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Explainer: Everything you wanted to know about this year's Eurovision (but were afraid to ask)

Who have Ireland sent? What are our chances? What happens if Australia wins? And why is Johnny Logan in the papers?

IT’S EUROVISION TIME… 33 countries from all over the continent (and Australia) have sent some of their most competent singers, musicians and dancers to Vienna for this year’s festivities.

In keeping with the format of recent years, two semi-finals precede the main event this weekend.

Sometime late on Saturday – after more glitter and bad French than you can bear – the new champion will be crowned.

So. What should we be looking out for?

Who’s singing for Ireland? And what happens if Australia wins? (Will our RTÉ licence fee be going towards a flight to Sydney, for Marty & co?).

Your questions, answered…

Where is it? 

Vienna. (Or if you’re Midge Ure – ‘Ah, Vienna’)


Because Austria’s Conchita Wurst absolutely annihilated the competition last year…

wurtst Source: Eurovision Song Contest

Who have we sent? 

17-year-old Molly Sterling, from Nenagh in Tipperary – who won the Late Late Eurosong contest back in February.

Her song – perhaps appropriately, considering the complex arithmetic we’ll all be doing come Saturday night – is called ‘Playing with Numbers’.

Source: Molly Sterling/YouTube

What are her chances?

The odds aren’t quite on her side… She’s rated – by Boylesports – at 40 to 1 to win tonight’s second semi final.

That said – she doesn’t have to win, just finish in the top ten from this evening’s 17 competitors. Unfortunately, Paddy Power has her at 14th most likely to qualify from the heat.

eu The show's live on RTÉ 2 from 8pm tonight - and Ireland are on second.

So there’s already been one semi-final? 

Yes. It was on Tuesday. Albania, Armenia, Russia, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Estonia, Georgia, Serbia and Belgium all qualified.

They’ll join Australia, Austria, the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy in the final.

Did I miss much? 

Some impressive hairdos from Conchita – and an ear-bleeding 85-second long performance form Finland’s PKN (the band’s members have autism and Down’s Syndrome, and got together in a workshop for adults with learning disabilities).

Catch up on

Source: SongfestivalweblogNL/YouTube

Hang on – why are some countries already in the final? 

The ‘Big 5′  - UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy – always have automatic places in the decider, as they pony-up most of the money for the event every year.

Meanwhile, Austria won last year and are hosting – so they’re in.

And – somewhat randomly, possibly for reasons associated with ABBA and Muriel’s Wedding - Australia have been invited to take part this year.

eu23 Source: Eurovision Song Contest

Yes. What’s the deal with Australia being in it? 

The European Broadcasting Union has always had a pretty broad interpretation of what constitutes ‘European’ when it comes to the Song Contest. Israel takes part, for instance. And Azerbaijan won in 2011.

As it’s the 60th anniversary of the contest this year, Australia were invited to take part as a wildcard entry. The antipodeans are sending one of their biggest stars, Guy Sebastian…

He’s got a 7/1 chance of winning, according to bookies.

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

Christ. What happens if Australia wins?

Good question. Britain’s The Independent asked the EBU, and here’s what they said:

“If Australia win then SBS – the public broadcaster which is an Associate Member of the EBU – will jointly host the Contest in a European country with another EBU Member.

And they would get the chance to defend their title too.

It wouldn’t necessarily be in the country that came second, by the way. So maybe we could host it for the Aussies next year? (Someone call Millstreet and see if the date’s free?).

f Source: Fionnuala Sweeney hosts the 1993 Eurovision in Millstreet, Cork.

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Right. So who else should we be keeping an eye out for? 

Sweden, Poland, Turkey and Italy are all worth catching – but the favourites at the moment are Russia and Serbia.

The Ukraine crisis and Putin’s stance on gay rights upstaged the semi-final of last year’s contest, when the Russian entry was booed. This time around, Polina Gagarina is hoping to win over Moscow critics with her peace song ‘A Million Voices’.

Serbia’s ‘Beauty Never Lies’ went down a treat in Tuesday’s qualifier, meanwhile – and Boylesports say they have seen “an obscene amount of money” come in for them to win.

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

Marty or Graham? 

Up to you – but just to confirm, yes ‘Ireland’s Uncle’ Marty Whelan is in the commentary box for RTÉ. Cork’s Graham Norton will be hosting for the BBC on Saturday – having taken over from Limerick’s Terry Wogan in 2008.

If you want the helm the Song Contest anywhere on ‘these islands’ – you have to be Irish, apparently.

graham Source: Graham Norton/Instagram

Can I vote in the semi-final? 

Yes – viewers in all countries that are taking part in a particular semi-final can vote via the official Eurovision app, text message, or phone.

Viewers in all countries can vote in the final. 

The public vote counts for half of the overall outcome. The other half comes from a professional jury (it’s complicated, but the small print is here if you want it).

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

How can you write a Eurovision guide and not mention Johnny Logan? 


Fair enough – it’s worth mentioning that Ireland’s undisputed King of the Eurovision (three wins – 1980, 1987 and 1992) gets quite a lengthy mention in the Sydney Morning Herald today.


Well, you may not have known – Johnny was born in Australia. He left the Land Down Under at the age of three, but was still carrying an Australian passport when he struck Eurovision gold…

Read: BBC revealed the UK’s Eurovision entry and absolutely nobody is convinced by it

Read: The 12 most important moments from the first Eurovision semi-final

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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