Yes, it’s that time again ladies and gentleman. The fun is all over for another year, and we’re left wondering how to fill the void. Well, fret not, because there’s still a bit of Eurovision nerdiness to come in my annual roundup! There’s been a lot of drama this year (moreso than usual) and there was even a streaker, which I think has to be a Eurovision first. But I don’t really want to talk about any of that, as none if it is particularly in the spirit of the contest. As usual, I’ll be talking you through my top ten songs from the final, and then the winner, but before we get to the acts themselves, we need to talk about the hosts.
Hosting the entire affair were Oleksandr Skičko (Олександр Скічко), Volodoymyr Ostapčuk (Володимир Остапчук) and, some might say to a lesser extent, Timur Mirošnyčenko (Тімур Мірошниченко). It was a fairly unusual choice to appoint three white men as hosts when the theme of the entire contest was supposed to be ‘celebrate diversity’, but if you can look past that, the trio were actually okay. They provided all the cheesy charm you’d expect from three men in their position, and they were very good sports being interrogated by Scott ‘Roflcopter’ Mills and Mel ‘You’re Better Than This’ Giedroyc in the (too-)long-running farce, ‘The Force’ during the UK broadcast of the semi finals. I think they did well! Though I could have done without seeing Måns Zelmerlöw popping up on my screen again. Крім того… Володимир, якщо ви читаєте це, будь ласка, зателефонуйте мені.
Belarus (Беларусь) · NAVIBAND – Гісторыя майго жыцця · Okay, so… this was the cutest thing. I loved this song from the first time I heard it, and after seeing interviews with them and how passionate they were about sharing their language with the world… how could I not love them? I may even have ordered a book on Belarusian grammar. But if you’ve been around here for a while, that probably won’t surprise you.
Croatia (Hrvatska) · Jacques Houdek – My Friend · I have to admit, when I first saw this in the semifinal, I had no idea what to think. It’s just a little… odd. But when you look at it technically, and how hard it is to mash those two musical styles together in general before giving it to one performer to do, it’s genuinely very impressive. I’m glad he got through and I’m sad that it didn’t do better, but clearly opera wasn’t what the audience or jury wanted this year.
Cyprus (Κύπρος / Kıbrıs) · Hovig – Gravity · I have to admit, this completely slipped under the radar for me until the day of the contest. I was listening to my playlist on the bus to my friend’s place and it got immediately stuck on my head. I do think the 12 points from Greece were a little excessive, but I think the audience cottoned onto that pretty quickly and booed appropriately. It’s a good song, but it was lost in a sea of other talented performers and catchy songs.
France · Alma – Requiem · I’m going to preface this by saying that I do not speak any French at all, so I didn’t understand most of this song. But I have to say, for a song called ‘requiem’, it seemed awfully upbeat. That isn’t a criticism, I liked it a lot! I’m also glad she ditched the dress we saw her in at the semifinals, with the enormous belt buckle and no belt or fabric covering her midriff. I know you should flaunt it if you’ve got it, but… this outfit was much better, in my humble homosexual opinion.
Germany (Deutschland)· Levina – Perfect Life · Okay. I liked this song, I really did. Though I’m aware that for the rest of this post, it isn’t going to seem like it. I know that the staging was intentionally simple, and her outfit was… well… I know it was supposed to be silver, but there was just so much grey and it washed out the entire performance. A couple of my friends at the party last night didn’t even know Germany had performed. Good song, but just a bit forgettable for Eurovision.
Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל) · IMRI – I Feel Alive · I’m going to make a real effort this time to talk about the song and the staging, as opposed to just fawning over how sodding beautiful this man is. Just look at his eyes, he looks like a sexy puppy. But anyway… I mean, this was just pretty standard Eurovision fodder. It didn’t really stand out until it got to the voting and it was ‘announced’ that this would be Israel’s last contest. It’s a shame it didn’t do better.
Italy (Italia) · Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma · Well, what to say about Francesco Gabbani. It took me a couple of listens to this song, but I ended up loving it so hard. And it seemed very popular in the arena, a lot of people were singing along (which, considering the song is in Italian, is actually fairly impressive). Plus, I’m a sucker for a dancing gorilla. I was hoping it would do better and spur more countries into performing in their own language, but… that could still happen.
Romania (România) · Ilinca feat. Alex Florea – Yodel It! · I don’t even know where to start. This is what Eurovision is all about, just being a bit silly in front of millions of people. It’s actually hard to tell with these two whether they genuinely thought they were doing something authentic, or whether they knew it was silly and it was all intentional. But any song that tells me to go and have another coffee is good by me.
Spain (España) · Manel Navarro – Do It For Your Lover · Okay, so, this came bottom of the table, and… I can kind of see why. It just didn’t fit in, and the whole surfing thing just really didn’t work for me. But the song in its own is nice, I just wish it had a touch more Spanish in it that I wouldn’t be able to understand. The repetition is just a bit too much for me. He looked like he was having fun, though, and that’s the important thing.
United Kingdom · Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You · To be brutally honest, I didn’t even listen to the UK’s entry until I drew it in our office sweepstake. And you know what, it really isn’t bad. It was a worry that this was the first Eurovision since our great national ‘fuck you’ to Europe, but that didn’t seem to affect the result at all. She did very well, and her success was well-deserved. Well done, Lucie!
That’s my top ten, in no particular order. Now all that’s left to discuss is the winner, Salvador Sobral. The song was written by his sister Luísa, and frankly, I liked it a heck of a lot better when she joined in when he was called upon to perform again after his win. I’m not really sure why he felt the need to ‘speak out’ against manufactured music (frankly a little bit rich, from someone who launched his career on the Portuguese version of Pop Idol) but… I don’t know. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope on that front. And for god’s sake, buy a jacket that doesn’t make you look like Herman Munster? Okay, I’ll stop now. I’m not being bitter, I swear… I’m glad Portugal have finally won, after participating so often and only having achieved a 6th place spot previously. I just wish they’d managed to do it with a different song, and an artist who doesn’t seem quite so… I don’t know, superior? I had the same problem with Marco Mengoni in 2013… he just looked like he didn’t want to be there at all, and I’m sure there were plenty of people in Portugal who would have jumped at the chance. Still, never mind, it’s done now. Let’s see what Lisbon has to offer!
What did you guys think? I’d love to hear from you, drop me a comment whether you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said. This is all just my opinion, and I know there are people out there who absolutely loved Portugal’s entry this year. So get in touch and let me know. As always, thanks for reading, see you next month.