The Eurovision Song Contest is being held this Saturday in Lisbon’s Altice Arena. It is the first time Portugal has hosted Eurovision and their theme is “All Aboard,” a nod to their maritime history. Expect a lot of seafaring-based puns from the four hosts and cute guys in sailor outfits.
Here is what else to look for at this year’s Song Contest.
Who Are the Contenders?
The hot favorite coming into Lisbon has been Israel. Netta Barzilai created a splash with her song “Toy,” an empowering anthem that is both defiant and playful. Netta is a unique artist hampered only by the fact that the EBU wouldn’t let her use her trademark looper in her staging.
Since the rehearsal period began almost two weeks ago, the attention has shifted to Cyprus. Eleni Foureira is a Greek pop star who has gone for a seductive staging of her song “Fuego.” A viral video of her reply to a question about what her song means has added to her buzz.
Norway have brought back 2009 Song Contest winner Alexander Rybak. “That’s How You Write a Song” is aided by cute CGI graphics and his overall sense of professionalism. The man is still quite the entertainer.
Then there is France. They are represented by the duo Madame Monsieur, whose song “Mercy” tells the story of a baby of born to a refugee on a boat to Sicily. Expect the crowd in the hall to help Madame Monsieur lift their staging further.
Some dark horses to look out for: Sweden, with their usual flair for radio-friendly pop and innovative staging; Moldova, with a brilliant set piece; and Czech Republic, with an American-style pop banger.
Other countries generating excitement are Italy, who have an intense song about staying defiant in the face of terrorism; Germany, whose Michael Schulte brings an emotional Ed Sheeran-style song about the loss of his father; Australia, with an effervescent slice of pop positivity by Aussie megastar Jessica Mauboy; Austria, who have a bad draw but have been racking up iTunes downloads after their Semifinal performance; and Lithuania, whose love song would be syrupy if singer Ieva Zasimauskaitė didn’t sing it so darned well.
There has even been talk about Ireland, who have a lovely staging for Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s gentle pop ballad. Their prospects have skyrocketed in the last 24 hours due to their late draw in the running order.
In other words: no one has any idea whatsoever who is going to win.
No LED Screens? No Problem!
RTP, Portugal’s national broadcaster, did not install a giant LED screen this year. That has left the participants looking for different ways to add oomph to their staging.
On the prop front, Ukraine has the best use of a piano since Dima Bilan hid a ballerina in one back in 2006. United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden have gone the Dan Flavin route with various florescent light sculptures. Estonia has a giant projection dress. Moldova has something that needs to be seen to be appreciated, but no spoilers here. Finland seemingly has every stage prop they could get their hands on.
Some acts, including Norway, Italy, and Cyprus, are using onscreen CGI graphics to enhance their performances. Then there’s Germany, who just brought their own LED screen. Cheeky.
Who Ended Up In the Hospital?
Mikolas Joseph from Czech Republic did! The poor guy hurt himself in the very first rehearsal and ended up visiting three different hospitals to deal with his injury. He held back his choreography a bit in Semifinal One, but he hopes to go all out in the Final.
Wait, Someone Is Missing…
Azerbaijan, Romania, and Russia all missed out on the Final this year. It’s the first time any of them have missed the Final in years they’ve competed in a Semifinal. Ukraine and Australia are the only two countries left with a perfect qualification record. (According to us. Apparently, your Eurovision record-keeping may vary!)
Who’s Back In the Final?
Ireland qualified for the Final for the first time in five years, while Finland is back after a three-year absence. Estonia, Albania and Slovenia return after two years, and Lithuania and Czech Republic return after missing out last year.
Who Will Rock?
Albania have a classic rock singer with a big, big voice. Netherlands have a country rock song that wouldn’t sound out of place on American country radio. Hungary have a proper metal band who make full use of the pyro system. They are not every diehard Eurovision fans’ cup of tea.
Does Denmark Have Vikings?
How Do I Watch In the United States?
The U.S., Canada, and some other Western hemisphere countries are still geoblocked from watching the show on the official Eurovision YouTube channel. Some national broadcasters, including Germany and Sweden, make their feeds available without restriction.
For those of us who pay a lot for our cable packages, Logo will be broadcasting the Song Contest with commentary from Ross Matthews and Shangela. Can Logo break the 100,000 viewer mark this year? Let’s find out. Halleloo!
UPDATED 05/11/2018: This post was updated to add Estonia to the list of countries back in the Final after two years and to get the facts straight about Austria. See comments below.