Eurovision 2024 final: seven things to pay attention to


image Source, getty images

image Caption, Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton 50 years ago

  • Author, mark savage
  • Role, music reporter

The Eurovision Song Contest reached its grand final on Saturday night, with Croatia, Israel and Switzerland among the favorites to win.

Fifty years after Abba's historic win in 1974, the contest has returned to its spiritual home in Sweden.

Their winning entry, Waterloo, was the kind of weirdness that only Eurovision could offer: a glam rock anthem about the Napoleonic Wars, performed by two married couples in spangled trouser suits.

It became one of the best songs ever written.

Abba's golden jubilee will be celebrated on stage in Malmö on Saturday, with former Eurovision winners Charlotte Perelli, Carola and Conchita Wurst performing a special version of Waterloo.

But competition has changed beyond recognition over the past five decades.

In 1974, only 17 countries participated in the contest, all accompanied by a live orchestra.

This year there are 37 entrants, whose musical styles include heavy metal, hardcore techno, shimmering Europop and, in Norway's case, a Gothic folk tale about a child who turns into a wolf and kills his stepmother. puts. fun times!

So here are some of the key things to keep in mind when the Grand Final kicks off on Saturday evening.

1) Wicked Kate Bush

Eurovision loves nothing more than an outsider and an underdog – and Bambi Thug perfectly fits the bill this year.

When he won Ireland national selection in January, eyes were rolled up and insults were hurled. One priest even declared that “Ireland is finished”, accusing non-binary artists of “pushing their orientation” in people's faces.

but guess what? Bambi's song, Doomsday Blue, is a blast. A strange, haunting blend of electro-goth and grinding metal guitars that unexpectedly turns into a sweet melody of regret and heartbreak.

Bambi sells it with a genuinely cinematic performance, summoning a demon and then dancing ballet with it, before wrapping things up with a cathartic scream.

Imagine Kate Bush's evil twin singing the anti-lullaby and you'll get the idea.

2) Finding Nemo

If Irish goths aren't your style, maybe you'd prefer drum and bass EDM opera from Switzerland?

That's what we get from Nemo, who has become one of the favorites to win the contest with his song The Code.

The 24-year-old performs it while balancing on a giant rotating turntable – playing the highest notes (the chorus is inspired by Mozart's The Magic Flute, which is usually sung by a soprano).

Surprisingly, there is no trickery involved.

“Someone asked me if there were magnets in my shoes,” he said. “And I thought, Hey, that would have been a wonderful idea – because then I wouldn't have to worry about balance all the time.

“It's always a little scary, but that's what makes it special to me.”

3) Cinderella Story of Baby Lasagna

All this happened at the last minute.

In January, Croatian singer Zsa Zsa withdrew her name from the country's Eurovision selection process, and the gap needed to be filled. Producers called musician Marko Purisic, who stars as Baby Lasagna, and asked if he could step in.

He tentatively said yes, then worked all weekend with his fiancée Eliabetta to prepare a performance.

Surprisingly, their song – a techno-metal crossover called Rim Tim Tagi Dim – won by an overwhelming majority. Baby Lasagna scored 321 points, while the runner-up received 82 points.

He is now also the bookies' favorite to win Eurovision, thanks to his explosive stage presence and a killer hook. (Also keep an eye out for his onstage tribute to his one-eyed cat, Stipe).

After qualifying for the final on Tuesday, Marco said it all felt surreal.

“I remember writing Rim Tim Tagi Dim in my little room,” he wrote on social media. “I could never have imagined that this would happen. It still feels like I'm living someone else's life.”

As he says in the song, “There's no going back now”.

4) Fiddlesticks

image Source, Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

A welcome development in this year's contest is the influx of traditional music alongside the usual Europop bangers and windswept ballads.

This means you will see some unfamiliar instruments on stage.

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Other countries, including Greece and Italy, combine their country's folklore with modern sub-bass and Latin rhythms.

Armenia's Ladanieva also includes a recorder solo in her very catchy dance number Jako.

5) Olly Olly Olly (Oy, Oy, Oy)

image Source, getty images

Representing the UK this year is Olly Alexander – who has the most ambitious staging of the night.

The official description of his set reveals that he will “take viewers into a post-apocalyptic dystopian boxing gym locker room in 1985, aboard a spaceship speeding toward Earth through a black hole.”

In practice, this means he's hanging out with four scantily clad guys, while clever camera manipulation makes it seem like he's Lionel Richie, dancing on his rooftop.

Alexander, formerly the lead singer of pop group Years & Years, brings something very few British contenders have in recent years: stage experience.

That confidence and self-confidence shines through on screen, but will it be enough to save the UK from the Eurovision dustbin?

“I was quite interested in the odds, so I looked and I had a one percent chance of winning,” he confessed this week.

“But that's OK. It's better than zero.”

6) Can Israel win?

image Source, Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

This is the most controversial.

Artists from many countries called for the war against Hamas and the suspension of Israel over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Protests have taken place throughout the week in Malmö, and another protest is planned for the final day.

Israel's contestant Eden Golan also received some booing (as well as cheering) during Thursday's semifinals, and is being protected by armed police during her stay in Sweden.

But the thing is: Israel's song, Hurricane, is one of the strongest songs in the competition.

Golan, who has handled himself with grace and composure throughout, has a fantastic voice, and seems unaffected by the criticisms leveled at him (at least from us).

The bookies have second favorites to win it… and it will be interesting to see how organizers will handle any other opposition if Israel takes the trophy.

Although the EBU insists that the contest is apolitical, it is easy to imagine that participants might consider pulling out instead of demonstrating in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv next year if the political landscape remains the same.

7) France's dark horse

Watching rehearsals at Malmö Arena, only one act has stopped the assembled media in their tracks.

His name is Slimane Nebchi and he's one of France's biggest stars – with two million albums sold, 5 NRJ Music Awards and a Victorie de la Musique to his name.

On paper, their song Mon Amour is nothing to write home about. A textbook Gallic song that The New York Times dismissed as “a Frenchy McFrench, falsetto-laden ballad”.

But there comes a moment at the end when Slimane takes three steps back from the microphone, and sings a cappella: “i'm fine, i like it,

It's a moment of intense intensity that could win them the jury vote, and maybe even get the public on their side.

Either that, or the person with the lasagna wins.

The Eurovision Song Contest is broadcast in the UK on BBC One, BBC Radio 2, BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer from 20:00 BST on Saturday, 11 May.


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