I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we saw Ell/Nikki become the first winners for Azerbaijan, that country whose name you don’t know how to pronounce and probably aren’t able to identify on a map (let me help you: it is located in the eastern part of the South Caucasus, at the western coast of the Caspian Sea and borders on Russian Federation in the North, Georgia in the North-West, Armenia and Turkey in the West and South-West, and Iran in the South). Since Azerbaijan won last year, they will be hosting this year (the contest will take place in the capital city of Baku), so now you have the perfect opportunity to read up on the country and its culture. I also recommend you become familiar with the show’s three hosts, Nardiz, Eldar, and Leyla.
This year’s contest moves back to its typical timeframe of late May (it was in early may last year). The first semi-final round, featuring 18 of the 42 competing countries (it was 43, but, sadly, Armenia dropped out) is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22 at 9:00 P.M. CET (3:00 P.M. EDT). The second semi-final, which happens on Thursday, May 24 at 9:00 P.M. CET (3:00 P.M. EDT), will have another 18 competitors. And the Saturday, May 26 final, which happens at 9:00 P.M. CET (3:00 P.M. EDT), will contain the countries that made it past the semi-finals, plus the six countries that are not required to compete in the semis (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, U.K., Azerbaijan). BBC America still hasn’t seen fit to take a few days off from running Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns to air Eurovision, so if you live in the U.S., you’ll have to watch via the Eurovision website.
So, what will the 2012 Song Contest have to offer, besides the chance to practice saying “Azerbaijan”? Plenty. The crop of contestants this year is possibly my favorite in all the years I’ve been watching Eurovision, and by favorite I mean the most crazypants — and not just because Engelbert Humperdinck will be representing the U.K.
Because I am a professional, I have watched all 42 participant videos (something I highly recommend you also do) and I am now prepared to share with you my picks of the contestants I think are the most ridiculous, have the best chance of winning, or have a song I might actually like. Just like every year, I have already chosen a guilty pleasure: the song from Ukraine, performed by what I’m guessing is that country’s Beyoncé.
OK, here we go. These are in alphabetical order, by country. I split the post up into three pages so as not to assault your browsers.
Austria: Trackshittaz, “Woki Mit Deim Popo”
Denmark: Soluna Samay, “Should’ve Known Better”
Georgia: Anri Jokhadze, “I’m a Joker”
Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou, “Aphrodisiac”
Ireland: Jedward, “Waterline” (Jedward were my favorite last year and I’m very excited to see them return.)