Thanks for sticking with me through this grisly preview of this year’s 42 Eurovision entries. It’s time to consider the Big 5 and the home nation Azerbaijan who are all guaranteed to make it to the Grand Final on the evening of Saturday 26th May (or if you’re in Azerbaijan, the morning of Sunday 27th May). They’re in the order of appearance and I’ve given you their oddschecker.com odds as at 4th May as well as those magic Chrisparkle stars.
UK – Love will set you free – Engelbert Humperdinck
I don’t think anyone would have predicted that Engelbert would sing at Eurovision, but of course his song “Another Time Another Place” was in the running for the UK’s 1971 entry. There’s little doubt that it’s a delicate and well constructed song, and once you hear it start, you have to listen to the end. 120 million people watching live shouldn’t phase Engelbert on the night and I think his performance will be a masterclass. The song’s written by Martin Terefe and Sacha Skarbek who between them have worked with Lana Del Rey, James Blunt, Adele, James Morrison and Mary J Blige, and they’re just the ones I’ve heard of. Sadly for the UK it’s first off the block on Saturday night so everyone will have forgotten about it by the time they get to televote. Still I think the juries will like it and I’m hoping for a top ten finish. 10-1 to 14-1 ****
France – Echo (You and I) – Anggun
This is one of those odd entries that sounds like three totally different songs stuck together with some sellotape. Anggun herself has a career as long as your arm and has recorded with such notables as Peter Gabriel, Julio Iglesias and Ronan Keating. I’d like to like this more than I do but something holds me back – it doesn’t quite make it for me. In fact some aspects of the instrumentation I find rather irritating. But I’m fully prepared to accept that’s my fault and not the lovely Anggun’s. The less said about the attractions of the video the better. 40-1 to 100-1 ***
Italy – L’amore è femmina – Nina Zilli
Considering Italy came second with what I thought was rather a drab number last year, surely they can go one better in 2012 with this quirky, funky song. Nina is a sassy dame with more than a passing resemblance, musically and visually, to La Winehouse about her. Back to Black with a touch of Boom Boom. Nice top she’s wearing – Mrs C bought the same one from Primark only a few days ago. Too many cooks spoil the broth doesn’t seem to apply this time, with no fewer than five people credited as the song’s authors. Let’s hope she doesn’t arbitrarily mime on the night as we wouldn’t want a case of willy-nilly Milli Vanilli Zilli. 5-1 to 8-1 *****
Azerbaijan – When the music dies – Sabina Babayeva
Sabina Babayeva takes on all the troubles of the world in this rather depressing, fin-de-relationship song that definitely showcases her superb singing talent. Written by the team behind Drip Drop and Running Scared, it could do well if Europe’s in a wrist-slitting mood. She’s got a wind machine that Carola would kill for. The lyrics, inspired by Imelda Marcos, start with “Shoe are my best friend…” Not many laughs in this one. 28-1 to 40-1 **
Spain – Quedate conmigo – Pastora Soler
Singing from position 19, which has got to be a good one, here’s Pastora Soler’s big belter, arguably this year’s best female ballad. A great voice and a tune that bursts into your head at about 3.30 in the morning. Part written by Thomas G:son, this is his second entry in this year’s contest as he also has a major hand in Loreen’s Euphoria. For me this is a song that grows and grows but if you watch the show in an atmosphere of light-hearted shallowness (heaven forbid) it might just pass you by. One of those dangerous entries that is probably too classy for the contest. 12-1 to 20-1 ***
Germany – Standing still – Roman Lob
Not a 2000 year old version of the shot put, Roman Lob is a personable young man with a fine voice and a modern song written by Jamie Cullum, Wayne Hector and Steve Robson who between them have the better part of the last fifteen years of songwriting sewn up – Take That, Westlife, James Morrison, JLS, One Direction, Olly Murs and Busted are just a handful of the acts who have had huge hits with their songs. It took a little while for me to really like this song – Mrs C loved it before Herr Lob had finished his opening line. Berlin next year? 16-1 to 20-1 *****
Now here’s an interesting little observation. Which ten songs do you think have received the biggest number of hits on youtube? I’m just analysing the videos on the eurovision.tv channel, mind you, it would take all day to add up everyone’s uploads. This is as at about 6pm on May 10th.
Let me put you out of your misery. They are:
10th – Romania (442,233)
9th – Montenegro (445,113)
8th – Greece (455,910)
7th – Croatia (556,548)
6th – Germany (575,777)
5th – Azerbaijan (629,792)
4th – Turkey (717,298)
3rd – United Kingdom (747,779)
2nd – Cyprus (1,200,695)
1st – Russia (1,717,780)
Extrapolate from that what you will.
So now it’s head above the parapet time and first I’m going to give you my top ten favourites:
In at number 10, the pop prince of Persia, it’s the hoodie Tooji for Norway.
Making a decent showing at number 9 the simple clarity and beauty of the song from Engelbert for the UK.
At number 8 bring in the bouncy castle for the terrible twosome from Ireland, the exuberant Jedward.
In at number 7 it’s Nina Pretty Ballerina, or very nearly, it’s Time from Israel.
At number 6 it’s the sassy Amy Winehouse wannabe from Italy, Nina Zilli and L’amore e femmina.
And now for my top 5:
Showing positive discrimination in favour of the Beatles against the Rolling Stones and making departure lounge dancing fashionable again, my 5th favourite of the year is Annmary’s Beautiful Song from Latvia.
My 4th favourite song and a complete guilty pleasure, with the cheesiest chat up line ever, this trumpet makes you mine girl, it’s the irresistibly jolly Lautar from Moldova and Pasha Parfeny.
My 3rd favourite song used to be my first favourite but I have just started to slightly reassess it down a little – but I still love it, and I think she is absolutely gorgeous, it’s Mr and Mrs Eleftheriou’s daughter Eleftheria with her shopping mall hit, Aphrodisiac for Greece.
My 2nd favourite song is one that I keep coming back to, loved it from the first time I heard its opening chords and I still do, it’s that brilliant Sound of our Hearts from Compact Disco from Hungary.
Honourable mentions go to Malta and Germany – really good songs and performers who just failed to make my top ten – but my number one is a choice I feel a little guilty about because the lyrics aren’t great but who cares when it’s such a feel good song. My favourite this year is the eminently wonderful extraordinarily catchy and bouncy bouncy entry from Cyprus and Ivi Adamou’s La La Love.
When all the dust is settled after the contest and the statisticians have been working away for a few days, they will no doubt announce the bottom five of the whole 42; and here is my prediction of the songs that will be the furthest away from qualifying for the Saturday night:
38th the wandering donkey of Montenegro
39th a song that starts nice but then you drift off and that’s Croatia
40th the very nice song but I don’t think it will make an impression coming from Finland
41st a bit shouty for a Thursday evening which must be Slovakia
42nd and as dull as ditchwater, Belgium.
Of the songs that I think will qualify but then end up flapping around anxiously like fish on a slab, my bottom five for Saturday night are:
22nd the grannies from Russia – cute they may be but I think the juries will loathe their banal lyrics
23rd maybe controversial – but I think this will simply be almost everyone’s 11th favourite and therefore not score much and that’s France
24th it might be useful for him to keep his blindfold on during the scoring and that’s Lithuania
25th a personal favourite but I just can’t see it scoring much – the song from Israel
26th Europe shows extreme good taste and ignores Anri from Georgia in its droves.
And finally – my predictions for the top ten on Saturday night.
In 10th place, not one of my favourites but I think will do well – Slovenia
In 9th place, another that I think will do better than it warrants, and that’s Turkey
In 8th place, I think reputation and hopefully a good performance will give UK a top ten position
In 7th place the raunchy expressiveness that is Gaitana’s Be my guest for Ukraine
6th – what more can one say but the increasing popular Jedward for Ireland
5th a song that I think ought to be much better than it is, but I think will do very well and that’s Romania
In 4th place, I’m expecting very great things from the Toojmeister of Norway
In 3rd place, a good song and a very very popular singer in many countries, Zeljko for Serbia
In 2nd place, the excellent song with a great singer and pedigree and Mrs C’s favourite – that’s Herr Lob from Germany
But my winner is a country that went really high last year with a song that I thought was just ok, and this year I feel their song is way better, so I can only predict they will go from second last year to first this year and that’s Italy.
Please feel free to mock and scoff at my likes and my predictions, but whatever you do, have a magnificent Eurovision!