Well the big day is here!
The semis were (generally) predictable although it is a real shame that Finland did not qualify.
Anyways here is my list of the songs in today's final in my order of preference, I don't expect the final ranking to be ANYTHING like this! A few opinions have changed since my pre-contest ranking - for better and for worse - due to the semis and rehearsals. Bookies faves are Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Belgium and I expect most of the running to be made by these four, unless the hype behind slightly less thought of countries (e.g. Sweden, UK, Armenia) put spanners into the works.
Just to remind you that each country's jury will give a 1-12 vote and the national televote will give ANOTHER 1-12 vote. I expect,like last year, that the jury top 5 will be very different to the televoting top 5. Disaporas such as Armenia, Romania and Poland will skew these results a little and as Russia is not here this year, one can only wonder where the Russian diaspora will vote (probably Bulgaria, Belarus or possibly even Poland and Ukraine) and if this extra shove will make a noticable difference
01 ITALY Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma
This song is so much fun. Francesco has amazing charisma on stage. This translates to those in the audience as well as through the camera. I think Europe (and the world) needs something to raise their spirits.
02 PORTUGAL Salvador Sobral - Amar pelos dois
There are almost no words. This song just creeps into your being. The crowd falls deadly silent and are transfixed to Salavador’s every word. It is like a moment of calm during a storm (see what I did there…)
03 HUNGARY Joci Pápai - Origo
Such an addictive and passionate song. Many people scoff at the Hungarian rap but its directness is needed to contrast against the tune and heart of the rest of the song. Plus the dancer (and fiddler) tell the story so well
04 MOLDOVA SunStroke Project - Hey, Mamma!
This band are so tight and experienced at what they do, it really shows on stage. The whole wedding theme is very clever and the girls get into the Sunstroke spirit. Maybe this be the next wedding dance craze…
05 BELGIUM Blanche - City Lights
I was sceptical about this song’s chances because I was scared it would be staged badly. Luckily, the staging has been kept simple and Blanche has grown in confidence, selling the song like a trooper.
06 NETHERLANDS OG3NE - Lights and Shadows
The 3 sisters have been singing together so long they have a supreme confidence and assurance - they never do a bad show. A great power ballad with a beautiful story. Will get a high jury score.
07 BELARUS Naviband - Historyja majho žyccia
I was convinced this would not qualify. The duo looks happy and perky on stage although I am scared one of them will fall of the boat. If you don’t join in the ‘hey hey hey’ bit you must not be human!
08 AZERBAIJAN Dihaj - Skeletons
Love the staging for this (although I still have no idea what’s going on) and she looks at home in this stylised setting.. Dihaj’s vocals are much better than I envisaged and she connects well down the camera lens.
09 UKRAINE O.Torvald - Time
I have a bit of a soft spot for this one but won’t do well. Shame they got rid of the clock motif and am not sure about the huge head next to them on stage. It will appeal to those with alternative tastes.
10 SWEDEN Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On
This is such a well oiled ship. Everybody knows what they are doing and has been rehearsed within an inch of its life. I just wish Robin was a bit more personable and he had a moment to freestyle.
11 NORWAY JOWST ft. Aleksander Walmann - Grab the Moment
The setting of this song and the way it is portrayed on screen is very unique and stands out a country mile. It is very catchy but it a bit of a slow burn. Still not sure how they got away with the sampled vocals.
12 UNITED KINGDOM Lucie Jones - Never Give Up on You
The staging using the mirrors is very clever and sucks the camera in. Lucie has a great voice and engaging personality. Yes, it will probably be up there after the jury score but any placing above 20 should be considered a win.
13 CYPRUS Hovig - Gravity
Hovig and his dancers have got this staging down pat even though most of it is stolen from Loic’s show a few years ago but we’ll ignore that for now. He has also grown vocally and knows when to sell the song.
14 AUSTRALIA Isaiah Firebrace - Don't Come Easy
Although Isaiah has a soulful voice, this song doesn’t show it off to its best. The turntable is a great idea but he looks like he's concentrating on the choreography, he forgets to focus on what he does best – sing.
15 POLAND Kasia Moś – Flashlight
I am glad this qualified (she is a very good singer) but this song is very confused. She switches to tune too much and garbles the lyrics. Not sure about the backdrop or why her brother is playing the fiddle.
16 GREECE Demy - This Is Love
Demy sings this adequately although her backing singers are very high in the mix. The paddling pool/almost naked dancers shtick is painfully twee and makes this look cheap. Still abhor the soppy ending.
17 CROATIA Jacques Houdek - My Friend
Marmite time. On one hand, Jacques sings the living daylights out of this with supreme confidence. On the other hand the way he’s dressed is silly, the backdrop is too corny and the fiddler needs to get lost!
18 AUSTRIA Nathan Trent - Running on Air
Another song and performance in the twee pile. Although Nathan is a good enough singer and the performance does exactly what is says on the tin it feels very safe and comfortable and therefore average.
19 BULGARIA Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess
I know this will probably win but this leaves me cold. Yes, he’s a good singer but the staging is too bare. Wide shots of the crowd made them look bored and uninterested. The falsetto is also too much.
20 ARMENIA Artsvik - Fly With Me
Style over substance. The close up shots don’t work and I find the constant touching of her face quite menacing. I love the dancers but there needs to be more of them. Shame it’s a 2min intro and 1 min of proper song.
21 DENMARK Anja Nissen - Where I Am
Having been placed between Italy and Portugal, this is been universally designated the ‘piss break song’. She is becoming too shouty and looks like she is trying too hard. Also don’t like the knee drop near the end.
22 GERMANY Levina - Perfect Life
It’s all gone a bit grey. Maybe this effect looks better down the camera lens than it does from photos in the hall. Levina is a much better singer than the song and she looks god awful in the grey/silver dress.
23 ISRAEL Imri Ziv - I Feel Alive
Archetypal party starter. In the case sense it does its job very well but that is not what it is here for. He may well be eye candy but his vocal talents and knack for choreography will not be getting him lots of votes.
24 FRANCE Alma - Requiem
The poor girl is stood on stage, embarrassingly dancing whilst a night time view of the Eiffel Tower gives you motion sickness. Get the feeling so much money was spent on backdrop they forgot about the actual song.
25 SPAIN Manel Navarro - Do It for Your Lover
The problem is that this is just getting lost. Not even the summery surfboards and overhead camerawork can save this one from drowning. His overbearing accent and limited singing voice make him as limp as a rubber ring.
. (I refuse to call this next one 26, as that is flattering it)
42 ROMANIA Ilinca feat. Alex Florea - Yodel It!
This is STILL the worst thing I have heard or seen. However I feel this should be billed as Ilinca doing a duet with the male backing singer who is literally carrying the dead weight that is Alex. Big fat LOL at the useless cannons.