Eurovision Song Contest betting preview and tips

Italy's Francesco Gabbani

David John has pinpointed three acts to follow for Saturday night's Eurovision Song Contest.

A total of 26 nations line up this year in Kiev, Ukraine.

Twenty have qualified via the two semi-finals held in midweek along with the Big Five (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy) plus the host nation.

You can tune in to watch from 2000BST on Saturday on BBC1.

In a nutshell, voting to determine the winner will be split between a televote by viewers and a national jury from each country. 

Recommended bets: 

3pts win Italy at 11/8 - excellent song, vibrant performance and a bit of theatre so well worth its place at the head of the betting

1pt e.w. Belgium at 22/1 (1/4 1,2,3) - unusual but appealing, if opinion-dividing, and performed by a very talented singer

1pt e.w. Sweden at  30/1 (1/4 1,2,3) - slick and catchy from a country that knows what it takes to win the event

Full running order:

Israel – IMRI - I Feel Alive

More run-of-the-mill Europop delivered with acceptable energy by a singer who has been to the last two finals and gets a shot now as the main man. It all goes a bit Riverdance towards the end, but not too offensive all things considered.

Poland – Kasia Mos – Flashlight

Big voice, big ballad and probably a big waste of time. Turgid lyrics leading to a musical climax reminiscent of when the baddy reveals himself at the end of the original Saw movie. Air violin in the background brings little to the table.

Belarus - Naviband – Story Of My Life

Up tempo with the participants thoroughly enjoying themselves on what looks like one of those crafts that skims across the Everglades in Florida. First time that an entry from this country has been sung in native tongue but still can’t resist the urge to go for a gobbledygook chorus.  

Austria – Nathan Kent – Running On Air

Rip off of The Script performed by a young songster sat on a half-moon. Jogs along at a reasonable clip but will probably end up running on empty.

Armenia – Artsvik – Fly With Me

Plinky-plonky folk tune approach that soon wears out its welcome. Top marks for the accompanying dancing but considerably less for the song. 

Netherlands – OG3NE – Light And Shadows

Three sisters with a bit of melodious, harmless fun very much in the mould of Wilson Phillips, for those who can remember that far back. Not a very strong tune and seems unlikely to make a great deal of impact.

Moldova – Sunstroke Project – Hey Mamma

Got a rousing reception from the auditorium after the first semi-final with an energetic display. Watch out for the loony sax player (has previous in this event), some funny little dance moves and the world’s fastest wedding ceremony – sort of catchy, sort of watchable and sort of dreadful. 

Hungary – Joci Papai – Origo

The singing in Hungarian is not very notable and the best parts of the song are carried by an enthusiastic young lady on the violin. Bit of a rap going on as well, but all a little too esoteric.  

Italy – Francesco Gabbani – Occidental’s Karma

Cracking slice of nonsense with a banging chorus and some sort of Buddhist vibe thrown in. Signor Gabbani dances like he is at a wedding and his tie seems to have shrunk in the wash while a man in a gorilla suit appears for the second half to join in the fun. Odds-on earlier in the week and has drifted but a worthwhile market leader. 

Denmark – Anja – Where I Am

The Danes have poached Anja from Australia for the night. She looks a bit like Anneka Rice’s (Treasure Hunt) youngest and delivers a strong performance with a lot of staring down the camera, although the aggressive finger pointing becomes a touch disturbing.

Portugal – Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois

Very well supported in the betting after the first semi-final following some tip-top crooning in his native tongue. Quirky, likeable, natural performance of a song written by his sister with no frills that will tug at the heartstrings - made me wish I could understand Portuguese. 

Azerbaijan – Dihaj – Skeletons

Their set involves a solo female vocal, a giant blackboard and an eight-foot window cleaner’s ladder with a man stood on top of it wearing a horse’s head. All of the acid-trip weirdness can’t mask an amazingly dull song. 

Croatia – Jacques Houdek – My Friend

Jacques has been popular with the punters around the auditorium in Kiev and his performance is unusual to say the least. He starts off hitting a few high-pitched notes then goes full-on opera before continuing to switch between the two. Personally, I don’t get it, but it's the sort of gimmicky tripe that could make a splash.

Australia – Isaiah – Don’t Come Easy

Perhaps they will take Britain’s place in Europe following Brexit. There have been two attempts so far from the Antipodeans and they are yet to finish outside the top five so will hope to keep up the good run with a 17-year-old winner of Aussie X-Factor. He boasts some marvellous eyebrows and a decent vocal but repetitive lyrics start to grind by the end.

Greece – Demy – This Is Love

Slow start builds into a piece of Europop dross we have all seen a thousand times before. Is there any need for two men in splashing around in a paddling pool? Probably not.

Spain – Manuel Navarro – Do It For Your Lover

Simple little acoustic guitar tune with the verse sung in Spanish and the chorus in English that falls somewhere between catchy and irritating – more towards the latter.

Norway – JOWST – Grab The Moment

Used to be the laughing stock of the contest but have bagged a couple of wins and this song is certainly a grower with a strong chorus. The lyrics are a bit odd – nearly as odd as a band accompanying the lead singer wearing spot-welding masks. 

United Kingdom – Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You

An appropriate title for this competition as Blighty continues to bang its head against a brick wall with an ex-X-Factor contestant the latest sent over the top into action. Lucie is a tremendous vocalist for a grown-up song worthy of a place in the top 10 at the very least. 

Cyprus – Hovig - Gravity

Plodding folk-style song performed by a Peter Andre lookalike. Some clever little trickery with the lighting on the floor just about prevents the urge to nod off halfway through.

Romania – Ilinca featuring Alex Florea - Yodel It!

A yodel rap. Next.

Germany – Levina – Perfect Life

Begins with some promise but goes nowhere pretty rapidly despite a bit of a pick up in pace by the second verse. Bland and uninspiring.

Ukraine – Torvald – Time

The hosts have gone all guitar-driven rock on a post-apocalyptic set with clocks counting down glued to their chests. The verse is better than the chorus but it is a darned good effort in defence of the title on the whole – a bit Biffy Clyro.

Belgium – Blanche – City Lights

Up-tempo but quite dark and the sort of song you might expect to accompany an advert on TV for a top-end family saloon. Striking singer with a very good voice and the static delivery seems to fit in well.   

Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On

Actually he can go on as he emerges from backstage in full cry and the USP is finishing their gym workout on five treadmills. One slip though and it all ends in calamity, while the word “freakin’” is pivotal in an extremely slick and catchy number. Whether nailing Donald Trump’s hand gestures turns out to be a good or bad thing remains to be seen. 

Bulgaria – Kristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess

He only turned 17 a few days before the competition but has an excellent voice well beyond his tender years. The money suggests this will go very close and clearly fancied to improve on Poli Genova’s fourth last year backed by the same songwriting team. 

France – Alma – Requiem

Starts with a French verse then goes into English for the chorus but won’t engage either nationality. You listen to it once, it is instantly forgettable and appears well out of its depth. The French are hopeless in this anyway and it could be wooden spoon time despite the pick of the draw.

Posted at 1000 BST on 12/05/17.  

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