Saturday is Eurovision night... and Malta are my tip to win

The show must go on... without Ireland, yet again. John Dolan looks ahead to the Eurovision final and selects his favourite
Saturday is Eurovision night... and Malta are my tip to win

ON SONG: Elena Tsagrinou from Cyprus performs at the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam. They made it to the final

SOMETIMES, I hate being proved right...

Last Saturday, I forecast that the Irish entry for Eurovision 2021 would struggle to make it out of the semi-final.

Sure enough, Lesley Roy, performing on the 25th anniversary of Ireland’s seventh — and last — triumph on Tuesday, failed to make the final, despite a fine performance of her song, Maps.

But in the finest tradition of showbiz, the show must go on, and for Irish fans, at least the pressure is off when the Eurovision Song Contest final takes place in Rotterdam, Holland, on Saturday night.

The only choice you have to make is between Corkman Graham Norton on BBC1 and our own Marty Whelan on RTÉ1, when the annual contest begins at 8pm.

Eurovision was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic and with some crowds allowed into the Rotterdam Ahoy venue tonight, there is bound to be a party atmosphere for the 65th song contest.

The event will be hosted by Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager, and we’re promised performances by reigning champion Laurence, who won in 2019 with Arcade, as well as a collaboration featuring six former Eurovision winners, including heavy rockers Lordi.

Burt, of course, the real action takes place when the 26 countries perform — and then when the marks are handed out.

So, who will win the year?

I am sticking with my prediction from last week, the singer Destiny of Malta, and her song Je Me Casse, a fine, upbeat and sassy number with lots of female attitude.

Destiny of Malta who is singing at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest
Destiny of Malta who is singing at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest

The favourites with bookies are Italy and France, but since they are part of the ‘big five’ who don’t appear in the semi-finals, they have missed out on some vital press coverage so far. Switzerland, and Iceland are also fancied by many.

The UK also pre-qualify, and their entry, Embers, by singer-songwriter James Newman really should not trouble the judges, however much Graham Norton talks it up on the BBC!

The UK last won in 1997, in the last year that Ireland hosted it, with Katrina & the Waves’ Love Shine A Light.

Also on Saturday night, keep an eye out for Sweden, whose entry by Tusse is called Voices. If it wins, Sweden will go level with Ireland on a record seven Eurovision victories

The Russians always do well and their representative, Manizha  performs Russian Woman.

Other contenders include Ukraine, for whom electro-folk band Go A perform Shum.

Finally, a good few people on social media have suggested this week that Ireland should take their ball away and refuse to participate in future Eurovisions.

What a defeatist attitude!

It's true the voting can lean towards eastern Eurovision countries, but generally the best song and stage performance wins.

What you need to win the contest is a banger of a song, and Ireland just can't seem to produce the goods any more. In fact - controversial opinion - I would argue only Johnny Logan's Hold Me Now falls into that category. There, I said it.

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