|This image belongs to the EBU|
One week to go until the big final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Turin and I've been keeping an eye on what's going on over there. In a way.
Since I am not on location, I am avoiding rehearsal footage. I don't have to report for anyone, so I prefer getting surprised on the night. I don't want to know every camera angle in advance. So I already reviewed all participating songs based on their preview versions, you can read that here, here and here.
Instead I've been following people's reactions to the rehearsals on social media. That is always quite the ride but this year has been unusually intense and not necessarily in a good way. The general tone has been fairly negative and sometimes even hostile towards the EBU in general and host broadcaster Rai in particular.
Alright, having one large stage prop not work out like it was supposed to is of course a big miscalculation but I can't help but asking myself how all this vitriol might influence the EBU:s desire to keep rehearsals open at all in the future.
When it comes to the performances themselves, views have been as varied as always. If someone has given an energetic performance they have often been labelled a sure qualifier, if someone holds back or hesitates their chances are "gone".
Which makes me think of Blanche from Belgium who was more or less unanimously hailed as the fallen favourite bound to lose out in the semi and then finally ended 4th in the final. This is a guessing game and it's not easy getting it right.
Today's second rehearsal of the Big Five countries was also intense as most of them made quite an impression on most people watching. Will one of them win for a second year running?
I find myself thinking of Christer Björkman, a divisive figure in Eurovision World but nevertheless someone with a great deal of insight into this game. He once talked about the chances of winning two years in a row and he said it was as good as impossible. The competition these days is much more difficult and way more unpredictable compared to what it used to be.
The key thing - according to Christer Björkman - is how being good isn't enough. You need to be good on all levels but you also need a lot of luck. You can never know in advance what is That Thing that will work in any particular year. An impeccable entry and an impeccable performance will get you far but in order to go all the way, you need to be That Thing.
2022 has quite a few strong contenders and many songs have a lot of supporters that are convinced their favourite is the one that will win. However, only one team can win. I hope the others - the ones that will go far or maybe not even all that far - won't be too disappointed.
In a week from now, we will know what is That Thing in 2022 and I look forward to getting surprised.
If you want to talk Eurovision with me, I'll be hanging on Twitter as usual.