Eurovision Song Contest: Grand Final Saturday 12 May BBC One at 8pm
The world’s favourite song contest is back, and as always the final is set to be a delightful mash up of styles and themes, from romantic ballads, heavy metal and opera to songs about love, infidelity, Vikings and monsters.
We’ve taken a look at this year’s favourite entries.
With high notes that could split concrete, Eugent Bushpepa is launching an all-out vocal assault on Eurovision, and aiming to give Albania its first win since the country’s Eurovision debut in 2004. Fat i mirë, Shqipëri!
“We Got Love”
Instead of asking why on earth Australia is in Eurovision, let’s just enjoy this upbeat and empowering song, which Jessica Mauboy co-wrote for the contest. She has a lot to live up to: in three attempts so far, Australia’s always been in the top ten, and was runner up in 2016. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!
“Nobody But You”
Austria won Eurovision for the first time in 1966, and then in 2014 the fabulous Conchita Wurst, carried off the crown with “Rise Like a Phoenix”. This time, Austria is giving us a strong, gospel-style song and a singer whose sound has been compared to Rag’n’Bone Man. Viel erfolg, Österreich!
After taking second place in 2017, there’s a real buzz about Bulgaria this year, both among the fans and the bookies. They’ve got an experienced group of singers, including a Bulgarian X-Factor winner and a semi-finalist from America’s Got Talent. The song is modern and memorable, and it could give Bulgaria its first ever Eurovision win. Успех България!
Since its first entry in 1981, Cyprus has never won Eurovision. Eleni Foureira plans to change all that, and is ready to set the stage alight with a smouldering Latino dance track. Καλή τύχη, Κύπρος!
“Lie to Me”
There’s one word for this song: earworm. Like it or not, once you’ve heard it, it’ll be hard to shake it out of your brain. And if it affects the rest of Europe in the same way, watch out for the first ever Czech Eurovision win. Hodně štěstí Česká Republika!
There’s a strong Viking vibe to the Danish entry, and the lead singer looks like an import from Game of Thrones. The lyrics say: Boarding and setting sail / Yet victory won’t prevail. But if victory does prevail it will give the Danes their fourth Eurovision win. Held og lykke Danmark!
Opera has swept onto the Eurovision stage before, perhaps most bizarrely in 1983 when Turkey entered a mash-up of Bizet’s Carmen and a Dixieland jazz melody. But this year Estonia’s giving us the real deal: an actual soprano, effortlessly scaling stratospheric notes in Italian. If the viewers of Europe (and Australia) are in a classical frame of mind, this could take the contest back to Tallinn in 2019. Õnne, Eesti!
As dear old Terry Wogan might have said, Finland hasn’t come within a reindeer’s bellow of winning Eurovision since the rock monsters Lordi stormed to the top of the scoreboard in 2006. This year, X Factor runner-up Saara Aalto is carrying Finnish hopes with an up-tempo dance number that’s sure to get the audience on its feet. Onnea, Suomi!
“I was born this morning; my name is Mercy.” The two French singers are hoping to capture hearts (and votes) of Europe (and Australia) with the poignant story of a baby born on a migrant boat. The lyrics are carried on a simple, haunting melody. The French have been looking for a Eurovision winner since 1977; they might just have found one. Bonne chance à la France!
“You Let Me Walk Alone”
A red-haired young man who sings from the heart. Sounds familiar? But any similarities between Michael Schulte and Ed Sheeran are purely coincidental. Michael’s song is in homage to his late father, and in Lisbon he’ll be investing it with even greater meaning – he’s due to become a dad himself this summer. Viel Glück, Deutschland!
“Viszlát nyár” (Goodbye Summer)
Heavy metal songs don’t come heavier than this one. It will probably polarise audiences, but the song’s raw energy and throat-ripping vocals could propel Hungary to the top of the scoreboard for the first time since their Eurovision debut in 1994. Sok szerencsét Magyarországra!
The glory days of the 1990s when Ireland won Eurovision three years in a row are long gone. So, getting to the final is a big deal for Ryan O’Shaughnessy. If the luck of the Irish is with Ryan’s gentle love song, it could mean Ireland extending their record number of Eurovision wins to eight. Ádh mór, Éire!
She trills, she clucks, she yelps. Netta definitely has her own style, and displays impressive musical and technical skills (she records vocals on stage and replays seconds later). Netta’s #MeToo-inspired song has already achieved more than 16 million hits on YouTube. She’s the hot favourite to give Israel its fourth Eurovision win. !בהצלחה לישראל
“Non mi avete fatto niente” (You Haven’t Done Anything to Me)
Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro
Since returning to the Eurovision family in 2011, Italy has achieved five top ten places. This year’s anti-war message could strike a chord across Europe (and Australia) to give Italy their third winning entry. Buona fortuna, Italia!
“When We’re Old”
Ieva is living proof of the old saying: if at first you don’t succeed… She’s tried and failed to represent her country on four previous occasions, but now she’s finally made it to Eurovision. Her fragile and ethereal voice is perfect for delivering this gentle ballad about the endurance of love. A win for Ieva would give Lithuania its first ever Eurovision victory. Sėkmės, Lietuva!
“My Lucky Day”
Moldova achieved an impressive third place last year, their best-ever Eurovision placing. This year’s entry has a fiesta feel to it, and the cheerful trio of singers are putting everything into their attempt to get an even better result in 2018. Mult noroc, Moldova!
The Dutch enjoyed great success in the early years of Eurovsion, but they haven’t had a win since 1975. They came second, though, in 2014, and one of the performers from that year is back in 2018. It’s a country-rock song that owes more to Nashville than to the Netherlands, but it could pick up a lot of votes across Europe (and Australia). Yee-haw, Nederland!
“That’s How You Write a Song”
For years, Norway was tagged as the “nul points” nation, the country that so often ended each Eurovision with as many points as it started. But with three wins under its belt, Norway has shrugged off its loser label, and this year is represented by a former winner. The charismatic Alexander Rybak had a landslide victory nine years ago, and this time he’s entering another catchy song with a slick dance routine. Lykke til, Norge!
“O Jardim” (The Garden)
In 2017, Salvador Sobral stunned the world (and the Portuguese themselves) by giving Portugal their first Eurovision victory in 53 years. As hosts this year, the Portuguese have chosen a wistful ballad about lost love. Can they do the double? Boa sorte Portugal!
“Tu Cancion” (Your Song)
Amaia and Alfred
Love is in the air, on the stage, in the piano, and above all in the eyes of this head-over-heels couple from Spain. They’re so captivated by each other, they might not even notice if they win. But for Spain, this could be a historic contest: their first Eurovision win for nearly half a century. ¡Buena suerte España!
“Dance You Off”
Sweden takes Eurovision very seriously, with a six-week selection process and a national final that’s among the most watched programmes of the year. As a result, Sweden’s rarely outside the top five, and is likely to score highly again this time with a funky dance track that has echoes of Justin (Bieber, not Trudeau) Lycka till Sverige!
“Under The Ladder”
Some countries take decades to notch up their first Eurovision win, but Ukraine did it in 2004 with only its second ever entry. They won again in 2016, and fancy their chances this time with a pulsating rock song confidently delivered by Ukrainian X Factor winner Mélovin. Удачи, Україна!
In 61 years of competing, the UK has built up a strong Eurovision track record, with five wins and 15 second places. But recent entries have struggled to live up to that impressive CV. This time, SuRie is singing for the UK, having been part of two successful Belgian entries in 2015 and 2017. “Storms don’t last for ever,” sings SuRie. But what about Eurovision droughts? Best of British, SuRie!