Eurovision 2013: The Ultimate Guide

Tonight we head to Malmo, Sweden, for the 58th Annual Eurovision Song Contest, and as we’ve been saying all week, we couldn’t be more excited. We couldn’t make it to Scandinavia in person, so we’ll be live tweeting the whole thing over @entertainmentIE, and joining the millions tuning in on d’telly across the continent.

So, whether you’re planning to spend the evening watching the show from the comfort of your sofa, or heading out with your pals to paint the town red at a Eurovision party (score cards are an optional extra, and can be obtained from Euro Vizeum) here’s your guide to tonight’s Grand Final:

How did we get here?
Well, you’ll all remember that Sweden scooped the title last year in Azerbaijan (you have to scream AAAAAAD-ZER-BAAII-CHAAAN to get back in the Baku groove), with Loreen‘s ‘Euphoria’ bringing Eurovision back to Europe. She swept the board, nabbing douze pointes left, right, and centre, and arguably disproving the Bloc Voting theory in the process. Here’s a reminder of that cracking tune:

Who is in?
26 countries are vying for that top spot this eve, including ourselves. The Big Five (France, Spain, Italy, Germany and The United Kingdom – they spend all the money to make the sure goes out across the continent and beyond) and title holders Sweden qualified automatically, while the rest of us had to make it through the semi finals. Don’t expect to see Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Latvia, San Marino, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Israel, Albania or Switzerland: They didn’t have much luck at the first hurdle… We said it before and we’ll say it again, those spacemen were robbed.

Who is the favourite?
The big bucks are on Denmark, but Norway and Ukraine ain’t too far behind.

How are we doing?
Young Ryan Dolan fared rather well in the First Semi Final, but he’s going to have to pull it out of the bag on the night to stand any chance of giving the Scandinavian women a run for their money. That said, now they’ve turned the backing singers’ volume down he’s sounding better than ever. And those lads with the bodhrans should go down well in Europe… The bookies have us anywhere between 7th and 13th, but The Huffington Post UK says Twitter users really want us to win. Now if only we could vote for ourselves wha?

Who should you watch out for?
Well, aside from the lovely ladies we mentioned yesterday, there’s the giant fella who carries Zlata from Ukraine on-stage, Finland’s act has a controversial gay kiss (which, according to the press, may be censored so as to keep Europe’s more conservative nations happy), and the lad from Romania with the, errr, interesting voice.

How does it work?
If you’re a Eurovision n00b, or just in need of a refresher, here’s how it works. 26 countries have made it to the final, where they’ll all sing for the coveted title. The phone lines will open after they all perform, and it’ll be up to the viewers in the 39 participating countries (13 of which said sayonara in the Semis) to decide who gets their vote, which is worth 50 per cent of the final mark. Eurovision juries representing each country have already voted, and they account for the other 50 per cent of the vote. By Eurovision logic, the running order had a direct impact on how well a country will do: You don’t want to be first, or sandwiched in the middle, so the fact that we’re performing last should be a good thing… If you live near the border, do us a favour and jump in the car when voting starts. We know they keep saying we’ve won the most, but wouldn’t it be deadly if we could nab victory number 8? Linda Martin did it in Mamlo 21 years ago…

What’s the most important thing any Eurovision song can have?
A ‘daaaaycent’ key change. Keep your ears open: No key change, no douze pointes from us anyway. Refer to the above for proof.

Marty Whelan or Graham Norton?
With Terry Wogan long gone, it’s difficult to decide who to watch the show with. Marty has the Irish angle, but Graham‘s got a deliciously sharp tongue. Plus, the Beeb doesn’t take ad breaks, so you can catch all that awkward and annoyingly awful Eurovision host banter that’s lost on RTE. It’s a tough choice, so we’ll leave it up to you.

Who am I rooting for? (Besides Ireland, obviously: I clearly want to be plucked from obscurity to host this thing when it finally comes back to Dublin)
There’s only one song your TV Ed hasn’t been able to get out of her head for the past 24 hours. Check it out below.

And remember, when it comes to the interval act, it’d just be rude not to mention that it’s no Riverdance. We’ll see you all in Coppers for a re-enactment…

Catch the Eurovision Song Contest on RTE One and BBC One from 8.00pm

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