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Europapa or Baby Lasagna? Contestants to look out for at Eurovision 2024

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By Isabelle Yr Carlsson

COPENHAGEN, May 5 (Reuters) -The Eurovision Song Contest, a music kitsch-fest watched by some 200 million people, kicks off in Malmö, Sweden on Sunday with its "turquoise carpet" gala, in what fans say is a wide-open year with half a dozen countries having a shot at the title.

Bookmakers have Croatia, Switzerland and Ukraine as the top three favourites to win, while streaming data from Spotify suggests a strong chance for the Netherlands, Italy or host nation Sweden.

"This year is so exciting because there are four or five countries who really have a good shot at winning," William Lee Adams, editor of Eurovision fan site Wiwibloggs, told Reuters.

"Eurovision is so boring when you have one clear favourite months in advance. But this year there is so much left to play for."

Croatia's contestant Baby Lasagna (real name Marko Purišić, 28) this week overtook Switzerland as bookmakers' favourite with song "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" about a young Croatian who leaves his home aspiring to become a "city boy" with better opportunities.

The song contest, which has been held since 1956, has increasingly embraced inclusivity and acceptance among the LGBTQ+ community. That's the theme of Swiss rapper and singer Nemo, 24, who will perform "The Code" - a drum-and-bass, opera, rap, and rock song about their journey of self-discovery as non-binary.

Ukraine, which won the contest two years ago months after it was invaded by Russia, is represented this year by duo alyona alyona, 28, and Jerry Heil, 32, with "Teresa & Maria", a folk-inflected pop song with a strong dance beat and fast-paced rap. The winner normally hosts the following year, but last year's contest was held in Britain because of the war.

Another top contender is Joost Klein, 26, of the Netherlands with his song "Europapa" which mixes tunes of pop with happy hardcore. Klein, who lost his parents at a young age, says the song is about an orphan who travels around Europe trying to find himself, as his father taught him to believe in a Europe without borders.

Also in the running is Italy's Angelina Mango, 23, with her song "La Noia" which translates to "Boredom". Host country Sweden is seen as having a chance for back-to-back wins, represented by Norwegian twin brothers Marcus and Martinus Gunnarsen performing their song "Unforgettable".

Four-time winner Israel, represented by Eden Golan, 20, is also ranked by bookmakers in the top 10. Her song "Hurricane" was Israel's third proposed entry after the European Broadcast Union rejected two songs over lyrics deemed political.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen


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