Watched by millions around the world, the Eurovision Song Contest is musical Marmite – love it or loath it – even its fiercest critic can’t call it dull.
This year of course is something special – for the first time two countries (Ukraine and the UK) will jointly host the event which has descended on Liverpool’s waterfront in all its multi-coloured glory.
So, as pop fans ready themselves for Saturday’s marathon of 26 acts in four hours, who do we think is going to be taking home the iconic Eurovision glass microphone trophy?
Image: Loreen The top three
Sweden – the birthplace of Eurovision royalty Abba – are favourite to win.
Loreen – who won the contest in 2012 with Euphoria – is now returning with her new song Tattoo, an electric banger with show stopping vocals.
And science is on her side, with solo female pop acts found to be the most likely to win the competition, according to a recent study by digital marketing agency Evoluted.
Winning this year would put Sweden level with Ireland for most wins (seven) and make Loreen the first woman to win it more than once.
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‘I want to create something that matters’ Finland’s hyper-pop-rap tune Cha Cha Cha is also hotly tipped by bookies.
The song is performed by Finnish singer Kaarija – a pro at posing up a storm on the red carpet with his trademark neon green sleeves-only puffer jacket and bowl haircut.
Image: Kaarija His name is a clever pun in Finnish on the verbs “to wrap / and to rap” and his song is inspired by the feeling of losing your inhibitions after a drink or two. The 29-year-old singer has described the track to Sky News as: “Very much power and energy and fire”.
Image: Tvorchi Electronic duo Tvorchi, made up of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jeffery Kenny, will compete for Ukraine with their rousing song Heart Of Steel.
With their band name meaning “creative” in Ukrainian, their song is an understated message of defiance aimed at Russia, the invader of their homeland.
They are of course hoping to take the prize back to Ukraine, which was unable to host this year’s show due to the war.
Image: Mae Muller. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett What about the UK?
Mae Muller is the UK’s hopeful this year, with a poppy, energetic break-up tune called I Wrote A Song.
The dance track features tongue-in-cheek lyrics about a cheating ex-boyfriend.
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She explained the inspiration for the song on TikTok: “I was really annoyed at this guy. I wanted to do something crazy, maybe burn his house down, I don’t know.
“But instead I took the high road and I wrote a song. And that’s called growth, ladies and gentlemen.”
With an energetic dance routine and easy-to-sing-along-to section of “da dada dada da’s” it stands a good chance of making the top 10.
Image: Blanca Paloma Also in the running
Spain’s Blanca Paloma will sing Eaea which has an authentic Spanish sound, fused with strong synth line.
Paloma has said the song represents a “chant to her late grandmother”, who had inspired much of her music.
Norway’s Alessandra will sing Queen Of Kings, a pop sensation with a super catchy chorus. With comparison to Lady Gaga, it’s already one of the most streamed songs of the competition.
And France’s La Zarra will sing sultry torch song Evidemment (which translates as “obviously” in English).
The French-language track was created especially for the contest, co-written by La Zarra herself, and she’s described it as a true French “chanson” about love, the importance of loving oneself and the strive towards achieving complete happiness in what can often be a complex world.
Image: Teya & Salena What about the novelty songs?
Possibly more important than the potential winners, are the acts everyone will be talking about on Sunday morning.
Austria is getting all literary, with Teya and Salena’s entry Who The Hell Is Edgar?, about the ghost of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. That, and streaming sites short-changing artists. Quite an eclectic mix.
Image: Voyager Croatian shock-rock band Let 3 will sing a a track called Mama SC, which includes the lyrics: “Mama bought the tractor”, “Armageddon granny” and “War, war, evil little psychopath”.
While they will perform in brightly coloured military garb on the Eurovision stage, they are reported to have been in trouble in Croatia for stripping off in public and performing naked.
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Australia’s entry – Voyager – is a veteran prog-metal band who said their track is like “Duran Duran, but heavy” – which sounds… interesting.
Sky News will be in Liverpool with updates, a live blog, and all the biggest news from the contest as it happens.