Eurovision 2013 Preview Spectacular! The Favorites and the Weirds!

This is my life. - AFP

In which Ben Rothenberg could never leave you unprepared for what lies ahead on the twisted road that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

It's that magical time of year again! No, not the second round of the playoffs or Latvia avoiding IIHF relegation, but Eurovision! Gloriously wonderful Eurovision!

Today (3:00 pm EST) is the Eurovision final in Malmo, Sweden, and you should watch! The show is streaming live at Eurovision.tv.

I've written about Eurovision on BSH many times before (like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but it's been nearly a year and I have a lot to catch you guys up on. The 2013 field is fairly terrible, but that just means that the performances are compensating by being triply ridiculous. Everybody wins!

Here's seven countries who you should be watching for today (in order of performance):

4. Finland

Back in 2003, Russia sent t.A.T.u. to Eurovision (in Latvia!), and they came in third . You may remember t.A.T.u. for making a career out of pretending to possibly be lesbians, which actually somehow worked 10 years ago. Well now it's 2013 and Finland is upping the lesbian ante by actually delivering with the first lady-on-lady kiss in Eurovision history. The song is meant to protest same-sex marriage not being legal in Finland, and it's also the best thing in the first half of the show, which is pretty weak. This could ding-dong itself to a decent finish by being surrounded by crap.

11. Germany

Cascada (Evacuate the Dance Floor, Every Time We Touch) is one of the more recently successful acts to take part in Eurovision (probably since the aforementioned t.A.T.u.), and as a result Germany is the only one of the "Big 5" countries that really should have anything of a chance. Don't see this winning, but anything outside the top 10 would be a big surprise.

14. Romania

Eurovision 2013 has had a lot of weird stuff, but nothing comes close to being as weird as Romania's Cezar and "It's My Life." It's like Liberace and Luciano Pavarotti gay-adopted a kid from Transylvania (which is in Romania, incidentally). This song was the final one performed in the semifinals, which is good because how anyone could ever follow this I don't know.

18. Denmark

Denmark is only about 10 miles away from Malmo, and so the arena has been filled with Danes all week. The Danes have been excitable, and for good reason. Their song "Only Teardrops" has a nonsensical title, but it's the odds-on favorite to take the title. The odds have gotten more and more prohibitive as time has moved on, now sitting at 4/7 (Norway is in second at 6/1). I'm not convinced this song is a winner, but those are very good odds indeed.

20. Azerbaijan

If it's not Denmark, this is my pick to win. Despite not being in Europe by any reasonable definition, Azerbaijan has become a perennial Eurovision powerhouse, and this song has all the makings of a lock for the top 5. Massive eyebrows, a guy in a box, and a huge diaspora. Azerbaijan won in 2011, and I like their odds of making it two-for-three. If you live in a country where online/in-person betting is legal, the odds for Azerbaijan to finish high are free money at 4/1.

21. Greece

Also free? Alcohol, according to the Greeks (who might not be the best people to listen to on financial matters, incidentally). But these men in skirts seem trustworthy enough, and very excitable about something or other. This is the most unabashedly fun song in the field, and should pick up a lot of votes from drunk people. Which, by the end of the show, should be most everyone. Don't try to do Eurovision sober. Just don't.

24. Norway

This song has an aggressively futuristic feel to it, and sort of looks and sounds like what Eurovision 2013 was probably supposed to be like for people imagining it 20 years ago. It's probably a little too avant garde for mainstream appeal, but it will definitely feel like a breath of fresh air near the end of the show, which could be worth a lot.

Those are the most important entries, per me, anyway. If you want to predict your top 10s and bottom 5s in the comments below like we did last year, that's always a good time. Happy Eurovisioning, everybody!

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