There's an episode of the 1980s sitcom Just Good Friends where Jan Francis' character repeatedly tells Paul Nicholas there's "something missing" in their relationship without specifying what, which eventually results in an exasperated Nicholas screaming "WHAT IS THIS THING?". I felt a bit like that today when trying to make sense of the reports of Jelena Tomašević's performance in the final round of rehearsals. The most frequent comment was that she was in good voice, but that there was "something" missing. WHAT IS THIS THING?
Even leaving aside this missing thing that everyone seems utterly incapable of articulating (maybe Andy Abraham's nightmare vision has already come to pass), I was always a bit sceptical that Serbia could quite pull it off. In my view, it's definitely the class song of the field, but then I thought the same about Serbia & Montenegro in 2004 (they came second) and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2006 (they came third). So my prediction for Serbia is top three, but without any embarrassing need for Zeljko Joksimovic to present the trophy to himself. ("Great song, Zelkjo." "Thanks, Zeljko, you did a great job presenting too. And I love what you've done with your hair.")
But if not Serbia, then who? The bookies seem to agree (although they've been spectacularly wrong before) that the only other countries in serious contention are Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Sweden, and possibly Armenia. Personally, I just can't see Sweden winning - Hero is slightly higher quality than their usual fare, but it's still sticking to the same basic formula that frequently delivers them fifth or sixth place but no higher. I think Greece and Armenia will similarly come up short, so that leaves a battle between Ukraine and Russia. If that's the case, I feel Russia might just sneak it, if only because it cunningly draws the ice skating and violin-loving demographic into the pool of potential televoters (I'm being flippant).
So my prediction is :
Winners - Russia
2nd - Ukraine
3rd - Serbia
Potential dark horses :
Norway (aka 'clearly the worst song in the contest', © Keith Mills 2008)
Mr Mills' musings also lead me to have an even greater interest in the fate of the UK this year. He confidently stated at a ridiculously early stage (when many songs had yet to even be selected) that Andy Abraham was 'certain' to finish in the bottom five, and was highly likely to finish last. I responded that I felt he could achieve the UK's best result since Jessica Garlick, which would mean a top fifteen placing. Unfortunately, I made that prediction before the UK received its lousy place in the draw, so I'm less confident than I was, but to be honest I'd settle for top twenty - since that would be sufficient to show up Mr Mills' "certainty" for the closed-minded nonsense it always was. Here's hoping.