Wednesday 24 January 2018

The songs Grey and Molly will have to beat if they want to conquer Europe in Austria

The Eurovision producers in Austria determine the running order for the semi-finals, and they have not been kind to Greg French and Molly Sterling.

Ireland performs second in their semi-final on Thursday night, statistically the worst position from which to qualify for the final.

That said, anything can happen at Eurovision and 'Playing With Numbers' is universally recognised as one of our better entries of recent years.

If the Irish entry has any hope of success, here are in no particular order - a selection of the songs we will probably have to beat, the most likely contenders for the title.

Goodbye To Yesterday Elina Born & Stig Rasta (Estonia)

Probably the pick of the (many) duets this year. It's bang on trend, with a country crossover feel, brass flourishes and nice guitar licks.

Prediction: Will be right up there to the end. A likely top three finisher.

A Million Voices - Polina Gagarina (Russia)

If you can get past the cliched and cloying lyrics about peace and harmony (especially from Russia), this is a pleasant ballad.

Prediction: Russia generally fares well, so top ten without threatening the number one slot.

A Monster Like Me - Morland & Debrah Scarlett (Norway)

Maybe the dark horse. This brooding ballad sounds more like a song from the soundtrack of the Twilight Saga than a Eurovision entry. The staging will be very important.

Prediction: If the performance clicks on the night a very good finish is not out of the question.

N'Oubliez Pas - Lisa Angell (France)

A heartfelt ballad from the formidable Angell, on a theme of rebuilding communities after war.

Prediction: Will strike a chord, but probably too subtle and delicate to take the overall prize.

Unbroken - Maria Olafs (Iceland)

One of those songs that, on first listen, you swear you have heard before. Powerful vocals from 21-year-old Olafs, and a belting chorus.

Prediction: Should do well but will fall short of the top prize.

Heroes - Mans Zelmerlow (Sweden)

If the outcome was decided on enthusiasm alone, Sweden would win every year. Their selection process takes seven months, culminating in five weeks of TV rounds, and a final watched by over half the country's population. Enthusiasm aside, Sweden are one of the hot favourites to win this year, and with good cause. 'Heroes' is not subtle, but is a stomping Avicii-like anthem with a chorus that sticks. Love it or hate it, this is the one to beat.

Prediction: Don't be at all surprised if this sweeps to victory.

Here For You - Maraaya (Slovenia)

Shades of Paloma Faith/Duffy in the vocals on this lively and catchy pop song with lyrics from Charlie Mason, the man who penned Conchita Wurst's winner last year (and has also written the lyrics for this year's song from Serbia).

Prediction: Should make top ten.

Tonight Again - Guy Sebastian (Australia)

Eurovision is big in Australia, hence the decision to accept an Aussie entry as a once-off to mark the 60th anniversary of the contest. Sebastian is a top star down under, with record sales of almost four million to his name. Tonight Again is polished dancefloor pop, driven along by a lively brass section.

Prediction: Hard to know where Australia will pick up votes, but this is destined for top five.

Grand Amore - Il Volo (Italy)

The Italians have pulled out of Eurovision a number of times, citing a lack of interest in frothy europop. They now see themselves as bringing a touch of class to the contest. Trio Il Volo are cut from the same cloth as Il Divo - so pop opera with not so much of the latter that the masses are turned off. Grand Amore is sonic fireworks with an epic finale that only pop opera can deliver. Prediction: Will struggle with the younger vote, but should still soar high up the leaderboard…and could steal the show.

Amancer - Edurne ((Spain)

Model Edurne's dating Man U's keeper David de Gea, but we won't hold that against her. She also possesses a fine set of lungs and lets it rip on Amancer, a huge ballad driven along by a pulsating drumbeat.

Prediction: Possibe top ten.

Rhythm Inside - Loic Nottet (Belgium)

This untypical but striking Eurovision entry owes more than a passing nod to Lorde. The sparce production, hypnotic percussive claps and Loic's 'rap-pap-pap' vocals will either thrill or grate. Prediction: Good in rehearsals, apparently, so a decent chance of top ten.

Hour of the Wolf - Elnur Huseynov (Azerbaijan)

Huseynov, winner of Turkey's The Voice earlier this year, has a sweet and powerful voice that - with the help of a choir of backing singers - should carry this big, melodic ballad a lot of the way.

Prediction: Top tier for this top-notch entry, but 'Hour of the Wolf' maybe lacks the killer chorus to bring Azerbaijan into the winner's enclosure. Very good each-way bet, we think.

Aina mun pitaa - Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat (Finland)

The country who broke the mould with Lordi introduces punk rock to Eurovision for the first time. PKN are a punk band formed in 2009 in a charity workshop for adults with developmental disabilities. Prediction: So different, this will stand out and win the hearts of a sizeable block of voters, but the song is a letdown and a top ten finish is only an outside possibility.

Wexford People

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