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kiev calling

When are Ireland on and what's the deal with the Russians? Your guide to this year's Eurovision

It’s showtime.


IT’S ALMOST THAT time of year again.

That time when we all join together to moan about tactical voting and off-key singing before being sucked into the vortex that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

Whether you’re planning a Eurovision party or planning to stay as far away from the show as possible, it’s hard to avoid.

So we’ve put together a guide to what to expect from this year’s show.

Where is it on?

A total of 42 entries (one shy of the record number) will be heading to Kiev in Ukraine this year.

Ah, so Ukraine won it last year?

They did. Ukrainian singer Jamala came out on top with her politically-charged song 1944 about the deportations of Crimean Tatars during World War II.

A not-too-subtle statement about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Jamala won after a some particularly tight voting in Stockholm. Australia (of all places) looked destined to win after being the top pick by the judges before the public vote came through for Ukraine.

Incidentally, this year will also use a combination of jury voting and public voting.

Will there be more anti-Russian feeling this year?

Well, they won’t be there. As any seasoned watcher will tell you, the Eurovision always has some kind of political subplot.

This year however, it’s not so much of a subplot as out front and centre.

Russia will not be performing in the contest after its contestant was banned from entering Ukraine.

Julia Samoilova had been due to perform for Russia but Ukraine’s security service banned her entry into the country claiming she illegally travelled to Russian-annexed Crimea for a performance.

After Samoilova was denied permission to travel to Ukraine, Russian state TV said it would not be sending anyone.

What about Ireland, we’re good to go?

PastedImage-25164 Instagram / BrendanMurray96 Instagram / BrendanMurray96 / BrendanMurray96

Yes, we’re fine. Our performer Brendan Murray has been in Kiev since last week and it seems he has his guitar with him as well.

Murray is from Tuam in Co Galway and a member of Louis Walsh’s boyband Hometown.

He’s going to be singing a song called Dying to Try and its writer has a pretty impressive CV.

The ballad was co-written by Swedish Grammy-nominated songwriter Jörgen Elofsson and British songwriter James Newman. Elofsson has written hits for Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Westlife.

There was no Late Late Show vote this year or anything, the song was chosen from over 320 entries by a judging panel of six industry professionals.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

When are we up, we have to qualify again right?

For the Saturday final, yes.

Some Westlife star power from Nicky Byrne wasn’t enough to get Ireland out of the semi-finals last year. It was actually the third year in a row that Ireland failed to make the weekend.

Ten of 18 performers from tonight’s semi-final will be chosen to progress to the final and 10 from Thursday also go forward.

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

They will join the ‘Big Five’ countries of Italy, the UK, Spain, Germany, France and the hosts Ukraine in the final.

Brendan Murray for Ireland sings in the second semi-final on Thursday and will be singing in ninth position.

There he is, in between Denmark and San Marino.


So who’s the favourite to win?

There’s actually a big favourite to win this year.

Italy’s entry Occidentali’s Karma by Francesco Gabbani has already racked up over 100 million views on Youtube and has even hit the iTunes charts in some of the competing countries.

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

Gabbani left for Kiev during the weekend and before he left he performed a May Day concert to thousands of people.

So it’s to say he’s already created a bit of stir and it’s meant Italy are favourites to win.

The bookies even have them comfortably ahead of the other favorites Bulgaria, Sweden and Portugal.

PastedImage-27915 Boylesports Boylesports

One thing worth noting there; if the Swedes perform as strongly as expected and win the contest, it would put them level with Ireland’s record of seven wins.

Are the Brits still in after Brexit?

The United Kingdom does indeed have an entry this year, but it will be an interesting subplot to see if there is a Brexit backlash come voting time.

Whether there is or not it will certainly be a discussion point. If there’s one place where the whole European thing is taken seriously, it’s at Eurovision.

This year actually marks two decades since the UK last won the contest and it’s the job of Lucie Jones to end the 20 years of hurt.

Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

Where can I watch it?

Our national broadcaster showing both semi-finals on RTÉ 2 at 8pm on tonight and Thursday with RTÉ One showing the final next Saturday at 8pm.

Marty Whelan has a busy week as he’s on commentary duty for all three shows.

Over on the Beeb, they’ve relegated the semi-finals to BBC Four with Mel Giedroyc of Mel and Sue fame fronting their coverage of the semis.

Graham Norton returns for the final on BBC One.

This article was originally published on Saturday 6 May.

Read: Shay Healy hits out at ‘low life thug’ who stole Eurovision trophy >

Read: Here’s everything that’s going to happen in 2017, apparently… >

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