By James Leyfield
The Eurovision Song Contest will beam into our living rooms on Saturday from the bright lights of Israel’s capital Tel Aviv – and this year’s event has received even more attention than usual following reports Madonna will perform at the final.
She’s faced political backlash over the rumours, but if she does take to the stage it certainly promises to be a performance to remember – and there will be many other memorable outings from the countries competing. We took a look at the chances of the top five favourites, and the UK:
This year’s Eurovision has a hot favourite in the Netherlands, who are around 11/10 to win the entertainment competition, meaning you would get just over your stake back if you placed a wager on them.
Whether their act Duncan Laurence has a Dutch of class big enough to take home the iconic glass microphone trophy remains to be seen, but expect the former The Voice of Holland wannabe to show plenty of emotion while blasting out strong power ballad Arcade, which could leave viewers in tears. For the right reasons, of course!
Sweden’s John Lundvik looks set to be the Netherlands’ biggest competition. The second favourites, at 7/1, are not to be underrated having triumphed in the contest six times – just one less than seven-time winners Ireland – and they have amassed 13 top five finishes this century.
Bizarrely, John – who was born in London – almost has two chances of winning because he co-wrote the UK competitor Michael Rice’s song Bigger Than Us. But he may as well have one judging by the UK’s expected result!
Like the Netherlands, the former sprinter’s song, Is It Too Late For Love?, is another potential tear-jerker.
Yes, that does say Australia and not Austria – they are in Eurovision, due to their host TV broadcaster SBS being part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It’s the country’s fifth year. But will the 2016 runners-up win it for the first time? They are around 8/1 in the betting, suggesting they have every chance.
Aussie act Kate Miller-Heidke will put on a pulsating version of her part-opera, part-EDM tune Gravity, and keep a beady eye out for her unusual staging, which is arguably even more impressive than the song itself.
Russia are the fourth favourites at around 9/1 for the contest, and their act Sergey Lazarev knows Eurovision extremely well after finishing third at the 2016 spectacle.
He is a former member of boy band Smash!! and will perform a song called Scream, but the tune isn’t as shouty as the title may suggest. It’s a tune which certainly wouldn’t sound out of place in a musical.
But if you’re after actual screaming or shouting then you will enjoy Iceland’s act, Hatari, who are 20/1 fifth favourites.
The heavy metal trio will perform angry-sounding song Hatrið Mun Sigra (Hate Will Prevail) in Icelandic, and the lyrics include references about “endless” hangovers, and about Europe “crumbling”. Maybe they know something about Brexit we don’t?!
You may want to send your mum out of the room to make a cuppa while they’re performing though as the band are big fans of BDSM outfits. You have been warned!
In recent years the UK have been synonymous with performing poorly in Eurovision – who can forget the infamous nul points Jemini managed in 2003 with their effort Cry Baby?. It’s been 22 years since Katrina and the Waves took top spot with 1997 hit Love Shine A Light.
Sadly for UK fans, things don’t look likely to improve for this year’s competitor Michael, with the UK priced at a huge 300/1 to win the competition.
What’s more, a Eurovision prediction algorithm from spread betting firm StarSpreads.com has forecast the UK will end up with just 75 points – which would see Michael languishing in the bottom five.
That would be better than nul points, though!