Victory by singing? Nothing is certain but the Ukrainians, favorites of the competition, should benefit from a large vote of solidarity during the Eurovision final on Saturday evening in Turin.
As in the two semi-finals organized this week in the Piedmontese capital, in northwestern Italy, a wave of blue and yellow flags of the country under the grapeshot of the Russian army will sweep through the arena of the Pala Olimpico where the 24 finalists will perform.
“Winning Eurovision would give us a lot of hope of winning the war” against Russia, told AFP a Ukrainian fan, Maria Lembak, 40, in the streets of Turin where she took part in a counter-rally on Saturday against at a small pro-Russian demonstration.
Like almost every year since 1956, the colorful and strong-voiced candidates will sing live in front of tens of millions of viewers in the hope of taking the charts by storm.
Among the hair-raising contenders for the title of cathodic pop pope, the Norwegians Subwoofer perform “Give that Wolf a Banana” (Give a banana to this wolf), dressed in masks of coarse canines with long white fangs, and the French Alvan & Ahez, whose title “Fulenn” is inspired by a Breton legend.
France, given in 15th position by the site eurovisionworld.com which aggregates several online betting sites, is chasing its first victory since that of Marie Myriam (“The Child and the Bird”) in … 1977. French Barbara Pravi, with her song “Voilà”, had just missed the feat last year by ranking 2nd.
The Serbian Konstrakta, she literally washes her hands in a basin, ironically about “the beautiful hair of Meghan Markle”, the American wife of British Prince Harry.
That’s for the offbeat appetizer.
But the festivities this year are placed under the disastrous sign of the war in Ukraine, less than three months after the outbreak of its invasion on February 24 by Russia, excluded from Eurovision the next day by the European Broadcasting Union. Television (EBU), organizer of the event.
A favorite of punters, Ukraine is competing with the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra, whose song “Stefania” mixes hip-hop and traditional music to intimate lyrics – written before the war – that resonate strongly with current events (“I will always find the way home even if all the roads are destroyed”).
With six on stage, the members of the group, all of fighting age, benefit from a temporary dispensation issued by the government of Kyiv, but they will have to return home to take up arms as soon as the competition is over. One of them stayed in the country.
“A member of the group joined the territorial defense of Kyiv on the third day of the war,” singer Oleh Psiuk told AFP. “We are very worried about him, we hope to find him safe and sound when we return.”
Behind Ukraine, bettors are betting on Briton with stratospheric voice Sam Ryder, who sings “SpaceMan” solo and in combination, Swede Cornelia Jakobs with fairly classic glamor (“Hold me closer”), and Mahmood & Blanco (“Brividi”) who would like to give Italy a second consecutive victory after the rock group Maneskin in 2021.
The Spanish singer of Cuban origin Chanel, dressed – very lightly – as a bullfighter closes the top 5 with the rhythmic Latin title “SloMo”.
If successful, Ukraine would double down after their victory in 2016 – two years after the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula by Russia – with Jamala and the title “1944”, a song recounting the deportation of the Tatars by Stalin.
But to win, the Kalush Orchestra will have to beat the 24 other finalists by collecting the maximum number of votes from professionals in the music world and the public in each country, who cannot vote for their own candidate.
The next edition of the competition would then be held, at least in theory, in Ukraine, which would be in the words of Oleh Psiuk “a new, integrated, developed and flourishing Ukraine”.