As June approaches, thoughts are turning to that annual event which represents the absolute pinnacle of musical quality, a true celebration of cultural diversity, a tour de force for the continents talented vocalists, dancers and musicians… The Eurovision Song Contest, of course!
This year, the 57th annual song contest takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan, following their nail-biting win in Dusseldorf Germany last year.
42 countries will be competing across three events; two Semi Finals on the 22nd and 24th of May and the grand final on Saturday 26th. As always, the musical offerings range from the sublime (yes really!) to the utterly ridiculous.
After a string of catastrophic results during the naughties, the UK is relatively ‘back on form’ following a highly respectable 5th place in 2009, an episode involving Pete Waterman in 2010 which is best erased from memory, and a sterling effort from Blue last year who despite only finishing 11th on the night, attracted massive publicity coverage and saw the contest become a huge ratings success for the BBC.
Let’s have a look at the high-flyers and no-hopers aiming to snatch the (ahem) coveted Eurovision crown this year…
X-Factor alums Jedward return for the second year in a row to represent Ireland with ‘Waterline’, a by-numbers pop rock ditty which has to be said, is disappointingly average. Last year’s ‘Lipstick’ finished 9th on the night and went on to hit the top 10 in charts across Europe – a huge success for the boys. They’ll be aiming to top that this year, and shouldn’t be discounted too easily. Not many can rival them for sheer confidence on stage, and of course, the hair…
Historically in Eurovision the winner is either glaringly obvious before the final event starts (Norway, 2009, Germany 2010), or it’s all to play for (2011). This year the favourite by a country mile is Sweden; Loreen with ‘Euphoria’. This song is an up-tempo dance number with haunting melodies and a, well, euphoric backing track. Guaranteed to scale the European charts after the final, we’re predicting this will not only win but become the biggest commercial Eurovision song in a long time.
Greece are sticking to what they do best and sending a gorgeous lass, surrounded by beefy back up dancers, singing an ethnic-tinged pop song. Always a strong finisher, yet mysteriously lagging behind in the betting odds so far, if you’re a looking for a hot tip this may be worth a flutter. The stunning Eleftheria Eleftherious will be performing ‘Aphrodisiac’. Be warned, this chorus is disgustingly infectious…
Russia. A collection of grannies plucked from a remote village singing ‘Party for Everyone’. Only at Eurovision! (FYI – this is the ‘utterly ridiculous’ we were referring to)
Last but by no means least is of course the United Kingdom, who this year will be represented by… wait for it… Engelbert Humperdinck. Did you know that’s not even his real name? The mind boggles. Engelbert is officially the oldest male contestant to enter the contest at the age of 75, and despite being drawn to perform first on the night (effectively killing any chance we may have had of winning), hopes are high for a strong result for the UK. His song ‘Love Will Set You Free’ is an uplifting and dare we say emotional number, penned by writers responsible for Adele and Lana Del Rey’s biggest hits. Good company indeed. Worth checking out, if only for the ‘money notes’ in the last 30 seconds.
And so that concludes our little preview of this year’s event, and we haven’t even touch on the camp electro-dance fest from Norway, beautiful Lissie-esque ballad from Denmark, or ear-splitting screeching from Spain’s big-lunged diva. If this hasn’t wetted your appetite, quite frankly nothing will.
Not to be taken too seriously, always immense fun, we suggest you crack open the Bucks Fizz, print out those scorecards, sit back and enjoy the best Europe has to offer.
The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest takes place on 22nd and 24th May at 8pm on BBC Three, with the grand final on BBC One at 8pm, Saturday 26th.
For more information visit: bbc.co.uk/eurovision
The Official Eurovision 2012 Album featuring all 42 songs is available digitally and on CD now.
Words: Chris White
Originally published: 21st May 2012