Eurovision 2012: Grand Final set-list & preview

OH MY GOD IT’S FINALLY TIME! Can I finally make it to “Freshly Pressed”? I’m amazed at how Eurovision has been a lightning-rod for my blog over the last few months, and it seems it’s only getting bigger! I expect you to all abandon me after Sunday but it’s been a real ride and I love you all.

But enough about that, the semi-finals are DONE. The draw for the running order has been picked, so all that remains is for my wildly inaccurate predictions and commentaries on each of the countries. Deep breath… Oh remember you can click either the links on the country names, or the big “Eurovision 2012” tab at the top of the page to see my in-depth reviews of all 42 entries, as well as previews and post-mortems of both semi-finals. I’ll write up the final results as soon as I am able!

1. UNITED KINGDOM – Well the dubious honour of opening the show falls to veteran performer and holder of British hopes Engelbert Humperdinck. UK needs to get over its attitude problem towards Eurovision, and a good result I think is the only antidote. Not my first choice for a contemporary entry from one of the biggest music markets in the world, but we need some dignity and Engelbert is surely going to give us that. Prediction? An early start is tough, but if he pulls it off it will be a memorable entry. If not, it will be forgotten and relying on jury votes. Many are saying a top 10 finish, I think we would be lucky.

2. HUNGARY – Surprise qualifer from Tuesday, and unfortunately gets the ‘slot of death’. No song performing 2nd has ever won, but frankly just qualifying is quite an achievement. It’s a decent song but I think it’s got more than the slot of death to blame if this fails. Prediction? I think this is our first casualty, in the bottom 5.

3. ALBANIA – Hide your pets! It’s the scary Medusa lady! It seems to be the moment that people switched over to watch the semi-final on Tuesday, only to get terrified by her impressive but rather hardcore vocals. Should pick up some stray votes from its neighbours and the juries, but I think it’s too left-field to get too far. Prediction? Bottom 10.

4. LITHUANIA – Aided by the pimp slot in Thursday’s semi, Donny really made a little go a long way. Unfortunately his luck ran out in the running order, but since he is bordered by two less accessible songs, he might punch higher than his weight again. Prediction? Floundering again, bottom 10, possibly bottom 5 if his luck really stinks.

5. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – A surprise qualifier, given it’s not exactly a standout track. I do like it, but there’s not really much to it. Maybe it helps to know Bosnian (or Herzegovinian?), but it’s a little lost on me. It doesn’t quite have the climax that some of the other slower ballads have (though that didn’t see to help Slovenia). Prediction? Mid-table, because they usually do well, probably the late-teens.

6. RUSSIA – The grannies! Well I don’t want this to win at ALL, I think it would be calamitous for the contest that the only novelty song – an Eastern European one at that – could take the title. It would set the contest back several years to when Lordi won, and would shatter the fragile pieces of reputation it has pieced together over the subsequent years. I can’t go through that again. By all means enjoy the old infirm ladies hobbling around, but please put down the phone. Since I don’t trust you guys with that, I hope the juries sink this one. Prediction? A worrying top 5 finish.

7. ICELAND – I had hoped for a better slot for this one, and my feelings that this might challenge for victory seem shaky now. They hopefully did well on Tuesday but their performance was a little stiff, and they will look a bit po-faced after the Russian chaos. Still, hope they do well. Prediction? They might just sneak the top 10, though I hope they do better.

8. CYPRUS – Another dark horse, and gigantic Ivi wowed the crowds in the first semi, with whispers that they might even beat Greece this year, practically unheard of. I think it’s a great song, but might get a little forgotten after the amazing tracks afterwards. Prediction? Top 10 could really happen, but I think their slot might dash their top 5 hopes.

9. FRANCE – Big 5 time again, and the beautiful Anggun is flying the Tricolore this year. I LOVE this, very energetic and uplifting. I really hope they nail this one, France usually make a good effort each year to justify their automatic qualification, and this is particularly strong. Prediction? High teens I think, but it deserves better.

10. ITALY – And another hotshot, fresh off Italy’s runner-up position last year, people are whispering this might be the one to take out Loreen. Well it’s a great song with some great sexy energy to it, it’s certainly lightyears ahead of their previous entry, and look how well that did. Prediction? Top 3? Could it happen?

11. ESTONIA – OK the slot isn’t great, but Estonia will stand out after a string of uptempo ladies with his powerful ballad and handsome looks. Mercy! But yes, I’m not sure how it will work, it’ll either seem like a party-pooper, or a refreshing change for people who think it’s all got a bit too gay by this point of the evening. Prediction? I hope top 10, and with most of Estonia’s Baltic neighbours out of the running it might get a boost.

12. NORWAY – I think fierce Tooji would have wanted a better slot than this, but all things considered it’s not a bad place to be given his neighbours. He really needs to make his performance count, no space for slightly off-key notes that we got in the semis, but it could do really well. Prediction? Despite its promise, I think this might be one of those big pop injustices of the year, and it’ll flop in the bottom 10.

13. AZERBAIJAN – Is the contest in Azerbaijan? They didn’t mention it a million times. It seems they want to keep it there too, with another strong candidate. I think she’ll get a rapturous reaction from the crowd, and a good result for what is a pretty awesome ballad. Prediction? Top 10.

Oh so much text! Let’s break it up with a nice picture of Ell(e) and Nikki winning last year.

14. ROMANIA – Oh I had forgotten about these guys! It’s a pleasant enough song and guaranteed plenty of migrant worker votes from the West, but it lacks the sparkle of latter-day Romanian entries. Prediction? Might threaten the top 10, but I reckon high teens is more likely.

15. DENMARK – BORING. Hope this one finally gets its comeuppance, and lets Denmark know they can’t send any old dirge along to Eurovision and get away with it, they aren’t Turkey (oops!). Hate her voice, hate the outfits, the only really duff finalist I think. Prediction? – Better than it deserves, high teens.

16. GREECE – Oh oh oh ohhh ohhh … now Greece, it feels like they haven’t quite got the magic they’ve had in previous years, and the flashy set-pieces are gone too – even Cyprus had that clumsy looking rockery. They preserved their 100% qualification record, but I’m not sure their amazing run of top 10 finishes will continue. Give Cyprus a chance this year! Prediction? Probably top 10, but it would better suit the middle of the table.

17. SWEDEN – The big one to beat. I’m less convinced that Loreen slurring her way through such a magnificent pop song will necessarily win the day, no matter what the Swedophiles think. I DID think it was unstoppable, but I’m not basing it on what the bookies say, they were WAY OFF last year. I hope it does win, for Sweden’s sake, but it’s not the only choice for me. Prediction? I’d be a fool if I didn’t have this down as the winner, even if that nagging doubt isn’t going away. Just please don’t be the Russian grannies!

18. TURKEY – They really lucked out by qualifying, I don’t feel like it was a strong performance of the song, even if the song is growing on me. Can Bonomo seemed a little downbeat in the press conference afterwards, so if he is going to bring it on for his final performance, I hope he carries it off. Prediction? Turkey are strong contenders but I think this will get stuck mid-table.

19. SPAIN – OMG I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Spain have a pretty hopeless record at Eurovision, over 40 years since their last win, nearly 20 since their last top 5. If anyone can take out Loreen, I hope it’s Pastora. This song fills my black heart with a gloopy congested feeling that I suspect is love, and I want Europe to feel it towards Spain this year. Prediction? I am blinded by uplifting Celine-esque emotion and I have to hope they come top 3, or even win the whole damn thing.

20. GERMANY – Beautiful doe-eyed Roman has won me over, and this possibly boring ballad has grown into something beautiful for me. I think he might turn out to be a great performer, and could well take Germany to its third consecutive top 10 finish. Prediction? It could easily go wrong, but I think top 10 is a real prospect.

21. MALTA – Wow, what a turnaround. From cheapo Mediterranean dance song, his semi-final performance really won me over, so joyous and catchy, the stony-faced friends I was watching with were converted, as was my mum. That’s a good start. I hope Malta do the very best they can, it’s been a long time for them. Prediction? Oh PLEASE let it go top 10, it would warm the cockles of my hateful cold heart.

22. FYR MACEDONIA – Another surprise qualifer, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea by any means, but Kaliopi really put everything into her performance in the semi-final, and she will surely attract a few friendly neighbourhood douze-points. Prediction? Bottom 10, but she should be proud.

23. IRELAND – After their massive momentum last year was hobbled by a poor slot (incidentally the one the Russian grannies have this year *cackle*), they have got a really hot slot this year. That water feature was amazing, and the boys have amazing energy that’s perfect for the atmosphere at Eurovision. Prediction? Could easily beat their 8th place peak of last year, but I think more likely they will match it – or thereabouts.

24. SERBIA – Wow, this is one to watch. Željko has a formidable Eurovision reputation, writing two top 10 finishes at previous contest, and coming 2nd in 2004 (though he didn’t write that). It’s an amazing slot for him that puts him firmly in contention for the win. I don’t really want it to win particularly, but it’s a powerful track and I hope it beats the rest of the Balkan entries. Prediction? Top 3, with a shot at the top.

25. UKRAINE – Amazing stage show, Ukraine really put a lot into their staging, and can often punch a lot higher than their weight. I think this has momentum, and while it’s a rather lyric-light 90s throwback, it’s a brilliantly fun and bright entry. Prediction? Top 10, wouldn’t write off a top 5 finish.

26. MOLDOVA – He really knows how to work a crowd doesn’t he? I think this never had a shot at winning, despite his slot closing the show, but it should give Moldova another surprisingly big finish, or surprising for those of us who assume Moldova is just small villages and turnips. Prediction? High teens.

PHEW. So that’s that! My predictions are likely to be terrible, I’m conscious that I may have predicted about 15 top 10 finishes, but no matter, you can make up your own minds. All that’s left for me to say now is that I hope you all enjoy the show, and just don’t forget about me when the music dies… *dramatic Albania face*

It’s half past midnight as I write this, and nobody has made a Youtube clip of all 26 finalists, so for now, enjoy all 42 finalists!

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Filed under Baku 2012, Eurovision, Melodifestivalen 2012, Music, Reviews

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