Eurovision 2016 – The Grand Final

ESCThere are just six more songs left to consider that are guaranteed their Saturday night spot without any unnecessary hurdles earlier in the week. As the performance order is not yet decided I’m going to take them in alphabetical order. That will appeal to whatever OCD is in me. Again each preview will have its own star rating and its bookmaker odds courtesy of oddschecker.com, as at 14th April. You’ve come so far! You can’t give up so soon.

France – Amir – J’ai cherché

AmirAnd here’s a fine thing. France have come up with a total smasheroony that is many people’s favourite (myself included) and is probably their best song for generations. Amir’s original album version of the song which exceeds 3 minutes is even better. But I still love the English/French mix of the lyrics and its totally overwhelming rhythms that cling on and won’t let you go. The lyrics of self-recognition and achievement are beautifully realised in the video featuring a boy ballet dancer and a girl boxer – be who you want to be, is the message. Sadly, I don’t think it will actually carry off the Grand Prix but what a splendid thing if it did. Ethnically Amir is an exciting blend of nationalities, which comes out in his musical style. A true entertainer; at the London Eurovision Party he held the title of Monsieur Charisma. 10/3 – 11/4 (coming in). *****

Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost

Jamie-Lee18-year-old Jamie-Lee became the first teenager to win the German version of The Voice and is obviously on her way to becoming a big favourite at home. The song has a very downbeat feel to it, with its theme of trying to rescue a dying relationship, which is at odds with Jamie-Lee’s Disney Princess with a touch of Gaga fashion sense. I reckon it lacks that vital impact that will get people’s juices flowing. The more you hear it, the better it gets, but I think it will be too late – a case of Spirits Having Flown. 40/1 – 66/1 (drifting). ***

Italy – Francesca Michielin – No Degree of Separation

Francesca MichielinFor some reason it nearly always takes me a long time to get to grip with Italian entries; apart from Fiumi di Parole, I loved that from the start. You know how Mozart is criticised in Amadeus for writing too many notes? I feel this is a song that has not enough notes but too many words. It’s like Jim Steinman has moonlighted for La Scala and come up with a soul searching epic that goes on, and on, and…. Francesca emotes her little calzini off in the video, but at the London Party I thought it lacked oomph. A musical interpretation of flogging a dead horse. 28/1 – 40/1 (steady). ***

Spain – Barei – Say Yay!

BareiAnother song with an upbeat message about getting what you want and letting no one stand in your way. And if they don’t like it, well say yay. If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m not above getting on the dance floor and shaking my geriatric thing but even so when I first heard this song it rather left me cold; if this is meant to create a wall of sound it needs repointing. That said, I like it much more now, and, with some wily staging, the gaps in its structure might well be hidden. The song has courted controversy for being the first ever Spanish entry sung completely in English. Whatever next, Big Macs replacing tapas? Barei’s a game lass and certainly knows how to present a song. Kurt Calleja wants his shoes back. And his dance routine. 22/1 – 40/1 (drifting). ****

Sweden – Frans – If I Were Sorry

FransThis year’s young people’s song, if I can put it that way. And after all, little Frans is just 17. I met him at the London Eurovision Party. Very polite, very quiet, and possessor of several beanies. His dad on the other hand is a complete raver. My least favourite from the ten to choose from in the Melodifestivalen final, Frans is, however, an excellent performer and really sells the song, and I’m just beginning to get it. I reckon this will go down very well with juries and young voters, but don’t expect anything from those over [insert your own age here]. It doesn’t help that, at heart, it’s a rather unpleasant song – promising all this love and tenderness, forgiveness and reconciliation, only to discover the little sh*t’s not sorry after all. Top ten certainly, top five maybe. 8/1 – 14/1 (starting to drift). ***

United Kingdom – Joe and Jake – You’re Not Alone

Joe and JakeSaved the best till last? Not quite, but not far off, in my humble opinion. Joe and Jake were certainly my choice to go forward from the UK national final (Hallelujah that we had one). The guys seem to have a great understanding of each other, and I find myself singing the song at odd moments on a far too regular basis. They harmonise well, and I really love the I, I, I….Sky, I, I sequence. Really nice, down to earth, ordinary guys too. I can’t see it on the left hand side of the scoreboard but will be crossing all digits in the hope for much better. Can’t resist a spot of Retro Britpop. You will say that patriotism is blinding my insight; maybe so, but this is my favourite UK song since Nicki French. 50/1 – 150/1 (coming in slightly). *****

As ever, I do a little counting up of the number of hits each song has received on the Eurovision.tv YouTube channel, not that it means anything at all on previous experience. These are the top ten hits as at 26th April.

10th – Russia (1603827)

9th – Spain (1746290)

8th – Serbia (1760659)

7th – Bosnia (2072256)

6th – Armenia (2707698)

5th – Malta (2707942)

4th – Azerbaijan (2874983)

3rd – France (2909088)

2nd – Australia (3053444)

1st – Poland (3532181)

Last year second place Russia came first in this table, third place Italy were 8th in this table, whereas winning song Sweden was nowhere to be seen. Azerbaijan, Australia and Spain were also in the top ten of YouTube views, just as they are this year. What stands out this year is the high placing of Poland. Worth a sneaky Each Way?

Have a great time watching the show on May 14th, wherever you are – at home with some crisps, at a party, or in Stockholm. May the best song win!

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