Ukraine and the UK are favorites when the final countdown begins to tonight’s annual Eurovision extravaganza, which takes place in Italy.
Hundreds of millions are set to listen to one of the world’s most watched television events, with a song about Meghan Markle and a song called Give That Wolf a Banana among the 25 finalists.
TikTok star Sam Ryder represents the UK and should be sure to avoid the injustice zero-point debacle of James Newman’s contribution last year.
His song, Space Man, has placed him among the top and he comes fourth from last – which is normally good.
Ryder will also hope that some of his 12 million followers will take part in the public vote.
Essex singer-songwriter – who is 6/1 second favorite at Ladbrokes – said that the song was written 18 months ago and that he never thought it would be used in the competition.
He is also not worried about his ranking on Eurovision top list.
“I get to sing in a room and get in touch with people and not think about where I get on the scoreboard,” he told Sky News.
“It is for love and joy to sing. This is something that celebrates inclusivity, expression, love, peace, joy, community …”, the singer added.
Ryder is set against an entry into Ukraine that could very well go to victory in a show of support for the war-torn country – with the odds that tip them to collect the big points.
The hip-hop outfit Kalush Orchestra performs Stefania, a track that mixes traditional Ukrainian folk instruments with modern sounds, and is a tribute to the mother of one of its members.
Speaking ahead of the big day, singer Oleg Psyuk told Sky News that the group felt “a great responsibility” and “spoke on behalf of our country and was heard on behalf of our country.”
The Ukrainian TV commentator for the competition, Timur Miroshnychenko, was consistent forced to send from a bomb shelter during the semifinals.
If the country wins, the suggestion is that Britain would be the preferred candidate to host next year – if the war is still going on.
Other notable hopefuls are the Serbian artist Konstrakta, whose peculiar song refers to Meghan Markle and begins with the text (translated into English): “What could be the secret of Meghan Markle’s healthy hair?
“What could it be? I think it’s all about the deep hydration.”
Eurovision fans looking for more strange and wonderful Europop should also keep an eye out for the yellow “foreign” heads on Norwegian Subwoolfer and their song Give That Wolf A Banana.
Others who tip well are Swedish Cornelia Jakobs and defending Eurovision champions Italy.
The home country puts its hopes in two of its most popular young stars, Mahmood and Blanco.
Mahmood, from Italian X Factor, was second in Eurovision three years ago, while singer and rapper Blanco topped the charts for eight weeks last year.
Spain could also finish high in the rankings thanks to Chanel Terrero, a Cuban-born dancer and actress who plays up-tempo Shakira-like dance track SloMo.
Italy’s northern city of Turin is hosting the show after Italian rockers Maneskin stole the show in Rotterdam last year.
Eurovision’s grand finale is hosted by Graham Norton and starts on BBC One on Saturday at 20.00.