After weeks of campaigning, months of bickering and years of talk about who will get the most votes, the big night is finally almost here: Eurovision 2015.
For those viewers slightly unfamiliar with how Eurovision works these days, the contest is no longer at the mercy of tactical voting: take note disgruntled Ukipers, Europe knows how to reform its voting system to ensure greater fairness. Bring it on, referendum.
So what countries have the best chance of being crowned Eurovision champion as the contest celebrates its 60th anniversary? The Independent spoke with Daniel Gould, professional gambler and co-founder of sofabet.com, to get the low down on the hottest bets for Eurovision 2015:
Sweden - Måns Zelmerlöw (2/1)
Daniel Gould: "The hot favourites this year are Sweden, who have a fine tradition in Eurovision. They won in 2012 with Loreen's Euphoria, one of the most popular recent winners. They have one of their biggest pop stars this year, Måns Zelmerlöw. He is singing a song called Heroes. It's got a country-feel to the verse and there's a kind of dance beat to the chorus. It's a very strong song, well-produced, and very well performed by a good-looking male. It ticks every box.
"There's a clever animation stage show that goes with the act, which means that there is interaction on stage which I think is important for a Eurovision act: it creates a sense that there's a story. There’s good movement on stage too, which is vital for an uptempo song. If you have an uptempo song and you’re static on stage, you somehow lose the interest of viewers. It’s a very deserving favourite."
Italy - Il Volo (3/1)
"The second favourite is an Italian trio called Il Volo. They are kind of a Collabro, Il Divo type popera (operatic pop) act. They are very popular in Italy and USA. In fact, they have been nominated for Grammys and they have performed on American Idol. They are a world class act. They are three good-looking young men singing a good popera song."
Australia - Guy Sebastian (7/1)
"You need a song that you can imagine charting in the top ten in the UK. Both the Swedish and the Australian songs would not sound out of place in the British top ten; they could easily be top five the week after the competition. They are the strongest box-ticking entries. The Italian one is interesting because it is a different genre; I can't find so many equivalents that have done well before. That uncertainty leaves me sceptical, but I would not rule them out."
Eurovision 2015 contestants
Eurovision 2015 contestants
1/38 Serbia's Eurovision 2015 entry: Bojana Stamenov
Serbia’s larger-than-life entry Bojana Stamenov has a big voice and a sense of humour to match (assuming she’s not taking herself seriously in her promotional photos). The former Serbia’s Got Talent finalist says: “I know how to knit and cook…But, watch out, my voice will blow up your mind.”
2/38 Poland: Monika Kuszynska
Poland’s contestant, who has been a wheelchair user since 2006 after being partially paralysed in a car crash, hopes to “build the bride of tolerance” this year with her song “In the Name of Love”.
3/38 Austria: The Makemakes
The Makemakes were chosen out of an initial 16 candidates who participated in the Austrian national selection this year. Their name is derived from the dwarf planet Makemake
Copyright: Milenko Badzic
4/38 Italy: Il Volo
Pop opera trio Il Volo have performed all over the world, released massively-selling albums and joined songstress Barbra Streisand on tour
Credits: Daniele Barraco
5/38 United Kingdom: Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas of Electro Velvet
Electro Velvet, a musical duo with an electro-swing sound, will be performing “Still in Love With You”, which has already had over 1.6 million views on YouTube.
6/38 Russia: Polina Gagarina
Polina is a well known actress and model as well as a singer. She has released two albums and lent her voice to the Russian dub of Oz the Great and Powerful in 2014.
Copyright: Respective broadcasters
7/38 The Netherlands: Trijntje Oosterhuis
Well known in her home country, Trijntje Oosterhuis has previously served as a judge on The Voice of Norway. She has also shared the stage with the likes of Lionel Richie and Herbie Hancoc.k
Copyright: Carin Verbruggen
8/38 Armenia: Genealogy
Genealogy consists of six singers who were internally selected by the Public Television of Armenia to sing Face The Shadow in Vienna, a "powerful anthem about peace, unity, and love"
Ruben Martirosyan, Public Television of Armenia
9/38 Switzerland: Mélanie René
Twenty four year old singer Melanie is originally from Mauritius. She wrote her entry song "Time to Shine" while studying contemporary music in the UK.
Copyright: SRF/Oscar Alessio
10/38 Slovenia: Maraaya
Married couple Marjetka and Raay have come together to form indie pop band 'Maraaya'. Raay is better known as a producer, while Marjetka likes to perform wearing her headphones on stage to "evoke the same emotions in the studio".
Copyright: Tanja Zrinski
11/38 San Marino: Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola
Yes, San Marino - the tiny Italian microstate with a population of 32,000 people - will be competing at Eurovision this year. They will be fielding two 16 year olds who previously competed at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
Copyright: Carlo Terenzi
12/38 Romania: Voltaj
Voltaj are one of the most popular bands in Romania, and are using the Eurovision stage to raise awareness of children left alone by parents who leave the country to work abroad.
Copyright: Respective broadcasters
13/38 Montenegro: Nenad Knežević Knez
'Knez' is one of Montenegro's most popular artists, having released 10 albums 23 years.
Copyright: Bojan Stnic
14/38 Portugal: Leonor Andrade
At the age of 21, Leonor Andrade has been performing since the age of four. Like almost every Eurovision 2015 contestant, she has also taken part in The Voice of Portugal.
Copyright: Edgar Vale Fonseca
15/38 Norway: Kjetil Morland & Debrah Scarlett
Morland was born in Norway but has lived in the UK for most of his life and is part of the British band Absent Elk. Debrah is best known in her country for taking part in The Voice Norway in 2013.
Copyright: NRK/Julia Naglestad
16/38 Moldova: Eduard Romanyuta
Ukranian-born Eduard Romanyuta has been performing on stage since the age of four. After Ukraine withdrew from the competition he decided to compete for Moldova
Copyright: Respective broadcasters
17/38 Malta: Amber
Amber is 23 and has competed to represent her country at Eurovision five times before. She was a backing singer for Malta's 2012 entry Kurt Calleja
Copyright: Aaron Briffa & cngfotography
18/38 Lithuania: Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila
Monika Linkytė has previously attempted to represent her country in the Song Contest in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2007
19/38 Latvia: Aminata
Born in Riga in 1993 to a Latvian mother of Latvian and Russian descent, and a father from Burkino Faso, Aminata thinks of herself foremost as Latvian
Copyright: Martins Cirulis
20/38 Israel: Nadav Gudej
Nadav Guedj, 16, is a French-Israeli singer who will be performing "Golden Boy" in Vienna
Copyright: Ronen Akerman
21/38 Ireland: Molly Sterling
Self-taught 17-year-old musician Molly Sterling is at her happiest when she’s singing and playing her piano in her County Tipperary home
Copyright: Richie Mooney
22/38 Iceland: Maria Olafs
Maria Olafs is an actress, singer and songwriter who will be representing Iceland with her song "Unbroken"
Copyright: Jonatan Gretarsson
23/38 Hungary: Boggie
Boggie is a jazz musician best known for her music video Nouveau Parfum, which has been watched over 6 million times on YouTube
Credits: Enikő Vár
24/38 Germany: Ann Sophie
Born in London but raised in Hamburg, 24-year-old Ann Sophie will be representing Germany with "Black Smoke"
Photographer Rolf Klatt | copyright eurovision.de
25/38 France: Lisa Angell
On stage, the French participant will perform N'oubliez Pas - a song of "hope and peace, of courage and solidarity"
Copyright: Nathalie Guyon / France TV
26/38 Finland: Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät
"The members of our band are four middle-aged, mentally handicapped men. The music is, of course, Finnish punk," – Sami Helle, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät
Copyright: Anton Sucksdorff
27/38 Georgia: Nina Sublatti
Former model Nina will be performing her self-written song "Warrior", a song in which she shows her "power and strength, both vocally and personally"
Copyright: Levan Leko Chkonia
28/38 FYR Macedonia: Daniel Kajmakoski
Daniel is a Macedonian-born pop & rock singer, composer, songwriter, and guitar and piano player living in Vienna, where he moved with his family at the age of six. He was named after Daniel Popovic, who represented Yugoslavia it the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest
Copyright: Andreja Damjanovic
29/38 Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa
Three years ago Estonia's hottest songwriter Stig stumbled across a young girl's video on YouTube, where she was singing Christina Aguilera's song Cruz. It was Elina - and the rest could be sweet Eurovision history
Copyright: Stina Kase, Stig Rästa & Elina Born
30/38 Denmark: Anti Social Media
Anti Social Media is a pop/rock band inspired by the warm sounds of the Sixties. Their mission is to revive the simple and happy spirits of bands such as The Beatles
Copyright: Ditte Chemnitz, Anti Social Media
31/38 Cyprus: John Karayiannis
John Karayiannis is 20 and comes from Limassol in Cyprus. In September he will be moving to London to continue his music studies and record his first album
Dre Photo work
32/38 Czech-Republic: Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta
Marta Jandová is a well-known singer in the Czech-Republic and Germany, while Václav Noid Bárta is a popular composer, actor, arranger and singer
Copyright: Monika Navrátilová, Václav Noid Bárta
33/38 Belgium: Loic Nottet
Seventeen year old Loic was a finalist during the third series of The Voice Belgique and has since signed to Sony Music. His favourite artists is Sia
Photography & Art Work by Josh Brandão
34/38 Albania: Elhaida Dani
Elhaida Dani is a real star not only in her home country, but also in Italy where she won The Voice of Italy in 2013
35/38 Belarus: Uzari&Maimuna
Pop music composer and classically trainer lead violinist Uzari and Maimuna share a joint love of Lord Of The Rings
36/38 Eurovision 2015 contestants
Greece's entry was born in Cyprus but has lived in Greece for most of her life. In 2014 she won the Voice of Greece TV show
Copyright: Sophia Dranidou
37/38 Azerbaijan: Elnur Huseynov
Elnur has previously sung in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, representing Azerbaijan along with singer Samir
Copyright: Magnus Ragnvid
38/38 Australia: Guy Sebastian
Former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian will be representing Australia, which has been invited to take part for the Song Contest's 60th anniversary
"Estonia have a very good duet that will be knocking on the top ten in the UK charts. Another country that has a strong song, which is a bit more 'Eurovision-y' and will add a certain frisson to proceedings, is Russia. Russia are going to do very well. They are very probable top-five candidates.
"In 2014, every time Russia scored points they were loads of boos, for various political reasons. I think we will see a repeat of that this year and that will add some interesting tension to proceedings."
‘The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final’ will be broadcast on BBC1 and BBC Radio 2 on SaturdayReuse content