Eurovision 2017: Bookies say our national disgrace will continue in tonight's semi-final

Patrick Freyne: The odds are not looking good that 'sweet-voiced infant balloonist' Brendan Murray will make it to the final

If the bookies are to be believed, our national Eurovision disgrace is set to continue at this evening's semi-final. They do not anticipate that Ireland's sweet-voiced infant balloonist Brendan Murray will make it to the final.

Indeed, according to the big-foreheaded statisticians at Lottoland, who should probably really be working for Nasa or an anti-gambling charity, to win this competition Ireland would have to enter a frightening bioengineered chimera of Dolores O'Riordan, Andrea Corr and Una Healy.

This nearly unstoppable vocal force would not only dominate the competition but would indicate once-and-for-all that there is no God (the headline to this article should really be “There is no God!’ say Lottoland”)

The tipped winner of the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest (by the bookies, but also the many superfans here in Kiev) is, in fact, Italy's Francesco Gabbani. He sings Occedentali's Karma an already chart-busting song that references Shakespeare, Buddhism and the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.


He will sing it alongside a dancing man in a monkey suit. This, Marty Whelan assures me, is a reference to Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape (Marty knows about such things). Italy does not have to perform in the semi-finals but goes straight into Saturday night's final. As one of the bigger European Broadcasting Union funders Italy, along with France, Germany and the UK, make up a sort of Eurovision security council for whom the normal rules do not apply.

Speaking of which, the UK's Lucie Jones is also expected to do well singing at Europe with the ironically titled Never Give up On You.

The UK’s commitment to Eurovision is inversely proportional to its commitment to the EU. Jones will perform on front of a ginormous screen featuring stars (indicating, no doubt, the vacuum of space in which the UK now resides) and sporadic on-the-beat explosions (a metaphor for what they’ve done to Europe).

The second most favoured song is Portugal's Salvador Sobral, who plays air-fiddle and falsettos along to the lovely string-filled throwback Amar Pelos Dois. Portugal has NEVER won the Eurovision song contest, which at this point is beginning to look like bullying. Sobral performed at Tuesday's semi-finals and did so without the usual barrage of seizure-stimulating LED lighting and pyrotechnical expressions of sovereign power. He relied instead on scrunching up his funny little face. I liked it!

My other favourite song in this competition, Robin Bengsston's delightfully poppy Swedish ditty I Can't Go On, is also a tipped to do well. Though I may just appreciate it because Bengsston's existentially-troubling potentially endless treadmill dance at Tuesday's semi-final reminded me of being a journalist at Eurovision.

Tonight’s competition

And then there's tonight's competition. Serbia's In Too Deep will be sung by Tijana Bogicevic while wearing the obligatory white diva-dress that many of the competitors presumably share. She will also gamely try ignoring the writhing topless hunk who has invaded the stage at every one of her rehearsals so far. We've warned you now several times about this, Steve.

Belarus’s Navi Band will folkily locomote around the stage on a sort of silver speed boat, which, alongside Brendan’s balloon, makes the Eurovision look like the Wacky Races (not an unapt analogy, actually). I really like their song too.

Romania's Ilinca and Alex Florea will sing Yodel It. Their performance features two large silver cannons and 'yodelling' so will most definitely be seen as an act of war by the more jittery euro zone countries (these are dangerous times). Watch this space.

Austria's Nathan Trent's performance of Running on Air begins with him reclining on a large silver crescent moon. Now, if I was running the Eurovision Song Contest I'd get Nathan and his big moon prop and I'd get Brendan and his big balloon prop and make them duet together on Fly me to the Moon. This is the sort of great idea I have all the time and that nobody is interested in. The bastards.

I've got a soft spot for Croatia's entry, My Friend, on which Jacques Houdek duets with himself in both a "pop" voice and an "opera" voice, but this may be because I find the sight of a large-boned, bearded gentleman talking to himself easily to relate to as I sit here muttering in the corner of the press centre (My Fly me to the Moon idea really is excellent when you think about it).

And then, of course, there’s our own Brendan Murray cast aloft on his balloon, singing sweet forlorn melodies for an Ireland that doesn’t deserve him. God speed, young Brendan. Who cares what the bookies say?