It’s back! After one cancelled contest and one very careful, almost-cancelled contest due to the pandemic, the Eurovision Song Contest returns in full force.
Already this week, we’ve seen a spinning room made of toilet paper, a NSFW vegan anthem, and a performance of Italy’s 2020 entry so emotionally affecting that anyone left dry-eyed at the end of it probably needs to see a doctor. There have been frisbees on the Turquoise Carpet, pyrotechnics on the stage, and one improbably huge disco ball.
If you’re just tuning in for the Grand Final, though, here’s what you’ve got to look forward to.
A well-deserved victory lap by reigning champs Måneskin
This time last year it would’ve been hard to imagine Italian-language glam rock topping the UK charts, but that’s the magic of Måneskin.
Last year’s winners have managed to translate their Eurovision win into massive worldwide success, selling millions of records, playing a sold-out world tour, and appearing on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live – among other accomplishments.
They’ll be back for the 2022 Grand Final, debuting their new single ‘Supermodel’ during the interval (and it feels safe to assume we’ll also be getting a reprise of their contest-winning ‘Zitti E Buoni’). Based on, well, everything they’ve done so far, expect eyeliner, stiletto heels, and down ’n’ dirty rock ’n’ roll. Guaranteed to be the most iconic interval act since Riverdance.
A slightly ominous black rainbow (plus some interesting workarounds)
The design of the stage itself has become increasingly ambitious over the years. Turin’s stage should’ve been one of the most jaw-dropping, incorporating a gigantic “kinetic sun” – basically, interlocking arches of lights – that each country could program to their needs.
Unfortunately, despite having built the thing, the production team couldn’t get it to work quickly or reliably enough to use in the show. Getting it back into position after each act proved an insurmountable problem, so instead, it’s just going to sit on the stage, unmoving.
Even more unfortunately, the decision to leave it sitting there immobile wasn’t made until the week before the contest, meaning any delegation planning to actually incorporate it properly into their staging had to scramble to adjust their plans. As a result, some presentations look more polished than others. And, rather than a kinetic sun, we’ll be treated to a static black blob.
It’ll be alright on the night, though, right?
A pair of dancing wolves from the moon
Despite all the amazing music that’s come out of Eurovision over the years, it’s often the more, ahem, novelty acts that stick in people’s minds. (It’s why everyone immediately pictures Verka Serduchka when you say “Ukraine at Eurovision” instead of, say, Loboda.)
The most outrageous of this year’s crop is Norway’s entry, Subwoolfer. The act consists of two bright yellow ‘wolves’ who claim to be from outer space, plus their pal DJ Astronaut who, yes, dresses as an astronaut on stage. Their song, ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’, is instantly catchy and completely inane. Here’s a sample lyric:
“Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth
That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath
Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith”
This isn’t intended as a criticism, by the way. The fact that something as joyously nonsensical as this can be performed in front of 200 million people is just one of a dozen reasons the Eurovision Song Contest is so brilliant.
A pink hat (that everyone’ll be wearing soon)
Are bucket hats about to have a fashion moment? If Kalush Orchestra has anything to do with it, that’s a big yes.
The bookies are currently tipping Stefania, the folk-meets-hip-hop entry from Ukraine, to win the whole contest. Inevitably, that’s partially down to politics – not to go full Wogan here, but sometimes world events do affect the contest, and who wouldn’t want to throw all their support behind Ukraine right now? – but it’s also because it’s a good song, performed with talent and enthusiasm. And if Kalush Orchestra take the trophy, it’s very likely that frontman Oleh Psiuk’s trademark pink hat will catch on.
(He’s actually got more than one, if you look closely; but it’s the hand-knitted one he’ll be wearing on Saturday night that we’d put money on going mainstream).
Some chaotic and/or heart-warming Green Room antics
Whoever decided to put the camera on the artists in the green room during recaps and voting sequences is a genius. It’s here the artists’ personalities really get a chance to shine through; where off-the-cuff chaos can really kick in.
Hungary’s AWS used their extra screentime to strike silly poses; Iceland’s Hatari grabbed the moment to take a bold political stand; and on Tuesday night, Lithuania’s Monica Liu almost stole the show by reading host Mika’s autocue in the background of the shot.
It’s also indescribably endearing to glimpse artists dancing to one another’s songs or hopping over their sofas to commiserate or celebrate one another’s results. It’s a little thing, but those green room shots offer reminders that the point of this whole endeavour is to bring people together. All together now: awwww.
The UK putting some effort in
Let’s swerve the B-word. The main reason the UK has performed so dismally at Eurovision for the last couple of decades is because we tend to think of the contest with disdain, while other countries send some of their most talented and popular artists to represent them.
There’s been a bit of improvement in the most recent contests, but this year feels like the most effort we’ve made in a long while. Sam Ryder’s ‘Space Man’ actually sounds like something you’d hear on Radio One – and, in fact, you might have done, because Scott Mills has been really pushing it.
The props for whatever elaborate staging the BBC is planning apparently had to be transported to Turin on a lorry (and a ferry) so it sounds like there might be something big and exciting in store. Is it too much to hope that we’ll get a space-themed spectacle on par with Kate Miller-Heidke’s ‘Zero Gravity’? Well, yes, probably. But at least it might be something memorable!
The bookies reckon the UK might actually land on the left-hand side of the scoreboard on Grand Final night, so keep everything crossed that can possibly be crossed.
The long-awaited return of joy and sunshine
We’ve all been playing life on extra-extra hard mode over the past two-and-a-bit years, and the future doesn’t look super rosy right now either. There are big, serious, scary things going on every day, and sometimes it’s hard to stop feeling sad and frightened about it all.
But it’s important to remember that some things are good, you know? The Eurovision Song Contest is absolutely one of those things. Created as a way to build cooperation between European countries (and slightly beyond), it’s a shimmering, shimmying symbol of hope and love.
Being British, it’s easy to dismiss that sort of thing as far too sentimental and unrealistic. But look: this competition is a technological and societal marvel. If it didn’t already exist, it’s unthinkable that anyone would invent it. But it does exist, and even a global pandemic couldn’t completely derail this enormous week-long celebration of music and sparkles. Whatever else is going on, at least we’ve got this.