A battle of the Balkan titans is set to play out on stage in Baku, as the presence of pan-Balkan singing star Kaliopi representing FYRO Macedonia in Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest Final could split the valuable Balkan vote and deny Serbia’s major artist Željko Joksimović his long-awaited chance of victory, according to Eurovision historian John Kennedy O’Connor.
It could come down to the size of each star’s fan base rather than the strength of their performance on the night, said the author and go-to man on all things Eurovision. “I’m told the Balkan votes will all be behind Kaliopi and not Željko, so he will be denied the win,’ said John. “Kaliopi is the biggest star from the Balkans in the contest and I’m sure her fans pushed her effortlessly through. But for my taste, this is one of the worst songs in the final. I would never have put it through. It grates on me and her voice is too harsh for my ears.”
If this scenario pans out, it would be a cruel blow for Željko, who many consider to have the superior song – including the media’s favourite Eurovision expert John Kennedy O’Connor. “When I first heard that Željko was coming back to the contest, I thought bad idea,’ he said. “Sometimes it’s best to move on. But this is, for me, the best of his entries to date. He looks very good on stage, despite the weight gain, and still sounds great.”
Željko’s performance at Thursday’s semi final definitely drew great praise on social media channels, with both Serbia and Željko trending on Twitter. The draw to decide the running order for Saturday’s broadcast also went his way, giving Željko a significant boost with bookmakers. “Drawing straight after Ireland has upped his chances very well and I’m tipping this song to win,’ said John. “Somewhat Celtic in it’s feel, I think this will win favour across the board. But watch out for the votes to FYROM.”
John had mixed views on Bosnia’s entry, a nice song that he believes is unlikely to dent the top ten: “It’s a very strong ballad in the rather typical Balkan mode,’ said John. “It is beautifully sung, but oddly styled. The huge padded shoulders make the singer look much older than she is and it takes your mind off her rather wonderful voice. It’s also a very early draw, so I’d have think this one has little chance of reaching the top 10.”
He leaves his harshest words for Albania, a song that has already raised eyebrows. “Words fail me. Batgirl meets Spider Woman. Next year, I’m coming on as Batman, with a rats nest/spiders web on my head and a snake wrapped round my shoulders and screeching CHAIIIIIIII for three minutes. I’m bound to qualify at least – It’s working for the Albanians after all. But the fans love this song. Singing third in the final has probably ruled out a win and for that I am very grateful indeed. I’d rather listen to nails on glass for three minutes.”
The Eurovision Song Contest Final 2012 will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday night (20:00 BCS / 21:00 CET). Check press for broadcast details and public voting lines.