IT'S Eurovision time again with the first semi-final taking place in Denmark next Tuesday night. Here are the ten favourites in the betting (as aggregated on oddschecker.com) … and what we think of them.
1. ARMENIA: ‘NOT ALONE’ - ARAM
Despite drawing the worst slot - it’s the first song in the first semi - this is the hot, hot favourite to lift the title Saturday week. It builds from tinkling piano to an intense crescendo, breaking songwriting convention along the way (there's no real versechorus-verse structure). Not an obvious Eurovision winner then, but the bookies should not be ignored.
2. SWEDEN: ‘UNDO’ - SANNA NIELSEN
Nielsen finally makes it to Eurovision after seven attempts with a ballad that ticks a lot of Eurovision boxes: huge chorus, simple lyrics, modern sound not too removed from Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’. But will voters find it all a bit too Swedish-hit-factory predictable? And will they look past the awful pigeon English lyrics (‘undo my sad’)?
3. DENMARK: ‘CLICHÉ LOVE SONG’ - BASIM
Former Danish X Factor contestant Basim clearly wants to be Bruno Mars, but a song that starts ‘skuba duba dubda dididay, I love you’ just doesn't cut the mustard. Has an outside chance but will surely annoy too many people to succeed.
4. UKRAINE: ‘TICK-TOCK’ - MARIYA YAREMCHUK
The kind of sexy, catchy, europop that does well in Eurovision. And Ukraine could get a sympathy vote this year as well. Will do well.
5. NORWAY: ‘SILENT STORM’ - CARL ESPEN
The class act this year. A beautifully written ballad that has the potential to win but depends on Espen’s performance which has been nervy to date.
6. UNITED KINGDOM: ‘CHILDREN OF THE UNIVERSE’ - MOLLY
Molly Smitten-Downes is a better bet than Bonnie Tyler or Engelbert Humperdinck but the UK needs to be five times better than everyone else to win, and this isn’t - although the chorus does stick. Only makes this top ten because most of the bookies are UK-based.
7. HUNGARY: ‘RUNNING’ - ANDRÁS KÁLLAY-SAUNDERS
This guy can sing, and the tempo change in the chorus is interesting, but the subject matter (child abuse) and the staging (it included a child and a teddy bear in the Hungarian final) will turn voters off.
8. AZERBAIJAN: ‘START A FIRE’ - DILARA KAZIMOVA
Nice, easy listening tune from the Baku singer and actress Kazimova, but it’s unlikely this unremarkable ballad will lift the crown.
9. ROMANIA: ‘MIRACLE’ - PAULA SELING & OVI
Paula and Ovi finished third in Eurovision 2010 on a pair of see-through pianos. ‘Miracle’ is a dance track that starts off well but becomes a bit of a production mess. They'll need more than transparent pianos this time around.
10. AUSTRIA: 'RISE LIKE A PHOENIX' - CONCHITA WURST
Strong offering that sounds like a Bond theme, but unfortunately for Austria, much of the focus will be on the singer rather than the song. Wurst, born Tom Neuwirth, is a transgender artist whose participation has already sparked a distasteful ‘bearded woman’ controversy.
Conchita Wurst: Austria’s entrant has attracted hate campaigns on the internet