It's that time of the year again, when the (television network) continent of Europe
comes together to sing, wear interesting clothing, and gyrate
before an enthusiastic/baffled world.
The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest
will be held in Malmö, Sweden (the 2012 winner
). The city expects
100,000 fans to also attend. Several countries declined to enter this year, most for financial reasons
The two semi-finals
, on Tuesday 14th and Thursday 16th May, will each deliver ten countries into the final. These will be joined by the hosts Sweden
and the big five contributers to the contest
to make a 26 country final on Saturday 18th May.
Traditionally, the previous winners open the final (memorably, Lordi opening in Finland 2007
). The evening alternates between performances and video clips extolling the virtues of the host country. Voting
, sometimes controversial
, takes place country by country. The winner performs, while their country contemplates the cost of hosting the event next year.
A week out (and before the qualifying semi-finals), the bookmakers quote Denmark
as a clear favorite, with significant money also riding on Ukraine
Dark horses include the Greece "Alcohol is free
" entry (previously
, singing in their national language for the first time in 15 years
, and Switzerland
, whose band includes a 21 and a 95 year old
. The UK entry
, a successful rock ballad singer
, is playing down her chances
As last year, the UK TV commentary
is expected to sit somewhere between irreverent and sarcastic.