Some last minute reflections

Posted: 20/5/2006 in:

This time last week, we were pretty certain we knew who was going to win Eurovision this year. In fact, we were all but packing our bags for Berlin 2007, so confident were we of a German victory. But fast-forward seven days, and as the dust settles on the semi-final and we gear up for Saturday’s main event, we’re not so sure.

The fact is, there were so many good performances in this year’s semi-final – several of which took us by surprise – that just a few hours before the final kicks off we’ve come to realise that this is the most wide-open contest in years. While we still reckon our favourites Germany are in with a great chance, and Greece and Croatia are still definite contenders, there are a few new ones creeping up on us that we never even considered.

For example, what about FYR Macdeonia? We’ve had our eye on their song for a while now, but Elena’s performance on Thursday night was so slick and polished that it only served to make the surrounding efforts from Monaco and Poland look even weaker than they were. If she holds it together in similar fashion tonight, then she really can’t be ruled out of the running.

Then there’s Ukraine – which is one of our favourites in this year’s line-up and always had been, but we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that it probably wouldn’t make it through. One sensational turn from Tina Karol later, however, and the song’s fortunes had completely changed. And while we’re still sceptical that she could bring the Ukrainians their second victory, we think she’s going to do a lot better than everybody first thought.

As for Lithuania – well, when the audience failed to get Silvia Night’s joke, it cleared the pathway for the year’s other ‘novelty’ entry to sneak up and pull a surprise attack, sailing through to the finals and nabbing the semi-final spot before Daz (which many think is actually a bad thing, since they’re rather in danger of stealing the UK’s thunder). We’d dismissed this song as a load of old nonsense – and let’s face it, it still is – but we’ve rather warmed to LT United in the past few days, largely because they really seemed to be enjoying themselves up there – and what’s more, they seemed genuinely shocked to have landed a place in the final (the same could be said of many Eurovision viewers, but we had a feeling something like that might happen). As silly as We Are The Winners may be, we can’t help thinking that Lithuania could turn out to be this year’s Moldova, and actually finish in the top ten. Either way, we’re looking forward to their performance in the final – in a strangely warped kind of way.

We’d been saying all along that if Ireland were to make it through to the final, they had the potential to do a lot of damage – and now they have qualified, we’re still thinking that. Brian Kennedy has a great draw in the running order, and will come as a real contrast to Croatia and Sweden, who perform before and after him – and it’s worth noting he’s the only real ballad in that part of the draw (France of course have a mid-tempo song but as one of the year’s major outsiders ,we can’t see it posing much of a threat). In other words, the Irish could get their best result in years.

Of the finalists, we should also add Norway to our list of potential contenders. Word of mouth from Athens suggests Christine Gulbrandsen has been terrific in rehearsal, and Alvedansen should really stand out as one of the few good songs in the very early part of the draw. And given that this kind of folky tune always has its fans, this could be one to watch.

And let’s not forget about Finland. So much has been said about Lordi already – we particularly liked the interview on the BBC Ten O’Clock News yesterday when they were sitting by an Athens swimming pool on sun loungers in full costume – that we’re not going to say any more, but suffice to say they were terrific on Thursday night and thoroughly deserve their place in the final, hype or no hype. At this stage, we wouldn’t put it past them to win the whole thing, given the amount of interest they’ve generated (not to mention the amount of new viewers they’ve brought to Eurovision who’ll be tuning in just to see them) – at the very least they could finally break Finland’s run of bad results.

Finally, we should cast a speedy eye over the UK’s chances. Well, coming so soon after Lithuania, and so close to Greece and Finland isn’t necessarily going to do Daz any favours, but he still seems on course to give the UK a distinctly better result than they’ve enjoyed recently. To be fair, we said the same thing last year with Javine, hence the reason we’re so hesitant about predicting his fate in the contest – but we still think Teenage Life is one of the better entries we’ve sent in recent years, and we’re keeping everything crossed for a good result. In fact, given our recent track record, we’d even be thrilled if he were to finish around 11th or 12th – again, it would probably bring the naysayers out against our chances in the contest, but it would still be a considerable improvement on the past few years. A top ten finish, meanwhile, would probably shut those people up for good – but for now, we’ll just wish Daz the best of luck and see what happens.

But to be honest, this is such a wide open field that who’s to say the winner won’t turn out to be a song we’ve completely overlooked?? With the possible exception of a handful of countries (France, Moldova, Spain, Latvia) it really is anybody’s race this year. We’ll be back after the contest with a review of the event plus other thoughts and statistics – but for now, Team Eurovision hopes you enjoy the final. Because we know we’re going to.

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