These final six songs are already guaranteed to be there on the Saturday night without any further possibilities of elimination. As the performance order is not yet decided I’m going to take them in alphabetical order. As usual, each preview will have its own star rating and its average bookmaker odds courtesy of oddschecker.com, as at 17th April. And once again, I wrote these reflections before rehearsals started, so they’re very much impressions from the videos and listening to the recordings. Stick with it, you know you want to.
France – Bilal Hassani – Roi
You can’t fault the message of this song, nor its heritage, being written by Madame Monsieur of Mercy fame. I rather like its very natural bilingual structure, and there’s no doubt that Bilal has great presence. I just wish the tune was more interesting! To be fair, the verse builds nicely, but just when you want the chorus to soar, it teeters and totters and fails to ignite. Not a patch, sadly, on Conchita’s similarly themed That’s What I Am. Jealous of those epaulettes, though. 40-1. **
Germany – S!sters – Sister
What’s the German for Marmite? Not for the first time, Germany sends a song that divides people. When I first heard it, I instinctively disliked it, which is not a good thing for a Eurovision song where you need that instant capture. It’s ploddy; and while parts of it are alright, at other times it ranges from sickly sweet to caterwauling. Mrs Chrisparkle, however, on first hearing, thought it was pretty good! Maybe it’s a girl thing. It’s still my bet for coming 26th on the night. Was 125-1, now drifting. *
Israel – Kobi Marimi – Home
Nearly every Eurovision chucks up a big ballad that would be perfect in a huge West End show, and Home is 2019’s prime example of the genre. Kobi has a rather stylised manner of singing which puts me off slightly, but, when all’s said and done, this is a very nice song. Perfect for karaoke. We know that it will be sung in 14th position on Saturday night, which isn’t that great a draw – only three songs from the last ten years in that position have had a top ten finish, whilst two have finished last. I sense this could struggle. 200-1. ***
Italy – Mahmood – Soldi
Time for one of the year’s big hitters, Mahmood, who won this year’s San Remo Festival despite a spat of displeasure from the far-right minister Matteo Salvini, who basically told the singer the equivalent of you ain’t no Italian, bruv. However, Mahmood is having the last laugh, riding high in both the betting and in the international OGAE vote. The song has an unpredictable structure, with three repeated parts, any one of which you might think of as its chorus, which adds to its slight air of mystery. Three minutes of (what feels like totally justified) recrimination of an absentee father who preferred money to his son. Powerful stuff, performed with style. Was 8-1, now shortening slightly. *****
Spain – Miki – La Venda
And it just gets better and better. The infectiously entertaining Miki presents the glorious La Venda, whether in a smart, polished studio version filmed on the streets, or in a raucous, fun-filled live performance backed by a girl marching band. The internal rhythms of the Spanish lyrics (for instance,“Te vives, alto voltaje, te traje buenas noticias”) help towards creating a fiesta-feel for this rather clever song about self-awareness and what happens when the blindfold falls. Personally, I have no idea why this isn’t the evens money favourite, and for me it’s one of the top three Spanish entries of all time. Was 100-1, now around 66-1. *****
United Kingdom – Michael Rice – Bigger than Us
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with the choice of songs for the UK at this year’s national final, but, on the whole, the British public probably chose the best option. Michael Rice has a very good voice, but his style is totally not my thing, and it’s been decades since I’ve felt this distanced from my own country’s entry. I can only wish him well, as I’d love the UK to host next year – but if he won it would be a travesty. 150-1 **
Have a great time watching the show on May 18th, wherever you are – at home with some crisps, at a party, or in Tel Aviv. May the best song win!