By Paul 'Dr Eurovision' Jordan
The Eurovision Song Contest hits our screens on Saturday night, the 58th edition of one of the longest running TV shows in the world. Eurovision is the one thing which tends to get people talking; some love it, some hate it and some love to hate it. The UK is represented by the legendary Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler with her song Believe In Me. Thirty-nine countries in total are taking part in the contest in 2013.
Odds on the Welsh songstress to grab the title for the UK are currently at an unhopeful 33-1
The theme for this year is 'We Are One', highlighting the unity which the contest brings. Interesting at a time when Europe is fractured along economic, political and social lines. The Eurovision Song Contest, according to the European Broadcasting Union which arranges this event, is non-political. However political debates do come into it, whether the organisers care to admit it or not.
Whilst I have argued that the voting patterns in Eurovision are largely cultural rather than political, certain countries are consistently predictable. Greece and Cyprus will always vote for each other, Belarus will nearly always give Russia the maximum 12 points and arch-enemies Azerbaijan and Armenia will continue to largely ignore each other's existence on the Eurovision stage. It's worth pointing out though that the UK and Ireland exchange points these days so perhaps we shouldn't bemoan the voting patterns of others.
If the Song Contest's history is anything to go by, Cyprus are likely to gain points from competition pals Greece
The contest this year has the customary mix of music and madness. Belarus' Solayoh is a camp, glittery disco number whilst the Netherlands have sent one of their major stars, Anouk, who has taken them to the final for the first time in 2004. Ukraine has opted for a somewhat unusual gimmick, for lack of a better word, with their singer being carried on by the tallest man in America, measuring a gigantic 7 foot 8 inches! The favourite to win is Denmark although Germany's Cascada, who have had a series of major UK hits might give them a run for their money with the song Glorious.
Dr Eurovision: "Belarus' Solayoh is a camp, glittery disco number."
Azerbaijan's song is effectively staged and Moldova's singer, on an elevated plinth, with a stunning projection on to her dress, is worth looking out for. Georgia, a country keen to promote itself on the world stage have drafted in song writer of the winning song from 2012, the Swedish Thomas G:Son. With no apparent runaway winner it looks like we will see some of the most exciting voting for many a year.
So can Bonnie Tyler win big for the UK on Saturday? It's been 16 years since our last victory with Katrina and the Waves which was 16 years after Bucks Fizz did the business. Whilst Tyler is a legendary singer, popular across the continent, as Engelbert Humperdinck showed last year, what looks good on paper doesn't necessarily translate into votes in reality. The UK hasn't fared well in the contest in recent years. The fact that there are no language restrictions has meant that the UK, Ireland and Malta, which were the only three countries permitted to perform in English, no longer have the advantage.
Yes, voting blocs do exist. But Germany proved in 2010 that a Western country can still win this contest. Win, lose or draw, the Eurovision Song Contest will still endure.
Paul 'Dr Eurovision' Jordan is an expert on the Eurovision Song Contest and is currently writing a book about Eurovision.
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