The final part of my Eurovision 2011 preview concerns the five songs that automatically bypassed the semi-finals (bribing that’s called in most other competitions, but here it’s “sponsorship”. You could learn a thing or two Sepp Blatter!). Tonight sees the final take place in Dusseldorf, with Jedward taking to the stage early to represent the hopes and dreams of Ireland. And I must say that on Thursday, they were actually much better than expected. Good work lads. (That said, I have a fiver on Iceland at 40-1, come on you beauties!)
FRANCE: Amaury Vassili – ‘Sognu’/'Dream’
I think this may be the first year ever that France has sent in a song that’s not in French (Actually it’s not, they did the same in 1993, but still). But fear not Francophiles, it’s in Corsican, so close enough. They’ve sent G1, an operatic guy with flowing locks. Oh isn’t it pretty? It’s also one of the favourites, but I can’t imagine Moldovans rushing to their phones to vote for it. I won’t be voting for it either. In any other context, it’d be an average operatic song. It just stands out as different here.
If ‘Sognu’ was a past Irish entry, it would be: Eimear Quinn ‘The Voice’ (1996). Massive vocals, decent song, haunting. Amaury isn’t up to that standard, but it’s sure to appeal to the same audience.
ITALY: Raphael Gualazzi – ‘Madness of Love’/'Follia d’amore’
For the first time since 1997, Italy are contesting the Eurovision. Let’s hope for their sake, they do better than San Marino. But I can see their Roman Holiday soundtracking song falling flat on its face, and coming way down the pecking order – resulting in them pulling out until 2025.
If ‘Follia d’amore’ was a past Irish entry, it would be: Sean Dunphy ‘If I Could Choose’ (1966). The closest Ireland came to winning in the early days, with lyrics worthy of Yeats (not really), this one is a nice tune that has all the feel of its mother country.
UNITED KINGDOM: Blue – ‘I Can’
Eurovision joke time: What’s blue and can’t sing? Blue! Harhar, hilarious. The UK haven’t done well in recent years thanks to block/bloc/blok/blác/bloque-voting, and I can’t see that changing with Blue on stage. Their comeback tour in 2009 didn’t do that well in England, so why will Ukrainians care in 2011?
If ‘I Can’ was a past Irish entry, it would be: Brian Kennedy ‘Every Song is a Cry For Love’ (2006) – Back then we sent an established artist and he did well enough. However, he wasn’t too well known outside Ireland. It seems in 2011, the whole world has forgotten Blue ever existed.
GERMANY: Lena – ‘Taken By a Stranger’
Ireland did well in the 90s winning a few years in a row, and Germany are trying to go one better by having the same act win two years in a row. Last year’s ‘Satellite’ was a funky pop song, and this tries to repeat the feat. It’s not as good as her last tune, but could do well.
If ‘Taken By a Stranger’ was a past Irish entry, it would be: Johnny Logan ‘Hold Me Now’ (1987). He won once, so why couldn’t he do it again? Dana International couldn’t do it a second time, nor could Niamh Kavanagh, so could Lena be the Queen of Eurovision?
SPAIN: Lucía Pérez – ‘Que me quiten lo bailao’/'I’m over the moon’
This song has a very Eurovision feel, which is always good. It’ll get high votes from Portugal and France, maybe Italy too, but until Gibraltar, Catalonia, and the Basque nation get in, they’ll be searching for votes. Actually, probably only Gibraltar would vote for them anyway.
If ‘Que me quiten lo bailao’ was a past Irish entry, it would be: Marc Roberts ‘Mysterious Woman’ (1997). Spain haven’t won in a long time, and that won’t change tonight. Marc’s second place was the last time Ireland did well, and if Spain could even break the top 5, they’d be happy.