A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

ESC 2014: my final prediction

Finally the day is here and it is time to select the grand winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Already a week ago I wouldn't have had a clue how to predict a credible outcome in this very open field of candidates.

Now at least the number of serious contenders has narrowed down considerably but still there are many songs that could potentially surprise us in a big way.

Usually predictions make me sweat a bit, but this year I just find it wonderful. It has been many years since the outcome felt this open, with this amount of open or half-open doors of possibilities, on the day of the final.

With a bit of luck, the voting will be all over the place and no clear leader will emerge until late in the voting or not at all. The big dream would be a voting like 2003, with at least three songs still being in the running up until the very last jury. Or 1988, when there was just a single point to separate the songs in first or second place. Or 1991, when we had a photo finish between two songs in a tie for first place.

Another part of me is also hoping for some unusual action at the bottom of the scoreboard. With this amount of strong candidates - will there be points for everyone? We haven't had a single song score zero in a final since 2003, but it was close in both 2012 and 2013. Is there a song who could fail to make top ten in any country? Are there more than one?

My hope is that either everyone gets at least one point and if not I'd like to see a multiple last place where more than one country would end with nul. In 1983 and 1997 two countries shared the zero, could it be possible that we would have a three-way zero for the first time under the current scoring system?

Getting all carried away here, so let's get on to the songs!

Maria Yaremchuk / Tick Tock
A really good opener in many ways but also a not too subtle way of making sure that Ukraine won't win in a slot famous for strictly reducing anyone's chances in the last few years. This performance grew a lot on me since the semi final and the hamster-wheel effect is stylish without being too much.

Teo / Cheesecake
The first candidate for nul points unless some friendly neighbour steps in to help. Catchy and fun in its own little way but far too lightweight to be make the kind of lasting impression a song performed in the number two slot would need to make.

Dilara Kazimova / Start A Fire
Perhaps the song that shrunk the most in my eyes after the semi finals. Dilara is a wonderful performer but suddenly it became too obvious that English is not her strong language and a song like this needs really powerful interpretation and that is missing here.

Pollapönk / No Prejudice
The Krista Siegfrids of the year: something funny, fresh and colourful that will keep the audience amused but will be forgotten when it is time to vote. Hardly a song the juries will support either and could depend on Nordic points in order to avoid the very bottom.

Carl Espen / Silent Storm
It does remain a bit of a mystery why Danish tv placed the two slowest and most quiet ballads so close to each other in the running order instead of spreading them apart. Carl Espen could possibly touch more people than Dilara does but none of them will benefit from this.

Ovi & Paula / Miracle
I still think this looks and sounds like a parody of a eurovision entry, full of gimmicks and stunts to make up for the obvious lack of melody lines. It will have its audience but is likely to be overshadowed by a bunch of fairly similar - and better - efforts later in the show.

Aram Mp3 / Not Alone
Aram has been more or less eclipsed by other entries since the semi final but it is probably too early to count him out. This song has been the bookmaker favourite and not without reason. With a better vocal performance than in the semi this could grab quite a few votes with its original sound.

Sergej Ćetković - Moj svijet
Warm and melodic and appealing, sung with conviction in a beautiful language, Montenegro still runs the risk of being yet another ballad in the beginning of the show. Mid-table at best, but the Montenegrins should be very pleased with their first ever showing in a final.

Donatan & Cleo / My Słowianie - We Are Slavic
Even more divisive than I thought it would be, Poland has made quite a lot of blood boil after their semi final. That's not necessarily a bad thing when you have to distinguish yourself in a field of 26 songs and Poland could possibly be looking at their first top ten finish in over ten years.

Freaky Fortune feat Riskykidd / Rise Up
Really not sure about this one. It gets everyone in the hall started but looked terrible on television. Hardly an entry that will enthuse the juries either as the vocals get pretty shaky at times. But the beat is infectious and I hope the hit factor will be rewarded too. Top ten perhaps but not top five.

Conchita Wurst / Rise Like A Phoenix
The support from the hall will be deafening and nobody is likely to forget the fabulous Ms Wurst who really sings her heart out about the desire to be who you want to be. The message is likely to hit home with the masses as well as the performance. A very likely winner, if not the most likely.

Elaiza / Is It Right?
It would be hard for anyone to follow Austria and Germany had a difficult situation already without the comparison. Most fans predict a last place - there is even a risk for nul points also here - but I still think there will be an audience out there ready to vote for some accordeon.

Sanna Nielsen / Undo
Out of all the ballads in the running, Undo could be the most polished one, performed to perfection by lovely Sanna Nielsen. The risk you run by being too perfect is that people will enjoy you for as long as you sing but then vote for something more adventurous in the end. Sanna will do well but probably not quite as well as the bookmakers think.

Twin Twin / Moustache
Fun and happening but also yet another visual disaster in the making. French television would really need to employ somebody with a good artistic eye if they ever want good results again. The song will lead a good life on radio after the contest but won't stand a chance in the voting

Tomalchevy Sisters / Shine
The sweet twins from Russia find themselves in quite a good spot here and will come across as old-fashioned but easily accessible after the French offering. Still, this one lacks in dynamics and temper to make it a real contender.

Emma Marrone / La mia città
A good song that will stand out from the others but also very depending on Emma's own form: if she decides to give it a real go and perform for the cameras and not hold back she could make a real impression, but if she treats the ESC like an ordinary day at work - like some of the more recent Italian entrants did - she will end up further down the scoreboard.

Tinkara Kovač - Round And Round
I didn't think Tinkara and her flute would make it all the way to the final and maybe people see something in this that I don't but I doubt this will carry very far tonight but a couple of odd points from here and there will at least save her from placing at the very bottom. 

Softengine / Something Better
Just like Danish tv put the two softest ballads very close in the running order, they also placed the two rock songs almost neck to neck. I'm not sure Finland will benefit from that comparison but if the lead singer would dare look more into the camera this could at least be Finland's best showing since Lordi.

Ruth Lorenzo / Dancing In The Rain
Alongside Austria the only real belter of the year but just like Italian Emma this performer is very depending on form. On a bad day she will let herself go and start wailing the song to bits already in the first minute and then nobody will notice what an elegant little song this really is. A potential surprise if the performance is kept down.

Sebalter / Hunter Of Stars
I didn't see the appeal of this in first place but I doubt the enthusiasm and pre-recorded whistling will be enough in a final as strong as this one. Could be just another potential nul-pointer unless the european whistling appreciation society comes running to support it.

Kállay Saunders / Running
Just like Armenia, this one felt like a hot candidate a week ago but has taken a nosedive in most people's predictions. With a stronger vocal delivery than in the semi final this could be the song that suddenly stands out for quite a large section of the audience. Not chanceless.

Firelight / Coming Home
Clearly the weaker of two country-flavoured songs and unless Europe can handle two in the same final, this is the one that will take a beating. Vocally good but surprisingly bland visually, and that's not important in a televised song contest.

Basim / Cliché Love Song
The thriller of the evening in many ways. Either Europe is smitten by the good mood and the simple hook or this will be deemed square and insincere and sink like a rock. Or anything in between. Will it be Rollo & King part 2 or just another Hello From Mars? 

The Common Linnets / Calm After The Storm
And what do you know - the country songs got the same treatment from DR as the slow ballads and the rock songs but it is very unlikely to affect this one in any greater way. After Hungary, Malta and Denmark it will be lovely to bring the tempo down and take a refreshing little pause. Another very possible winner.

Valentina Monetta / Maybe
It truly is sweet to see San Marino on the scoreboard at last but that's the fun the most serene republic will have tonight. Neither the song nor the performer will be strong enough to face the competition and could - maybe - be another potential nul-pointer.

Molly / Children Of The Universe
Is this the time that the UK steps out in style to regain its former eurovision glory? Yes and no. This is most certainly not our winner. Molly is good and the hook effective but the chorus shouldn't be strong enough in the end. But a 4th place is not to be sniffed at either.

My prediction tonight is that the top contenders for victory are: Austria, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Sweden. 

If they give good performances, these countries could surprise and get very close to victory: Italy, Hungary, Armenia, Spain, Greece and Ukraine.

And these all run the risk of ending in last place, potentially without a single point: Belarus, Iceland, Switzerland and San Marino. Perhaps even Germany, France and Slovenia.

But there can only be one winner and my final guess is that Conchita Wurst will take the crown, that Austria will win and we will all have Sacher cake between rehearsals in Vienna next year.

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