Since 2000, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom qualify automatically for every Eurovision Grand Final thanks to their status as the biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, the contest’s producers.
Italy, persuaded to return to the contest in 2011 after a self-imposed 14-year hiatus, is also granted automatic qualification for the same reason. Sweden, as winner of the 2012 event, also gets a pass to the final so that it can defend its title. So, let’s take a look at the ‘Big Six’:
Who the hell are we to judge?
The euronews jury is made up of three music-loving but unfortunately not music-playing journalists, who reserve the right to be honest while trying to remain respectful to the performers: Mark Davis (normally found listening to Pearl Jam, Jake Bugg, the Stone Roses), Thomas Seymat (Alt-J, Franck Ocean, Daft Punk) and Marie Jamet (Marvin Gaye, Pulp, Clinic).
Amandine Bourgeois - "L'Enfer Et Moi"
TS: It starts out promising, like a French Amy Winehouse, a scorned lover looking for revenge. However, the climactic ending promised by the build-up and guitars never delivers, the singer’s highly acclaimed voice never rises up to the challenge and the soufflé ultimately falls flat. 6 points, 40-1 to win.
MJ: Amy Winehouse? You’re being too nice. To me, she sounds like Patricia Kaas. And it is not good. The mannered singing turns into a singing performance not serving the song but just the singer’s ego. It cries out: “hey listen how well I can sing and all these changes of tone I can make with my voice”. I just hate this so much. The music rises in a promising way and sounds kind of good but does fall flat as a soufflé. 0 point for being showy, 66-1 to win.
Cascada - "Glorious"
MJ: Formulaic. Like a recipe: take a big-voiced singer and a Euro-dance rhythm, add a shiny push-up corset and two token backing singers. Then shake until you have the German Eurovision song. 2 points, 66-1 to win.
MD: A clubbing song that is incredibly similar to many other clubbing songs. Not a bad clubbing song, in as much as it meets the criteria of the genre (‘euphoric’ crescendo of synthesised beats, arm-waving, lyrics such as “We are young at heart and we’re free”) but this song should not win any competitions unless it’s a ‘Make the Most Generic Clubbing Song Contest’ and even Eurovision is better than that. 2 points, 80-1 to win.
Marco Mengoni - "L'Essenziale"
MJ: A sad piano-and-violin ballad that has the potential to get lots of middling scores. 4 points, 66-1 to win
MD: Although Marco – who has a pleasant voice to go with his pretty-boy looks – will probably get some votes and points from the ladies, it’s difficult to see the song itself generating enough enthusiasm for Italy to get too near the top of the standings. 8 points, 80-1 to win.
El Sueno de Morfeo - "Contigo Hasta El Final"
MJ: The video shows perhaps how Spaniards see the Irish and the song is, as you might expect, an irish folk rock song with Spanish lyrics. Going back to the video, there is lots of coastline and lots of cliffs, a white horse running in slow motion across the beach before resting its head on the shoulder of the singer who is draped in a dreamy princess-pink dress. Very Eurovision but probably not a future winner. 4 points, 150-1 to win.
MD: Spain is perhaps trying to emulate Ireland’s success at Eurovision by lending from Irish folk music. The result sounds a little like The Corrs, but Spanish. Los Corrs. The singer’s voice is fantastic. She is also gorgeous. If Spain wins (which I think is unlikely but not impossible) it will be because she has charmed the judges and audience. I’m not sure the song has got the legs to go all the way though. 8 points, 50-1 to win.
Bonnie Tyler - "Believe in me"
MD: Bonnie Tyler. The voice (Total eclipse of the heart, Holding out for a hero) is instantly recognisable. If it wasn’t Bonnie Tyler, you’d say this song didn’t really have a chance. But it is Bonnie Tyler, so it might. Maybe. 6 points, 40-1 to win. *MJ:*A famous name in the Eurovision. Some might find this unfair to the other less-known artists. I don’t, as I’ve never liked Bonnie Tyler and probably never will. I have to admit though, she fits with the Eurovision style, so maybe it is only logical that she is here. 2 points, 66-1 to win.
Robin Stjernberg - "You"
TS: Playing at home, the 22-year old smooth-faced singer and his vocal talent manages to turn a silly love song into a catching winning machine. Not our favourite, but definitely a very strong contender. 8 points, 20-1 to win.
MJ: I don’t really know Justin Bieber’s oeuvres but this young guy looks like him and his song sounds exactly like I imagine Bieber’s songs to be. As Thomas said this is perfectly calibrated as a win-at-all-costs song. 4 points, 20-1 to win.