What to watch for in tonight’s Eurovision final

Ukraine is the favorite to win the Eurovision Song Contest this year, but the country faces stiff competition from Sweden, Italy and, more surprisingly, the UK.

The contest is known for its colorful and brash performances and Saturday night’s grand finale in Turin, Italy should be no different.

Here we look at the acts to watch tonight.

Kalush Orchestra – Ukraine

(Eurovision/AP)

The Ukrainian folk rap group secured their place in the grand final with an impressive performance in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Formed in 2019, the group consists of founder and rapper Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk and dancer Vlad Kurochka.

Their song, Stefania, is an ode to mothers and the hardships they face raising their families, and the band’s live performance includes synchronized dance moves, breakdancing and flutes.

They have been in the lead since the invasion of Russia, which prompted organizers to ban the country from competing.

On Monday, bookmaker Ladbrokes offered them odds of 8/13 to win, and on Friday they were down to 2/5.

Sam Ryder – UK

(Eurovision/AP)

Could the 32-year-old TikTok star change the UK’s fortunes at Eurovision?

The UK have been bottom of the standings in the last two contests, finishing last in 2019 with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us and James Newman’s Embers scoring “draws” in 2021.

Ryder has been selected as part of a new collaboration between the BBC and global music management company TaP Music, which has also revamped the promotional campaign.

The new strategy was to ensure that Ryder’s single Space Man was played on BBC Radio 1 instead of Radio 2, and to target smaller countries such as San Marino, Serbia, Croatia and Malta, which have the same voting powers as large countries like Germany.

According to Ladbrokes, Ryder’s odds remained at 6/1 throughout the week, putting him second in betting.

Cornelia Jakobs – Sweden

(Eurovision/AP)

Sweden is known for producing the biggest Eurovision winners in the contest’s six-decade history – Abba – and has won six wins to date.

He hopes to add to that tally when Cornelia Jakobs takes the stage on Saturday with her soulful ballad, Hold Me Closer.

Jakobs, whose father is a famous rock star in his native country, began his recording career with the short-lived girl group Love Generation, which released their self-titled debut album in the summer of 2010.

She launched a solo career in 2018 and triumphed at the annual Melodifestivalen, which determines which act represents Sweden at Eurovision.

Jakobs started the week with odds of 7/1 and they held steady.

Mahmood and Blanco – Italy

(Eurovision/AP)

Two of Italy’s most popular young artists, Mahmood and Blanco, will represent the host country this weekend.

Mahmood, from Milan, rose to prominence on the Italian version of The X Factor and came second at Eurovision in 2019 with his song Soldi, which was for a time the most streamed Eurovision song of all time on Spotify.

Meanwhile, Blanco is a singer and rapper from Brescia, whose 2021 single Mi Fai Impazzire spent eight weeks atop the Italian charts.

After starting the week as the second favorite with odds of 6/1, the pair now have odds of 9/1, putting them in fourth place.

Chanel – Spain

(Eurovision/AP)

Also in the running to be crowned the winner of Eurovision 2022, Chanel Terrero, singer, dancer and actress born in Havana, Cuba, is competing for Spain.

SloMo is her first single and was composed by a team of songwriters who have collaborated with artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

Terrero has over a decade of musical theater experience, performing in productions of The Lion King, Flashdance, The Bodyguard and Mamma Mia.

On Monday his odds were 16/1 but they went down to 14/1 on Friday.

Evelyn C. Tobin