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live from turin

Eurovision: Seven songs to watch and other key things to know ahead of tonight's Grand Final

Need to catch up ahead of tonight’s show?

Daragh Brophy reports from Turin, Italy: 

LIKE IT OR loathe it, statistically it’s pretty likely you’ll end up watching at least a bit of the Eurovision Song Contest tonight. 

You’ll no doubt have caught some of the headlines from the build-up – Ukraine are nailed on favourites to win, Ireland have been knocked out, the UK actually have a good song – but if you haven’t had time up till now to check out any of the finalists, we’ll get you up to speed here. 

The essential facts first – there are 25 songs in tonight’s show: 10 finalists from each of the weeknight semis along with the so-called Big Five nations of the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany who get to go straight to the decider each year as their national broadcasters contribute most to the contest. 

Here’s a selection of seven performances to check out – it’s in no particular order and includes a smattering of oddities and novelties alongside the bookie and fan favourites.

1. Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

With its syncopated handclap choruses and strange yet stirring staging featuring handbasins, white towels and five dancing monks, this one’s been steadily growing in popularity among the fan community here in Turin in recent days. 

The opening line – “What’s the secret to Meghan Markle’s healthy hair” – is (so long as you understand Serbian) pretty intriguing. It gets stranger still from there with mentions of various skin conditions and enlarged spleens. 

The lyrics have been interpreted as a critique of the Serbian healthcare system and a satire on unattainable beauty standards.

  • When can I see it? 24 of 25 in tonight’s running order. 

2. Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – Stefania

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

The folk-rap act was selected to compete just days before Russia’s invasion. They’ve been given special dispensation by Ukraine’s government to take part in the contest, but as men of fighting age are under orders to return home tomorrow. 

Written last year by frontman Oleh Psiuk as a tribute to his mother, the song – with its haunting refrain and nostalgic lyrics – has since taken on a larger meaning in Ukraine and beyond.

Given the focus on Ukraine since Russia’s February invasion – not to mention the number of Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their home country to other European nations – the entry is expected to generate a huge public vote.

  • When can I see it? 12 out of 25 in tonight’s running order. 

3. Finland: The Rasmus – Jezebel

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

The name may not ring a bell but you’ll probably know this band – they had a huge alt-rock hit with In The Shadows back in 2003. 

Their entry tonight is cut from pretty similar musical cloth – it’s a sexually-charged, quiet-LOUD-quiet banger with plenty of distorted guitar.

The group’s experience made them an ideal choice to kick-off Thursday night’s semi-final; singer Lauri Ylönen is clearly very at home playing to an arena and appears to be having the time of his life in Turin.

  • When can I see it? 4th of 25 in tonight’s running order.

4. Moldova: Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenulețul

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

More the sort of thing you’d expect to see and hear at Eurovision but nevertheless very entertaining. It’s one of those novelty folk tunes with plenty of step-dancing, fiddles and accordians. The lads may well add some thigh-slapping if they’re in the mood.

The act may also look a little familiar to regular song contest viewers -  Zdob și Zdub entered the Kyiv contest in 2005 and the Düsseldorf one in 2011, finishing 6th and 12th respectively. 

This one has been going down a stormer in the Eurovision press centre. The dress rehearsals are played into the centre here live – chairs were being tossed in the air as it got its latest airing last night.

  • When can I see it? 19 of 25 in tonight’s running order.

5: The UK: Sam Ryder – Spaceman

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

The UK always gets automatic entry to the Grand Final – but that can represent a poison chalice sometimes: their last two entrants both came bottom of the leaderboard and last year’s performer, James Newman, finished with the dreaded ‘nul points’.

Essex singer Sam Ryder’s been a huge hit on TikTok in recent years after he began uploading cover versions during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. He’s currently the most followed UK artist on the platform.  

  • When can I see it? 22 of 25 in tonight’s running order. 

6. Norway: Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

“Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth. That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath. Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith.”

Sing it with me?

One of the viral hits of the contest so far. The mystery wolf duo are known only as Jim and Keith, haven’t yet been spotted out of costume and don’t talk (at all) off stage. 

They also seem to be doing a roaring trade in yellow ‘wolf’ baseball caps – you’ll spot them all over Turin. 

  • When can I see it? 7 of 25 in tonight’s running order. 

7. Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

Sweden would equal Ireland’s Eurovision-winning record of seven titles if this finished top tonight. 

And if it weren’t for the fact that Ukraine are are almost certainly going to win, this would be a pretty safe song to put your money on – most bookies have it second favourite as of this evening. 

A slickly-produced, emotive ballad in the vein of Lady Gaga or Pink; listen to it twice and it’s pretty difficult to get out of your head. 

  • When can I see it? 20th of 25 in tonight’s running order. 

What else to do I need to know? 

More than 183 million viewers tuned into the contest last year and producers are hoping to build on that success tonight. Billed as the biggest live entertainment event in the world, it all kicks off at 8pm Irish time and should be wrapped up just before midnight. 

Staged in the massive Pala Alpitour arena, the marathon show is hosted by singers Mika and Laura Pausini alongside former Italian X Factor host Alessandro Cattelan. Marty Whelan will be on commentary duty for RTÉ. 

Voting is split 50:50 between national juries – who have already cast their votes based on viewings of last night’s dress rehearsal – and viewer voting, which begins after the last song has been performed and concludes 15 minutes later. 

Once that voting window closes the presenters will start to do the rounds of the various capital cities, asking the local presenters to reveal their jury points.

Viewers’ points from the participating countries are then added up and revealed from the lowest to the highest – a method custom-designed by producers to give a dramatic split-screen climax to the night. 

Daragh Brophy will be reporting from Eurovision in Turin through to the early hours of the morning. You can follow him on Twitter here and check out his stories so far here.

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