Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Full results breakdown for Eurovision 2021


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Eurovision: The Result

Here is the full list of points for the entries this year. Many congratulations to Italy, who won the public vote, Switzerland, who won the Jury vote and France who came 2nd in both!

  1. Italy: Måneskin “Zitti e buoni”                 524
  2. France: Barbara Pravi “Voilà”                   499
  3. Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears “Tout l’Univers”      432
  4. Iceland: Daði og Gagnamagnið “10 Years”         378
  5. Ukraine: Go_A “Shum”                            364
  6. Finland: Blind Channel “Dark Side”              301
  7. Malta: Destiny “Je me casse”                    255
  8. Lithuania: The Roop “Discoteque”                220
  9. Russia: Manizha “Russian Woman”                 204
  10. Greece: Stefania “Last Dance”                   170
  11. Bulgaria: Victoria “Growing Up Is Getting Old”  170
  12. Portugal: The Black Mamba “Love Is on My Side”  153
  13. Moldova: Natalia Gordienko “Sugar”              115
  14. Sweden: Tusse “Voices”                          109
  15. Serbia: Hurricane “Loco Loco”                   102
  16. Cyprus: Elena Tsagrinou “El diablo”              94
  17. Israel: Eden Alene “Set Me Free”                 93
  18. Norway: Tix “Fallen Angel”                       75
  19. Belgium: Hooverphonic “The Wrong Place”          74
  20. Azerbaijan: Efendi “Mata Hari”                   65
  21. Albania: Anxhela Peristeri “Karma”               57
  22. San Marino: Senhit feat. Flo Rida “Adrenalina”   50
  23. Netherlands: Jeangu Macrooy “Birth of a New Age” 11
  24. Spain: Blas Cantó “Voy a quedarme”                6
  25. Germany: Jendrik “I Don’t Feel Hate”              3
  26. United Kingdom: James Newman “Embers”             0
As has often been the case, Moldova do far better than anyone expects them to. For me the only unexpected Top 10 nation this year would be Russia and I am surprised to Finland at 6th, bearing in mind that the rock lovers' votes would have been split. You have to wonder whether they would not have won without Italy's performance being so good.

For so long the favourite, Malta's performer looked pretty annoyed throughout most of the voting as it became clear that she wasn't going to win after all, or even make the Top 3. Iceland's 4th place may well be down to a great deal of affection for the group that has developed since they were unable not only to win (as might well have happened last year) but also not perform live this year. They deserved a Top 10 place anyway.

I was pleased to see Ukraine do so well, not just because of my own connection with the country but it was different and quite a remarkable performance that stood out with genuine talent, whether that particular talent is up your street or not.

The UK's dismal result may be dramatically bad enough to persuade someone somewhere that it should not be some BBC faceless committee that selects our songs and some real thought needs to go into how we approach this whole thing.

Entering someone who came 8th in an X Factor show some years back worked quite well for Lucie Jones who produced our last reasonable result, although even that wasn't particularly memorable at 15th. You have to wonder what would have happened if we'd entered someone who came 1st or 2nd. Joe McElderry, Olly Murs! Blue were our last reasonable effort, 11th in 2011. Our best recent place was Jade Ewen at 5th in 2009 and I remember that Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber was heavily involved in writing the number and helping Jade with her performance. She already had experience on the big stage too, although was not as well known as we might have liked and might have been necessary to get a higher international recognition and vote. A lot of effort went into that year.

This morning (Sunday 23 May) I happened by chance to watch a programme in which a group of people were singing at a small church gathering in Woodford Wells, Essex. There were a number of songs that this group performed which would have blown the voting wide open had they been at Eurovision this year. I reckon they could well have won the thing as the songs were that good and the performance by the lead girl and bloke genuinely inspiring. Now I don't know whether Christian stuff is permitted in Eurovision and perhaps it is not permitted to support any particular religion other than the Devil or something Balkan and weird. Naturally it won't get the Muslim vote but I would say get hold of Simon Cowell, put these guys together and put them on the stage in Rome next year. Give the profits to the Church and everyone should be happy. We might even win. But for God's sake no more people we have never heard of or who write songs for other people but have no record of success in the charts, no more old people who are past their Engelbert sell-by dates, no more manufactured groups for the occasion.

And if those Church folk aren't available, call up Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, or someone who has actually had a pile of hits and is known abroad. No gimmicks, just talent and confident performance on the night. Give the public a chance to select one or two tracks out of a bunch of possibles. Not in a rushed week like we've had in recent years when only a few people listening to Radio 2 might have heard the choices more than once but over a decent period so they get a really good airing. James Newman sounded out of breath and seldom finished words properly. Normally that wouldn't matter in a pop song but with his voice and that song it did.

The BBC are in for a lot of criticism at the moment so now is a good time to make someone there take notice. We have had enough. It does affect us. Coming last in Eurovision, with zero points from anyone, is embarrassing. Some of us predicted this. Despite commentators saying how we really have a chance this year and trying to be positive and telling us all how James is a nice guy, most of us who have followed Eurovision for years knew damn well from the moment we heard the song that it was not going to do well.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Final

Cyprus: Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo

Every Eurovision contest needs an attractive young lady in a sheer short dress or what looks like a body stocking with a few tassels here and there. Cyprus give us a super example in Elena as well as a commercial pop number that really should make the Top 10. Great way to start the show and she'll get plenty of public support but not much from the juries unless they're into Devil worship.

Albania: Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

This girl is quite scary and looks about 7 feet tall. She shouts at you too and you may feel obliged to vote but most people will resist the temptation. No chance.

Israel: Eden Alene – Set Me Free

Quite why this girl wants to take off her clothes at the end I don't know but the final clothing is mostly just her hair, braided and well-positioned. She'll hit some ridiculous notes near the end for no particular reason. Yes, no particular reason to vote for this at all. Another one with no chance.

Belgium: Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place

Belgium always do better than anyone expects them to and always seem to give us quite competnet and talented groups or singers. most can be a bit boring, though, and this year is very sleepy and I challenge anyone to try and sing along with it or remember much about it afterwards. So full marks for being in tune but not many marks for entertainment.

Someone make her stop. This is not a pleasant thing to watch or listen to. The first 'statement song' that Eurovision seems to encourage these days. Surely even woke kids won't like this either. We won't be going to Moscow in 2022. Dreadful number from a country that should know better.

Malta: Destiny – Je me casse

Statement song #2. Also horrible, noisy and most unattractive. Big girl bawling at us about how she doesn't want to go out with a bloke. OK. Don't go then but don't whinge about it. This is a nasty entry but lots of people will vote for it and the jury vote will be quite high. Many people think she will win. I fear she might but I am really, really hoping that someone will beat her on the night.

Portugal: The Black Mamba – Love Is On My Side

Thank goodness, something classy. This may seem a bit strange at first, even dated, but it's quite clever and you have to respect the main singer for being quite relaxed and totally in tune. It's no great hit but it's got class and style and a good performance could well get Portugal a Top 10 place.

Serbia: Hurricane – Loco Loco

Now this is what Eurovision used to be about - three scantily clad girls belting out a sexy song about some bloke they'd like to do lots of things with. They're good, very good, and will put on a show for us blokes and any woman that way inclined. They should pick up a solid Balkan vote as one of teh few representatives of the region with any hope. Another Top 10 finish.

United Kingdom: James Newman – Embers

Oh dear. When will the BBC sort out the process for choosing our entries? I have no idea who decided to give James the job but, nice chap he may be, he would not have won any public vote here and stands no chance winning any popular vote in Europe either. The song is very average and hasn't even had much impact in our charts, never mind anywhere else. I fear that this will finish in a lowly position, although not bottom this year.

Greece: Stefania – Last Dance

Here is someone who is very talented. A good singer and she has to manage a difficult visual routine too that is most impressive. that will bring her quite a few extra votes and I think she will succeed where Cyprus might not. Another top 10 number and a good pop song that would make the charts here if released.

Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’univers

This is probably the second classiest entry in the whole competition. a superbly written track that is full of atmosphere and it is a potential winner if the guy gets everything right. His running order position and possibility of errors, though, could bring him down a bit - but still a Top 10.

Iceland: Daði og Gagnamagnið – 10 Years

You'll remember the Iceland entry. A charming group of young people from Iceland with a pretty whacky entry. Last year they were strongly tipped to win or, at worst come 2nd (to a very cool Russian entry). They have had a lot of publicity this year and even the Eurovision film has helped their nation. Unfortunately, they are not able to perform live this evening due to someone in the group having the virus, and it will be a rehearsal recording that we see. I have a feeling that they will get a lot of support based on their sheer delightfulness as people and with the double sympathy of last year's miss and this year's tough luck. A potential winner and certain Top 10 finish.

Spain: Blas Cantó – Voy A Quedarme

When I first heard this song I was really impressed with the singer's vocal abilities and it struck me as one of the best ballads. So, if a ballad is to win then this would be up there with a good chance. From what I can see, though, every rehearsal has been poor, with mistakes or changes that don't help the performance. So many now tip this for a bottom position but I'll just say it's not going to be Top 10.

Moldova: Natalia Gordienko – Sugar

This is pretty dated stuff from Moldova. Natalia holds back on the sex, compared to her early presentations, but there is still no mistaking what she's after. Moldova always manage to entertain us and often get quite high on the board as a result, always surprising us! They'll get a few votes tonight too but this will not be one of their best nights.

Germany: Jendrik – I Don’t Feel Hate

At one point, very early on, I thought this could be a winner. the guy had a great personality and looked to be someone who would get lots of publicity and make friends left right and centre, across all genres. That hasn't happened, though, and it is all rather sad now with silly props and a message that is so much of a message that it's tedious now. I suppose that he could still appeal to lost of new viewers if he comes up with a really good performance on the night and I don't see him getting zero points as many predict. But not that many more.

Finland: Blind Channel – Dark Side

Rock comes to Eurovision and, after the last track many people will be either relieved or shocked. This is all out 90s stuff with ugly blokes doing ugly things with their tongues and middle fingers. It's a good rock number for all that and it is going to have a lot of appeal. If Italy weren't in the competition then it could even come near the top. they are, though, and that will reduce the points they receive as the lesser of the two rock entries.

Bulgaria: VICTORIA – Growing Up Is Getting Old

The only gentle, quiet song this year and Victoria will get a lot of votes for that reason alone. It's also modern and stylish. If she performs well and gets all the notes right then I'd expect her to do very well and get points across the board. Not quite enough to win but a sure Top 10 finish.

Lithuania: The Roop – Discoteque

One of not many fun and cheerful entries this year. Like Iceland, they were expected to do very well last year and this does seem to be a pretty similar track to the 2020 entry. It will get a good number of votes but I think they will just miss out on a Top 10 position.

Ukraine: Go_A – Shum

Possibly the most extraordinary entry this year comes from Ukraine and a very traditional and yet seemingly quite modern track that is infectious, despite its strangeness. You will remember this one. It will be performed flawlessly as the band are excellent and know what they're doing. Like Belgium but a lot more memorable and interesting. They could even win this year but maybe a bit too weird to do so. A Top 10 finish, for sure.

France: Barbara Pravi – Voilà

Top class, a wonderful entry. It is so good to see an attractive and very talented singer tonight doing something that seems a little dated but with passion. One of the very few believable performances that would not be out of place on a stage on Broadway or in the West End. A most definite potential winner. I have so often placed this one at the top but, forced to decide, I do wonder whether she might be perceived as just to dated and the woke and anti-ballad votes will all get picked up by Malta.

This has been in and out of my Top 10 prediction list for months. A very good singer but she has a lot of competition and I expect Serbia, Greece, San Marino and Cyprus to take away a lot of votes that she might have received without all that competition. So, despite what should be a good and in many ways typically 'Eurovision' performance, I don't see this making Top 10 without some money changing hands in the vote-counting room.

Norway: TIX – Fallen Angel

Dreadful number that shouldn't be here. I have no idea what came over Norway when someone decided to enter some 80s bloke in a white suit with a huge pair of wings. It's not something you'll remember the song from which is just as well as it's rubbish anyway. It'll be such a relief when it stops.

The Netherlands: Jeangu Macrooy – Birth Of A New Age

The Netherlands clearly don't want to host this show for another year. Another very forgettable entry that makes me wonder about the sanity of those making the selection. Not particularly unpleasant but just not good.

Italy: Måneskin – Zitti E Buoni

In complete contrast, welcome to stylish modern rock from Italy. This looks good and sounds good, with a classic Italian rasp that no-one else seems to be able to do. The group interact well with one's eye particularly drawn to the girl guitarist. It's a good number, performed well and it will get big support from many quarters as the only other rock entry this year. It is streets better than Finland and has an edge that they haven't. Italy is my chic as the winner this year but i suspect it will be a close call.

Sweden: Tusse – Voices

Sweden doing something that sounds like something written by a committee for a Eurovision entry. It's all very average, difficult to criticise but also difficult to get excited about in any way.

San Marino: Senhit ft. Flo Rida – Adrenalina

Very clever production places this act at the end of the whole show. San Marino usually have no chance at all and seldom make it past the Semis. This year they have a song that many Eurovision voters will like and a rapper called Flo Rida who will be the only person on the sage that anyone has ever heard of. That is definitely going to help the tiny country get votes from all over the place. they might even make the Top 10 and take a spot from Serbia or Portugal. Not a winner, though, even with that guy's help.

So there we go:

1 Italy
2 Malta
3 France
4 Iceland
5 Ukraine
6 Switzerland
7 Bulgaria
8 Greece
9 Serbia
10 Portugal

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Eurovision Semi Final 2

 This really should be quite easy to predict, compared to the first, at least. 

Certain to qualify and at the top of the ten to make the Final are:

Switzerland | Bulgaria | Iceland

Switzerland have been in the top 3 almost since the start of this years reviews. recent performances haven't quite matched the power of the video track and I am not convinced that it will win the Final but a Top Ten Final placing is very much expected and that, of course, means no trouble tonight.

Bulgaria and Iceland also, to a lesser extent. Always expected to be Top Five. Bulgaria could pull off a surprise. Iceland had been expected to win at one point but the song just doesn't quite match the 2020 production and we're quite used the them now so the novelty is wearing off as will some votes. Iceland will also not be live and that, I feel, will harm their chances a little but not enough to stop their advance tonight.

San Marino | Greece | Serbia

These three all feature girls doing what girls like to do - look good in dresses and dance. San Marino have a pretty rubbish song and a pretty rubbish and not very pretty singer but this tiny country has developed an almost cult status now in Eurovision. I think 2021 is the year when they'll get the votes, however little the track deserves it. Some rap guy called Flo Rida, who sounds more like a girl than a drug dealer, joins the girl on stage and he's famous apparently so will also get her a pile of new votes from people who like that stuff.

Greece is a straightforward pop song that would make the charts here if released as a single. It's not as catchy as Cyprus and the girl wears more clothes and sings better. Greece will be there. Serbia have another pop song that would make the charts too. Three very talented and quite sexy girls perform for our pleasure, well, for that of males of a certain inclination. They know what they're doing on stage and it is quite a rare thing now to see people who are familiar with the big stage and live work and can get the notes right. The track itself won't please everyone and that will bring their vote down somewhat but I reckon they'll be there on Saturday night.


Like Italy but a lot louder and more offensive and kinda stuck in the 1980s. It's rock, for sure, probably well done as Finland would expect, but voters will either love it or hate it and the middle finger reference will surely cost them dear. Withoit that I'd give them a definite Top Ten Final place. With it, just an average place. But they'll get through as the rest are really very crap.

Next we have what is essentially rubbish.

I have to pick three still. It is simpler to say who won't get through, I think. Poland won't despite their huge voting audience. It is simply a totally load of irritating and poorly preseted stuff. Latvia won't as it just doesn't work - the notes are all over the place and no-one will remember the song. Czech Republic's song is called Omiga or something which is pronounced Oh My God and that's all we hear most of the time. It was a familiar phrase back in the early 2000s but it is passé now and the track just doesn't sound cool. No chance. You'll forget Estonia and Georgia very quickly, possibly before they finish. Neither stand much chance tonight, never mind in the Final and you do have to wonder what their nation's were thinking when they decided to enter these tracks.

So we're left with  Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Albania and Moldova. Three of these will be in the Final. That's quite a bizarre thought as none of them should be.

Denmark is weird, kinda 1970s. I honestly don't understand what they think they're trying to achieve. But, oddly, they stand a chance as the final act of the evening and that often does better than it deserves. Pleasant enough blokes - and there feels like a dearth of blokes tonight so that could well be in their favour. Let's give Denmark a place then.

If Denmark is weird then Portugal are even weirder - but in a sort of jazz 2020s style. It's a ballad of sorts, song in a strange tone by a strange bloke but he does it very well and it sounds like something that should be on a rare LP rather than a song at Eurovision. It will attract some votes. Enough to get through? The jury's out.

Austria have a big ballad bloke. Again, we need some big ballad blokes, if only to compete with Spain for nearly bottom place (the bookies' view, not mine - I actually rate Spain quite highly). It's a song with about five words and one of those is Amen. Not difficult to remember. It's well sung but very tedious. But not as bad as the others so Austria may get a place.

Moldova always try to entertain us and most years they offer sex to all us men in one way or another. There'll be a short skirt, plenty of flesh on shop further up and big smiles and winks. The people they have given us in the past have actually managed to perform pretty well and genuinely made us smile or respect their nerve, at least. This time we have the blonde girl who wants to be 'sugared'. It sort of works but I fear that the voters will just not go for it tonight. She is definitely holding back on the sex thing, maybe trying not to put off to many female voters or religious types. That means she also loses a lot of the male vote too. Even a Eurovision male vote. It's neither one thing not t'other, as they might say in Yorkshire and I fear this girl will not make it as a result.

Last of the bunch is Albania. Classic Eurovision blonde in a white dress and being quite scary. attractive until you look more closely and realise that she's probably got very sharp elbows and a boyfriend with a big black Mercedes G Class doing big business on the streets of most European capitals. Not many of these have got through this year. We need one, at least so she may get that spot.

So the last few to scrape through merely because the rest aren't good enough are:

Portugal | Denmark | Albania

OK. Let's see.


Well, Moldova did get some votes after all and, thankfully, Denmark did not! Otherwise 9 preditions are through.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Eurovision: Semi Final 1

Later today the first Eurovision Semi Final will be broadcast. Who will make it through to the Final? This is a tough group but here are my predictions:

Very confident about these five:

Malta | Cyprus | Ukraine | Lithuania | Sweden

Undeserved, as not pleasant performances, but they'll still qualify:

Russia | Norway

Likely to sneak through:

Croatia | Romania

And that leaves one more place. Much as I'd like it to be Ireland, and they'd be the bookies' choice to make 10th place, I think either Azerbaijan or North Macedonia will make it. Azerbaijan have a commercial number and a mass of online supporters. North Macedonia have a well-sung ballad which, in this group, is almost unique whereas Azerbaijan have Cyprus and Croatia doing the pop song better. So I'll pick North Macedonia for place 10.

But wish Lesley Roy well!

The juries will already have voted, based on the evening performances last night. From what I can gather, Azerbaijan did well, as did North Macedonia. Ireland, Ukraine and Sweden let themselves down. I can't see this effected Ukraine or Sweden's qualification chances, though, and stick with my predictions as above.

Update 22:10 Tuesday

Well, I was wrong about the bottom three. Watching the show, I can see how Azerbaijan made it through with a very professional and confident performance. In contrast Romania was poor and jumbled, a shadow of what we've seen from the artist before. The big surprise for me is Croatia! The bookies, too, who had Croatia as one of the leaders of the evening, odds plummeting to around 100 at one point. Instead of these two we get Belgium and Israel. Both were uninspiring and I still can't see either making any impact at the Final at all. Azerbaijan could take votes from Cyprus, whose predicted place has already fallen.

I would have expected North Macedonia to make it through in preference to either of those after a stunning and near-perfect ballad from an excellent singer. Maybe just too old-style for Eurovision. Norway got through and was one of the worst of the night.

Ukraine seem to have made a significant impact with a spot-on performance.

Italy still retain the top spot but the dreadful Malta seem to have done themselves no harm with a faultless, if horrible, performance from their act.

We need France to put Malta firmly in her place on the night. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Four-way battle to qualify for Ireland, Azerbaijan, Romania and Belgium


There is a real 4-way competition opening up for the Group 1 Semi Final as to who will qualify between Romania, Belgium, Ireland and Azerbaijan.

The 'Groups' may not be numbered correctly as 1 or 2 - I cannot remember which is which in the competition but the countries that make up each Group are correct so bear with me if I have them the wrong way round. The fight still exists.

At the time of writing, and as can be seen above, Romania are predicted to make it but with the slimmest of margins over Belgium which could easily have changed by the time I finish the article! Ireland are not far behind either and have been leading not only the group but, one day, were seen as a better bet than Croatia and Israel! That was just for one day, unfortunately. Well, unfortunately for Ireland and for me as I like their entry a lot. Israel and Croatia have since provided a bit more confidence with the bookies from their rehearsals to date whereas Australia, once expected to make it, have not. The other contenders in this tough, tough group are North Macedonia and Slovenia. No-one is giving Slovenia even a glimpse of a chance and North Macedonia seem to be lacking in friends as their track is very well sung indeed. They seem to be suffering the same fate as Spain, now out at a ridiculous 1000-1 (and it can't get worse than that on Betfair!) with people apparently taking the view that a sad male ballad will not win this year.

The others in Group 1, Malta, Cyprus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sweden, Russia and Norway, all seem sure to get through. Neither Russia nor Norway should, in my view, but they have their supporters and the bookies' declared chances of success reflect that.

Those four contenders for the remaining place to join Croatia and Israel in the Final have a difficult task. Each has its merits. Romania has been quite well fancied for a while but has recently dipped quite a lot - it's a decent song that could be well-presented and will have appeal, along the lines of Bulgaria, but rehearsals haven't gone well so far.

So the only way in will be for one of Azerbaijan, Belgium or Ireland to take Romania's place. Azerbaijan have a typically hot and sexy number and will look good and definitely have Eurovision appeal and Baku money. You can never discount Azerbaijan in Eurovision. Belgium are the cool guys this year and, in the absence of many cool guys, I am surprised to see them struggling to qualify. They're the most likely to get in as things stand, in my opinion.

Ireland have a track that is a real pop song. You'll be humming it after she finishes. But I don't know how the girl will come across or how well she can perform, whether nerves will show or not. Azerbaijan can hide errors in a glittering outfit and very long legs. Belgium have each other and don't make errors anyway. They're too experienced, perhaps even tediously so. Like Cliff Richard in a fog. 

While I wrote this, Belgium drew equal with Romania. Interesting.

The table above, incidentally predicts the Finalists. At the top are those who are automatically included so it is not a representation of who is likely to win, just who'll get to the Final.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

United Kingdom should drop out and give Ireland a chance in Eurovision

With just two weeks to go before we know who makes the Final, and a result on 22 May not much further away, it is a good time to look at how the competitors are performing in the eyes of those seeking to make some money from them. In the past this has been a generally good guide - but the bookies do rather better at predicting the Top 10 than the winner.

At the moment they say it is a three-horse race. Malta has been out in front since the initial release of her track. Very briefly, in March, Switzerland took the top spot but that's been the only change. France is the third member of the group and has always been 2nd or 3rd. Recently, odds have shortened quite significantly for both Malta and France which would seem to indicate that their rehearsals or recent re-issues have gone down well with fans and observers. Malta have a ghastly 'statement song' which I fear may follow the similarly horrible Netta's winner for Israel three years ago. There is a worrying trend here: the 2018 victory for Netta was, to all intents and purposes, two 'Eurovision' years earlier, and before that in 2016, Jamala made a political statement and, two years before that in 2014, we had Conchita doing the girl with a beard statement thing. So Malta have a lot going for them this year.

I just hope the bookies are wrong.

France and Switzerland, in complete contrast, have most impressive songs with most impressive artists and would be well-deserving winners. I get the feeling that France's singer has no problem with a live performance either, whereas Switzerland's may not be quite as familiar to the big stage and this gives France the edge.

Next, in a group their own now, is Italy. They and Finland each have a rock contribution to make and, as the only two of the genre, they'll each pick up bundles of points for that reason alone. Most should go to Italy and their 4th position seems assured and odds have firmed up for them recently which seems to indicate that they can repeat on stage what we see in the videos.

Iceland and Lithuania have to be the next group and, until mid-April they were pretty equally fancied for 5th or 6th place. Each were at one time thought of as potential winners but those hopes faded when the songs were just not going down as well as their 2020 entries had done. There seems to be some residual faith, however, in the lesser 2021 tracks which has kept them in sight of the win. If quirkiness is to be this year's route to the top then either could still take the prize. Iceland would be popular winners, especially with the Eurovision film still very much in people's minds. A pity that song wasn't entered!

Lithuania's odds have drifted a lot recently which, one assumes, is an indication that they're not doing well live or in developing more fans. Iceland are hanging in there and will win the quirky vote.

Bulgaria and Sweden always get mentioned in Top Ten talk nowadays for Eurovision. Bulgaria have had several close calls in recent years and, whether it is a geographic thing or just good choice of material, they grab lots of points each year. Sweden spend so much time and effort in deciding who will represent them that they produce some rather committee-like tracks by competent but slightly boring people as a result. The exceptional doesn't survive that sort of selection process. Once again, Sweden have a good pop song, well produced and sung but it is instantly forgettable and will make little impression. They'll get votes because everyone votes for Sweden except the United Kingdom for Abba. Bulgaria have a modern track, a brave entry but it may be just too quiet or uneventful to score as heavily as it will need to to shift the big Malta girl.

After that, it's a long way down to the first real pop songs. Cyprus and Greece both know what they're doing in this respect and have two good artists and reasonably commercial songs too. I am surprised that neither seems to have gathered much of a following. They'll be Top Ten and, if the voters are in a pop mood, one could win. It's more likely to be Cyprus, who would dearly love to take revenge for Fuego not making it last time out. Greece have seen their odds fade quite a lot from mid-April which makes me wonder that they'll produce the goods live after all.

There's a group of oddities next, with Finland's heavy rock, Norways' ridiculous white angel, Romania's attempt to do a Bulgaria and San Marino, yes, San Marino are very likely to make the Final this year! San Marino have a terribly bad track again but it's just not as terribly bad as previous years and is almost commercial so it will get some votes. Indeed, it's basically the same song that Azerbaijan might have given us but their chances of getting in will depend on who the President's men can bribe rather than the strength of their song this year.

Neither Finland, Norway, Romania nor San Marino will win this year but I would not be surprised to see one or two make the Top Ten and oust a poor effort on the night by one of the preceding countries.

Looking now at who else will qualify, we have to expect to see Russia and Ukraine once more doing battle, although this time on the stage unless Russia takes the opportunity to enter Kharkov while everyone is watching Go-A and their remarkable track. If the traditional and quirky vote in the same way then Ukraine may surprise us all. They could even win but that would probably surprise the band as much as the bookies. Russia have a terrible entry this year. Not something anyone will want to listen to for long. Also from the same part of the world, little Moldova should be there and, as is almost traditional now, there will be some pretty girls encouraging men to do things that men like to do to pretty girls. It is quite extraordinary how much subtlety is missing in Moldova's song writing. It makes me smile, though, and they're very likely to make the cut to the Final.

Israel should make it through with a decent enough pop song that will get a reasonable number of votes if they perform it well in the Semis. Who else gets through from their group is not obvious. the contenders are Belgium, Croatia and Azerbaijan, each with a half-reasonable entry. Croatia's is very commercial and may give them the edge if Belgium's professionalism leaves votes uninspired. Azerbaijan probably have the better entry of the three but their odds have gone very bad in the last day or so. I guess they've cocked up on some performance or not given enough money to some official - or, now I think about it, the higher odds suit those placing bets on them, don't they? Ah, OK, now that might be the reason!

From Group 1 there is just one other country who deserve to be in the Final but, because of the strength of songs in that group, may struggle to get in, and that's Ireland. Their song is brilliant and one of the most commercial in the whole competition. If it gets a chance and the girl performs it well live then there's a good chance that voters could be persuaded. As it stands, not many see or hear her and she simply may not get the chance. She needs to get past both Azerbaijan, Croatia and one of Israel, Ukraine or Belgium to get in. That is a tall order indeed. It probably won't happen which is a great shame.

In complete contrast, the other group has countries like Portugal, Serbia and Denmark which are expected to get through. Maybe Austria instead of one of those. But with Portugal at 370-1 and Austria at 800-1 you can imagine how bad their entries are, which makes it all the more shameful that Ireland can't make it. Despite their unlikely qualification, Ireland are still at around 250-1 whereas Denmark at 600-1 should qualify! Crazy.

Other countries worth mentioning are Australia and North Macedonia. Australia, one tends to think, would get put in the Final purely because of their enthusiasm and support for the competition. It seems slightly rude to say "sorry you're not in" when they've offered to come from the other side of the whole globe. Their song isn't bad but I can only assume that they've messed up big time in recent performances. They're not going to sing live, though, so perhaps they might squeeze in after all but goodness know how far they'll get when they're out at 650-1. North Macedonia appeared to have a really good and talented singer this year, with a prospect of creating another surprise run like they had last time. Voters like quality too. But their odds put them beyond the pale at 850-1 so something really is not going well for them.

So, for the Final, here are my predictions (but not in expected finish order!):

Malta | France | Switzerland

Italy | Iceland | Lithuania

Cyprus | Bulgaria | Sweden | Finland | Norway | Greece | Romania | San Marino

Russia | Moldova | Ukraine


Israel | Portugal | Serbia | Austria

Germany | The Netherlands | Spain | United Kingdom

The four at the bottom of this list will get through to the Final automatically (as do France and Italy). Germany has a track that will either do really well or be very much disliked which, as it is called I Don't Like Hate, seems a bit unfair. I had it as a potential winner at the start as I imagined the singer would be someone people would warm to and enjoy watching, with all the rainbow appeal that he exudes. I seem to be wrong, so far, although I still expect him to do better than his 400-1 odds imply.

The Netherlands clearly don't want to host the thing again and have submitted a weird entry that reminds me of Portugal's winner a few years ago but without the edge that had at the time. The singer and colleagues are competent but is is so left field that it's not in the same park this year.

Spain's massive odds of 900-1 are of the order that suggest the world is more likely to end or Christian Scientists are proved right about whatever it is they say. I cannot see why, though. The singer and song seem both excellent to me, if a little sad. But the singer reaches all the notes and the song is well constructed. Quite why it is rated so poorly, and always has been, is a mystery to me. Having said that, I have found Spain's entries really good on several occasions in recent years and yet they have wallowed near or at the bottom of the table each time. Maybe it is just because it's Spain. They've few friends.

Lastly, appropriately enough, my own country, United Kingdom. Dreadful song, meaningless drivel, half-baked effort at a performance. The guy may be nice enough and his brother's done well in the pop scene but this, like his 2020 entry, is just not going anywhere but down at the foot of the right hand side of the ruddy table. It is sad, depressing and bloody annoying too that we cannot send a decent entry to this competition. The whole things seems to be managed by the BBC and they have singularly failed to produce a decent entry year after year after year. We've had the ancient Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler, most of whose fans died years ago. We've had a slew of also-rans, X Factor contestants (not winners, note) and strange new acts we'd never heard of before. Only Jade Ewen, with help from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's writing and production talent and Jessica Garlick have made the Top 10 this Century, that's over 20 years! 

We have masses of home-grown talent that is doing well in our charts and who sell all over the world. We really do need to put one of our confident and commercial groups on the stage, with a number that's written well and designed to appeal to Europe. I don't believe that none of our current crop of Top Twenty artists want to represent us in the competition. Yes, it has a certain style and cache about it which some artists do not want to be associated with but the days of Bang Bang-a-bang and Congratulations have long gone. Gimmicks are largely out, unless you're from Moldova, although, quite frankly, just having a reasonably young, appealing and well-known and successful artist representing United Kingdom would be pretty much a gimmick these days.

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