Ah the relief of not being the ones packing your bags for the far flung climes of home!
The 18 countries picked for semi final two no doubt watched the losers of semi final one shuffling off into the cold dark night of Eurovision oblivion, where not even a candle, let a burst of fire lights the way, and glitter is unknown and unloved, thinking to themselves – “Thank the lord, that’s not us!”
Yet. That’s yet, people. Do not get carried away for tonight European time you face your music maker and only ten of you will be able to skip backstage, thrilled that all those sleepless nights sewing sequin-covered goat costumes, and practising the bazuki have proved their worth.
For the rest of us, rejected by all of Europe (try not to take it personally), there is no choice but to go home. If you live under a repressive regime then get ready for the cold hard lights, and freezing nights of the gulag for letting down the fatherland/motherland/weird dictator-ruled feudal kingdom while those of you in democracies can look forward to menial jobs cleaning toilets or being locked in a corporate cubicle for the rest of your life, your dance moves but a distant painful memory.
Gosh doesn’t losing sound like a whole heap of fun?! All the more reason you need to sing your hearts out, delight the good burghers of Europe and live to sing another night. This is who I predict will be doing the “I won’t be beheaded at dawn for shaming my country” dance of joy and jellybeans…the rest of you should just look away…
Norway: “Stay” by Tooji
It sounds sadly like a million other Eurovision entries past, and more pop hits than I can remember but when was originality ever a fatal curse? He will romp into the grand final still bouncing like a maniac.
Sweden: “Euphoria” by Loreen
I have picked this one to win the whole shebang from almost the word go. This is as perfect as pop gets sung by a woman who knows how to deliver it perfectly. Why even bother turning up to the semi final really? (Um, not serious there Loreen, you kind of have to… yeah I hear you, you’re ridiculously talented with an awesomely catchy song but them’s the rules I’m afraid.)
Portugal: “Vida Miha” by Filipa Sousa
Highly overwrought yes but I have decided after repeated listens (think I have the Eurovision version of Stockholm Syndrome) that it conjures up romantic images of drinking port wine in an intimate cafe somewhere in the back alleys of a trendy part of Lisbon. So yes I am letting this through because it is making me having fantasies of Mediterranean nightlife. There are worse reasons to vote for a song, you know…
Bosnia & Herzegovina: “Korake Ti Znam” by Maya Sar
Another woman who needs more therapy than a legion of Sigmund Freuds can provide in several life times but the song is heart bracingly beautiful and as moving as they come.
Malta: “This is the Night” by Kurt Calleja
Once more to the recycle bins at the recording studio my friend! This has been around the musical block more times than a hooker on a bad night but it’s upbeat, insanely catchy and the singer wears suit. You wouldn’t vote against a well dressed young man would you? Of course not.
Ukraine: “Be My Guest” by Gaitana
Taylor Dayne’s clone, far from being a laboratory casualty is alive and kicking and belting out this pounding dance song like her life depends on it… I will vote for it just as soon as I take it off repeat…
Estonia: “Kuula” by Ott Lepland
A ballad yes, which shouldn’t be ragingly popular in recession-laden times since presumably everyone wants to dance and forget their troubles. But I suspect this is so moving and beautifully sung that everyone will stop zipping across the dance floor long enough to cast a sweaty vote in its favour.
Belarus: “We Are the Heroes” by Litesound
This song has all the originality of those awful jokes you find in Christmas crackers, and is yet another song channeling that particularly Eurovision blend of Oprah-like positive exhortation and giddy self-absorbed arrogance that still manages to sound cheery and boy next door lovely. It’s life span is limited but it should make it into the grand final before the charm wears off.
Bulgaria: “Love Unlimited” by Sofi Marinova
It’s back to the 90s with this bouncy fun number but I care not. It’s catchy, it’s sung in Bulgarian which I don’t speak so it can mean whatever I want it to do – is she doing her washing? Walking the dog? Mourning her lost lover? So much imaginative fun to be had! – and sung by a woman with a great set of pipes. This must do well or my investment in retro pop stocks will all be for nothing.
Serbia: “Nije Ljubav Stvar” by Zeljko Joksimovic
This man knows Eurovision. He practically is Eurovision – he’s written two Top Ten finishing songs in 2006 and 2008, been a runner up in 2004 and yes even hosted the event in 2008. So I think he knows his way around the sort of song that will attract the punters and I think this has a good chance. Not to my personal taste but then last time I checked I don’t speak for all of Europe who I think will love it.
So let the guessing begin? Am I even close to calling it correctly? Will Europe even care? Doubtful, but it’s fun trying to second guess then anyway and seeing how close I get to the magic ten guesses right.
Whatever my strike rate, there will 10 happy glittery shiny people and eight people dragging their props behind them, and a big bright grand final to look forward to!