Over the past week European televoters and a professional jury have whittled 37 acts down to 26. Voices cracked. Tears fell. Divas threatened murder. And that was just inside the wiwibloggs.com headquarters! On Saturday evening the surviving acts will sing to the death in what promises to be the most hotly-contested grand final in recent history. We’re wetting ourselves with excitement.
To help you through tonight’s show we’ve pulled together a country-by-country guide to all the action. Consider it our pre-recorded commentary. For each song, we provide a brief overview of the act as well as the final results from our fan poll, our Wiwi Jury reviews, and the latest odds from the betting agencies.
1. Ukraine — Mariya Yaremchuk with ‘Tick-Tock’
Notable lyrics: “Tick-tock, can you hear me go tick tock / My heart is like a clock, I’m steady like a rock”
Don’t even think about switching on the television fashionably late. Tonight’s show kicks off with the most commercial, and definitely one of the most entertaining, numbers of the night. ‘Tick Tock’ is the result of multiple revisions by the Ukrainian delegation to get things just right. The dodgy tan, the hair extensions, the incestuous lyrics—all of the song’s shortcomings from the national selection have been cut to create the total package. Mariya, a serious contender in our annual search for Eurovision’s Next Top Model, proves that she is much more than a pretty face — lady can sing! She can also climb ginormous hamster wheels while belting out pitch-perfect vocals. Although we love the chemistry between Mariya and her back-up ‘hamster’, viewers may not understand her message that we’re all in a race against time. It doesn’t matter. This sexually-charged number is sure to arouse interest…
Watch our interview with Mariya here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 13 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 8 Oddsmakers Ranking: 7
2. Belarus — Teo with ‘Cheesecake’
Notable lyrics: “But I’m not Patrick Swayzee / You’re not Jennifer Gray”
Of all the acts tonight, this is the one Eurovision haters will most likely point to as an example of bad taste. Teo sings that he no longer wants to be a woman’s “sweet cheesecake.” So, in his number about male independence, he strives to invoke Robin Thicke, which is sure to turn off any woman. But even with the cheesy facial expressions, dodgy lyrics, and annoying melody, Teo’s “Cheesecake” remains a guilty pleasure. Dessert is best enjoyed in moderation. Luckily we only have to eat this for three minutes.
Fan Poll Ranking: 8 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 25 Oddsmakers Ranking: 25
3. Azerbaijan — Dilara Kazimova with ‘Start a Fire’
Notable lyrics: “A soldier in the hands of a forgotten mess / Digging out the burning bullets in his chest”
Azerbaijan is the self-proclaimed Land of Fire, and yet again they have entered the contest with references to their favourite element. Azerbaijan is a perennial threat, and this year’s staging shows just how much a tastefully designed back-drop and trapeze artist can do to elevate a song. Dilara spends her three minutes roaming around the stage in an elegant red gown, but what happens in the background steals the show. Kazimova’s voice serves merely as a backdrop, albeit a very pretty one. A similar strategy worked for Ukraine back in 2011 (remember the sand lady?).
Watch our interview with Dilara here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 3 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 13 Oddsmakers Ranking: 12
4. Iceland — Pollapönk with ‘No Prejudice’
Notable lyrics: “I may stutter when I speak / But you don’t need to call me a freak”
Eurovision wouldn’t be complete without a bit of colour—and Pollapönk are a Technicolor wet dream. Their message of tolerance—that straight, heterosexual, middle-aged men must advocate for minorities—is totes deep and kinda groovy. Pre-school teachers by trade, they sing about how “inside we’re the same,” a message that many of this year’s contestants, especially those who have attacked the drag queen Conchita Wurst, could take to heart.
Read our interview with Pollapönk here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 26 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 26 Oddsmakers Ranking: 19
5. Norway — Carl Espen with ‘Silent Storm’
Notable lyrics: “I’m here to use my heart and my hands / Somehow the bruises changed my plans”
For a song called ‘Silent Storm’, Carl certainly causes a whole lot of commotion with this moving ballad. Take in this classic Susan Boyle moment, y’all. A pierced and tattooed man comes on stage and you expect rock. But instead he delivers sweet falsetto in this melancholic tour-de-force. It’s great to see a bear act so vulnerable. The simple blue staging and sudden appearance of back-up violinists half-way through is simply divine.
Watch our interview with Carl Espen, here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 16 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 7 Oddsmakers Ranking: 10
6. Romania — Paula Seling & Ovi with ‘Miracle’
Notable lyrics: “If I only knew all the things you could tell me / We could be dancing with stars in the night”
Paula Seling & Ovi aren’t new to Eurovision — they actually came third in 2010 with ‘Playing with Fire’. Hoping to improve on that placement, they’ve brought along a hologram of Paula, which appears in the first 30 seconds. Not sure that alone will suffice, but as far as staging tricks go, this is one of the coolest of the night. This three-minute dance track also boasts an 18-second (yes, 18!) shriek-fest by Paula during one of the bridges. The duo has about as much sexual chemistry as two 80-year-old women at bingo night, but that alone has never stopped a duet from a high placement. (Note: We’re pretty sure that the hologram’s tits aren’t real).
Watch our interview with Paula Seling & Ovi here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 5 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 3 Oddsmakers Ranking: 15
7. Armenia — Aram MP3 with ‘Not Alone’
Notable lyrics: “It’s only a dream / Why do dreams make people scream?”
Armenia’s Aram MP3 was the bookies’ favourite for months leading up to the Grand Final. But, owing to some pitch problems in his semi-final, Aram has slipped down the ladder faster than Oprah when she spots a honey baked ham. This number starts calm and somber, with the singer assuring victims of domestic abuse and torrid relationships that they are ‘not alone’. At 1:45 it transforms into a fiery electro-dubstep shouting match. Do the dramatically different first and second halves of the song go together? You decide.
Watch our interview with Aram Mp3 here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 1 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 4 Oddsmakers Ranking: 4
8. Montenegro — Sergej Cetkovic with ‘Moj svijet’ (My Love)
Notable lyrics: “Still dreaming you’re mine / I’m loving you like the first time…”
Sergej is by far this year’s tallest contestant (his delegation even put a life-size cut-out of him in the press centre, challenging Copenhagen to find someone taller). Even so, you’d be hard pressed to find a gentler soul. The husband and father of two movingly appeals to the love of his life in this classic Balkan ballad. One of very few numbers not in English, you won’t need to understand the lyrics to be moved. Our only criticism is the less-than-graceful roller blader who twirls around the stage and flashes her panties during the spins. At least they match her hosiery. Having watched professional figure skating for years, I am much less impressed by her single toe-loop and simple spins than Sergej’s sweet, sweet voice.
Watch Sergej sing to us in the Eurovision press centre.
Fan Poll Ranking: 22 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 16 Oddsmakers Ranking: 24
9. Poland — Donatan & Cleo with ‘We Are Slavs’
Notable lyrics: “We’re Slavic girls, we know how to use our charm and beauty / Now shake what your mama gave ya!”
Poland is finally back in Eurovision after a two-year absence—and boy do they make an entrance. This sexed-up entry praises the beauty and charm of Slavic women with a washerwoman, a woman churning butter, and a whole lot of breast. Yes, it suggests that women are meant to be domestic goddesses and wantons in the bedroom. But it’s also a brilliant parody of Polish stereotypes timed with Poland’s 10th anniversary in the European Union. Appeals to regional unity have not fared well in the past (think Romania’s ‘Balkan Girls’ in 2009). But something tells us these babes in traditional garb will appeal to televoters’ better, ahem, ‘conscience’.
Fan Poll Ranking: 11 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 20 Oddsmakers Ranking: 20
10. Greece — Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd with ‘Rise Up’
Notable lyrics: “Loosen up your feet and fly / Get off the ground tonight”
Every year Greece produces a memorable act, and this year is no different. The duo Freaky Fortune and Riskykidd (their London-born Jamaican rapper of German descent) spend part of their rap-folk-pop act bouncing up and down on a trampoline. They’re making us high, y’all! But don’t write this off as fluff. This is a song of rebellion and revolution, meant to inspire disgruntled Greek youth. Count me in…
Fan Poll Ranking: 2 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 14 Oddsmakers Ranking: 9
11. Austria — Conchita Wurst with ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’
Notable lyrics: “I rise up to the sky / You threw me down but I’m gonna fly”
This Austrian drag queen of Colombian descent knows how to deal with drama. Fellow contestant Aram MP3 allegedly slagged her off, and petitioners in Belarus and Russia asked their governments to edit her out of their live broadcasts. And while Wurst may have a petite frame, she packs a fierce punch…and like the words in her song, rises like a phoenix in this classic, moving ballad. Watch her build an Austrian flag out of dresses, then be amazed by the Adele-Skyfall-esque performance. Her tale of perseverance brought the audience to tears on Thursday night. We have our fingers crossed she’ll do it again tonight.
Fan Poll Ranking: 12 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 11 Oddsmakers Ranking: 2
12. Germany — Elaiza with ‘Is it Right?’
Notable lyrics: “But it’s so hard to say goodbye / When you know that it’s right”
The Big 5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain) automatically qualify for the Grand Final each year. This year most of those entries are of stellar quality. Note that we said “most of them.” Elaiza, a wildcard winner in Germany’s national selection, are something of a fairy tale story, but it’s time to close the book and put her to bed. This song starts nicely. But after a minute you feel like it’s just on loop. This number rubs us the wrong way, like an unwanted case of chlamydia. Needs. To. Go.
Fan Poll Ranking: 20 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 19 Oddsmakers Ranking: 22
13. Sweden — Sanna Nielsen with ‘Undo’
Notable lyrics: “Undo my sad / Undo what hurts so bad”
Sanna Nielsen should teach high school students about perseverance — this rather dowdy-looking 29 year-old competed in seven (yes, seven!) Swedish national finals over the past 13 (yes, 13!) years before finally winning the right to represent her country at Eurovision. She should not, however, teach English. Her main lyric is “undo my sad”, and that makes no sense…unless she’s referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression caused by dark and dreary weather in the Nordics. Lyrics aside, this number builds to a dramatic climax, and the spotlight-focused staging is elegant and simple. This allows us to focus on Sanna and her voice. And sweet Lord Jesus, what a voice!
Watch our interview with Sanna here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 6 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 2. Oddsmakers Ranking: 1
14. France — TWIN TWIN with ‘Moustache’
Notable lyrics: “I’ve got the world crying out the window / But I don’t care, I live on the top floor / I don’t even know my own cleaning lady!”
With an ever-changing neon backdrop and some funky styling, TWIN TWIN take us on a three-minute acid trip. They combine hip-hop, rap and reggae to great effect in this critique of consumption and materialism. The protagonist of their story has it all—a penthouse, a car, plenty of cologne—but all he wants is a bit of facial hair. Appreciate what you have, people. That includes this amazing song.
Fan Poll Ranking: 21 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 10 Oddsmakers Ranking: 21
15. Russia — Tolmachevy Sisters with ‘Shine’
Notable lyrics: “Now maybe there’s a place / maybe there’s a time / maybe there’s a day you’ll be mine”
We’ve already commented on the song’s lyrics, which can be read as conveying Russia’s territorial ambitions, so we won’t mention that here. Instead we’ll talk about how the girls convey “Siamese fantasy” with their incredible staging. The Tolmachevy sisters will go down in history for interwining their golden locks of hair. Waving glass wands, they belt out pitch-perfet vocals as they delicately balance on a see-saw throughout most of the act. (Is that a statement on the changing balance of power in Eastern Europe?!). The song itself is a bit cliché, but it gets stuck in your head. This is one to watch…and pay attention to see if the duo gets boo’ed by politically-charged spectators as they did in Tuesday’s semi-final. (They booed for the people of Ukraine…for Russia’s sexual minorities).
Fan Poll Ranking: 24 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 23 Oddsmakers Ranking: 18
16. Italy — Emma with ‘La mia citta’ (My City)
Notable lyrics: “I hate heeled shoes / That I absent-mindedly get stuck in the intrusive manholes of this city”
Emma sure loves her city — in her official music video, it’s got her squatting and thrusting all over the place, and on stage she works herself up into a right state over it. Her performance in Copenhagen is something of a hot mess. She looks like a prostitute attending a costume party dressed as Julius Ceasar. That’s not a bad thing. She brings sass, anger and an Italian brand of imperiousness. She’s also very conscientious. When she crawls on the stage you’ll notice she’s worn golden panties to match her golden headgear.
Fan Poll Ranking: 15 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 9 Oddsmakers Ranking: 17
17. Slovenia — Tinkara Kovac with ‘Round and Round’
Notable lyrics: “If we can’t change how we’re living / Isn’t life just a lie that we feed”
No Grand Final would be complete without the appearance of at least one Disney character. We’re pretty sure Snow White is Tinkara’s favourite fairytale, because she totally channels the wicked witch in this act. Instead of a poisoned apple, her chosen weapon is a flute that she twirls around in circles. Well we don’t like getting dizzy, so she needs to stop. That said, this song has a mystical, mysterious quality that may see it surprise.
Fan Poll Ranking: 14 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 17 Oddsmakers Ranking: 23
18. Finland — Softengine with ‘Something Better’
Notable lyrics: “Talking loud ’bout future in our hands / Exchanging dreams and how they’ll last”
Indie pop has not traditionally fared well at Eurovision, but this group of Finnish boys from the middle of nowhere is the real deal. Their outfits, lead singer’s Topi’s vocals, and the authentic teen angst are all spot on. We know a lot of y’all don’t like the shouty ending. But you’d be hard-pressed to find something better from this genre at this contest. Epileptics should look away. They go heavy on the strobe effects.
Watch our interview with Softengine here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 18 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 18 Oddsmakers Ranking: 13
19. Spain — Ruth Lorenzo with ‘Dancing in the Rain’
Notable lyrics: “Even if it rains and we get wet / We won’t stop dancing”
Ruth Lorenzo is better known in the UK, where she competed in X-Factor and flirted with Simon Cowell at every opportunity. But tonight Ruth is going back to her roots…and getting the roots of her hair drenched with LED raindrops as she sings about dancing in the rain. While her performance doesn’t exude the sex appeal of her official music video, it is still classy and evocative and showcases Ruth’s POWERHOUSE vocals. Don’t look up the lyrics, though, because they’re about as elementary as they come. Dancin’….dancin’….dancin’….
Fan Poll Ranking: 7 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 6 Oddsmakers Ranking: 11
20. Switzerland — Sebalter with ‘Hunter of Stars’
Notable lyrics: “I am the hunger, you are the prey / Tonight I’m gonna eat you up”
Lead singer Sebalter is adorable in this folk-inspired pop song. And while you may want to cuddle him all night long, few of you will be clamouring to hear a reprise of “Hunter of Stars”. The whistling gets annoying, the facial expressions seem a bit silly, and the backdrop is uninspiring. (Pause: my fellow wiwibloggers are hissing that this has pizzaz, drive, and an infectious melody. Whateva — I’m writing this post b*tches). He may be hunting for stars, but he ain’t hunting for a win tonight….Fortunately he’s a lawyer outside of Eurovision, so has options.
Fan Poll Ranking: 25 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 21 Oddsmakers Ranking: 16
21. Hungary — Andras Kallay-Saunders with ‘Running’
Notable lyrics: “Daddy’s home, so she tries to hide / She calls her mom, but never a reply”
After a relatively weak run of songs, our very own Wiwi Jury winner finally takes to the stage. Muscled mulatto heartthrob Kallay-Saunders brings a high-tempo number about….child abuse. He gives trauma rhythm, and reminds victims that there is an escape, even if no one around you is listening. Dancers bring the story to life and Kallay-Saunders, the son of a Hungarian model and American soul singer, plays the role of hero. This is a definite contender to win.
Watch our interview with Kallay-Saunders here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 9 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 1. Oddsmakers Ranking: 6
22. Malta — Firelight with ‘Coming Home’
Notable lyrics: “Freedom of life, I will express my soul / Look me in the eye and electrify my bones”
It’s time to take a trip to the American South with a good ol’ country folk number featuring a traditional instrument, the dulcimer. The staging isn’t special—unless you’re into the elaborate selfie background—so just close your eyes and let the lead male singer’s magical vocals take you to that special place as you imagine coming home to him. Mmmmm. But be warned, this will require you to black out his sister’s voice, which although very nice on its own, simply does not blend in with her brother’s sweet, sweet tone…especially when she breaks into an utterly disjointed and random solo about 1:45 into the song. Forget sibling rivalry. It’s a sibling cacophony, y’all!
Watch our interview with Firelight, here.
Fan Poll Ranking: 17 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 24 Oddsmakers Ranking: 14
23. Denmark — Basim with ‘Cliche Love Song’
Notable lyrics: “Like Katy Perry – so sexy / She could kiss a lucky girl”
Denmark probably wouldn’t want to win for a second consecutive year, but they definitely decided they weren’t going to fool around when voting through this catchy number. Basim, who rose to fame on Danish X-Factor, sings about falling in love with a lesbian. The act is packed with humour and plenty of disheveled dancers. The climax is pure kitsch. Ahead of the final verse producers unfurl a massive banner of a heart with the word LOVE inside. It’s the perfect cliché to end a song about clichés.
Fan Poll Ranking: 19 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 15 Oddsmakers Ranking: 8
24. Netherlands — The Common Linnets with ‘Calm After the Storm’
Notable lyrics: “I can say I’m sorry but I don’t wanna lie / I just wanna know if staying is better than goodbye”
The Common Linnets open this number separated by a road marker down the middle of a highway. Last time I checked, cars move fast on highways…but this song stays super slow throughout…and uses only three chords. Nonetheless, there is something captivating about the up-close camera, slowly circling the duo as they look deep into each other’s eyes. The artists publicly declared that they were more concerned about using Eurovision as a PR platform. But since becoming a surprise, last-minute favourite to win it’s clear they want to go all the way. If you’re a fan of country soul, this will definitely be your jam. This number is by no means electrifying, but it is sung flawlessly.
Watch Waylon tell us about his love of fashion.
Fan Poll Ranking: 10 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 22. Oddsmakers Ranking: 3
25. San Marino — Valentina Monetta with ‘Maybe’
Notable lyrics: “Maybe it’s a journey in the darkest night / Maybe we can make it to the morning light”
Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen ain’t our only veteran tonight. Valentina Monetta is singing in her third (yes, third!) Eurovision in a row. From teenage hip-hop wannabe to sophisticated ballad singer, Eurovision fans have had the unique opportunity to tune into the overly real reality show that is the evolution of Miss Valentina Monetta. This simple ballad showcases the singer’s powerful voice while close-ups showcase the powder on her breasts. She stands in what looks like a clam shell and, dressed in white, resembles a pearl. Other contestants have their eye on the prize, but Valentina simply wants to enjoy her 180 seconds on stage. She moved die-hard fans to tears on Tuesday when finally making her first Final…and we couldn’t be more proud of our home-girl, Valentina. For teaching us to love ourselves, we love you.
Watch our day with Valentina Monetta in Brighton.
Fan Poll Ranking: 23 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 12 Oddsmakers Ranking: 26
26. United Kingdom — Molly with ‘Children of the Universe’
Notable lyrics: “I’ve been tired of thinking / So I’ve drowned it out with drinking”
Every year British fans over-estimate their chances of Eurovision success, and every year the rest of Europe laughs. But if you laugh this year, then the joke’s on you. This song has a tribal opening that will appeal to Europe’s inner cave man. It also speaks to personal empowerment and staying the course even when you think the universe is against you. (Maybe that’s why Molly appears to have skinned Simba from the Lion King). With flawless vocals and dramatic staging, Molly closes out the long list of competing acts in the perfect fashion — by bringing “power to the people”.
Fan Poll Ranking: 4 Wiwi Jury Ranking: 5 Oddsmakers Ranking: 5
Vebooboo Nadella is Deputy Editor and an Amsterdam-based correspondent for wiwibloggs.com. He contributed this report from Copenhagen. For more Eurovision news follow the Team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and like our Facebook page.
Photo Credits: Thomas Hanses and Andrea Putting