Well, who could have believed that we’d be back here again? It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been a whole year since my last Eurovision write-up, but this week all eyes have been glued on Tel Aviv. As usual I’m going to go through ten performances that I liked – either from the semifinals or the grand final itself – without ranking them in any way, but the more astute among you may have been able to deduce which my two favourites were from my bingo card (shown below). It’s the same as last year, but as one of you pointed out I had ‘hosts change outfit’ twice… so that’s been switched out with something else – which, sadly, as this is a drinking game, lead to a lot more drinking than I had intended.
The overall design of the contest was lovely – it was modern, but still holding to those Eurovision core values. The stage was impressive and I loved the way they showed each country’s flag (though I’m a little unclear is to whether that was actually part of the arena or whether it was just a computer graphic added on after the fact – I suspect the latter). The ‘half time show’ was enjoyable in parts, but downright hard to watch in others. The ‘Switch Song’ as it has come to be known was fun and brought back some real Eurovision greats (Verka!) and with the exception of Måns Zelmerlöw was thoroughly enjoyable. The pre-performance interview with Madonna, however, was just difficult watching. It was obvious that even the host was uncomfortable. In addition to the way she was dressed, she acted like she’d never encountered a human before and was debating taking him back to her home planet for further study. Her ‘subtle’ dig at Israeli-Palestinian relations didn’t go unnoticed either, and was apparently a source of concern for the organisers… but honestly it would have been more surprising if she didn’t do something.
All of that aside, let’s get right to it, shall we? Here were my top ten performances, in alphabetical order because I don’t want to rank them any other way. This goes without saying but everything here is my own personal opinion.
Shqipëria (Albania) 🇦🇱 Jonida Maliqi – Ktheju tokës
This one might be a bit an unpopular opinion, and I know there will be people reading this who roll their eyes when they see yet another ballad in my top ten, but I did genuinely like this. It was powerful, she had a very strong voice and although the song was a little warbly in places, I think it was possibly intentional. It’s hard to tell with Eurovision. Unfortunately it got a little bit lost when it came to the voting – possibly due to having performed so early in the show, but ended up with a very respectable score. Finished 18th out of 26 with 90 points.
Australia 🇦🇺 Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
Well, where do I even begin with this one? I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out that Kate Miller-Heidke would be representing Australia… I’ve had songs of hers on my Spotify playlists for years, she’s got a unique style and her voice is amazing. Though up until this point, I didn’t know she was a trained opera singer! If I’m being honest, when I first heard the song, my thoughts were mostly… ooh, not your best work, Kate. But then it got stuck in my head, and when I watched the semifinal, her performance completely blew me away. Finishing in the top ten is a respectable result by all accounts, but I really think this one deserved to go all the way to the top. Finished 9th out of 26 with 285 points.
Azərbaycan (Azerbaijan) 🇦🇿 Chingiz – Truth
Okay, I’ve got to level with you guys. This one is mostly here because… well, look at him. And that’s the truth. I loved the performance and the visuals of it (lasers are cool, we all know it) though a couple of my friends raised concerns that this might be a copyright infringement issue with the HBO series Westworld, which I’ve never seen so I can’t really comment. The song was… fine? I think? If I’m being completely honest I did get a little caught up in the visual aspect of this performance and didn’t really listen to the song all that closely, but to finish as far up the table as he did, it can’t all have been thirst voting. Finished 7th out of 26 with 297 points.
Danmark (Denmark) 🇩🇰 Leonora – Love Is Forever
This one… I liked this when I first heard it on the album, before I saw the live performance. I don’t know if it was nerves, but Leonora looked like she was hating every second of her being on stage. Maybe she was scared of heights? Singing while climbing a ladder isn’t my idea of a good time, but I would have imagined she’d have some say in what the performance would look like. I also objected to the lyrics, don’t get too political… it just doesn’t really wash in this day and age, and is naïve at best. Still, it was a catchy song and probably one that I’ll continue to listen to after the 2019 grand final is a distant memory. Finished 12th out of 26 with 120 points.
France (France) 🇫🇷 Bilal Hassani – Roi
This one… well, where to start. This song had a great message, and it’s one that I think most Eurovision fans would struggle to object to – the backing dancers were as much part of the performance as Bilal (and both of them were utterly excellent in their own ways), though I think that might have been part of the problem. It didn’t really stand out as much as it should have done – it was quite understated, and as such I think it got lost in the crowd. The song is lovely and it’s definitely one that I’ll keep listening to now that the contest has finished, but it definitely wasn’t the most memorable song of the night. Finished 14th out of 26 with 105 points.
Ísland (Iceland) 🇮🇸 Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
Oh Hatari, my sweet baby angels. You deserved so much better. This was a firm favourite of mine since I first heard it – it definitely upped the weird and wonderful quota for the evening. I wasn’t aware of Hatari before the contest, but they do seem to be a real bunch of characters. Sadly, the juries didn’t seem to be on the Hatari hype train like I was (as was a large chunk of Europe, judging by the fact that their score more than quadrupled after the televoting scores were given out), and they finished a very respectable tenth. When the camera panned to them after their score was announced, they were all holding banners saying ‘Palestine’, and the camera was quickly turned off. Later, footage filmed by one of the band showed organisers trying to take the banners from them. I suppose, if anyone was going to cause trouble, it was these guys. And Madonna, apparently. Strange bedfellows indeed. Finished 10th out of 26 with 234 points.
Lietuva (Lithuania) 🇱🇹 Jurijus – Run with the lions
My weakness for handsome Lithuanians rears its head again, and I’m getting flashbacks to Vaidas Baumila in 2015. In all fairness, I will say that this song does actually hold up in its own right – even if you close your eyes. It’s a shame it didn’t qualify because although it’s quite a low-key sort of song, I think it could have been really refreshing. Sort of like the UK entry, but… y’know. Not the UK. Hopefully we’ll see Lithuania again next year. Finished nowhere, was eliminated in the second semifinal.
Norge/Noreg (Norway) 🇳🇴 KEiiNO – Spirit in the Sky
This was one of the songs that stood out to me on my first listen to all of the songs. It was nice that Norway chose to incorporate their Sámi population into their entry, especially because this year is the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages. I have to admit, I was shocked that it didn’t do as well with the juries but it was so gratifying to see them get so many points from the public vote – it was a classic 10,000 points to Gryffindor, fuck you Snape! moment that we’ve only seen a couple of times before since the vote reporting system changed. The entry itself is just a classically good pop song with some folk elements and… yeah, I liked it. Good job, Norway! Finished 5th out of 26 with 338 points.
España (Spain) 🇪🇸 Miki – La Venda
I have to admit, I didn’t really think much of this before the first semifinal where he was interviewed (and they may have showed a picture from his Instagram). He’s cute in an almost canine sort of way and the song was pretty standard Eurovision cheese, nice and colourful, a good note to end on. One thing I hadn’t noticed until a friend pointed it out to me was the strange glowing giant that was being controlled by someone off to the side of the stage, which did a bit of dancing and then disappeared for no conceivable reason. So… that was interesting. One thing I know for certain was that this song deserved a lot better than it got. Finished 22nd out of 26 with 60 points.
Sverige (Sweden) 🇸🇪 John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
I’ll admit that I didn’t instantly love this when I first heard it. It’s the sort of song that grows on you, and John himself seems like such a nice guy. I think it was just a little bit too… generic? Which I know is a ridiculous thing to say considering how we all know the night ended. I was honestly shocked when the public votes didn’t come through at the end in the numbers that I think everyone I was watching with had predicted and he didn’t shoot to the top of the table. I do hope he comes back in a couple of years when people have come to their senses a little bit. Finished 6th out of 26 with 332 points.
Well that’s it for another year! Though I suppose I can’t end this post without mentioning the winner in some capacity. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think the song is boring, and I mean it. Sort of. I think it’s just not what I expect when it comes to Eurovision, it doesn’t have that… spark. So maybe it’s not for me, but clearly a lot of people out there did like it – so congratulations toDuncan Laurence from the Netherlands 🇳🇱, and we’ll see you in Amsterdam (or Rotterdam, or Zwolle, or one of the other cities who have already announced their candidacy) in 2020! Also one quick honourable mention to Tamara Todevska from North Macedonia 🇲🇰 – and I know I speak for everyone at the party I went to when I ask the juries… what the everloving fuck was that all about?
What did you think? Did you agree with the winner? It’s always nice to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next month!