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Why this year's Eurovision is 'anyone's contest'

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Hurricane from Serbia perform during rehearsals at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Hurricane from Serbia perform during rehearsals at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong
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This year's Eurovision is "anyone's contest", an expert told Euronews ahead of the second semi-final on Thursday.

Ten countries have already qualified for the final and another ten will be selected in Thursday evening's pop carnival. All will join France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK — which get a free pass to the final — in the hope of being crowned the winner on Saturday.

The first semi-final has already yielded some surprises with Belgium and Norway going through, Paul Jordan, dubbed Dr. Eurovision, told Euronews. Ireland, however, failed to qualify.

On Thursday, all eyes will be on Iceland, forced to present their act in a pre-recorded performance after one of their band members tested positive for COVID-19.

The current bookies' favourites to win the competition are Italy, France and Malta but for Jordan, the dice have not yet been cast.

"It's a very difficult one to predict because it's quite an open year (...) there is no real stand-out winner," Jordan said. " It's going to be interesting to see which ones juries go for versus the public as well."

Countries that have not yet had the chance to flex their larynxes include San Marino whose singer, Senhit, will be accompanied by Flo Rida. Switzerland, Sweden and Russia are also expected to rake in the points.

"It really is anyone's contest. And this is why I think because it's so unpredictable: it could well be a country that gets kind of 6 and 7 (points) all the way along and ends up winning," Jordan explained.

Cultural, not political, voting

Dr Eurovision rejected claims, particularly acute in the UK, that voting in the contest is political.

"If we're talking about countries voting together, then that's probably cultural. If you look at the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, they often know each other's singers."

"Certainly in the former Yugoslavia, a lot of the singers are known. So the Croatian singer will be known and popular in Serbia, for example (...) The UK and Ireland do that as well," he highlighted.

In 2019, Ireland voted for the UK. So that's an argument against saying that Brexit is involved, because if it was about Brexit, then I don't think we would have seen votes from Ireland for the UK," he added.

Additionally, he stressed, Russia also does well most year despite geopolitical tensions with a majority of the European countries represented in the contest.

"In the UK we have a very similar debate to the one that they had in the Netherlands about 15, 20 years ago, about the fact that the Netherlands never did well. And in fact, for ten years nearly, they failed to qualify consistently. What they did was they looked to themselves. They stop blaming others and got the music industry involved, got decent songs and started taking it seriously," Jordan explained.

"And if you look at Sweden, they revamped their national selection in 2002 and it took them nearly 10 years to get a top-three placing. So it does take time. It needs to be consistent," he insisted.