We’ll begin by seeing something from our hosts, finally. Vienna is showcasing its beauty, with Schoenbrun Palace taking centre stage as the orchestra plays. This is the longest ever Eurovision, with 27 countries in total performing, including seven we haven’t seen in the semi-finals: Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. At least two of these are Lady Ballads. At least one of these will make you screw up your face in confusion and pain. At least one of these could win… (but what we know of old is, no one’s Europredictions are ever reliable, least of all mine)
Even just hearing the opening music makes me well up, but that could be the mojitos talking.
The themes tonight are circles, and of course, Building Bridges. We have a long montage of Austria being beautiful and me being jealous. And now we’re in the Wiener Stadthalle with 10,000 Eurofans going absolutely bats. My Eurocorrespondents on the ground in Vienna inform me that there’s a lot of love for Ireland tonight, given they’ve just given a big thumbs-up to gay marriage! My friend is wearing his ‘Yes’ badge and is getting stopped in the street and it’s amazing.
Now Conchita’s back! (obviously) Pink glitter trouser suit YES. Singing a song called ‘Building Bridges’ and OMFG our hosts are here and they are singing too! Conchita’s literally just taken off, as has the atmosphere. Then the Vienna Boys’ Choir join the singing and I’m moved to tears, not for the first time this evening. The kids totally break it down.
The acts are introduced and then, to be honest, we have to get a wriggle on.
Don your headphones, because Slovenia will be opening for us. It’s Maraaya, with ‘Here For You‘. I heard them interviewed earlier and they were so sweet. They’re a married couple and they have two little boys, but it will be too late for them to stay up and watch! So I like the song but not the pretend-violinist dancer person. (my cousin has just texted me that it’s just hit her she has to get through 27 songs)
France take the second slot tonight, and we haven’t heard from Lisa Angell yet. She’s singing ‘N’oubliez pas’, or ‘Don’t Forget’. I really like the uniforms her musicians are wearing, but it’s not even the best ballad here tonight, I’m afraid. Hopefully they’ll avoid the bottom spot that France sadly occupied last year.
I worry that Israel could suffer from being drawn third. It’s early doors – yes, we do need to get the party started, but could it mean people have forgotten him when voting time comes? But as I say, this is where Euro truly gets started, as Nadav Guedj reprises ‘Golden Boy‘. They go all out for a wonderful performance, but his vocals seem a bit nervy. I love his little “gotta go, three minutes” at the end.
Estonia have a tough job following that, but it’s Elina Born and Stig Rasta with ‘Goodbye to Yesterday‘. Oh god he’s flat, she does her best to sing loudly and cover it. I know she’s only giving him evils because it’s part of the act, but part of me wonders if it isn’t real.
United Kingdom’s up next, it’s Electro Velvet with ‘Still In Love With You’. Oh god. This could go one of two ways – it’ll either be fun, or it’ll be a complete and utter car crash. Reports from rehearsals suggest the latter. OK so I am going to be unbiased about this: it’s not as bad as it could be. They sing well, and they have great costumes that light up, and fantastic dancers. I’m just not sure this is the best we could do. It got a really good reaction in the hall though.
Well. That happened. Now it’s time for Armenia’s Genealogy, with ‘Face The Shadows‘. It’s still a bit weird and breathy, but the staging is nice and the idea is nice. Nice is not really the word you want though, is it? They performed it better than the semi but I think someone was well out of tune.
Lithuania were a surprise qualifier for me, despite all the kissing. It’s Monika Linkyte and Vaidas Baumila with ‘This Time‘. It’s fun and pretty jolly, but it probably took the place of a better song. They are running around a lot and I think that is spoiling the vocals a touch. It’s during this song that I consider going to do the washing up. That can’t be a good sign.
We need a bit more fun, and I think there’ll be a huge reaction for Serbia, as Bojana Stamenov sings ‘Beauty Never Lies’. She seems very nervous, I don’t think she is selling it as much as she did earlier in the week. She should trust herself and her song, it’s hugely popular, as the crowd goes wild.
A huge cheer as Norway arrived earlier. It’s our favourite monsters, Morland and Debrah Scarlett with ‘A Monster Like Me‘. Oh, they do it beautifully. It’s very dusty in here all of a sudden. Her voice is just stunning. I’d have no problem with this taking the title.
It’s Sweden next, Mans Zelmerlow and ‘Heroes’. I’ve probably said all there is to say on the Mans front. Sweden just gets it. I don’t think he did his best performance of this song, but I think it will get him very close to the top of the leader board.
We follow that with John Karayiannis from Cyprus, and ‘One Thing I Should Have Done‘. Talk about tough act to follow again! But John just seems so lovely. It’s all done in black and white, and it’s heartfelt.
Now to something totally new for Eurovision, as Australia take to the stage for the first time ever. Guy Sebastian is the singer, with ‘Tonight Again’, and I really think this has a wonderful vibe to it, and a great chance of finishing top five. What a great job he does, despite someone putting him in what looks like the world’s most uncomfortable suit.
Belgium, ooooh Belgium. Dear old Loic Nottet and ‘Rhythm Inside‘. This is one of the ones I’ve been listening to a lot. Loic’s 19, and he wrote this song himself, and I’m worried it might be a bit ‘out there’ for Europe, but I love it.
Another song we’re hearing for the first time (unless you’re an obsessive like us) Austria’s The Makemakes are singing ‘I Am Yours’. Lots of hair in this group, and their gimmick is PIANO FLAMES. It’s a pleasant song but what’s the most annoying thing is, it really reminds me of something and I can’t put my finger on it. So if any of you can help me?
The more I think about it, the more I was harsh on Greece during the semi-final. This is actually a bloody good performance. Maria Elena Kyriacou sings ‘One Last Breath‘, and she sings it very well. A few people have commented that the lighting in her performance looks like the stars on the EU flag, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there wasn’t a hidden message here. She performs with a real passion and thank heavens the tape kept that dress in place.
I liked Montenegro a lot during the week – it’s Knez, with ‘Adio‘. Our commentator, Graham Norton, makes some amazing quips about botox… I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did during the semi-final, which makes me really think about the fact I’d had blood taken and then drunk alcohol on Thursday.
Of course, Germany is one of the ‘Big Five’, so we haven’t seen Ann Sophie’s ‘Black Smoke’ yet. You may know the story, but basically, Ann Sophie didn’t win Germany’s national selection – the guy who did changed his mind and decided he didn’t want to do it. Charming. I think Ann Sophie’s song’s fab, so his loss.
I wasn’t 100% sure about Poland’s qualification, but they’ll surely do a good job, as Monika Kuszynska takes to the stage once more, with ‘In The Name of Love‘. I do want to take a moment to tell you Monika’s story – she was in a very popular Polish girl group, but in 2007 was in a car accident that left her paralysed. She’s decided to carry on singing, and I’m bloody glad she did.
Latvia made a big impression on me during the semis. The more I think about it, I worry it’s too much for Europe. But it’s Aminata with ‘Love Injected‘, and for me, it’s a top five contender.
I don’t know how well Romania is going to do, sandwiched between Latvia and Spain, two strong contenders. But Voltaj is surely going to give a good performance of ‘De La Capat‘. (nope, still boring, sorry Commentatrix)
Spain are another new one for much of the Euro audience, and I think this could do well. It’s Edurne with ‘Amanecer’. Oooh she’s going for a sparkly Red Riding Hood vibe, and she’s so pretty! She absolutely smashes that, and if you could win on cheers alone, then Edurne is the champion so far.
We follow that stormer with Hungary’s Boggie, and ‘Wars For Nothing‘. Excellent, because I was in need of a bathroom break. Sorry, it’s very boring. And I know I can come across as a ballad-hater, but really I’m not. I like Greece and I like Russia (still to come) – this is just a bad example of the genre.
Ooooh yes, Georgia! It’s Nina Sublatti and ‘Warrior‘, and we like a lot. The crowd needed that.
I think Azerbaijan will be the surprise success story of the night, rightly or wrongly. And so once again, we come to Elnur Huseynov with his song ‘Hour of the Wolf‘. At this point I checked the clock and realised we’d been going for two hours, which is impressive.
Since their semi-final, Russia’s odds have gone through the roof. And of all the ballads, this is for sure the best. Polina Gagarina gives ‘A Million Voices’ a real edge, and she seems on the verge of a complete breakdown during the song, such is the passion she puts into it. She’s got a great position in the draw, too. The BBC host tells us they have been warned in the hall not to boo the Russian act. I like the song but I don’t want it to win, put it that way.
Two more songs to go, so now we turn to Albania. It’s ‘I’m Alive‘, by Elhaida Dani. Remind me again how this qualified? She’s not even wearing her nice cape from the semis. And she’s quite far from where she needs to be, tune-wise. Just screaming is not enough.
Italy are the final country from the Big Five, and the final act tonight. They’re garnering a lot of plaudits, with Il Volo singing ‘Grande Amore’. I’m told they’ve gone top 10 in the USA so you might know them already. The response in the hall is amazing, probably because they are an attractive bunch o’ boys who can hold a tune. My favourite is Glasses Volo. Bloody hell Italy, well done. Great way to end the show and I think we have a top fiver there.
And now it’s time for some proper interval entertainment. Before that, we need a recap and some phone numbers, so we can all vote. I’ve set myself a budget of £5, that seems a reasonable amount to spend on a televised singing competition.
It’s going to be a percussive spectacular. Music’s a big part of Austria’s heritage, and they are going to showcase that, to wonderful effect. I know I would be dancing my ass off in that stadium. What I’m mostly hoping for is some Sound of Music, if I’m honest. Then we have a mini Conchita concert, where she performs You Are Unstoppable, and Firestorm, and I eat a thing called Biscoff Crunchy direct from the jar. (If you’re able to get your hands on it, I recommend) We also have a really awkward performance from a kid called Vincenzo Cantiello, who won the Junior ESC for Italy.
Early in the votes though, as Russia starts to do well, the crowd starts to turn and there are definitely boos. We get three countries out in front from quite early on, Russia, Italy and Sweden. This voting has apparently been calibrated to bring maximum tension and OMFG IT DOES. I am a MESS.
But the final result is the one I was expecting. So here, in reverse order, is the top 10:
SWEDEN takes it, with Russia in second place, and Italy third. A great showing for Belgium, I think, and I wonder if Guy’s fifth place means Australia will be back next year. Let’s spare a thought for both Germany and our hosts Austria, who have no points at all (even the UK managed to grab five lonely points, what a bag of but they deserved it) I’m just very pleased for Mans, and for Sweden.
Mans has said some dumb stuff in the past, but in his winner’s speech he says, “we are all heroes, no matter who we love” – and I believe he means it.
I’m on a massive Eurocomedown now. Not even repeat listens to the official album (what?) can cheer me up, knowing it’s a whole year till we can do this again. But I will 100% see you in Sweden in 2016…!