Eurovision will return in Liverpool on May 13thFrédéric de Villamil/Flickr:

With rehearsals now underway in Liverpool for Eurovision next week, it’s already apparent that this year’s edition boasts some of the strongest offerings we’ve seen for a while. As someone who follows the lead-up to the contest every year, I’m here to let you know who will win your vote on May 13th.

5. Let 3 – ‘Mama ŠČ!’ (Croatia)

Let 3 – ‘Mama ŠČ’ (Music Video)YouTube (Eurovision Song Contest)

This entry fills the obligatory “what did I just watch?” category of Eurovision songs that do strangely well in the public vote. Whilst some might be put off by a recitation of the entire Croatian alphabet or a costume piece described by the band as “ass roses” (I’ll let you fill in the details there), it’s a catchy, high-energy romp from start to finish, with lyrics that surreptitiously satirise Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Of course, under Eurovision regulations, political messages are not permitted, but that just endears me more to acts like this who test how much they can get away with.

4. Vesna – ‘My Sister’s Crown’ (Czechia)

Vesna – ‘My Sister’s Crown’ (Music Video)YouTube (Eurovision Song Contest)

‘My Sister’s Crown’ attempts a similar condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, but the execution is extremely different. The song is a punchy, alt-pop call for Slavic sisterhood in the face of struggle, and features not only the Czech language, but also a Bulgarian rapped verse, and most impactfully, choruses in Ukrainian. The music video is excellently styled, with the band members dressed in traditional clothing and wearing exaggerated makeup that gives them an almost doll-like appearance. I’m certain that if Vesna continues their current trajectory on the Liverpool stage, they’ll go far, although maybe that’s because I’m a fan of entries that bring their country’s culture to the fore.

3. Teya and Salena – ‘Who the Hell is Edgar?’ (Austria)

Teya and Salena – ‘Who the Hell is Edgar?’ (Music VideoYouTube (Eurovision Song Contest)

Turning to something completely different, Austria’s ‘Who the Hell is Edgar?’ is a ridiculously catchy dance pop track that is both about being possessed by the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe, and a critique of the music industry’s underpayment of songwriters. The chorus, underscored by a chant of “Poe Poe Poe”, will undoubtedly take up permanent residence in everyone’s minds after the contest, and it even comes with a dance routine. Teya and Salena are primed to do extremely well with televoters, and if they perform as well as they have been on the pre-party circuit, I’m sure the juries will also pay them their due. It really is that catchy.

2. Mimicat – ‘Ai Coração’ (Portugal)

Mimicat – ‘Ai Coração’ (Music Video)YouTube (Eurovision Song Contest)

Another highly danceable track, Mimicat’s ‘Ai Coração’ is genre-blending and well-polished, with lyrics detailing the feeling of being driven completely insane by love. It is heavily influenced by national styles like flamenco and fado, with just a touch of burlesque, brought together by modern production. Mimicat is a truly charismatic performer who I’ve never heard sing a wrong note (including during her national final performance, whilst suffering from pharyngitis), and the choreography is high-energy and executed to perfection. For me, it stands out among the many blue-hued ballads that make an appearance at Eurovision each year.

1. Blanca Paloma – ‘EAEA’ (Spain)

Blanca Paloma – ‘EAEA’ (Music Video)YouTube (Eurovision Song Contest)

And lastly, the song I’d give twelve points to. Spain has elected to submit a nu-flamenco lullaby, with an electronic beat and traditional melismatic vocal line, not to mention one of the most impactful national final performances I’ve ever seen. It’s sung in Spanish, but its intensity transcends language. You may not be able to understand the lyrics, but you’ll be mesmerised by Blanca Paloma’s force-of-nature vocals and incredible ability to portray emotion onstage. The lyrics themselves are in honour of her late grandmother, and even contain references to Lorca’s poetry, and well, maybe it’s because I’m an MMLer (and therefore a little biassed), but I really think that we could be looking at a win for Spain this year.