Eurovision 2016: We Run Down The 26 Finalists, Including Russian Favourite And UK's Joe And Jake

26 countries will compete in Saturday evening's Grand Final.

13/05/2016 15:54

We're in the grip of Eurovision, with two semi-finals behind us and the Grand Final taking place on Saturday night. 

Current odds are making Russia's superstar Sergey Lazarev the hot favourite, with the UK's Joe and Jake coming in at a respectable seventh place in the bookies' list of favourites.  

What of the others? Here's our forensic run-down of all the acts competing in Saturday's grand finale - who's your favourite?

  • Spain -Barei - Say Yay!
    Some pretty convincing beats and a seductive performance from an energetic singer who, with the help of a mirroring effect, resembles a more wholesome version of Tatu. Not douze points, but not nul. 
  • France - Amir - J’ai Cherche
    A more energetic version of the Dutch version, although a shame he’s not singing in the beautiful sounds of his native tongue, opting instead for English. It’s a confident, positive song that might catch the votes. 
  • Germany - Jamie-Lee - Ghost
    A wobbly, warbling ballad - not the best Germany have produced in their long run. A million miles away from previous winner Leena, and Nicole, come to think of it.
  • Italy - Francesca Michielin - No Degree of Separation
    Another refreshing vocalist singing in her native language, a lovely voice and some great foliage. No act has taken the message of ‘Come Together’ for this year’s contest more literally. 
  • UK - Joe and Jake - You're Not Alone
    With the usual Schadenfreude aside, it's clear this our strongest hope for a long time. Enough cherubic grins to please the Eurovision audience, but with enough of a hook for radio play, could this be our year? 
  • Sweden - Frans - If I Were Sorry
    How to follow last year’s victor Mans? With a slower, less amped but equally toe-tapping ditty, which you WILL be humming on Monday. I’m expecting another top five result from this. 
  • Hungary - Freddie - Pioneer
    With a look inspired by Nik Kamen’s 501 ads of the 1980s, Zayn Malik-alike Freddie hardly needs the chaps behind him whistling. Or the enthusiastic drummer straight out of ‘Mad Max’. All in all, there’s a lot to enjoy, despite the plodding nature of the mid-tempo foot-banging anthem.
  • Croatia - Nina Kralijic - Lighthouse
    18 kilograms of costume and that’s BEFORE the costume reveal. Bit of Bjork, bit of Ellie Goulding, this isn’t going to win, but it’s a valiant key change. 
  • Netherlands - Douwe Bob - Slow Down
    Typically cheerful guitar-jangling from a smiling man in purple. Victory for the Dutch will depend on 200 million viewers turning their backs on the techno pop of recent years for something more traditional. Unlikely.
  • Armenia - Iveta Mukuchyan - LoveWave
    The sexiest woman in Armenia 2012 can’t rescue this over-defiant ballad. despite the pyrotechnics. This is the song Bonnie Tyler should have owned back in 2013. Done like this, utterly forgettable. 
  • Russia - Sergey Lazarev - You Are The Only One
    The hot favourite for victory, this is one of Russia’s biggest stars. And it shows, with a man ready to emulate last year’s victor Mans. If his charisma isn’t enough, there are some strangely familiar graphics too. And then he climbs the wall. Russia really, really want this. 
  • Czech Republic - Gabriela Guncikova - I Stand
    Following the techno-theatrics of Russia, this is a throwback to Eurvosion of old. A woman in a frock belting out a big ballad. Without the gimmicks, the song needs to be still bigger, sadly. 
  • Cyprus - Minus One - Alter Ego
    Killers-esque antidote to all that’s gone before. If America follow Australia to the Contest, Brandon Flowers will be singing something very similar next year. This is no bad thing. 
  • Austria - Zoe - Loin D’ici
    A rare finalist not singing in English, Zoe brings a lot of Joe Le Taxi charm to this upbeat number. I’d expect a top ten position come the voting. 
  • Azerbaijan - Samra - Miracle
    If in doubt, put a pretty girl in a bodysuit and surround her with some nimble chaps. It worked for Britney. Nothing much to dislike here, but I doubt the LGBT activists will have to resolve whether to book a ticket next year.
  • Malta - Ira Losco - Walk on Water
    Malta apparently changed their entry just before the Contest, opting for a far more Xena the Warrior-esque offering. The wind machine is working as hard as the beautiful singer, but the visuals are more striking than the song. 
  • Latvia - Justs - Heartbeat
    With Sweden departing from the Mans Zelmerlow prototype this year, the space has been filled by Justs. Leather jacket and a bleeding heart - with all that anguish on his face - and the pounding fist - he deserves some points, even if you can put on the kettle while you’re waiting for a chorus. 
  • Poland - Michal Szpak - Color of your Life
     When you get over the fact it’s basically Johnny Depp in disguise, lean back and wallow in this Eurovision of old - a semi-operatic ballad from a man with the confidence not to move his feet an inch, it’s all in the arms. 
  • Israel - Hovi Star - Made of Stars
    This gentleman has lent his voice to the Hebrew version of many a Disney film, and his talent for drama shines through. He also has a cracking voice, but is let down by a plodding song - nice to see the human sphere make an appearance, though. 
  • Serbia - Sanja Vucic ZAA - Goodbye (Shelter)
    This has somehow sneaked into the final where other mid-tempo ballads failed. A striking vocalist with strong pipes and a record number of tassels has obviously helped, but the idea that this denied Belarus a place, with their naked singer and live wolves, is unforgivable. 
  • Lithuania - Donny Montell - I’ve Been Waiting For This Night
    While Ireland’s Nicky Byrne was busy trying (and failing - sob!) to emulate Mans Zelmerlow, this Donny has valiantly filled the Westlife slot. 
  • Australia - Dami Im - Sound of Silence
    It’s their second year in the Contest, and our cousins Down Under have not disgraced themselves yet. Last year, Guy Sebastian belted out a banger, now Dami gives us something high, committed and not a million miles away from Robin Beck’s Coke Ad anthem of yesteryear. 
  • Bulgaria - Poli Genova - If Love Was A Crime
    Poor Poli was reportedly very nervous about the prospect of getting through to the final. She needn’t have been. This is one of the strongest pop songs of the Contest. Expect to be wriggling to this in Ibiza all summer - with or without the white fluffy garters adopted by Poli. 
  • Ukraine - Jamala - 1944
    Prince would be impressed - this lady is a vision in purple. And the song has a serious message. Sadly, I have to say it does nothing for me, but it’s one of the favorites, and she sings in two languages.
  • Georgia - Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz - Midnight Gold
    Anyone who doesn't think rock ever triumphs at Eurovision has obviously forgotten about Lordi. This wouldn't sound out of place at Glastonbury, but it may win some alternative votes. It's a grower. 
  • Belgium - Laura Tesoro - What’s The Pressure
    Like our own Fleur East, Laura's a talent show discovery (the winner of the Belgian ‘The Voice’) and brings a similar Bruno Mars-esque edge to the stage, a breath of fresh air for any Eurovision viewer searching desperately for some funk between all the pop, although not quite as distinctive as Australia’s Guy Sebastian last year.

The Eurovision Grand Final takes place on Saturday 14 May at 8pm. UK viewers can view on BBC One. Tap the first picture below to open the slideshow:

Eurovision 2016: All You Need To Know



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