Brian O'Reilly: Eurovision 2014 – Which country will claim victory?

Singer Sanna Nielsen of Sweden. Photo: Reuters/Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix Denmark

Brian O'Reilly

Ireland didn’t make the cut for tonight’s Eurovision final, so we can be very neutral towards the rest of the songs.

It is set to be one of the most open Eurovision finals in a decade, with several countries in very close contention to take the crown.

The last number of years have seen runaway winners, which unfortunately makes for very dull voting – as after a half dozen countries it became obvious who was going to win.

This year I don’t think we’ll see any similar style runaway winner, which will make for a thoroughly entertaining show.

I’m going to attempt to call it, not through gut instinct but through a process of elimination.

The odds quoted below are from bookmaker Paddy Power.

Armenia: Aram MP3 'Not Alone' (6/1 – fourth favourite)

Armenia was seen by many as a done deal just a month ago – it was the runaway favourite to take the crown.

However I have never been convinced by this song.

The song lacks any noticeable hook, the chorus is completely anonymous within the body of the song.

I feel nothing when it's finished its the definition of all style and no substance.

While the performance is very competent, and will no doubt finish in the top ten, I would be shocked if Eurovision 2015 comes from Yerevan.

VERDICT: 5th to 10th

United Kingdom: Molly Smitten-Downes 'Children of the Universe'  (9/1 – fifth favourite)

Firstly, I think our nearest neighbours deserve praise for taking a bold move with their song this year.

After two years of choosing veterans of previous musical eras, this year the BBC have tapped someone with real potential for the future.

Molly’s song ‘Children of the Universe’ is a contemporary track which wouldn’t be out of place in the current UK top 40.

But I have my concerns ; Molly is largely unproven under the immense pressure Eurovision will throw at her – 120m viewers would play on the mind of even the most experienced performer.

She has been selected to perform last, or the 26th slot in the show’s running  order.

I really think fatigue will have set in among viewers at this stage – in fact with only 37 competing countries in total this year I think there is an argument to only allow eight qualifiers per semi.

This would reduce the amount of countries in the final to 22, which is a fair more manageable amount for the average viewer.

There is also something which ever-so-slightly grates on me when she is on screen – she may come across as slightly annoying to a segment of the audience.

I do think that she will challenge Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jade Ewen’s title as the UK’s best placed Eurovision entry this century, however I fear the title may be just out of reach.

VERDICT: 2nd to 5th

Great Britain Eurovision Song Contest entry performer Molly. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Great Britain Eurovision Song Contest entry performer Molly. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Sweden: Sanna Nielsen 'Undo' (5/2 – Joint favourite)

Sweden must be commended, just a year after hosting the show thanks to ‘Euphoria’ taking the crown they are going full steam to take the title again.

I must admit my bias here, I am a huge fan of Sanna Nielsen – she is probably the strongest female vocalist in this year’s competition, and has proved herself over many years as one of Sweden’s most competent performers.

She is the nation’s sweetheart in her homeland, and she would be elevated to legendary status should she prove victorious.

However I just feel Sanna isn’t quite right for this song. She has such a warm disposition – which still shines through even in a ballad about heartbreak.

The song itself, ‘Undo’, just isn’t quite there either – it feels like it just needs a bit more ‘umph’ to take it over the line.

I like the song, it is a contemporary mid-tempo ballad along the lines of something Demi Lovato would release.

The juries will love it, but the public may just not connect with it enough to see it through.

On a personal level I’d love to see Sanna and Sweden do it, however I think they will come up just short.

VERDICT: 2nd to 5th

Denmark: Basim 'Cliche Love Song' (25/1 – ninth favourite)

Admittedly a bit of an outsider with the bookies, but the host country could well do it two years in a row.

This song and performance is very current, something like Bruno Mars would do – with a healthy dose of Eurovision cheese on top.

It's a fun, happy, energetic performance which will stand out from the field of ballads.

It is definitely worth an each way punt, and if the juries liked it last night we could well be back in Copenhagen next year.

VERDICT: 1st to 5th

Austria: Conchita Wurst 'Rise like a Phoenix' (5/2 – Joint favourite)

Conchita Wurst has seen her song shoot up the betting odds since her performance at the semi-final on Thursday.

She stole the show, with a massive Bond-esque Shirley Bassey-style song.

However her chances of winning could be undone by being drawn too early in the running order.

Sweden is on just two songs later, and being so close together could guarantee neither of the entries win.

I do think this song will experience a bit of a culture divide – it will score well in more liberal Western Europe, however will probably not see huge scores come in from more conservative Eastern Europe.

It is a contender for a reason, and the hype surrounding it could be the extra push it needs, but I think it may just be a few points short.

VERDICT: 2nd to 5th

Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen

Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen

The Netherlands: The Common Linnets 'Calm after the storm' (3/1 – third favourite)

All things considered, I think this may be the one to beat.

It stands out just enough to beat the other slow songs in the final.

The song’s title is ‘Calm after the storm’ – and I think that is probably why it will do so well.

The performance is completely stripped back – simple, yet incredibly effective.

It's got the comforting universal appeal of an American country ballad, with a laid back performance to match.

I think its place in the running order combined with its obvious jury appeal could see it over the line.

It’s been a 40 year wait, but tonight could see the Netherlands reclaim the title

VERDICT: 1st – 3rd


There a few countries that could be worth backing as outsiders.

Greece have a modern sounding etho-dance song, and could snap up enough televotes to crack the top five (20/1).

France have a bizarre yet incredibly catchy song which, if performed well, could very much be a new ‘gangnam style’ hit. Massive outsider with the bookies, but this is Eurovision after all – anything can happen (150/1).

Switzerland perhaps have the most hummable song of the year – an infectious whistling rift in the song may just resonate in the minds of the public enough to see it do well (66/1).

Twitter: @Brian_O_Reilly