By Aline Mahrud and Neil Durham
WHEN?: Saturday 14 May 2022
WHERE?: PalaOlimpico, Turin, Italy
HOW DO I WATCH?: BBC1 8pm (UK time)
Rousing anti-ballad Hold Me Closer by Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs (pictured) is our pick to take home the 66th Eurovision Song Contest crown on Saturday.
- Read on for reasons including where we think the Semi 1 qualifiers will finish on Saturday
- CZECH REPUBLIC: We Are Domi Lights Off (Einar Eriksen Kvaløy, Abigail Frances Jones, Dominika Hasek, Casper Hatlestad, Benjamin Rekstad) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
In a Contest woefully short of bona fide dancefloor bangers, this effort has found its feet and audience. A well staged live performance after far from successful recent attempts. An uptempo song that is much needed to provide an early lift to this rather mid-paced final.
2. ROMANIA: WRS Llámame (Call me) (Andrei Ursu, Cezar Gună, Alexandru Turcu, Costel Dominteanu) PREDICTION: 21st to 25th
1 of 2 Semi 2 qualifiers we weren’t expecting, the other being Belgium. A Spanish title is probably the most in vogue aspect of this pleasant and hypnotic dance track which doesn’t sound especially of its country but is likely to find its audience in this very mid-paced selection of songs. The staging just looks a little basic.
3. PORTUGAL: Maro Saudade, saudade (Miss, miss) (Mariana Secca, John Blanda) PREDICTION: 21st to 25th
An entry likely to find more favour with the juries than the televoters. This is classy downbeat fare that we could see in the final but finishing on the right hand side of the scoreboard, most likely towards the bottom.
4. FINLAND: The Rasmus Jezebel (Lauri Ylönen, Desmond Child) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
We preferred Isaac Sene’s fantastic Kuuma jäbä at a high quality UMK in February with The Rasmus ranking 3rd. We said: ‘Musically this has a key change and is lighter rock than the band who brought us In The Shadows are best known for. The lyrics however feel very cliched and we’re not sure if they’re from the pen of Child but his songwriting credits include Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer and You Give Love A Bad Name amongst some very well known enormo-hits.’ The live version was very memorable especially visually and lifted the entire package. The new staging is less successful.
5. SWITZERLAND: Marius Bear Boys Do Cry (Marius Hugli, Martin Gallop) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
Switzerland won the 1st Eurovision in 1956 and repeated the trick in 1988 thanks to Celine Dion. Their recent results give the impression that, like the Netherlands, they are shaping up for a win in the near future. Bear sounds oddly like Nat King Cole and this is downbeat jury bait that one suspects will do better with them than in the televote.
6. FRANCE: Alvan and Ahez Fulenn (Spark) (Alvan and Ahez) PREDICTION: 2nd to 5th
This was our 2nd favourite in France’s March Eurovision selection show and we said then: ‘Terry Wogan might deploy the ‘whiff of the souk’ line here and its running Pauline close as our favourite song. Alvan is an experienced multi-instrumentalist and Ahez are trio Marine, Sterenn D and Sterenn L. Fullenn is a mix of electro and traditional and tells the story of a young woman who dances by the light of the fire. In complete contrast to Nuit Pauline, it’s in its live version where we suspect its power will be unleashed. Absolute contender for the win.’ Some question marks over the live performance however.
7. NORWAY: Subwoolfer Give That Wolf A Banana (Subwoolfer) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Not the entry we wanted to win this year’s Melodi Grand Prix, we said then: ‘In a straight televote we could see this win Eurovision in Turin let alone Saturday’s Melodi Grand Prix. It’s catchy, has a relatable fairytale narrative and presses many Masked Singer buttons. And yet we think it’s just too novelty and there are far more deserving songs here to win the Eurovision ticket.’ There are suspicions that A1’s Ben Adams, who co-wrote 1 of the better MGP songs, may be 1 of the singers behind those wolves’ masks.
8. ARMENIA: Rosa Linn Snap (Rosa Linn, Larzz Principato, Jeremy Dusoulet, Allie Crystal, Tamar Kaprelian, Courtney Harrell) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
1 of the last songs to be revealed from this year’s crop, this internal selection has a KT Tunstall, Rolling In The Deep vibe. American co-writer Principato has written for Dua Lipa yet the true test for this act will be at the live performance which we thought was both engaging and sung beautifully as well as being intriguingly staged.
9. ITALY: Mahmood and Blanco Brividi (Shivers) (Michelangelo, Mahmood, Blanco) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Mahmood finished 2nd at Eurovision 2019 with Soldi (Money), an international hit that topped the charts in Italy and Greece, and again co-writes here. His same sex duet partner Blanco also co-writes and this is his 4th domestic chart topping single of the last 2 years and his debut album also went to number 1 in Italy last year. Brividi is a tender yet rousing love duet and, although it wasn’t our favourite at this year’s San Remo Festival, it’s set to do very well this year at Eurovision. A little nervous and pitchy in the rehearsal clip.
10. SPAIN: Chanel SloMo (Leroy Sanchez, Keith Harris, Ibere Fortes, Maggie Szabo, Arjen Thonen) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Before we’d seen the live performances this was the song we wanted to win Benidorm Fest and, although it struggled in the televote, it triumphed with an aggressive and all-conquering live show. We said then: ‘Always difficult to judge the true potential of a performance without the live version of the song but we believe, in a very strong field, that this is the biggest hit here. Boasts a hypnotic bassline and a repetetive yet memorable hook which we can see performing very well in Turin come May. The performance we’re most excited for here. And the performance (see immediately above) popped! The one to beat.’ Famously, written for Jennifer Lopez.
11. NETHERLANDS: S10 De diepte (The depth) (Arno Krabman, Stien den Hollander) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
Sung in Dutch, we expect the juries rather than the televote to come big for this Dutch singer, rapper and songwriter who has a co-writing credit here. The Netherlands’ Eurovision build to its win in 2019 was a masterclass in using internal selections to highlight classy artists and now after that win it continues to provide interesting entries although this is 1 we’re appreciating rather than loving. We’ve seen the rehearsal clips and this is the 1 change we’re making because this live performance brings the song to life.
12. UKRAINE: Kalush Orchestra Stefania (Ivan Klimenko, Oleh Psiuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitaii DuzhykIhor Didenchuk) PREDICTION: 2nd to 5th
The favourite to win Eurovision as we type which we think has more to do with Europe’s response to the country’s invasion by Russia in February than the merits of the song. Controversy surrounded the selection of the song itself which finished 2nd in the country’s Vidbir selection but earned the ticket after the winner was disqualified. Its uptempo with ethnic sounding instruments but not our winner.
13. GERMANY: Malik Harris Rockstars (Malik Harris, Marie Kobylka, Robin Karow) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
Harris gives us a radio-friendly strumathon that is probably most notable for the way it transforms into an Eminem-style rap three-quarters of the way through that might even remind some of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. In a year when the Big 5 have all really upped their game this is probably the least impressive attempt but it’s still a credible entry from Germany that may even do slightly better than we are predicting.
14. LITHUANIA: Monika Liu Sentimentai (Sentiments) (Monika Liubinaite) PREDICTION: 21st to 25th
The influence of the juries means quiet, understated, classy earworms like this will always find an audience. It’s not a crowdpleaser but is exactly the sort of song that grows on repeated listens like Goldfrapp with glockenspiels that will reward the less casual viewer. Could easily come top 10 if it makes the final but equally could struggle to do so.
15, AZERBAIJAN: Nadir Rustamil Fade To Black (Andreas Stone Johansson, Anderz Wrethov, Sebastian Schub, Thomas Stengaard) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
A predominantly Swedish songwriting team for this dark Scandi ballad which is classy although not especially representative of the country which is entering it. Azerbaijan quite often qualify for the final and we think they will do so here. Lots of shade from the fans which we’re not understanding at all. Perhaps because it is a little musical theatre, a genre we adore.
16. BELGIUM: Jérémie Makiese Miss You (Jérémie Makiese, Silvio Lisbonne, Manon Romiti) PREDICTION: 21st to 25th
Beginning like a classic, orchestral Bond theme, this is again a slow song crying out for a performance that can show off the beauty and elegance of the song. A stylish if laidback performance but the all important song is in place to give this entry a very good headstart.
17. GREECE: Amanda Tenfjord Die Together (Amanda Georgiadis Tenfjord, Bjørn Helge Gammelsæter) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
A curiously downbeat entry that boasts an off-putting vocal effect, is accapella for its first minute and is well fancied by the bookmakers but boasts a sentiment that leaves us a little cold post-pandemic. It’s not especially representative of its country either and Tenfjord has a Norwegian mother and a Greek father. She lived as a child in Greece before moving to Norway.
18. ICELAND: Systur Með hækkandi sól (With the rising sun) (Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir) PREDICTION: 21st to 25th
After the joys of Daði Freyr in the last 2 years, 2021’s Best Gig monsta winner, this year’s Icelandic selection Söngvakeppnin 2022 eliminated our favourites early and chose this earnest winner against the expectations of fans. One for the juries that wouldn’t be out of place on the Jools Holland Show and equally could sneak into the final.
19. MOLDOVA: Zdob si Zdub and Fratii Advahov Trenuletel (The little train) (Zdob si Zdub, Fratii Advahov) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
Zdob si Zdub are Moldova at Eurovision personified. In 2005 they finished 6th when they were joined by a drum-banging grandmother. They were 12th in 2011 and this time their turbo folk is once again working its charming magic on the story of a local train that travels across the border to Romania. Casual viewers will vote for this in their droves if it can make the final.
20. SWEDEN: Cornelia Jakobs Hold Me Closer (Cornelia Jakobsdotter, David Zandén, Isa Molin) PREDICTION: Winner
We preferred Cazzi Opeia’s I Can’t Get Enough in this year’s Melodifestivalen but thought Hold Me Closer a potential Eurovision winner. We said: ‘Our worst prediction of this Melodifestivalen was forecasting 7th for this in Heat 1 although it’s notoriously difficult to rate a ballad on a clip. The only shot in this selection that Sweden has of winning its 1st Eurovision since 2015. The lyrics remind of Robyn (‘the right 1 at the wrong time’) and there’s an endearing rasp to Cornelia’s vocal. Could classy win Melodifestivalen? Plum running order position of 10th.’
21. AUSTRALIA: Sheldon Riley Not The Same (Sheldon Riley, Cam Nacson, Timi Temple) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
Jaguar Jonze and Little Fires was our pick to win Australia Decides in February with Riley ranked 6th. We said: ‘A co-write and clearly the theme of difference means a great deal to Riley. Otherness has always been embraced at Eurovision and this has an alluring quality but we’re not quite sure it’s enough in this strong field here. Needs a big performance and Riley sounds like he has the chops to do just that.’
22. UK: Sam Ryder Space Man (Sam Ryder, Amy Wadge, Max Wolfgang) PREDICTION: 2nd to 5th
The UK’s struggled at Eurovision in recent years but we’ve heard Ryder’s live performance of this and it boasts an impressive vocal that juries will like. Co-writer Wadge is behind some hits by Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue and Sheridan Smith that we’ve enjoyed and this is a song that reminds of some of the best of British artists going back to the likes of Elton John, David Bowie and The Beatles. It also seems popular with the fans and our prediction is only really tempered by the UK results of this 21st century. Very impressed by the staging and rehearsal clip.
23. POLAND: Ochman River (Krystian Ochman, Ashley Hicklin, Adam Wiśniewski, Mikołaj Trybulec) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
One of the favourites to win. Ochman is a Polish/American singer/songwriter and The Voice of Poland winner. He co-wrote the song which builds from something that is quite slow to a performance that is quite emotional, powerful, anthemic and mesmeric. No surprise that he’s an accomplished live performer and this is all set to do very well on the Saturday night.
24. SERBIA: Konstrakta In Corporo Sano (In a healthy body) (Ana Duric, Milovan Bošković) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
This is a quirky song with an engaging and repetetive hook which burrowed its way under our skin on 1st listen. The lyrics are about the difficulties artists experience receiving healthcare in Serbia and it’s so quirky and memorable that we expect this to feature on Saturday night at the expense of some other more fancied competitors in this heat.
25. ESTONIA: Stefan Hope (Stefan Airapetjan, Karl-Ander Reismann) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Sahlene’s Champion was our choice to win Eesti Laul 2022 and we ranked Stefan’s Hope 3rd. We said: ‘Boasting the melodic country pop sound made famous by acts like Avicii, Stefan’s anthemic Hope is the highest placing act in our ranking by a non-returning representative. He co-wrote the entry and his partner is also credited in the team behind an act further down this list. ‘