ManuElla Flies the Eurovision Flag for Slovenia
10.05.2016 | Fiona Thompson
This weekend a staggering 180 million television viewers are expected to tune in as 26 countries compete in Stockholm to win the 61st Eurovision Song Contest. Exactly which countries will take part is not yet known: the so-called Big Five (Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain) get automatic entry every year while Sweden as the 2015 winner and therefore this year's host also get a free pass to the Grand Final. The rest must fight it out over two semi-finals, held on 10 and 12 May, in advance of the main event on Saturday 14.
Slovenia competes in the second semi-final and the country will keep its collective fingers crossed for ManuElla (pictured below) as she performs 'Blue and Red'. The singer's real name is Manuela Brečko and she comes from Celje. Back in 2011, Manuela took part in the competition to choose that year's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, placing fourth in that attempt.
Slovenia's first Eurovision appearance was in 1993 and since then the country has tried its luck in the competition on 21 times. Disappointingly, since the number of entrants was enlarged in 2004 and semi finals became part of the format, Slovenia has managed to get through to the Grand Final on only 4 occasions (Alenka Gotar in Helsinki 2007; Maja Keuc in Dusseldorf 2011; Tinkara Kovač in Copenhagen 2014; and Maraaya in Vienna in 2015).
Fans will be hoping that ManuElla can go better than Slovenia's previous highest final placing which was seventh, achieved by Darja Švajger in 1995 and again by Nuša Derenda (pictured below) in 2001. The only other time that Slovenia has knocked on the door of the top ten was 1997 when Tanja Ribič placed tenth with 'Zbudi se'.
Once again, Slovenian fans would be well-advised to enjoy the event for the fun of it as bookmakers are currently offering odds of 100-1 on Slovenia to take the title in 2016. As usual, it looks like 2016's event will be the usual cocktail of high camp, glitter, and fun; although Sweden is a five times winner of Eurovision, this will be the third time that Stockholm has hosted the final and viewers can expect a professional affair with a few surprises.
Tune in on Thursday evening, flags at the ready, to cheer on ManuElla as she makes her bid to get into Saturday's Grand Final. Good luck, ManuElla!