Tonight sees the 64th Eurovision Song Contest take place and I’ll be rooting for my adopted homeland of France – but, secretly, I’d like Switzerland or the Netherlands to win.
France’s entrant, Bilal Hassani, is an engaging performer who’s caused some controversy here. This new-style entertainer is as famous for his YouTube vlogs as for his music.
He first came to the public’s attention when he appeared on The Voice Kids and was picked by singer (and former Eurovision contestant) Patrick Fiori. The song he sang at his audition was Rise Like a Phoenix, the 2014 Eurovision winner for Austria’s Conchita Wurst.
The signs were there as to where Bilal’s career would take him.
But the teen star has faced some serious opposition along the way. He has received racist and homophobic abuse and death threats.
Bilal is an openly gay Muslim man. He sports a look that is both masculine and feminine – non-binary or gender-fluid, you could say.
His song is called Roi, which translates as King. He sings it in a mixture of French and English.
Will he win? He’s among the favourites but, I have to be honest, I’d be surprised.
Long gone are the days when France was more or less guaranteed a top-ten placing. The same can be said for the UK.
“Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden… One of these four will scoop the prize tonight”
My personal favourite this year is Switzerland. Former underwear model Luca Hänni’s highly danceable She Got Me is sure to woo the crowds.
He’s also singing 24th out of 26 acts – a good spot to be in. These days, the show’s producers pick the running order to give the top acts the best chance.
Alongside Switzerland, the Netherlands (another personal favourite), Australia and Sweden are all strongly fancied too and have decent positions in the contest.
One of these four will scoop the prize tonight.
For the first time in 25 years, I am not sure of being able to see the whole show broadcast live. We’re spending the weekend with friends in Brussels.
After dinner, we hope to slip into a bar to see what’s left out of the contest.
Thing is, it’s Brussels Pride (we didn’t know when we booked), so everywhere is likely to be rammed. I won’t rule out nipping back to our hotel to see the final votes, if I need to.
Whoever takes the crown tonight, I just hope that the best song wins.