Throughout the week I’ve been counting down my favourites for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Now we’re only one day away from rehearsals starting here’s the final part, with my top five pick of the pops.

#5 – 🇮🇪 IRELAND

LESLEY ROY – MAPS

First up in the top five we have our friends from across the Irish Sea with their very best entry since the days of the seemingly endless victories. To be fair so was their song last year, but Lesley has returned with an even better entry this time around. After the last twelve months we could all do with a sing along to this thumping anthem with a pint of Guinness in one hand and a good friend on the other. It’s in a tough semi so getting through will be considered a success but it really deserves so much more.

#4 – 🇮🇹 ITALY

Måneskin – ZITTI I BUONI

Now we get to the real business end of this top ranking. There’s very little to split this top four and on any given day depending on a number of factors I’d call any of them my favourite. So narrowly massing out on the top 3 is Italy’s Maneskin. It’s a sexy, filthy, angry rock song with just enough of an indie sensibility to offer widespread appeal. This live three minutes is going to be iconic.

#3 – 🇸🇲 SAN MARINO

SENHIT – ADRENALINA

Here we have the sound of the summer. Senhit has come a fair way from her previous Eurovision entry ten years ago. Here we now have a performer at the top of her game creating music to be noticed and to be loved. No longer do we need to Stan Marino for novelty reasons, this time with Senhit they have sent the best female led pop banger in a year when seemingly every second country is doing exactly that. And of course they may still play their joker, or Flo-ker if you will?

You won’t? No, that’s fair enough. I’m sorry.

#2 – 🇲🇹 MALTA

DESTINY – JE ME CASSE

The 2015 Junior Eurovision winner is now making her bid to win the main Contest in 2021. Destiny is giving the island of Malta it’s best chance of a win in it’s history. Talk about nominative determinism, huh? Although it lacks a chorus to latch on to all of Destiny’s flawless, powerful vocal will more than make up for it. And if you want a moment to stick in the voting recap to make people pick up the phone and vote, well…excuse my French. Speaking of…

#1 – 🇫🇷 FRANCE

BARBARA PRAVI – VOILA

Yeah, this is the winner for me. I’m in awe of this perfect performance, it’s a beautifully constructed three minutes that builds and builds and builds to a breathless denouement. Barbara’s vocal is an ideal balance of vulnerability and defiance, she nails it in every live performance I’ve seen. Assuming the staging will be something akin to what we’ve seen below this could well be the ‘stop what you’re doing and pay attention’ moment we saw from Salvador Sobral in 2017. The French have gone full France and my hope is the rest of the Continent can get on board.

And there we have it, you now know who I’ll be rooting for in just over two weeks time. Tomorrow rehearsals begin and these songs will become intrinsically linked with their staging and live peformance for the rest of time. There’ll be daily blogs here keeping you up to date with all the goings on over the next fortnight.

It’s been a long wait Eurovision fans but finally we’re oh so close to it’s long overdue return.

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