I hope you’ve all got your Advent calendars because Christmas is almost upon us folks. Yes, you read that right. Today marks one month before the greatest celebration of the year, where points are given, not presents, and carols are replaced with the most weird and wonderful vocal performances you are likely to see. Eurovision is back!!
Like the three wise men way back when, On the 23rd May thousands from around the world will flock this year to Vienna to witness the birth of a brand new saviour, while millions more will watch on TV, gathered with loved ones in celebration for such an important occasion.
Austria will be the host this year, the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest after Jesus Christ’s doppelgänger Conchita Wurst rose to victory with her song aptly named ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ And she’ll be part of an all-female hosting team for the very first time too in Vienna.
Another first for the competition is of course Australia’s invitation to compete as a guest in this anniversary edition, the first time an Oceanic nation has entered. Eurovision is loved by many beyond the continent and Australia are second to none for this, despite the show being broadcast in the middle of the night over there. They’ll head straight to the Grand Final and will be invited back next year if they win it, though they’ll be unable to host, for obvious reasons, with their broadcaster organising the event in a European city of its choosing.
In total there will be 40 participants this year, of whom seven qualify automatically to the Grand Final: Austria as holders/hosts, The ‘Big Five’ – the biggest contributors to the European Broadcasting Union – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and of course the United Kingdom, as well as guests Australia. The remaining 33 countries will compete for the remaining 20 places in the Grand Final in two semi-finals on the 19th and 21st May.
I’d like to welcome you at this point to this my ‘Complete(ly irrelevant) Guide to Eurovision 2015’ or so I’ve called it. Irrelevant as I’m not sure how much of the content other than the songs themselves you’ll actually care about, but quite frankly I have a lot of time on my hands and it’s done now.
This guide will preview ALL 40 songs heading to Vienna next month, providing you with plenty of facts about them. You know when they have those stupid videos between songs and Graham Norton tells you about the next song? Basically that in written form. However I’ll also be providing you with links to memorable songs of Eurovision past as well as offering the latest and best odds and the occasional betting tip for if you fancy a flutter on the Contest this year, and of course, most importantly my own thoughts on the entries, should I have any. I’ll be rating them all out of 10 anyway.
I don’t think anyone will want to sit and listen to 40 songs at once, and I sure damn well didn’t when writing this, so this is how it’s going to work. This will be split into five parts. This is part one if you haven’t noticed. A new part will be published each day until I run out of parts. I’m reviewing all the songs in alphabetical order of country. You’ll have ten songs today, another ten tomorrow and ten the day after that. You’re only getting nine on Sunday because I’m treating you to an in-depth review of the UK entry, convenient as it’s last on the list alphabetically anyway, on Monday.
FYI the odds are changing by the day, and all odds posted throughout the guide are available each way, four places at a quarter of the odds, unless stated otherwise and are current as of today (23rd April).
Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive
Albania failed to get past the semi-final stage last year and they’ll be hoping for much better this year. Elhaida Dani won her national contest to represent her country in Vienna late last year with the song ‘Diell’, however in February it was announced that the song’s writers had decided to withdraw it from the competition and the 22 year-old would perform something else. A day later it was confirmed that this is that something.
I’m glad the song was withdrawn as firstly I’m not overly fond of songs in other languages, but secondly, this is just a much better track in my opinion. While I don’t think it’ll be up there at the top I would be very surprised Albania weren’t represented in the Grand Final for the first time since their best ever finish of 5th in 2012.
Best Bet: 66/1 (SkyBet, Coral)
Genealogy – Face Every Shadow
Armenia achieved their joint-best result last year with Aram MP3 finishing 4th with ‘Not Alone’, although I don’t think they’ll manage to do as well this time around. An internal selection process was used to create the six-member band with five different representatives from the Armenian diaspora commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Performers from Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia represent the group unified by a sixth member from Armenia. Amid controversy of the political themes within the song it was renamed last month to ‘Face The Shadow’, having originally been titled ‘Don’t Deny’
The song itself, I’m not too keen on having had a few listens. I expect the background of the band and it’s tribute to be a large factor in any success it has, though that could also be the song’s downfall.
Best Bet: 80/1 (Coral)
Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again
Welcome to Eurovision Australia! I think it’s a wonderful gesture to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition to invite them to compete. You may remember last year they had a segment dedicated to them during the voting interval, being a nation with such a cult following. As mentioned they go directly to the Grand Final with their first ever entry, performed by Guy Sebastian, a very successful singer-songwriter and former Australian Idol winner who was picked by SBS for this one-off entry.
A catchy song written and readied in just a week, ‘Tonight Again’ is quite fitting of the occasion and naturally it’s one of the favourites and is expected to do very well. It may be in our best interests that it does win, as I’m sure the UK would be considered as one of the possible candidates to host next year if that becomes reality, though rumour has it Germany would get the gig.
Best Bet: 6/1 (SkyBet)
The Makemakes – I Am Yours
I’m quietly confident Conchita Wurst won’t be handing over her microphone trophy to her fellow countrymen next month. The Makemakes, an Austrian pop-rock trio, won their national competition to represent them on home soil with this particular number.
The song is quite dull. I’m not a fan, and the bookies aren’t convinced either. Probably ideal if you’re Austria’s broadcaster. It’s a very expensive competition to host, and I can’t imagine them wanting to do it two years running!
Best Bet: 125/1 (Coral)
Elnur Huseynov – Hour of the Wolf
Since their first entry in 2008, Azerbaijan have consistently performed well in the competition, with five top 5 places in a row, including victory in 2011, prior to last year. However last year saw their worst ever finish of 22nd. They’ve called upon half of their very first entry and The Voice Turkey winner Elnur Huseynov, whom with Samir came 8th in 2008, to turn things back round for them this year.
‘Hour of the Wolf’ is a nice little ballad. It will better last year’s entry I’m certain, and given the country’s previous success in recent years it could well challenge for top spot. An each way bet would have returned you something in three of the last four years so you might want to consider one here.
Best Bet: 33/1 (Ladbrokes)
Uzari & Maimuna – Time
It’s fourth time lucky for Uzari, having been a backing singer in the 2011 contest and having failed in national selection in both 2012 and 2013. He’ll be representing Belarus in Vienna with violinist Maimuna, where he’ll hope to better last year’s tasty effort ‘Cheesecake’ and 2013’s ‘Solayoh’, both placing 16th. 2011 winner Alexander Rybak had written a song for his country of birth to send, however it was beaten by Uzari.
Quite a catchy entry, this is what I would call typical Eurovision. Solid overall but a strong chorus there, so I expect for a similar result for Belarus again this year, propping up the rest in the Grand Final
Best Bet: 100/1 (Boylesports (E/W only three places), 80/1 (SkyBet)
Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside
Belgium have been very poor this last decade, with only two entries since 2004 making it through to the Grand Final. A change in selection process saw Loïc Nottet, a 19 year-old former The Voice Belgique finalist picked for this year’s Eurovision without a televote.
The song is growing on me a lot having heard it for the first time a few weeks ago and I’m intrigued to see the production for this on the night as the music video for ‘Rhythm Inside’ is unusual to say the least. Nottet may well get a shameless vote or two from me.
Best Bet: 66/1 (Boylesports (E/W only three places)), 50/1 (SkyBet, Coral, Stan James, William Hill)
John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done
Cyprus chose not to enter last year after failing to qualify out of the semi finals in six of the last eight years, but they’re back, and in all honesty I doubt the year out has made much difference. Nevertheless it’s down to John Karayiannis to prove me wrong with his song ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’ having won Cyprus’ national selection back in February.
The song itself just bores me. I really wish I could say more about it, but the few times I’ve listened to it I’ve felt nothing. Not to mention it’s very forgettable too. I’ll probably go for a toilet break when it’s performed.
Best Bet: 100/1 (Coral)
09. Czech Republic
Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta – Hope Never Dies
Another returning country to Eurovision, after a six year absence the Czech Republic are hoping for an improvement on years previous which led to their withdrawal. This is only the fourth time they’ve competed and in the previous three they’ve failed to make it to the final, joining Andorra as the only entrant to never have participated in a Grand Final.
Once again though, I’m sorry to say I don’t think they’ll manage to this year either. This reflects what I think of Cyprus’ entry only I like this song even less. The bookies agree with me too. Apologies Marta and Václav.
Best Bet: 200/1 (Bet365, Stan James, Coral)
Anti Social Media – The Way You Are
Last year’s hosts Denmark will be hoping to add to their three victories in Vienna after putting on a wonderful show last year, following Emmelie de Forest’s win with ‘Only Teardrops’ in 2013. This year it’ll be up to Anti Social Media, a pop-rock band to continue Denmark’s good form of finishing in the top 10 in four of the last five years.
Bookmakers suggest that won’t happen, with surprisingly long odds, however I really like the song, it’s catchy and upbeat and the band reminds me slightly of Denmark’s top 5 entry by A Friend In London back in 2012. I hope it does better than at least the bookies predict and I’ll probably vote just because of the cute guitarist to be honest…
Best Bet: 125/1 (SkyBet, Coral)
So there you have the first 10. Have a listen and make your own minds up and let me know what you think of the entries so far either by commenting below or tweeting me. Tomorrow 10 more countries will face my not at all important opinion. Be sure to come back and check that out!