Love it or hate it, Eurovision is back! The 62nd edition takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, and will feature 43 nations. The competition, which has expanded in recent years, now includes Australia, and rumours are rife that the USA will take part next year.
Bizarrely, the draw can have a huge impact on the result. Those acts that perform in the later stages of the final, no doubt still fresh in the minds of the judges and public, have provided the majority of recent winners. Only one act this century – Turkey (drawn four) in 2003 – has prevailed from a ‘low draw’. Last year’s winning nation, Ukraine, took to the stage 21st of the 26 finalists.
Russia’s original proposed entrant was blocked by Ukraine because she had toured Crimea following Russian annexation of the region. In response, Russia is refusing to broadcast this year’s event on the state-owned Channel One TV station.
Welsh singer, actress and model Lucie Jones, a finalist on series six of the X-Factor in 2009, represents the UK and is currently priced at 50/1. The song – Never Give Up On You – compares favourably with recent efforts, but there’s very little love for the UK in these post-Brexit times. The UK hasn’t won a Eurovision title since Katrina and the Waves took the honours with “Love Shine A Light” 20 years ago. Finishing positions of 25th, 19th, 17th, 24th and 24th in the past five years highlight the uphill struggle Lucie faces.
Italy’s Francesco Gabbani heads the market (17/25) with the song “Occidentali’s Karma”: a very catchy number which has had over 111 million views on YouTube. The song is mostly performed in the Italian language, with the exception of the lines “Sex appeal” and “Singing in the rain” – the mind boggles. Expect to be amazed by his funky jackets and a dancing ape.
Portugal, returning after a year’s absence, are the current second favourites at 6/1. Unlike Italy, they will need to qualify via Tuesday night’s first semi-final (7/4 to win it). Salvador Sobral’s “Amar Pelos Dois” (For The Both Of Us) is refreshingly different and stands out among the usual ‘Euro-pop’.
Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov is next in the betting at 10/1 with the song “Beautiful Mess”. Performing in English is usually worth a few extra votes, and she shouldn’t have any problem in negotiating Thursday’s second semi-final for which she is currently the 7/10 favourite.
Sweden, also priced at 10/1, has a very strong recent Eurovision pedigree, winning in 2015 and 2012, as well as recording top-five finishes in 2016, 2014 and 2011. This year’s entry. “I Can’t Go On” by Robin Bengtsson, has an incredibly catchy chorus, but will it be enough to gloss over some otherwise dodgy lyrics?
Other contenders include Armenia’s visually spectacular “Fly With Me” (14/1), while Hungary (available at 100/1) could fare better than their odds suggest with the interesting “Origo” by Joci Papai. The latter describes himself as a ‘believer, fighter, singer, dreamer, father and Samurai”. Let’s hope he leaves his sword at home.
Eurovision 2017 Predictions
Winner – Portugal (6/1)
Top Three Finish – Armenia (9/4)