Earlier in the week, I started the countdown of my pre-Contest top 10 for 2022. Now, with less than 24 hours to go until rehearsals begin, here’s my top pick of the bunch.

5. NORWAY

Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf a Banana

From the very start, at the Melodi Grand Prix launch event, I knew this was the act for me. A mysterious pair of yellow wolves named Keith & Jim, accompanied by DJ Astronaut, re-imagine the story of the mauling of Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma set to an EDM banger. Good to see Norway’s on a normal one this year.

You’ve got the mystery surrounding the artists behind Keith & Jim, a TikTok-friendly dance routine as well as a proper belter of a tune. Norway has played an absolute blinder this year. This will no doubt tank with juries but you bet this will lap enough televotes for a meteoric rise up the leaderboard. Yum yum.

4. GEORGIA

Circus Mircus – Lock Me In

Turns out I love both silliness and a hidden identity when it comes to Eurovision entries, as the collective behind Georgia’s Circus Mircus is another mystery. The track brings indie Britpop back with a flourish of tremendously intriguing visuals.

Why bother trying to explain it…just watch the damn song!

3. MOLDOVA

Zdob și Zdub &  Advahov Brothers – Trenulețul

According to the Love Love Peace Peace formula for the perfect Eurovision entry, “the song is essential, let it be about something everyone can connect to”. That’s why our returning heroes, Zdob și Zdub, along with Frații Advahov are entering a song all about the newly re-opened Chișinău to Bucharest rail route. How’s that for #RelatableContent!

Moldova are once again bringing an entry that captures their irreverent energy that we’ve come to know and love at the Contest. This is three minutes of pure fun, and in an increasingly darker world, we could all do with a little more fun.

2. CZECH REPUBLIC

We Are Domi – Lights Off

Having won the Czech selection all the way back in December this was my first love of the season. Lights Off became the yardstick by which all other entries were measured, with most not even coming close. Whilst other entries, such as Norway, only work in the context of the Eurovision Lights Off is exactly the kind of music I want to listen to outwith the Contest.

We Are Domi’s brand of energetic electro-indie pop feels like a natural fit for the quality of the recent Czech entries. Regardless of how this translates to the Eurovision stage, this will be on my playlists for many years to come.

1. SWEDEN

Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer

Well, who else was going to be number one? Cornelia’s heartbreak anthem is the song that resonates most from the whole of this year’s bunch. Back from the very first minute-long snippet revealed prior to the Melfest heat, I knew this was going to be the one.

The song, the vocal and the staging all work perfectly in tandem to create an incredibly emotional package. The line “I’ll be bleeding, but don’t you mind, I’ll be fine” is one that really hits home. That feeling of playing down your own pain to make another feel OK really cuts to the core. Cornelia’s raspy vocal paired with her vulnerable performance is a spellbinding combination that will win over viewers and jurors alike.

My head (and bank balance) are thinking the win may go elsewhere but my heart craves a return to Sweden in 2023.

And there we have it. In a little over two weeks we’ll know how these and the other 35 songs will have fared. Strap in lads, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

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