THE voting is almost as crazy as the outfits on stage, so it’s always best not to take it too seriously.
If you watched the Eurovision Song Contest semi-final on BBC3 last night, you’ll know what to expect in the final itself tomorrow.
None of the favourites from western Europe made it through the phone vote.
Nine of the chosen songs came from eastern Europe, with Turkey the other country among the 10 qualifiers.
I’ve now watched all 24 finalists ahead of tomorrow night’s final in Helsinki, which starts on BBC1 at 8pm.
Hosted for UK television by Terry Wogan, it’s certain to be a fabulous evening for Eurovision fans everywhere.
But don’t be too disappointed if your chosen song doesn’t win.
Here’s my guide to the finalists, in the order they will sing, along with their odds at the time of writing.
1. Bosnia-Herzegovina (100/1) Maria Sestic: Rijcka Bez Imena. Maria is “on a river of sorrow”. You might be too after hearing this ballad.
2. Spain (66/1) D’Nash: I Love You Mi Vida. Ricky Martin meets The Gipsy Kings via a four-strong man band who sing, “Enchant me with your bite.”
3. Belarus (5/1) Koldun: Work Your Magic. Pretty boy qualifier with a Bon Jovi twist, who reveals, “I keep the key to your tower.”
4. Ireland (40/1) Dervish: They Can’t Stop The Spring (above right). Vocalist Cathy Jordan charms, even when singing, “The archipelagic icicles have melted like the cage.”
5. Finland (50/1) Hanna Pakarinen: Leave Me Alone (left). Strong rock anthem from the home country’s answer to Pat Benatar, with extra herring. Inspired lyrics, including, “Leave me alone, I wanna go home.”
6. FYR Macedonia (40/1) Karolina: Mojot Svet (below right). Also taking part in a side contest for the longest legs in Eurovision, she sings, “I have to run away from myself.” Shouldn’t be a problem with those pins.
7. Slovenia (25/1) Alenka Gotar: Cvet Z Juga. An opera babe who is definitely not happy. Watch out for the big finish. No English translation available as yet for the lyrics, which is probably just as well.
8. Hungary (33/1) Magdi Ruzsa: Unsubstantial Blues. A TV pop idol winner, the song title says it all. Watch out for use of the word “evanescent”. Must have been included for a bet.
9. Lithuania (100/1) 4Fun: Love Or Leave. Late night acoustic easy listening but just a little bland. Key line, “We are just two lonely shades walking in the night.”
10. Greece (20/1) Sarbel: Yassou Maria. Ricky Martin again, this time taking over a Greek taverna. Line to listen out for, “Moves like Aphrodite.”
11. Georgia (40/1) Sopho: Visionary Dream. Toned-down Bjork, who sings, “I will fly away to reach the ambience I’ve dreamed.” The dance remix will do well.
12. Sweden (9/1) The Ark: The Worrying Kind. Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes mixed with Roy Wood. Seventies’ rock ‘n roll fun. Not lacking in confidence, they sing, “Grooves, I like to shake them.” Should have you dancing around the living room.
13. France (66/1) Les Fatals Picards: L’Amour A La Francaise. Entwined French and English lyrics from a group which doesn’t take itself too seriously.
14. Latvia (6/1) Bonaparti.LV: Questa Notte (above left). G4 plus two in top hats and jeans. This six-man pop-tenor ensemble could score very well, even with lyrics like, “This night will be the immensity.”
15. Russia (10/1) Serebro: Song # 1. Tatu, only scarier. You’d be wise to listen when these three girls say, “Don’t call me funny bunny.” Also think Atomic Kitten with very sharp claws.
16. Germany (25/1) Roger Cicero: Women Rule The World (above right). Well, you won’t find me arguing with that. Teutonic Frank Sinatra, complete with hat, suit and tie. “It’s women who rule the world,” he sings, “they build up Beckham and topple Clinton, without even starting a political party.” OK, so the translation’s not that catchy, but you will smile.
17. Serbia (5/1) Marija Serifovic: Molitva (left). “Life melts like ice,” according to this Celine Dion inspired ballad. Must have a big chance.
18. Ukraine (5/2) Verka Serduchka: Dancing Lasha Tumbai (pic at top of blog). You can’t beat a man with a star on his head. No wonder it’s the current hot favourite. Totally daft, but watch the Helsinki audience go wild. Also perfect if you’re on to your second bottle of Lambrini.
19. United Kingdom (25/1) Scooch: Flying The Flag (right). A return to traditional Euro pop. But is this flight heading for a crash landing? Camp as you like – “some salted nuts, sir” – and better than some recent UK entries. But will almost certainly fall foul of the now all too familiar political voting.
20. Romania (33/1) Todomondo: Liubi, Liubi, I Love You. A clever tour around Europe in one song. Jolly and mostly harmless, with the useful line, “If you leave, I’ll search for you in Russia.”
21. Bulgaria (12/1) Elitsa & Strogan: Water (below left). Percussion-based electropop. Riverdance after a third bottle of Lambrini. Annoyingly catchy. “See the young lad riding his wild pony.”
22. Turkey (25/1) Kenan Dogulu: Shake It Up Shekerim. Istanbul’s Justin Timberlake auditions for the next Shake ‘n Vac ad. He promises, “I’ve got lots of candy for you.”
23. Armenia (100/1) Hayko: Anytime You Need. Not tonight, thank you. Forgettable ballad.
24. Moldova (40/1) Natalia Barbu: Fight (right). Rock chick with a fine pair of lungs, who also impressed the semi-final audience. Score draw with FYR Macedonia in that longest legs contest.
My colleague Peter Devine has been blogging from Helsinki. You can read his reports here.
Official Eurovision Song Contest Site
BBC Eurovision Site