This year Eurovision Song Contest in Italy brings joy and music to living rooms across the continent when it’s needed most – amid a devastating war in Ukraine and a cost of living crisis.
The final will take place on Saturday, broadcast live around the world from the PalaOlumpic Arena in the northern city of Turin.
So which countries are reaching the heights of this year’s competition? The bookmakers have shortened the odds on these five acts:
Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – Stefania
In a competition as highly politicized as Eurovision, it’s no surprise that Ukraine’s entry has become the bookmakers’ favourite, with huge odds of 8/13.
Ukraine’s Eurovision entry this year is an ode to motherly love by folk rap group Kalush Orchestra, called Stefania (a tribute to singer Oleh Psiuk’s own mother).
Members of the Kalush Orchestra said they wanted to “lift their spirits” with their song, especially since band members – including dancer Vlad Kurochka – volunteered to stay in Ukraine and fight in the war.
United Kingdom: Sam Ryder – Space Man
The UK have been accused of rarely taking the competition seriously in recent decades, and a series of calamitous results culminated in last year’s entry securing the dreaded zero points both international juries and the voting public.
But this year the UK seem to have turned the tide with wildly popular social media star Sam Ryder potentially turning around Eurovision woes, with odds of winning at 8/1.
Competing with the glam rock anthem “Space Man”, Ryder’s powerful vocals on display in the song’s soaring chorus drew praise from music critics.
And the singer already has a huge online presence with 12.4 million followers on TikTok and 3.4 million on Instagram.
Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
Sweden is a Eurovision powerhouse with six wins over the decades and the most top-five results of any country in the 21st century.
The Nordic nation’s last victory came just seven years ago, when Swedish Idol star Måns Zelmerlöw triumphed with their Dance Heroes title.
Could Sweden still win this year? According to the bookmakers, he has a good chance of claiming the top spot again, ranked as having the third best odds.
Cornelia Jakobs represents the country with her stripped-down electro-pop ballad Hold Me Closer.
Music critics hailed its lyrics and musical direction as a refreshing change from the country’s usually highly polished entries.
Italy: Mahmood and Blanco – Brividi
Mahmood is now a Eurovision veteran, having finished second in 2019 with his Arab-pop hit Soldi (Money) – which nods to his Egyptian heritage – having already stormed the European charts.
It racked up 193 million views on YouTube and even angered Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini.
This year, the 29-year-old soulster will share the Eurovision stage with teenage pop-rap sensation Blanco, whose rapid rise to stardom came after he and Mahmood won the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy for their song and current entry, Brividi (Shivers).
The ballad’s spacey trip-hop sound and frank lyrical depiction of love’s vulnerability made it a popular pick – and a contender for the top spot.
The song has already amassed over 55 million views on YouTube, topped Italian and Swiss charts and broke the Italian record for most Spotify streams in a day.
Spain: Chanel – SloMo
Fifth among the bookmakers, the Spaniard Chanel has become one of the great favorites of Eurovision this year.
His reggaeton hit SloMo is arguably the most racy and upbeat of the entries listed here.
He saw the Cuban-born actress and singer – a former backup dancer for Colombian superstar Shakira – showcase her dance moves on stage.
The song has been particularly well received on social media, where fans are showing their support using the mango emoji.
Given Spain’s poor place in last year’s competition – coming in third to last – fans are pinning their hopes on Chanel’s entry to turn things around.
Who are you going to vote for?