It’s nearly that time of the year again people, the week where over 200 million people from around the world watch one of the most iconic music events around. Full of glitz, glamour, fun and just the right amount of camp, the Eurovision Song Contest has entertained people with the best (and the worst) music that Europe (and Australia) have to offer. This year promises to be just as exciting as ever, with a high quality range of contestants and a pair of charismatic hosts waiting to get the party started.
Where & When is it?
This year the contest takes place in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, following last year’s victory for Måns Zelmerlöw and “Heroes” in an epic three-horse race with Russia and Italy. There isn’t long left until the artists begin rehearsals but you can see the semi-finals on the 10th and 12th of May, with the final on the 14th. Zelmerlöw and Swedish comedian Petra Mede, who was a fan favourite when she hosted in 2013, will co-host this edition.
Who is taking part?
This year there is 42 countries taking part in Eurovision, with 6 countries automatically making the finals. These are the ‘Big 5’, who are the biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The host nation Sweden also progresses directly to the final. That leaves 36 countries to fight for the 20 remaining places in the semi-finals. This year we welcome back to the contest Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine; however we bid a fond farewell to both Portugal and Romania, the latter having been removed by force from the competition due to unpaid bills to the EBU.
Who are the ones to look out for?
Russia – Sergey Lazarev – “You Are the Only One” – Official Music Video
The bookies’ favourite for the outright win, Russia were pipped last year to the post by Sweden but have returned stronger than ever with this uptempo pop track. Lazarev’s vocals seamlessly mix with the dance beats and the production values on the music video are one of the highest in the entire contest. Pre-contest warm ups show that he can more than hold his own in the song and if the staging can be anywhere near as good as the video then Eurovision fans are in for a treat.
France – Amir Haddad – “J’ai cherché” – Official Music Video
Second favourite to win the contest comes from a country who, in recent years at least, have had a pretty rough time. Last year France took only three points with Lisa Angell’s warfare-themed ballad. They then decided to move in a completely different direction with this upbeat bilingual entry. In contrast to Russia’s dance-themed entry, this is pure ecstasy and the melody is probably the catchiest of the field. France haven’t won since 1977 but could their torrid record be about to end?
Australia – Dami Im – “Sound of Silence” – Official Music Video
Making their second consecutive appearance in the contest following their guest status in the 2015 edition, Australia are showing that they intend to take this competition very seriously by sending one of their biggest rising stars in X Factor winner Dami Im. The song itself is a typical Eurovision ballad but what sets it apart from the others is the vocals of Im, her voice is like an anchor that keeps this song together. Watching videos of her time on the X Factor highlights just how good a live singer she is and with Eurovision being a contest mainly based on first impressions, don’t count this out.
Spain – Barei – “Say Yay!” – Official Music Video
Another one of the ‘Big 5′ who could surprise and take the competition is this upbeat and infectious entry from Spain. This initially led to criticism from Spanish personalities as this is their first entry sung entirely in English but has grown into one of the die-hard fans’ favourites. The cheeky dance moves add to the commercial nature of the track and Barei has great charisma, both in the video, and in live performances. Spain’s recent record has been hit and miss; they have darted between just inside the top 10 and near the bottom but this could be the entry that sends the Eurovision party to Madrid in 2017.
What about the United Kingdom?
This year, as I mentioned in an earlier post, which you can find here, the BBC changed their mode of choosing the UK’s entry and reverted back to the pre-2009 system of a live national final. The winner of that were Joe Woolford and Jake Shakeshaft, who you may recognise as contestants on the fourth series of The Voice UK, with their song “You’re Not Alone”. The track itself is up-tempo and seems aimed at the younger audiences with their positive message and boyband charisma. The song though has received a mixed reception from both critics and fans alike, with some seeing this as a massive improvement on the horrors created in an internal selection but others seeing the song as bland and too generic. See what you think through the link to the music video here.
So what do you think?
Who do you think will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 and what other entries are your favourites?
Drop a comment below with your thoughts.