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Music

Speculation mounts on who will win Eurovision

The finalists are gearing up to out-sing and out-prance each other on stage. 26 competitors remain from the original 39 Eurovision hopefuls. One question remains: Who will go home victorious?

The winners in the second semi-final ahead of the 2013 ESC finale
Copyright: Europäische Brodcasting Union (EBU)/Sander Hesterman

Favorites for the 2013 ESC

The greatest buzz after the two Eurovision semi-finals this week centered on the failure of any of the five republics of the former Yugoslavia to get through to the last round. The artists from Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia are all leaving Sweden trailing disappointment behind them. But on the upside, their departure has prompted some to say they are glad this year's contest will be free of the neighborhood voting practices allegedly rampant in the Balkans.

For the former Soviet republics, the story is quite different. Of the ten, all but Latvia are still in the running. Estonia, Moldova, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are being represented by attractive young women. The favorite among them is Ukrainian Zlata Ognevich, whose choreography and singing are arguably a cut above her competitors'.

Alyona Lanskaya, who is waving the flag for Belarus, has been making waves of a different kind. The announcement that she had made it through to the finals triggered a wave of protest on social networks. Critics are displeased about her ode to the happy planet of Solayaoh and about her strong proclamations of national pride.

Azerbaijan's Farid Mammadov
Photo. EBU/ Sander Hesterman

Azerbaijan's Farid Mammadov is getting some help from Greece

Buying up hits

For Azerbaijan, success at the Eurovision Song Contest is of importance to the state. As such, the oil rich country hired Greek choreographer Fokas Evangelinos to stage singer Farid Mammadov's show. In the past, Evangelinos has helped previous Eurovision contestants Helena Paparizou from Greece and Dima Bilan from Russia to win.

Georgia and its performers Nodi & Sophi took a similar approach, buying the ballad "Waterfall" by successful Swedish composer Thomas G:Son (Gustvasson). He also wrote "Euphoria," which secured Loreen her 2012 victory in Baku. The concept of buying talent is nothing new at Eurovision, and often proves a path to victory.

Formidable ladies

The fact that the former Soviet states are buying their songs from the West suggests the bloc battles within the Eurovision community may be dying out. But there are three women who look set to give their Eastern European competitors a run for their money. They are Emmelie de Forest from Denmark, Anouk from the Netherlands and Margaret Berger from Norway.

Emmelie de Forest
Photo: EBU/ Thomas Hanses

Is an upset in store, or will Emmelie de Forest win it for Denmark?

For weeks, the young Danish artist and her simple pop song "Only Teardrops" has been the favorite among bookies. For PR reasons, the singer, who always performs barefoot, had her nails painted by a famous Russian TV presenter.

Already idols

Anouk from the Netherlands would be unlikely to take part in such a publicity stunt. She limited her contact with the media to the obligatory press conferences organized by the EBU. But despite her media shyness, her dark song "Birds" has captured the hearts of many fans.

Norway's entry, Margaret Berger, has already built up a huge fan base, particularly among Scandinavian youngsters. When she is on stage performing her electro-pop song, she appears very cool and distant - quite a contrast to the friendly young woman she is off-stage.

The women from the 'Big 5'

Natalie Horler, the voice and the face of the German trio "Cascada" has also been turning heads, appealing to fans with her charm and down-to-earth personality. Given that there are a lot of ballads in the final, she might score well with her spirited song "Glorious."

Natalie Horler is Cascada's lead singer
Copyright: DW/A. Brenner

Natalie Horler is Cascada's lead singer

What's more, the singer from the Rhineland could be rewarded for the professionalism of her performance and the fact that she is already popular in many European countries - even in the UK, where she once knocked Michael Jackson from the top spot in the charts.

In the case of the British entry, Bonnie Tyler, fame may work against her. As Engelbert Humperdinck proved last year when he finished in second-to-last place, the Eurovision Song Contest is not necessarily the best place for artists whose careers peaked long ago.

Preparing for upsets

Among this year's male performers, the men from Greece, Rumania and Italy all stand a chance of placing well. Italian Marco Mengoni's career has only just begun, and this year he won the prestigious music competition in San Remo. His beautiful ballad is called "L'Essenziale," the essential.

At the opposite end of the musical spectrum from his gentle track is the ska song by the Greek band Koza Mostra featuring Agathonas Iakovidis. Their "Alcohol Is Free" is a call for just that.

Romania's contribution to Eurovision 2013 has divided opinion: countertenor Cezar can sing high and low, and his shrill performance in which he appears as Dracula or Mephisto has obviously found favor among some.

In short, there is no hands-down favorite for the contest this year, which means that for the time being, the title and trophy are very much up for grabs.

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