Eurovision 2016: The Final Countdown

So who's going to win this accursed singing show tonight? Stand by for the hottest tips and most pointless gossip known to man.

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So here we are, a few short hours from the final of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, and we’re less certain of who’s going win than we were when we arrived in Stockholm all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed what now seems like about a year ago. But who do we think should win?

Well, Sweden, clearly, as we’ve got a decent sized bet on him. But we’re really rather taken by the little fella’s anti-charisma and unassuming charm. But who else is in with a pop? Well the bookies would have you think that there’s only a small handful of countries with a shout of the big glass microphone still in it, as only eight of them can currently be found at odds of less than 100/1.

Aside from Sweden (20/1) and odds on favourite Russia (8/11), they are, in order, Australia (5/2), Ukraine (14/1), France (18/1), Malta (40/1), Armenia (40/1) and The Netherlands (80/1). But are these really the only songs in with a shout of the big prize? Well Latvia, Italy and Austria must still think they’re in with a decent shout, and even our own boys Joe & Jake aren’t completely out of the top five shake-up – although we suspect their money is more in finishing on the left-hand side of the scoreboard or becoming the top Big Five country.

Speaking of the Big Five, we’ve not year really given you much a break down of their chances yet. So wrap your eyes around this…

Italy have presented us with that thing Italians do very well – an extremely wordy song full of emotion and jibber jabber. But Francesca Michielin has a sweet, innocently look, and tells us a lovely story while surrounded by dangling fruit.

Germany have an equally innocent looking lass, but Jamie-Lee is more the kind who’s been reading a few too many Japanese comic books. The outfit and staging are great, but the song is a somewhat sub-par Rihanna album track-alike.

France were among the early favourites, but have been slowly feathering down the betting as the fortnight unfolded. His happy-go-lucky little slice of shuffle pop and winning smile will gain him admirers, but will a thin tune and flimsy voice help power the French to their first win in a couple of generations? We’re really not sure.

Spain have finally done the decent thing and sung in English, but they’re still insisting on replicating the comedy pratfall from the video – and it really doesn’t work. Shame, because they really stand a chance of having their least embarrassing result in years, and Barei is a smashing little singer too.

Which leaves us with the UK. It’s become almost impossible to accurately predict how a British song will do, as much of the applause in the rehearsals comes merely for the fact that a song isn’t totally shit, as a general rule. But for once, this one isn’t actually half bad, and their matey-blokey stage persona suits this bright and breezy pop tune down to the ground. Fingers crossed it’s the start of a new era for us, eh.

So are we all going to be heading off to Russia next year? (And the smart money suggests that it will be held in Sochi if we are). Well Sergey’s song has all the elements of an act designed in factories specifically to win this thing. But there’s a look in his eye that says he’s in big trouble if he doesn’t, and that’s showing through in the lack of heart in his performance.

Second favourites Australia have suddenly become the popular choice as the song most likely to trouble the Russians, even if, again, the stage show is a little bit silly. The crowd reaction nearly lifted the roof off this big round hall on Thursday – although there were an awful lot of Aussies in the hall. To our jaded ear it’s a little bit boring, but as we’ve learned in this show over the years, there’s no accounting for taste.

But our old pal Jonathan King called us to say that he reckons there’s only one song in this – and that’s Sweden. And if there’s one thing the old fella is good at it’s picking out hits.

Outside of those three: Malta have clearly spent a lot of money on their show this year, but is Euro-veteran Ira the one to finally drag us all over to her rocky isle?; Ukraine is a splendid and emotional gloom fest, which might just be a bit too dark to haul in the big points; and plucky Bulgaria have an extremely likeable outing – as well as a slightly silly outfit.

And if you can stay awake during the interval, Timberlake phones in a decent promo for his next film and album, the hosts Petra and Måns do a pretty decent song and dance number packed with Eurovision in-jokes (if they don’t cover it up with Scott and Mel larking about and saying ‘Eurovish’ too much, that is), and the new voting is terrifically exciting. They’ve split it in two, with the jury votes being announced first, and the televotes coming out in size order after. It’s not quite as complicated as that sounds, and if it’s close run thing could lead to one of the most tense last few minutes in Eurovision history. You’ll be confused at first, but stick with it because it’ll all make sense eventually.

Well that’s it. We’re about to take our nice little boat to the arena and get all over excited far too early. And if you’re lucky/unlucky we might even be live Tweeting from the hall – if we can get a decent signal among all that madness. Check in on us here… 

And if you still haven’t done it yet and want to impress all your mates with your deep musicological knowledge, hurry up and download our free Popbitch Eurovision special for Smartphones, Tablets and all kinds of devices. You’ll find it here and it really will improve your life.

Right, eyes down for a full house, we’re going in. Until next year in Sochi, Berlin (if Australia win), Lviv, Yerevan or some other unexpected gaff – where we’ll doubtless be rabbiting out the same old uninformed guff – thank you for your constant patience and lovely comments. It’s been a pleasure, as always.

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