It's crazy Irish twins Jedward v British boyband Blue for Eurovision glory.
Tonight all eyes will be on the wacky-haired pop twins from Lorcan as they take on chart-toppers Blue — and bookies favourite Amaury Vassili from France — for the Eurovision title in Dusseldorf.
The teenagers from Dublin have defied critics to reach the final of the 56th song contest and will perform their song Lipstick on stage in front of millions.
Despite being booted off the X-Factor and slated for their singing ability, experts say 19-year-old John and Edward Grimes are set to top the scoreboard for Ireland.
Bookies have slashed the odds on the loony duo winning the competition, with Paddy Power now rating their chances at 4/1.
Four-piece boyband Blue, who have released four top 10 hits and a platinum-selling album, are well behind on odds of just 11/1 for their UK entry.
But both acts are in for a challenge tonight, with stiff competition from favourites France and a history of tactical voting that has put eastern Europe in the top five for the last decade.
Ireland last won the song contest 15 years ago, while Katrina And The Waves scored the most votes for the UK back in 1997.
This year, with 125 million viewers set to tune in to the live final, Jedward will have to pull out all the stops to bring home the Eurovision crown.
Ahead of tonight’s big performance, local music critics backed the terrible twins over the reformed Blue boys.
Marie-Louise Muir, presenter of Radio Ulster’s Arts Extra show, said Jedward’s trademark blonde quiffs should impress audiences Europe-wide.
“I would definitely go for Jedward, not because I’m a fan but I have an eight-year-old niece who adores them and adorns her bedroom walls with pictures of them,” she said.
“I think they’re quirky — they’ve got the look, they’ve got youthful energy and they’ve just got kitsch written all over them.
“Some people say the contest is getting political but I think Jedward have got that undiluted fun that Eurovision should be all about.
“From their sticky-up hair to their demeanour, I can see them having a lot of fun on stage and winning votes.
“Blue are a lot more serious and considered — Jedward are in with a much better chance.”
And Lee Henry of Culture Northern Ireland reckoned the pop twins were a “shoo-in” to win the contest.
“In the spirit of fun, Jedward obviously have a chance,” he said.
“Of course, they get our vote, but mainly because they’re a little bit less horrendous than the rest of the acts competing for the title.
“Blue are going for the serious, heartfelt angle, which never goes down well with the other European countries.
“A sense of humour always |comes in quite handy with Eurovision, and Jedward are as cheesy as they come.”
This year’s Eurovision song contest will be broadcast live on BBC 1 from 8pm tonight
Fascinating Eurovision facts
1 The first Eurovision song contest took place in Switzerland in 1956. The first colour broadcast of the event was from London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1968.
2 More than 125 million people worldwide are expected to watch the 2011 contest live from Dusseldorf, covered by 2,500 journalists from 50 countries.
3 Ireland holds the record for the most Eurovision wins, topping the table seven times, while the UK has won five times and come second 15 times.
4 Johnny Logan has won three times, twice as singer, once as songwriter.
5 Most winning songs have been performed in English, which has won the contest 22 times. French is also popular, while Dutch and Hebrew songs won three times each.
6 Live animals have been banned from the contest since 2008.
7 Simple lyrics are the key to victory. In 1983, Turkish entry Opera consisted entirely of the word ‘opera’ repeated over and over. Spain’s cleverly titled La La La had no fewer than 138 las.
8 Among the contestants who have had successful music careers are ABBA (1974 winners), Celine Dion and Cliff Richard.
9 An act performing second in the contest has never won, with some believing the slot is cursed. This year Bosnia will perform in the cursed position, with Ireland sixth and the UK 14th.
10 Solo female artists are more likely to win than male competitors, with 27 |female winners and just seven men.