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Eurovision 2022: The ones to watch

The Eurovision Song Contest returns this week and we’ve got the lowdown on the contenders in Saturday’s Grand Final.

By Alastair James

Words: Matt Baker; pictures: EBU

If there’s one thing the world needs right now, it’s a bit of pure joy and happiness.

If you want to laugh, cry, and party all in the space of a glorious 4-hour television spectacular, then you better get ready because the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest is this Saturday (14 May)

Do you want to know who has been hotly tipped to raise that coveted glass trophy? Let’s dive into the Eurovision 2022 ones to watch.

Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra, ‘Stefania’

Kalush Orchestra is a hip-hop band that uses folk instruments to fuse together both traditional and modern sounds.

The song ‘Stefania’ is a tribute to bandmember Oleh’s mother and if your Ukrainian is up to scratch, you can’t ignore some of the messaging in the song: “I‘ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed.”

While Ukraine is currently the bookie’s favourite to win this year, they are still a wildcard choice. The war with Russia has led to an outpouring of support from western countries, and nobody can really predict how this might translate into Eurovision votes.

Whatever happens on Saturday night, the fact that Kalush Orchestra can perform on stage and tell their own story in their own words is a real victory.

Italy: Mahmood and BLANCO, ‘Brividi’

In the year that Italy won everything from Olympic golds to football’s Euros to The Great British Bake Off, it almost seemed inevitable that Måneskin would win Eurovision 2021 and bring the contest back to the ‘Bel Paese’.

Make no mistake, Italy’s entry in 2022 is a big hitter. ‘Brividi’ (or Shivers in English) won the Sanremo Music Festival for its shot at Eurovision and even spent 10 weeks at number one in Italy – incredible by today’s standards. When it comes to sending an entry to Eurovision the Italians do not mess about.

Mahmood has been a well-known name in the Italian music scene for a few years now and represented Italy at Eurovision in 2019 with his song ‘Soldi’ – amassing a whopping 472 points and second place.

Blanco had three number ones in Italy last year, as well as a number one album. In 2022 that album hit number one yet again for the second time and the success of ‘Brividi’ topped off that list of achievements. If you’re looking for the big artists performing at the contest, here they are.

Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs, ‘Hold Me Closer’

With the rich pop songwriting history that gave us the likes of Roxette, Max Martin, Zara Larsson, and of course Eurovision winners Abba, it seems Sweden is always talked about as a contender.

This year it’s certainly deserved. Jakobs qualified to represent her country through the TV juggernaut that is Melodifestivalen – Sweden’s national selection that tops the list of the nation’s most watched TV shows across the year. If a song makes it through this process, you know it’s going to be good.

For those of you wanting a more introspective song and maybe a good old cry, ‘Hold Me Closer’ is for you. It’s about meeting a love interest at the wrong time and saying goodbye. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives and this is probably the reason why so many people rate its chances at Eurovision.

Spain: Chanel, ‘SloMo’

Some fans argue that Spain is perennially overlooked at Eurovision, but will 2022 be the year that we see Spanish votes come flooding in? Well, Chanel has a pop banger with lots of base that we’ve already seen can be performed well live.

Remember Eleni Foureira’s Eurovision hit ‘Fuego’ for Cyprus back in 2019? This is straight out of that hair-flicking, booty-shaking, leave nothing on the dancefloor playbook. Chanel is bringing full choreography and a flawless vocal to boot.

You want to let loose and party round your living room? Trust me, Spain’s got you covered.

Norway: Subwoolfer, ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ 

Wait, hear me out. I know it sounds crazy that two suited and booted men dressed in bright yellow spandex wolf masks, singing about being fed a banana to save Grandma is being tipped as a contender, but it just is.

Rumours are flying around the internet as to who these guys are. Maybe we’ll find out or maybe they’ll forever be hungry yellow wolves. But don’t be fooled by the quirky presentation, there’s a well-produced song under all that quirk and we should expect lots of televotes from the public for Norway.

Let’s talk about the song. ‘Give That Wolf a Banana’ is reworking the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. It might be ridiculous but listen to that beat and tell me it doesn’t make you happy. There’s also a funky little dance to learn as the wolves (named Keith and Jim) are joined onstage by an astronaut DJ.

And speaking of astronauts…

United Kingdom: Sam Ryder, ‘Space Man’

Finally, we come to the United Kingdom. And how do you solve a problem like the UK at Eurovision? Well, this year the BBC think they’ve cracked it with social media star Sam Ryder and his 12 million Tik Tok followers.

If you’ve not heard the name, you may have seen his videos that have been appearing all over the socials since the first Covid lockdown. Ryder went viral covering songs from the likes of Queen, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. And he even had celeb endorsements from Sia and Alicia Keys.

‘Space Man’ is Ryder’s own song that was co-written with Max Wolfgang and Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has worked with Ed Sheeran on ‘Thinking Out Loud’. ‘Space Man’ starts softly and builds to up to some huge vocal moments, so expect this to go big in the hall!

Whatever you think of ‘Space Man’, it’s in our list of contenders as at the time of writing the United Kingdom is sitting in the top five with most bookies. We can but dream!

The Grand Final of The Eurovision Song Contest is live on the BBC on 14 May.