I’m so hungover my hair hurts. I just almost cried because the man in the coffee shop knew how to make a soy latte. Last night’s clothes reek of cigarette smoke. This can mean only one thing: I am at Eurovision.
After a somewhat drippy La La Land-esque ballad won last year, every gay man in London and a few female media types have descended on Lisbon for Eurovision Week. I’ve lost count of how many pastel de nata I’ve eaten and I’m typing this while fairly wankered on sangria, having just come from the second semi-final. If you thought the Eurovision Song Contest only existed from 8pm to 11pm on Saturday, you are mistaken.
Since 2007, two semi-finals have decided which 26 countries will participate in the Saturday Grand Final. Eurovision fandom goes so much deeper than you think. There are “Saturday Fans” who, like my mum, believe Eurovision is one night a year. There are “Fans” who will cancel plans to watch the semi-finals on BBC Four, too. Then we have “Super Fans” who, like me, will make a holiday of Eurovision if it’s hosted somewhere with a beach or cute cafes. And then there are the “Uber Fans”. They’ll mention Eurovision in their Twitter bios. They occasionally appear on the news.
So, will SuRie – the UK entry – win? I’m afraid I very much doubt it. This is nothing to do with Brexit, block-voting or our lack of land-locked neighbours
Here, I present a nifty guide to Eurovision for “Saturday Fans” so you can wow the host of the Eurovision party you’re hopefully attending. This year, the final will be closer than ever – there’s no clear winner. Here are some notable entries so you can hold your own in conversation:
Netta – Toy (Israel)
A huge fan favourite, Netta’s slightly Meghan Trainor-esque ode to female empowerment certainly stands out from the crowd. Perhaps too weird to win over the voting public, however.
Elina Nechayeva – La Forza (Estonia)
I think this one will win over some Saturday Fans. It’s opera and she has a… light-up dress thing. It’s different to anything else in the competition this year. A dark-horse contender.
Saara Aalto – Monsters (Finland)
Yep! Saara Aalto from The X Factor is representing Finland with a Lady Gaga-ish number. Interesting fact: Saara is the voice of Anna in the Finnish version of Frozen!
Ryan O’Shaughnessy – Together (Ireland)
This one is super cute – the staging features a sweet love story between two boys. This is causing a right kerfuffle at the mo, as China cut the kiss from their broadcast, prompting Eurovision bosses to pull the screening of the second semi-final altogether.
Eleni Foureira – Fuego (Cyprus)
This is the one I’d be tempted to stick a tenner on. You can’t walk down any street in Lisbon without someone chanting Fuego-oh-oh at you. It’s become the catchphrase of Eurovision 2018. It’s classic Eurovision and Eleni has astounding hairography.
Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write a Song (Norway)
You may recognise Rybak because he won Eurovision in 2009 with his song Fairytale (the one with the violin? No?). He’s a fan favourite and the song is a bit Timberlake. Top three, easily. The violin makes another cameo.
Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love (Australia)
Sigh. YES, Australia performs in Eurovision. It’s because the contest is a huge hit in Australia and they were selected to take part in the 60th anniversary. They’ve since… stuck around. If Australia wins, it’s likely they’d host the final in the UK, so that’s cool!
Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off (Sweden)
The first rule of Eurovision: never count Sweden out. A huge reality-TV star back home, Ingrosso is well-known across Scandinavia. The song is slick, cute and boasts distinctive staging.
Michael Schulte – You Let Me Walk Alone (Germany)
They have literally cloned Ed Sheeran. And people seem to like him, so…?
SuRie – Storm (United Kingdom)
If you’re not a rabid Uber Fan, I imagine the Eurovision Song Contest is about backing your country’s entry and not participating in the backstage intrigue and politics. So, will SuRie – our entry this year – win? I’m afraid I very much doubt it. This is nothing to do with Brexit, block-voting or our lack of land-locked neighbours. Other songs simply seem to be catching fire (or, indeed, fuego). That said, SuRie is a talented performer, a consummate professional and this is in no way a Daz Sampson, Jemini, Electro Velvet, nil-point, national embarrassment situation.
So, in honour of Lisbon 2018, get the sangria and custard tarts in, print out your score cards and do a shot every time there are pyrotechnics. Drink everything if someone plays a traditional folk instrument.
Euovision is on BBC One on Saturday 12 May at 8pm