Boom bang a bang, Eurovision is back and ready to #OpenUp

Making Your Mind Up: UK Eurovision legend Cheryl Baker and Evening News Ents Editor Liam RuddenMaking Your Mind Up: UK Eurovision legend Cheryl Baker and Evening News Ents Editor Liam Rudden
Making Your Mind Up: UK Eurovision legend Cheryl Baker and Evening News Ents Editor Liam Rudden
Eurovision, or rather the Eurovision Song Contest, was always a big thing in our house when I was growing up.

The family gathered around the black and white telly to cheer on both 'Irlande' and 'Royaume-Uni' as Katie Boyle introduced the acts and Terry Wogan established himself as the lynchpin of the Eurovision experience for many with his witty and often pithy comments - something that’s needed more than ever these days.

Subsequently, it’s become my habit to listen to all the entries ahead of time and attempt to predict the winner - the last time I managed that was in 2006, when the monstrous Lordi were the surprise champions in Athens. Should have had a punt on that one.

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Normally, however, Europe and I don’t agree - it now seems to be as much about presentation, politics and gimmicks than the song itself. That said, there's nothing really new there... I blame Bucks Fizz’ skirt-ripping routine. Indeed, it was gimmicks and costumes gone bad that fueled Terry's no-holds-barred commentaries, the main attraction of the UK’s coverage even if it did infuriate Contest organisers and some of our European neigbours.

As I worked my way through this year's 39 songs, twice, there were times, as always, that I lost the will to live as I scribbled notes for my Tweet along on the night - the final is on Saturday, or tonight if you’re reading this in print.

Last year, some of my observations didn't go down too well with fans of the more ‘trying’ numbers, but then, as Terry knew only too well, Eurovision must be approached with a degree of irreverence. It’s the ultimate camp fest and demands to be savored with tongue firmly in cheek.

As for the songs that have caught my attention, well fans of Lady Gaga will probably love Cyprus. You’ll see. There was also a big, beautiful, bangin' anthem from Ireland, which I’d loved to have seen win but due to the vagaries of the voting didn’t make it past Tuesday’s first semi-final. Finland's entry, a rappy, melodic rock number, could be a dark horse worth keeping an eye on and The Nederlands' entry is a brilliantly produced track – as I’m writing this before semi-final two, my fingers are crossed for them.

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I can also tell you, I'll be nipping to the kitchen to put the kettle on when Greece or Moldova take to the stage.

Once again, the big five all get a bye to the final as they pay for the event. Mmm. This year the UK once again revels in mediocrity. Germany have uncovered their very own Timmy Mallet. Italy plumps for some hard-rock/glam-rock while France’s entry, despite being a fan favourite to win, remains a poor man’s Edith Piaf. Spain has perhaps the strongest song of the five, although I keep getting distracted by the fact the performer is the spitting image of Dine restaurant’s Fabricio. If you’ve eaten there, you’ll understand. My favourite, however, the one I'll be putting my 50p on, is Sweden's Tusse with the song Voices. Just wait for the key change. Uplifting and hopeful, it’s just what Eurovision and the world needs right now. Let’s see if Europe agrees.

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