Last night’s Eurovision really was a change from the norm. On three counts, in fact.
For a start Sweden did a magnificent job of hosting a complex and demanding live TV show, not once but three times in a single week. Two semi-finals and a grand final. Additionally, each night was staged differently, with the hosts doing a fantastic job each time. Not just reading a script like robots, but ad-libbing, singing and dancing.
Secondly, the quality of acts has definitely improved over the years. We might not all agree (ha!) over who should have won, but I think we can agree that the show was slick and entertaining, which is a lightyears from how it all was in the early 90s, for example. Some of these songs have done very well in national charts over the last few months and the music is a lot more in touch with what the average person likes. I emphasise some.
Thirdly – and I’m taking a sip of coffee here, to gather my thoughts – the voting was… different. For the first time, the jury votes were delivered before the tele-voting from the general public. And if it showed one thing, it’s that the juries are so out of the touch with he average Eurovision voter. How else could Poland go from bottom of the heap to 8th overall after tele-voting results were added?
(You can see how all the countries voted via this very detailed and complex table).
I’m all on favour of this new voting system as it just adds to the tension at the end of the show. Yes, Australia looked like the runaway favourite for so long, but was then overtaken by Ukraine when the there was still a chance for Russia to steal it. Those last few minutes were so very tense, like the bomb-disposal scene in a Hollywood blockbuster.
And given the very real conflicts between Ukraine and Russia over recent years, it was especially tense.
I think the Ukraine song, while not one of my favourites, resonated with voters. They also liked the Russian song, but at the same time I think everyone felt conflicted about awarding the contest to Russia again. Despite the EBU’s protestations that the Eurovision isn’t political. The Eurovision sure as hell is.
So after some fantastic songs and an almost flawless presentation of acts, voting and results, Sweden are the real winners here. They have raised the Eurovision bar and I feel quite sorry for the Ukraine who have a lot to live up to. Petra Mede deserves several awards for keeping things light and just the right side of sarcastic, while Måns Zelmerlöw demonstrated he can sing while moving around on a hoverboard.
My one outstanding question about the whole evening is why anyone thought it would be a good idea to have Justin Timberlake perform as part of the interval act? His ad-libbing in the green room with contestants was nothing short of cringe-inducing and his performance was painting by numbers. His whole attitude was “I don’t know why I’m here and I really don’t care”.
Call me old-fashioned, but a bit more about all that fantastic Swedish pop music that was glossed over so quickly would have been a much better time-killer until the voting.
So well done Sweden and here’s to next year in Ukraine – international crises and border wars permitting, of course.
And in case you missed it all (what were you doing with your Saturday night if you were’t watching Eurovision?!), here’s the winning song. Brace yourself, it’s far from cheery.