Engelbert has finally unveiled his song for Europe, and mercifully it’s more Disneyfied Johnny Cash than reheated Tom Jones. It’s all very stately and dignified, and likely to give us a strong result, which is about as much as one could hope for from an Engelbert Humperdinck Eurovision Entry in 2012. But what about the competition? I’ve listened to all 43 of this year’s entries so you don’t have to (though honestly I would have done it anyway). Here’s my guide to the best of the bunch, from the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous.
Greta & Jonsi: 'Never Forget'
For such a small country, Iceland has an impressive strike rate when it comes to fielding fabulous Eurovision entries. While this can’t hold a candle to their poppers o’clock 2010 entry 'Je ne sais quoi' by the imperious Hera Bjork, it’s a dramatic, string-soaked Nordic ethno ballad that really creeps up on you.
Sounds like: Kelly Clarkson hooking up with Meat Loaf at a Violin recital.
Pastora Soler: 'Quédate Conmigo'
One of the grand traditions of Eurovision is a big-lunged Eurodiva screaming her head off over a mournful piano backing. This is straight out of 1995, but if you like your ballads cranked up to 11, complete with vaguely terrifying key changes, this one should do the trick nicely.
Sounds like: A post-breakdown Mariah Carey working out her issues while on a package holiday in Marbella.
Gaitana: 'Be My Guest'
Perhaps the very dictionary definition of a Eurovision song. Stupidly catchy chorus with lyrics that don’t quite make sense, and more big diva vocals that have the potential to go extremely awry on the night. Interestingly, this is also doubling as the official theme tune for Euro 2012. I’m sure the 'Vindaloo' crowd will lap this entirely butch piece up.
Sounds like: The return of Rozalla
Buranovskiye Babushki: 'Party for Everybody'
A common misconception in Britain is that Eurovision is nothing more than a collection of deranged novelty entries competing for the title of most ridiculous gimmick. It isn’t true, but you do need at least one truly eyebrow-raising moment in each contest, and this definitely fits the bill. I’m not entirely sure the woman on the far left has any idea what’s going on.
Sounds like: The soundtrack to a terrifying surrealist horror film set in Stalinist Russia.
One of the hot pre-contest favourites, this song has all the elements of a pop classic. Slightly 90s-esque dance backing supporting an absolute sledgehammer of a pop chorus, lent just a hint of melancholy by the captivating performance and Loreen’s mournful vocal. I could genuinely imagine this song being a hit outside the contest, and all going well it could be the most commercial winner in many a year. Now watch it finish 21st behind the Russian grannies…
Sounds like: Sash! if he’d spent the past 15 years working exclusively with La Trec instead of faffing about with Tina Cousins and the like.
Prediction: Stockholm 2013