Hero: Gigliola Cinquetti, 1964 winner

Best Friends: Portugal, Spain, Finland

Music: Winehouse-esque Italian/English mix. Not my cup of tea, but plenty will enjoy it.

Best Odds: 11/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Could go one better than last year, plenty of appeal in the song itself, but the Italians aren't really a part of any big voting bloc, so they may be counting on charity from across the Adriatic.


11. Estonia

Entry: Ott Lepland - Kuula



"Heart-throb ladies? Estonia defying their huge price with this effort.


Politics: Firm member of the Baltic bloc, but has a poor recent record. They will benefit from Latvia and Finland's absence and possibly scrape a few Scandinavian votes. They have a lot of public support for the competition which reversed the decision to pull out of the 2009 contest, and they don't make enemies in Europe.

Last Year: 24th

Best Result: Winner 2001

Hero: Tanel Padar, 2001 winner

Best Friends : Finland, Sweden, Ireland

Music: Another ballad from the second semi, well performed and simply presented, but Ott is the star of Estonian high school musical, and I'm reliably informed he's a cute guy, so that could sway a few female votes.

Best Odds: 100/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Given that this track struggles with the Estonian jury in the selection process, you'd think they'd be in trouble, but I'm not sure, it's a good song, Ott has a strong voice, and it will be popular with the voters across Europe, chance at a big price.


12. Norway

Entry: Tooji - Stay


 

"We'll see Norway on Saturday, but never again after that.


Politics: Enjoys the support of the Scandinavian bloc, but not universally popular because of their flirtation and teasing with EU membership. With the Brevik trial coming so close to Eurovision it's fresh in voters' minds and could play a part in who they decide to cast that vote for. Norway officially have the worst record of any participant at Eurovision, despite winning the contest 3 times, they have finished last on 10 occasions

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: Winner 2009, 1995, 1985

Hero: Anita Thallaug, nul points 1963

Best Friends: Sweden, Ireland, Iceland

Music: It's so forgettable, I just listened to it to jog my memory from Thursday, and I've forgotten it again. It's just bland rubbish.

Best Odds: 80/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Could be ten times that price and still not worth it. Use this opportunity for a tea break.


13. Azerbaijan

Entry: Sabina Babayeva - When the Music Dies



Politics: New boys on the scene, this is their fifth competition and their worst result is 8th. The novelty may be wearing off, and I expect their support to wane in the not too distant future

Last Year: Winner obviously

Best Result: Winner 2011

Hero: Eldar, our AZ-ER-BAI-JAN host.

Best Friends: Turkey, Ukraine, Russia

Music: It's almost immaterial what the music sounds like, they can't win back to back.

Best Odds: 66/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: None, the last back-to-back winner were Ireland when they knocked in a three-timer in the early 90s and as such, we're highly unlikely to see another back-to-back for a while if at all.


14. Romania

Entry: Mandinga - Zaleilah



"You will hear this in every club in Malia, Magaluf etc this summer. Get in Romania. "

"He's got bagpipes, that gets my vote on Saturday. "


Politics: New boys in the EU, but starting to get the same treatment in Western countries as Poles etc. Embraced capitalism and Eurovision, entering for the first time in 1994. Never missed the final since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004

Last Year: 17th

Best Result: 3rd 2010, 2005

Hero: Paula Selling & Ovi, 3rd in 2010

Best Friends: Spain, Moldova, Israel

Music: Dance track, with five guys pretending to play instruments. The highlight of the performance is the moon-walking bagpipe player at the start. The singer also looks a bit like Tulisa, but with her mouth empty.

Best Odds: 25/1 (BetFred)

Prospect: I like the track and I feel it'll resonate across Europe, my only concern being the juries may not be too keen on it.


15. Denmark

Entry: Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better



"Instantly forgettable from Denmark. "


Politics: Firmly ingrained in the Scandanavian bloc, hasn't made any big political moves in Europe which has helped them slip under the radar in this competition and they should be top 10.

Last Year: 5th

Best Result: Winner 2000, 1963

Hero: Jorgen and Niels Olsen, Fly on the Wings of Love 2000 winner

Best Friends: Norway, Iceland, Sweden

Music: Easy listening background music when you trying to concentrate on something far more important. does have a double bass mime and a xylophone solo though.

Best Odds: 40/1

Prospect: Most will have forgotten the track by the time it's finished, plus it's sandwiched in the running order between two far more popular tracks.


16. Greece

Entry: Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac



"Catchy tune Greece, 10/1 looks good about now. Not too racy, but certainly going for the lads vote. "


Politics: Everybody in Europe hates these plate-smashing, debt-defaulting, neo-Nazi voting, man-boy love purveyors. Somehow they've managed to finish top ten every year since 2004. Except Cyprus, the entire Eurozone blames Greece for their fiscal difficulties

Last Year: 3rd

Best Result: Winners 2005

Hero: Helena Paparizou, winner in 2005, 3rd in 2001

Best Friends: Cyprus, Spain, UK

Music: It's catchy enough and the lads will enjoy the wind machines and the skimpy outfit.

Best Odds: 50/1 (BetFred)

Prospect: Minimal, they've got one of the worst time-slots possible, right next to Sweden.


17. Sweden

Entry: Loreen - Euphoria



"Overrated nonsense from Sweden. Get it to fuck. "

"Probably the most chart ready entry though. Can see why money is coming for it.


Politics: Probably the leader of the Scandinavian bloc and has great past form in Eurovision for bring the most successful act to ever perform in the Contest

Last Year: 3rd

Best Result: Winner 1999, 1991, 1984, 1974

Hero: ABBA

Best Friends: Norway, Denmark, UK

Music: I'm not a big fan, the song itself is bearable, but it's the performance that annoys me, the hippie nonsense of pushing the energy around and her stupid crab shuffle during the first chorus.

Best Odds: 5/4 (Boylesports)

Prospects: If she wins, good luck, if not, good for the music industry and TV viewers everywhere.


18. Turkey

Entry: Can Bonomo - Love Me Back



"Looks like the Turks are still taking fashion advice from Assassins Creed revelations. "

"Annoyingly catchy from Turkey, got stupid money on that. "


Politics: Murky at best, outsiders in Europe and outsiders in Asia, probably not the best way to try and win a popularity contest across Europe. The influx of Western European tourists has helped broaden Turkey's appeal and the adoption of Turkish cuisine as a new 3am snack should grab a few UK votes

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: Winner 2003

Hero: Sertab Erener, winner.

Best Friends: Germany, France, Netherlands

Music: It's a jaunty little tune, reminiscent of the Inspector Gadget theme tune and it does have some spectacular choreography when the dancers construct a boat onstage.

Best Odds: 80/1 (Betfred)

Prospect: Despite the position in the line-up, I still think this track could grab some votes and finish towards the top of the table.


19. Spain

Entry: Pastora Soler - Quédate conmigo



Politics: Relatively safe, usually votes with Portugal and the other Latin countries, taken a bit of heat over it's economy but nowhere near

Last Year: 23rd

Best Result: Winner 1969, 1968

Hero: Julio Iglesias, 4th in 1970

Best Friends: Portugal, Greece, Switzerland

Music: Belting big song, could be a winner with the voters and the juries alike, but hasn't won in over 40 years.

Best Odds: 33/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: Not brilliant, but could be due a win after all these years.


20. Germany

Entry:Roman Lob - Standing Still



Politics: Flexed it's muscles during the economic crisis, but starting to feel a bit of backlash from the new French administration and voters in Greece. Could be seen as rising above the rest of Europe in a big brother type role, the rest of Europe remembers how that went last time and will be keen to avoid a repeat.

Last Year: 10th

Best Result: Winner 2010, 1982

Hero: Lena, first winner since re-unification

Best Friends: Spain, Denmark, Portugal

Music: Middle of the road ballad, but Germany has had some success with songs in English

Best Odds: 40/1 (BetFred)

Prospects: Relatively poor, it's a decent song, but their challenge this year is hampered by their political position.


21. Malta

Entry: Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night



"Much better Malta. Quality effort. That's a finalist. "


Politics: It's little Malta, everyone like Malta, but nobody really votes for them. Being an island in the middle of the Med does have it's disadvantages believe it or not. Solidarity with the UK due to being a former member of the British Empire both sides actions regarding HMS Illustrious during the Second World War

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: 2nd 2005, 2002

Hero: Chiara, 2nd in 2005 and 3rd in 1998

Best Friends:Ireland, Croatia, Turkey

Music: Great little tune, with the exception of the female backing singer who's English is pretty poor along with her command of her pitch, but clearly the best dance moves of the field, and the shuffle will be going into my repertoire

Best Odds: 150/1 (bwin)

Prospects: Limited, doesn't have the political capital to cash in on this great spot in the running order. Should be a vote-winner, but not sure how Europe will like it.


22. FYR Macedonia

Entry: Kaliopi - Crno i belo



"Decent effort from Macedonia. Brought along their own Bonnie Tyler this year. "


Politics: Balkan through and through and with less Balkan states than expected in the final, they could get a lot more votes than they should, especially sitting so late in the line-up.

Last Year: Did Not Qualify

Best Result: 12th 2006

Hero: Vlado Javenski, debut performer in 1998

Best Friends: Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia

Music: Gravelly, screeching ballad. Shouldn't be that popular but seems to have some appeal.

Best Odds: 150/1 (Stan James)

Prospects: Slim, a lot of voters will be put off by the vocal performance, and the juries won't be too impressed either.


23. Ireland

Entry: Jedward - Waterline



"A walking advert for abortion. Give my "my lovely horse" anyday. "

"Those two fuckers could drown in a shower. "

"Jedward are too stupid to live.


Politics: Ireland's liability across Europe seems to have dampened and their back to their stereotypical slow-thinking jovial drinking selves in European eyes. Probably brought the most exposed performers to the show, and their broad appeal should be a help to Irish chances

Last Year: 8th

Best Result: Winners 1996, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1987, 1980, 1970

Hero: Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal McGuire




Best Friends: UK, Sweden, Switzerland

Music: Really catchy bubblegum pop track, upbeat, strong lyrics and a standout performance from the semi-final with the water fountain

Best Odds: 33/1 (SportingBet)

Prospects: I think it's great track and it will connect with the viewers across Europe it's in a perfect spot in the order and the lads just need to refrain from going completely over the top in their performance and they could have a winner on their hands


24. Serbia

Entry: Zeljko Joksimovic - Nije Ljubav Stvar



"Not that impressive from Serbia. Wouldn't be a surprise if they don't make it."


Politics: One of the Balkan states left in the competition, so there are plenty of votes available, certainly improved their standing in Europe in the last 5 years, and if they could just stop producing war criminals, they'd be doing much better than they have been.

Last Year: 14th

Best Result: Winner 2007

Hero: Marija Šerifović, winner in 2007, the first song in Serbian to win.

Best Friends: Bosnia, Slovenia, Switzerland

Music: Dreadful ballad, it appears to be all the Serbians like to listen too.

Best Odds: 10/1 (Boylesports)

Prospects: I just don't see the appeal of the song, and I can't understand how it can be so short in the market. I certainly won't be voting for it.


25. Ukraine

Entry: Gaintana - Be My Guest



Politics: Dodgy, although they are getting ready to co-host the European championships, Yulia Tymoshenko still resides in prison and she has plenty of friends in Europe, can't seem them overcoming that, twinned with the furore over prices of hotels for travelling football fans.

Last Year: 4th

Best Result: Winner 2004

Hero: Ruslana, and her wild dances

Best Friends: Poland, Russia, Belarus

Music: It's a dance track straight out of 1992

Best Odds: 40/1 (Betfred)

Prospects: Ukraine has a great record in Eurovision, but I'm inclined to oppose them due to their sticky political situation and the fact I don't like their track.



26. Moldova

Entry: Pasha Parfeny - Lautar



"Moldovan Chico with Moldovan Saturdays. I used to enjoy Moldova's entry, but this is tame by their standards. "


Politics: A newcomer to the event, they vote with the Balkans and the Black Sea blocs, they have consistently qualified from the semi-finals and they do usually pick out a memorable performer for our entertainment like Zdob si Zdub. They haven't been that successful in the competition itself, but they do have a tremendous online support.

Last Year: 12th

Best Result: 6th 2005

Hero: Sergey Stepanov  EPIC SAX GUY


Best Friends: Romania, Portugal, Ukraine

Music: It's cheesy Eurovision finest. Parts of the song are in English, yet the quality of English is laughable.

Best Odds: 100/1 (BetFred)

Prospects: None whatsoever


ADVICE

Estonia 0.5pt EW @ 100/1

Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.5pt EW @ 150/1

Cyprus 0.5pt EW @ 50/1

Turkey 0.5pt EW @ 80/1

Ireland 0.5pt EW @ 33/1



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