It's unwise to go into Saturday's Eurovision song contest without doing some homework. The whole thing's a potential minefield for the unprepared. Maybe someone will ask you for your favourite act, and you'll be left spluttering uselessly in a corner. Maybe you'll accidentally express political insensitivity by clapping along with the Russian entry. Maybe you just won't have built up the physical stamina necessary to endure three and a half hours of brightly coloured wailing, and your brain will literally pop inside your own skull.
Either way, you need a briefing on this year's runners and riders. And since I'm going to be liveblogging the poxy thing on Saturday night as it's broadcast in the UK – Australian viewers get their own liveblog – I'm probably the man to do it. Commit all this to memory. You'll thank me at the weekend.
The favourite: Sweden – Sanna Nielsen, Undo
Sweden is perfectly placed to do well at Eurovision – it has pop pedigree, it's surrounded by countries that always give it top marks regardless of quality, and nobody cares about it enough to build up a meaningful level of hatred towards it. This year's entry isn't a patch on Euphoria, the song that won Sweden the title two years ago, but what it lacks in dazzle it makes up for in really, really wanting to be I Will Survive.
The notable outliers
Armenia – Aram MP3, Not Alone
Somewhat inexplicably, this was the favourite to win Eurovision for a very long time. I say inexplicably because – well, listen to it. It sounds like something James Arthur would release as the third single from his next self-released album. It goes boring, boring, boring, boring, REALLY LOUD, boring, boring. And then it stops. It will do well, but I cannot see it winning.
The Netherlands – The Common Linnets, Calm After The Storm
If the Eurovision voters were made up purely of Radio 2 listeners, then this song would leave all the others in the dirt. It's a little bit folk, a little bit country, a little bit Fleetwood Mac and a little bit corduroy. It's unlike anything else in the competition this year, and it's also very good indeed. But then I would say that. I'm old.
The reigning champion: Denmark – Basim, Cliche Love Song
To prove that hosting Eurovision has been a bit of a faff for them, the people of Denmark have essentially resigned from the competition this year by entering the worst noise you have ever heard. Worse still, it's a noise that thinks it's much cleverer than it actually is. I'd describe it as Bruno Mars being possessed by the ghost of Scatman John, but I won't because that makes it sound much more exciting than it actually is.
The Stuart Heritage favourite: Italy - Emma, La Mia Città
This might be because she's singing in a language I don't understand, so I can't clasp my hands over my ears and cringe at how tortured the lyrics are, but I'd quite like Italy to win this year. It's bold, it's fun, it's powerfully performed and, unlike 95% of the other entries this year, it doesn't contain a hopelessly misplaced dubstep breakdown. But it won't win, because I want it to win. Songs I want to win always come 15th. Always.
The British contender: Molly, Children of the Universe
Current betting odds place this as the third favourite to win, which must be down to some sort of administrative snafu. I mean, this is the UK. We're never third favourite for anything. That said, abandoning the 'Quick! Who's the oldest person we can think of?' selection tactic of the last few years was a wise one, and this song – while not really very memorable in the big scheme of things – could have been a lot worse. Molly won't win, but nor will she Humperdinck.
The obligatory oddity: France - TWIN TWIN, Moustache
If ever there was a song to look up the English lyrics to, it's this. It starts off as a limp retread of that horrible Nickelback song about being a rock star – "My car is lined with leather," it goes. "I lift weights at the gym/My body is a war machine" – and then comes the chorus. In full, the chorus goes: "I wanna moustache, a moustache, a moustache/I wanna have a moustache, a moustache, a moustache." What's more, it sounds like Gangnam Style. It's unbearable. I quite like it.