I really don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Pete Waterman claim that the Eurovision song he's penned for the UK has "every chance" of winning. I can understand how he might just have been labouring under that delusion back in March, but to still feel able to say that after having heard the competition demonstrates that he just never really 'got' Eurovision. Doubtless when the UK finishes somewhere in the bottom five (very possibly last) Pete will claim - as others have before him - to be utterly bemused, and put it all down to the bloc voting. And, to be fair, he might even be half-right if he does - but the bottom line is that Jade Ewen, Jessica Garlick and Imaani have all demonstrated that the UK's in-built disadvantage in the televoting age can be overcome with the right song and the right performance. Neither will be on offer this time.
In a sense, Waterman's comments are a classic case of putting 2 and 2 together and making 22, because he was clearly aware that Azerbaijan were the favourites, and after hearing their underwhelming performance in the semi-final instantly concluded that all bets are off. Well, he's maybe being wildly optimistic about the implications for the UK, but he's certainly bang on the money in his assessment of Azerbaijan - it really isn't looking like a winner, even taking into account the reports of an improved rehearsal. The early results from Esctoday's prediction poll seem to suggest that Armenia are poised to pick up the pieces - as I mentioned last night, I'm not convinced, but given its highly favourable draw, it certainly can't be ruled out.
At this point I could pray in aid the fact that I correctly predicted the winner in both 2008 and 2009, but those were both total no-brainers compared to this year. But I shan't be daunted - here's my wild stab in the dark of how I think it might all shake out...
Winners - Germany
2nd - Turkey
3rd - Romania
4th - Armenia
5th - Iceland
Possible dark horses - Denmark, Belgium
My gut feeling immediately after the second semi was that Turkey might just sneak it, but the glowing accounts of Germany's latest rehearsal have given me second thoughts. Lena could hardly have a better draw, and the song is going to stand out an absolute mile. But really there are half-a-dozen or more potential winners, and it's anyone's guess.
In my heart of hearts I don't really believe Denmark are going to come close to winning, but I do think you can just about build a plausible case for it. The song (which admittedly many people loathe) has a kind of I've Had The Time Of My Life vibe about it, which means performing last ought to be the dream draw. But to have any chance they'll have to nail every aspect of the performance - the vocals were fine in the semi-final, but the visual side still lacked a bit of sparkle compared to the Danish national selection.
Other intriguing questions - who will the UK vote for? The reintroduction of the juries complicates matters, but when we eventually see the televoting breakdowns, I'll be very surprised on past form if the British public haven't put one of the following countries in first place (admittedly I haven't a clue which one!) - Ireland, Greece, Turkey, Iceland or Cyprus.
As for me, I'll be following my long-standing personal rule and voting for my favourite of the songs not sung in English, which gives me a staggering total of six to choose from! I'm pretty sure that means I'll be voting for Portugal for the third year in a row.