It’s nearly that time of year again when we celebrate all things Euro-pop, and indulge in cheesy, eclectic, and downright weird musical experiences, all in the name of Eurovision.
There are still two semi-finals to get through, on 14 and 16 May, during which the 42 participating countries will be whittled down to just 26 for the final on 18 May.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s entrants.
Which are the best songs?
Russia – Scream
36-year old Sergey Lazarev has Eurovision experience – he placed third in 2016 – and his dark and emotive (though totally unexciting) track ‘Scream’ has many predicting him to be at least a runner-up this year, and maybe even a winner.
Italy – Soldi
Another strong contender who could finish near the top of the table, if not at the very top itself.
Though if anyone’s hoping for high-camp Eurovision, you may be disappointed: artist Mahmood’s tale of an unreliable father whose sole interest is money is not your usual feel-good fare.
Switzerland – She Got Me
Yet another talent show star, Luca Hanni won Season 9 of the German version of pop idol (Deutschland sucht den Superstar) in 2012, and has since gone on to have smash hit albums and singles on the continent.
Perhaps the most upbeat of the Eurovision favourites this year, ‘She Got Me’ is full of sexually charged lyrics about ‘dirty dancing’, with clear influences from smash hit US tracks like ‘Despacito’.
Cyprus – Replay
Sung by Georgian singer Tamta – a runner-up on talent show Super Idol Greece – ‘Replay’ was release a couple of months ahead of schedule in March, and due to overwhelmingly positive reactions across social media, she’s expected for at least a top 10 finish.
Malta – Chameleon
Wouldn’t it be great for Malta to get a win? They just might this year, with Chameleon, a song filled with bass drops so unusual you won’t see them coming.
It’s being sung by 18-year old Michela Pace, who won Malta’s first ever X Factor competition in January 2019 for the chance to compete at Eurovision.
And the weirdest?
Iceland – Hatrið Mun Sigra
You wouldn’t usually put money on a song called ‘Hate Will Prevail’ to take home the top prize at Eurovision, but Iceland’s Hatari are one of the favourites to place highly this year.
This year’s punkiest act are a ‘bondage-synth-punk’ who will be singing about Europe crumbling while dressed in leather, and the trio will be taking to the stage clad in leather to sing/scream a song about Europe crumbling.
According to Radio Times, “Hatari are entering Eurovision to bring down capitalism and have challenged Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu to a match of glíma.”
That’s Icelandic trouser wrestling to you and me.
“If they beat Netanyahu, Hatari have said they will have the right to build a liberal BDSM colony on the Mediterranean coast.”
Who are the favourites to win?
Netherlands – Arcade
If the bookies are to be believed, the Netherlands will walk away from Israel as the winners of Eurovision 2019.
Their act, Duncan Laurence, reached the semi-finals of The Voice of Holland in 2014, and his song ‘Arcade’ is slow-burning and heart-felt – the kind that judges have gone mad for in recent years.
Will the UK get any points this year?
Quite possibly – according to Oddschecker, the UK is expected to rank 20th out of the 42 countries taking part this year.
That’s not too bad, until you consider that only 26 of those make it through to the final. Still, Britain might avoiding the dreaded ‘nil points’ this year.
Hoping to replicate the success of Sandie Shaw, Lulu and Brotherhood of Man this year is Michael Rice, who won last year’s BBC talent show All Together Now with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.
He described his song – ‘Bigger Than Us’ – as “an epic, big song with a big key change and harmonies, and I think the lyrics resonate with everyone.”
Rice was chosen to represent the UK through the Eurovision: You Decide selection process, which this year saw three songs sung by six different acts.
When is the Eurovision Song Contest?
2019’s Eurovison Song takes place at Expo Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday 18 May.