The seemingly 87-week long month that has the temerity to call itself “January” is finally coming to an end. Before we fire into February, when there’s a minimum of seventeen different national finals to watch every Saturday night, we get the delight that is Benidorm Fest.

The idea of a Spanish national final conjures up myriad delights of the past. Benidorm Fest had quite the back catalogue to live up to and it has not let us down. Such has been the quality of songs & entertainment of the shows themselves tonight’s final is as hotly anticipated as a Sue Gray report. We expected entertainment, we hoped for great songs but we couldn’t have imagined just how snappy these shows have been. The usual languid pace has been eschewed for a much slicker, concise selection…THANK GOD!

Whilst there are no guarantees in life one would assume the final will be a head-to-head between the two semi winners. Whilst Rayden answers the question “what happens if you cross Mike Wozniak and Mahmood” and Tanxugeiras serve all the Galician tambourine realness you could possibly desire it’s hard to look beyond a straight fight between Chanel & Rigoberta Bandini for the win. And of those two, it’s a tough call.

There’s no denial that Chanel has the best live performance wrapped up, it’s impossible to ignore. The inevitable comparisons to a certain former Cypriot entry have followed and it’s not hard to see why. Both SloMo and Fuego don’t particularly shine on a playlist alone but fire the artists on stage in wonderfully outrageous outfits with backing dancers and a hair whip so lethal it could kill and suddenly you have yourself a contender. And remember where Eleni ended up? Could well be the same for Chanel.

Rigoberta’s Ay mama is, for both this writer and seemingly the Spanish public, the choice for Eurovision. The song is fabulous, this is exactly the kind of uplifting electro-pop anthem that should suit Eurovision. But then stick it on stage and all of sudden, it just doesn’t click. Although it eventually settled the vocals in the first minute are far from the standard one would expect and then…then there’s the world’s most confusing geography lesson behind her.

It fits the theming, like Francesco Gabbani’s furry friend suited the theme of Occidentali’s Karma. However, for an international audience, it was just a dancing gorilla on stage in the same way this would just be a massive boob globe. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. This should win and has a very good chance of doing exactly that the but staging concept needs serious work if it’s to go any further.

The elephant/gorilla/boob in the room

Elsehwere today we will be…treated to? subjected to? We will spend three hours watching the Moldovan audition process. This was originally intended to be a preliminary round to narrow down the national final lineup. However, last night it was confirmed that after today’s auditions the song will be internally selected. Talk about making it up as you go along. I do understand Moldova not wanting to unleash all this lot on the proper Saturday night telly though, it really is quite the line up…

Captain Problematic
Moldovan Cliff Richard
Blackadder’s Fannypac
Them Again
Anna Odobescu-lite
Inexplicable Double Bognnobov

It really is an interesting bunch. If you watch all four selections today then it’s going to be a 11-hour marathon with the odd respite. Make sure you’re well-stocked with snacks, grab your drinks of choice and settle in. It’s going to be a crazy day.

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