Highly favored Sweden, Poland and eight other countries advance to Eurovision grand final
Sweden and Poland, both among the favorites to win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, joined eight other countries in qualifying for the Grand Final on Saturday (May 14) in Turin, Italy.
Finland, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Estonia, Romania, Belgium and the Czech Republic also advanced after Thursday’s second semi-final.
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Israel, Georgia, Malta, San Marino, Cyprus, Ireland, North Macedonia and Montenegro failed.
The latest reports from bookmakers who bet on the winner of Eurovision each year show Ukraine have a 57% chance of winning, followed by the UK with 11%, based on the average odds of 13 different companies.
This suggests a good performance for Sam Ryder‘Space Man’, which would be a reversal of fortune for the UK, which finished last in 2021 with zero points. The UK hasn’t had a top 10 entry since 2009, when Jade Ewen’s ‘It’s My Time’, written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren, finished fifth. The UK have not won since 1997, when Katrina and the waves triumphed with “Love Shine A Light”.
If Ukraine win on Saturday, as expected, it will be the country’s third championship, after Ruslana“Wild Dances” from 2004 and “1944” by Jamala in 2016.
The ‘big five’ countries – Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the UK – did not make the semi-finals. Because they contribute the most to the production budget, they don’t have to qualify and are always represented in the competition.
Thursday’s 10 new additions range from deeply personal and intimate songs to straight rock and country-tinged pop. Finland kicked off Thursday’s semi-final with a rock performance by The Rasmus, a veteran Finnish band that formed in 1994 when the members were in eighth grade. They have had four consecutive No. 1 albums on the Finnish charts and five No. 1 singles. Their Eurovision entry, “Jezebel”, co-written and produced by Desmond Child, peaked this year at No. 4.
Australian Sheldon Riley, diagnosed at the age of six with Asperger’s Syndrome, struggled with his sexual identity growing up until he came out as gay. He told Australian SBS radio that feeling separated from other children made “growing up a bit more difficult”. It was the inspiration for her very personal Eurovision entry, “Not the Same”.
After the show, Riley was asked by reporters about the status of LGBTQ+ rights in Australia. “There is still a lot to do, but I am happy with the progress made,” he said.
Representing Estonia is Stephane, son of Armenian immigrants, who has been releasing music since 2017. In 2020, he won the first season of the Estonian version of The Masked Singer. An avowed fan of Johnny Cash and the late film composer Ennio Morricone, his entry “Hope” begins as a country song and builds into a powerful cinematic anthem.
Six-time Eurovision winner Sweden is making Eurovision history this year with Cornelia Jakob’s ‘Hold Me Closer’, co-written by Isa Molin. This is Molin’s first time participating in Eurovision, but his father, Bobby Ljunggren, has composed six applications for Eurovision, five for Sweden and one for Lithuania. Since this year, he has entered 50 songs in the Melodifestivalen, the Swedish national final for Eurovision.
This appears to be the first time a father and daughter have written separate Eurovision songs. In 1996, Anna Mjoll from Iceland and his father Ólafur Gaukur Þórhallsson wrote his jazz-tinged entry, “Sjúbídú”.
“I’ve been involved in music all my life and it was great to have that in common with my dad,” Molin said. Billboard. “It’s so good to have my parents here and my brother also arrived today from Singapore.”
The 10 countries that progress from the second semi-final join the 10 nations that qualified after the first semi-final on Tuesday: Ukraine, Armenia, Greece, Iceland, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland.
Additional reporting by Silvia Danielli of Billboard Italia
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