TV PREVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest Final 2018 starring Saara Aalto

WHEN: 12/5/18

WHERE: Altice Arena, Lisbon, Portugal

The 63rd Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Portugal for the 1st time ever and we’re predicting the tightest voting for many years with at least half a dozen songs in contention.

  • Read on for our final predictions including the reveal of our 5 potential winners

Rehearsals started 29/4 and we’re updating our predictions to reflect them as they progress.

  1. UKRAINE Melovin Under the Ladder PREDICTION: 16th to 20th

A catchy and anthemic Western sound that is far from what we expected and more Coldplay than you might imagine.

2. SPAIN Amaia and Alfred Tu Cancion PREDICTION: 16th to 20th 

Rather thrown under the bus by this running order. No song has ever won singing 2nd and neither song performed from that position in either semi made it to the final in 2018. Translated as Your Song, we’ve found ourselves singing along to this touching love song when we least expected it. While there does appear to be some chemistry between its protagonists, it’s not one of our highlights.

3. SLOVENIA Lea Sirk Hvala, ne! PREDICTION: 21st to 26th

We correctly predicted 8 of the 10 finalists from Semi 2 and this was 1 we weren’t expecting. Didn’t much enjoy the faked breakdown about three-quarters of the way through. ‘Thanks, no’ is the inauspicious translation of this rather stern song in Slovene but we actually rather like it in a sparse, electro kind of way.

4. LITHUANIA Ieva Zasimauskaitė When We’re Old PREDICTION: 11th to 15th 

Delicate yet forgettable middle-of-the-road plodder with a worthy lyric. Much better performed by Ieva than we were expecting but this (with Albania) was 1 of 2 Semi 1 qualifiers we weren’t expecting. Strong jury final reaction (thanks to OnEurope for its fine live blog) and we’re upgrading our prediction.

5. AUSTRIA Cesar Sampson Nobody But You PREDICTION: 21st to 26th

Sounding like a Sam Smith B-side and too middle-of-the-road for our tastes. However, it’s been championed in rehearsals by bloggers including Keith Mills and we agree it needs a gospel choir. There was very little about the staging we appreciated.

6. ESTONIA Elina Nechayeva La Forza PREDICTION: 11th to 15th 

We’re no fans of popera, as barely anyone calls it, and the popularity of this with fans and bookies evades us. She did reproduce the recorded vocal live, which will have impressed the juries but songs in this style are notorious for crashing and burning in the final.

7. NORWAY Alexander Rybak That’s How You Write A Song PREDICTION: 1st to 5th

2009’s runaway winner returns with a song that we weren’t sure Norway would select in its Melodi Grand Prix because it seems a little too self-congratulatory. As it turns out, it was well performed and enthusiastically received. It’s divided fans but includes the trademark Rybak fiddle as well as a lyrical nod to the 2013 Eurovision interval act Love, Love, Peace, Peace. Probable winner although this is a tough draw from which to win which is why the voting might be the closest for a long time.

8. PORTUGAL Claudia Pascoal O Jardim PREDICTION: 21st to 26th 

We see this as having the traditional host country result of well down the scoreboard’s right hand side.

9. UK SuRie Storm PREDICTION: 16th to 20th 

We were very disappointed that the UK chose this when we thought it had a potential winner in its selection. However, it was in its live performance where this song really came into its own. The remix has rather downplayed its tub thumping potential.

10. SERBIA Sanja Ilic and Balkanika Nova Deca PREDICTION: 21st to 26th

Not 1 of our predicted qualifiers. Let there be kettle drums! Aimless New Age folk struggling to find its tune.

11. GERMANY Michael Schulte You Let Me Walk Alone PREDICTION: 1st to 5th 

Joins Sweden, Norway and Montenegro as a potential winner for us (although Montenegro never made the final). This piano ballad reminds of Ed Sheeran and Adele and, while we think the lyric is about an absent father and that may be to its detriment, this was the song we thought most likely to win the contest before rehearsals. Finding the delivery awkward and staging without subtlety.

12. ALBANIA Eugent Bushpepa Mall PREDICTION: 21st to 26th 

The title means Yearning and this tattooed rocker gives his all to a song in his native tongue which could struggle. Much better sung than we were expecting but it was a surprise qualifier for us.

13. FRANCE Madame Monsieur Mercy PREDICTION: 11th to 15th 

The lyrics and the video appear to be the story of an immigrant child which is an issue pertinent to much of Europe currently. The song has been compared to Christine And The Queens and while we don’t think it’s quite so good, we can see why this has already been a top 3 hit in its own country.

14. CZECH REPUBLIC Mikolas Josef Lie To Me PREDICTION: 11th to 15th 

Very Jason Derulo. A pleasant surprise from a country which often doesn’t do well at Eurovision. This reminds of last year’s Moldovan surprise success and while it’s a strong song that should grace the final, its success there will depend much upon Mikolas’s charisma and vocal. Takes a while to get going but performed reasonably.

15. DENMARK Rasmussen Higher Ground PREDICTION: 16th to 20th

A ginger Viking with a song that wouldn’t sound out of place in Game Of Thrones. That it would appear to have been submitted but not selected for Sweden’s Eurovision selection show Melodifestivalen should not be to its detriment. Eurovision’s a different ball game.

16. AUSTRALIA Jessica Mauboy We Got Love PREDICTION: 16th to 20th

Jessica’s already performed as a Eurovision interval act and this is one of our favourites. Could have been written as the theme for the country’s recent gay marriage vote. Uptempo and exactly the right sort of sentiment for Eurovision. Jessica’s struggled in rehearsals but absolutely shone in Thursday’s 2nd semi.

17. FINLAND Saara Aalto Monsters PREDICTION: 1st to 5th 

Finland’s entry is our song of the year so far. It’s Sia goes Zara Larsson. The performance at selection show UMK18, choreographed by Brian Friedman was very ITV does Lady Gaga. Loved everything about its Eurovision incarnation: especially the upside down singing and final flourish. Saara’s album Wild Wild Wonderland is out now – packed with dancefloor romps plus 1 amazing ballad – and is our favourite of the year so far.

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 06.37.41

18. BULGARIA Equinox Bodies PREDICTION: 11th to 15th

A country many feel should do well after placing 4th in 2016 and runner-up last year. This is folksy but forgettable fare that’s a little too lyrically macabre for us. The performance was classy if a little calculating.

19. MOLDOVA DoReDos My Lucky Day PREDICTION: 6th to 10th

Turbo folk of a kind that we only listen to at Eurovision. A simple lyric and a tremendously poppy song that we love. Lots of ‘Number 1’s and ‘Number 2’s in the chorus. Continuing a simple numerical lyrical theme shared with the fine entries from both Norway and Germany this year. Co-writer Philipp Kirkorov has competed for Russia and written for Belarus (Work Your Magic) and Ukraine (Shady Lady). A friend described the staging as a ‘Morecambe and Wise sketch’. Yes, that entertaining.

20. SWEDEN Benjamin Ingrosso Dance You Off  PREDICTION: 1st to 5th

Great draw, memorably staged and very Justin Timberlake. We weren’t surprised this won Melodifestivalen. Although it wouldn’t have been our choice there, we see this as one of a number of potential Eurovision winners in this year’s crop.

21. HUNGARY AWS Viszlat Nyar PREDICTION: 6th to 10th

Balls-out rock isn’t a genre we’re much a fan of but this is done well and we appreciate it. Stood out massively in its semi and kept away from its main competition (Albania).

22. ISRAEL Netta Toy PREDICTION: 1st to 5th 

Hard to believe that this was the favourite in the betting because it’s a quite bonkers song although its female empowerment message is bang on trend. Netta’s proved she can sing live too in the selection process and her Beth Ditto look adds to its considerable quirky charms. We’re unsure whether the chicken clucking sounds help.

23. NETHERLANDS Waylon Outlaw In ‘Em PREDICTION: 6th to 10th

Very Bon Jovi. Were Terry Wogan still with us, we’d suspect he’d have a sneaking regard for this 1. Not a song likely to get much appreciation from the die-hard fans in the run-up to the contest but finding its welcome with open arms from the broader TV audience at the actual event. We suspect this won the 2nd semi.

24. IRELAND Ryan O’Shaughnessy Together PREDICTION: 6th to 10th 

The heartwarming and gay-friendly video, which allegedly annoyed Russia, really is the most interesting thing about this inoffensive guitar strumathon. We loved the video and therefore the staging so weren’t at all surprised it made the final. A real grower of a song that’s on for Ireland’s best result since 2000.

25. CYPRUS Eleni Foureira Fuego PREDICTION: 6th to 10th

We’ve listened to these songs a lot since their selection and this is certainly one of the poppiest. Not especially cutting edge, it’s everything one expects and wants from an uptempo Cypriot or Greek entry. Loving the heat it’s generating and wouldn’t it be great if Cyprus had its first victory? On reflection, it’s one for the dads, a bit too old school for us, well performed but we’d hate for this to beat Israel.

26. ITALY Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente PREDICTION: 21st to 26th

Not one of our favourites.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Saara Aalto. Link to watch here. Semi 1 and Semi 2 predictions. Are our predictions way off? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Enjoyed this preview? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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