The big day has finally arrived. In a few short hours we’ll finally know who’s won the unenviable task of living up to the ridiculously high bar for Eurovision victors set by Conchita in the past twelve months. Nothing short of changing the world will suffice, but who’s most likely to be picking up the torch, and who’s going to spend the next few weeks insisting that it’s the taking part that counts?
Here’s my hastily cobbled together prediction for how the scoreboard might look tonight?
Slovenia: Maraaya – Here For You
Musically, it was a canny decision by the producers to open the show with a modern, uptempo pop effort as strong as this. However, it’s a bit of a shame for Slovenia to have their best entry in many a year likely doomed to be forgotten by the party crowd. On musical merit alone this should do quite well, but it could have been a real contender with a more flattering draw.
France: Lisa Angell – N’oubliez pas
Nobody was really tipping this to do any damage during the build-up to this year’s contest, but Lisa and her team have delivered a really striking and emotionally powerful presentation of the song that could have made a genuine impact. What a shame then to see her chances scuppered with the worst possible draw. The juries should keep her off the very bottom, but this is out of contention.
Israel: Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
It’s tough to predict how this fan favourite will do, as it’s hugely popular here in Vienna and really gets the audience going. However, of the male-fronted uptempos in the first half, it feels like the least jury-friendly, and with an early draw the televoters might not remember it either.
Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday
One of the most effective performances of the entire lineup should help this Estonian favourite to do well from just about anywhere – which is just as well given it’s performing so early. The contrast with Israel should work in Stig & Elina’s favour too. This should be very much in the mix.
United Kingdom: Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You
To be fair, Electro Velvet’s jury rehearsal is the best I’ve seen them perform the song so far, but raising such a low bar isn’t enough to convince me this has any chance whatsoever. A lot of people like the song, but the chemistry isn’t there, the stage show is awkward and ill-conceived, and I just can’t imagine anyone putting this in their overall top ten.
Armenia: Genealogy – Face The Shadow
A slightly surprising qualifier for me, though perhaps I shouldn’t have underestimated the power of Armenia’s diaspora. This won’t be in any kind of contention tonight, but should still pick up a fair spread of the lower votes.
Lithuania: Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila – This Time
A really fun performance of one of the best Lithuanian songs ever to appear at the contest, this might attract a party vote, but with another early draw and Estonia and Latvia significantly outclassing them, the only Baltic country without a win could be doomed to their usual position of mid-table mediocrity.
Serbia: Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies
All fortnight I’ve been predicting that this quintessential fan favourite will ‘do a Hera Björk’ and get lost in the finals. Perhaps I’m getting carried away with my personal love for the performance, but I’m starting to think I might have underestimated Bojana. This is a real showstopper that should raise the roof on the auditorium and could pick up party votes from across the continent. Or it could finish in 19th to the sound of homosexual tears across the continent. But I’m choosing to be optimistic.
Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
Last year Norway performed an unusually dark ballad after one of the most fun entries of that year’s line-up, and wound up grabbing a top ten place in spite of the buzzkill potential. I expect the same here. This is just too accomplished not to pick up a solid vote from juries and televoters. I’m predicting low top ten, but it could well go higher if it really connects.
Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes
The early draw may have dented Swedish momentum somewhat, but I’m increasingly certain that this is going to prove unstoppable tonight. A huge performance that goes big in the hall, sounds great and looks fantastic on TV. Ticks every box for a Eurovision winner. See you in Stockholm!
Cyprus: John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done
Following the likely winner can be a bit of a curse in this kind of thing, but the sharp contrast between Måns showy performance and John’s quiet, unassuming ballad should do a lot of favours for Cyprus. There are always going to be voters who are turned off by slick Swedish dance-pop, and that’s the audience that could push Cyprus into the top ten for the first time in a decade.
Australia: Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again
Australia could still pull off an upset in this year’s competition. At times the entire script for the show has felt built around their guest participation, and that could well build up to a compelling winner’s narrative. Strangely enough, during rehearsals this has felt slightly overshadowed not just by Sweden but by the subsequent Belgian performance. It’ll still do very well, but top three may not be as nailed-on as some people expect.
Belgium: Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside
One of the real dark horse contenders for this year’s title, a very flattering draw sees this deliver one of the last really high-energy performances of the evening. There are a lot of favourites in this section of the running order, but they’re all quite stylistically diverse. Loïc’s brooding intensity could be a real hit with a younger audience, and the song is one of the most contemporary offerings of the year. Not to be written off…
Austria: The Makemakes – I Am Yours
The host country have made a safe, tasteful choice with this winning slice of blue-eyed soul. Obviously neither a big winner nor a total loser, this will spare Austria any blushes without getting anywhere near the upper reaches of the scoreboard.
Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath
Vocally impressive but musically forgettable, this Celine-esque belter kicks off a long run of ballads in the second half of the show. Professional enough to get into the finals, but looking like filler now that it’s here. Although you never can tell with Greece…
Montenegro: Knez – Adio
Flying the flag for the ever-popular Balkan ballad this year, this brooding and atmospheric number drips with class, and contrasts nicely with the histrionic Greek and German efforts. Could give Montenegro their best result to date.
Germany: Ann Sophie – Black Smoke
This has really come together after the off-key and amateurish national finals performance that saw her trounced in the televote by Andreas the Unready. However, it still feels like a radio song that many viewers will passively enjoy but few will really be inspired to race to the phones for. Should avoid last place on sheer competence, but more likely to be found on the lower rungs than the upper reaches.
Poland: Monika Kuszyńska – In the Name of Love
Monika’s triumph-over-adversity message won a lot of hearts and minds in the press room and during her semi final. This is still a beautifully judged, gorgeously staged performance that may resonate with a lot of viewers, but I feel that the soporific nature of the song will ultimately be Poland’s undoing.
Latvia: Aminata – Love Injected
A clear standout performance on Thursday night, this bold and distinctive entry should go a long way towards erasing memories of Latvia’s generally dismal recent efforts in the contest. Positioned between two quiet and unassuming entries, this makes a huge impact and there’s a very real chance that we’ll see Latvia delivering their best result in a decade.
Romania: Voltaj – De la capăt (All over Again)
The Romanian band have already openly admitted that they have little interest in winning the contest and are only at the contest to promote their charitable foundation. Which is just as well, because this ballad – while heartfelt – is eminently forgettable. Like Armenia, there should be a fair spread of low marks from emigrant communities who will no doubt be touched by the message, but outside that fairly narrow demographic it’s hard to see much appeal.
Spain: Edurne – Amanecer
There’s something very ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ about this Spanish performance, which is visually striking and atmospheric, but perhaps a little lacking in wow factor. Like Germany, I’m not sure to what extent passive appreciation of this track (and Edurne’s stunning beauty) will translate into active televotes.
Hungary: Boggie – Wars For Nothing
Full disclosure: at this point I’m biased because I can not stand this dreary wet lettuce of a song. It has a nice message and it’s emotively performed etc, but every time I hear it I like it less. The plaintive delivery could see it become a quiet success, but surrounded by so many other, more compelling ballads I think it’s more likely to be completely forgotten.
Georgia: Nina Sublatti – Warrior
Providing one of the few vaguely uptempo performances in the second half of the show should do a lot of favours for Georgia – as should the commanding, visually striking performance. The song isn’t quite as good as Nina’s performance, but as a whole package this should be enough to give Georgia one of their better results of recent years.
Azerbaijan: Elnur Hüseynov – Hour of the Wolf
You never can tell with Azerbaijan, who only missed the top ten for the first time last year. I tend to think that this somewhat overbaked performance will see them extend their run of mediocre results, but it is a good song, and Elnur is very popular thanks to his victory on The Voice of Turkey. Could be anywhere from 4th to 24th, but I’m going to call a modest improvement on last year without doing any major damage.
Russia: Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices
This rousing, beautifully performed peace anthem may have raised a few eyebrows coming from Russia, but it’s considered a major challenger tonight. Vocally Polina is yet to put a foot wrong, and the stage show is simple but breathtaking. I don’t think it’ll quite have the popular support to go all the way, but it’d be a big surprise to see this outside the top five.
Albania: Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive
By song 26, many viewers are already likely to have decided what their favourite is – as the UK’s Molly Smitten-Downes discovered to her cost last year. Albania have a strong, vocally showy ballad here, but they’re completely outclassed by the preceding Russia and the humdrum staging probably won’t grab the attention of flagging viewers. Unless there’s a big jury save, this could very well end up right at the bottom of the pack.
Italy: Il Volo – Grande amore
Italy’s operatic trio are among the major favourites in the betting, but this is a really unflattering slot for a song like this, with the shift in tone from the preceding modern(ish) pop songs making the boys feel more like an interval act than competitors. There’s a bombast and authenticity here that should be amply rewarded – plus the boys come with a huge pre-existing fanbase, but I’m pretty sure it’s out of contention for the podium slots.