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Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch

We pick some of our favourites from this year's contest

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Turin, Italy on May 10, 12 and 14. Hardcore fans have been following the 'national selection season' - during which each country chooses its song - since December last year. But for most viewers the live shows this week will be the first chance to hear and see the songs in the running.

In this article, I point out a few of my personal 'ones to watch' this year. Whatever your musical taste, you'll find something to entertain, delight and maybe even surprise!

The 'cultural bangers'

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

For me, one of the best ways to represent a nation's culture is to send a song to Eurovision in a minority language. This year, Alvan & Ahez from France have selected the song Fulenn, performed fully in Breton. It brilliantly represents their Celtic roots (it's based on the myth of a young girl who danced in the woods against the will of her family) and combines a dark mystical quality with a beat that simply won't let you sit still.

Honourable mention:

Ukraine is top of the odds to win this year, but don't let anyone tell you it's 'only because of the current situation'. Kalush Orchestra have come to Turin with an absolute banger, Stefania, that perfectly fuses traditional sounds with rap and will likely - and quite rightly - bring the house down.

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Moldova has a reputation for bringing the party to Eurovision and third time contestants Zdob şi Zdub's Trenulețul ('Train') is no exception - loud, lively and colourful.

The sad and angsty ones

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

The sad girls outshine the 'sadbois' for me in this stacked category this year. S10 from The Netherlands is my pick of the bunch. Her song De Diepte ('The Deep') is an introspective number reflecting on lost love, and does what many people may have thought impossible by making the Dutch language sound beautiful.

Honourable mention:

Another of the bookies' favourites is Sweden's Cornelia Jakobs, singing Hold Me Closer. It muses on the last moments of a relationship, with rock-tinged vocals and lyrics that have touched many in the Eurovision fandom. Few would be surprised if this was crowned the winner on Saturday night.

See also:

Sheldon Riley (Australia, Not The Same) and Nadir Rustamli (Azerbaijan, Fade to Black), who both negotiate stairs whilst singing - the former whilst also wearing a crystal-encrusted mask and a dress that purportedly weighs 40kg. Why make it easy for yourself at Eurovision?

The dance vibes

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

If you want to dance around your living room, Lights Off by Czech band We Are Domi could be your jam. It's a really enjoyable slice of electro-pop, also featuring a man playing a guitar with a 'cello bow, lots of lasers and a nice mid-song moment to tie in with the song's title.

Honourable mention:

Unlikely to qualify for the final (at least if the betting odds are to be believed), but roundly praised by musicians as one of the best written songs of the year, is Disko by young Slovenian band LPS. Sung in Slovenian, with a giant mirrorball on stage, if you're into the disco vibe this one will make your heart happy.

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LUM!X and Pia Maria from Austria, with their club-ready number Halo - although during rehearsals the live version hasn't quite managed to match the studio cut.

The chillout zone

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

If you're in a mellow mood, Portugal's song will be right up your street. Maro and friends stand in a circle and sing the beautiful song Saudade, Saudade. The word refers to a feeling of longing, melancholy or nostalgia. It has no direct English equivalent, but the song itself and the simple staging will help you understand.

Honourable mention:

Armenia's Rosa Linn has brought a whole bedroom on stage in which to perform her folk-pop number Snap. The room is clad in white 'sticky notes' that may be hiding something... but you'll have to watch to find out what.

See also:

Monika Liu slinking around the stage singing a soulful Lithuanian song (Sentimentai) that wouldn't be out of place in a smoky jazz club, and the folky family feel of Systur from Iceland (Með Hækkandi Sól, 'With the Rising Sun').

The rock and the roll

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

All hail Achille Lauro, the huge Italian star who has temporarily switched allegiance to San Marino for his three minutes on the Eurovision stage with the song Stripper. Anyone who can bring us a glam rock anthem about female emancipation, dressed in a black glittery body stocking and riding a pink velvet mechanical bull, gets my vote.

Honourable mention:

The wild west cowboy vibe may not fit squarely in the rock and roll category, but Hope, by Estonia's Stefan, deserves a mention for picking a style and really going with it. It has an anthemic, sing-along chorus to help deliver its message of hope - something we've all needed bucket loads of in recent years and months.

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Finland has probably provided the best-known name of this year's Contest in The Rasmus, with Jezebel. It's not quite their worldwide hit In The Shadows, but it's the safest bet to give the traditional rock fans something to support.

The axis of weird

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch My pick:

What would Eurovision be without a healthy dose of the weird (and wonderful)? Standing out this year are Subwoolfer from Norway, with their song Give That Wolf a Banana. They're two yellow wolves from the Moon, doing the most TikTok-able dance of the year whilst singing about eating grandmas. And no, I didn't make any of that up.

Honourable mention:

In Corpore Sano ('In a Healthy Body'), performed by Konstrakta, is unusual in many ways. The staging revolves around handwashing, and the lyrics (in Serbian and Latin) contain a critique of the Serbian healthcare system, which often fails self-employed performers. It goes to show that face-value weirdness can also have a deep meaning.

See also:

Georgia's mysterious prog-rock band Circus Mircus, singing Lock Me In bedecked in flowery beards and surrounded by a graphical fever dream, and Latvia's Citi Zēni ostensibly pleading with you to Eat Your Salad but packing their lyrics with double entendre.

The sound of redemption?

Feature: EUROVISION 2022 – The ones to watch Let's wrap up with a special mention for two countries that have really upped their game for 2022 after a run of disappointing Eurovision results.

Slo Mo, by Spain's Chanel, is possibly the most full-on performance of the whole Contest. The dance routine - and her ability to sing whilst doing it - will have jaws hitting the floor across the whole continent. You've been warned.

And finally, Sam Ryder, who has become a huge star on TikTok, will sing SPACE MAN. He has one of the best vocals of 2022, the song has been extremely well received by fans and bookies alike, and for once the UK's staging isn't a hot mess. Could this be the year that the UK finally gets a top 10 finish? Watch this space, man...

You can read about some of this year's participants' pre-performance rituals here!

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