Eurovision Song Contest 2017 – the grand final!

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Here we are! It’s Saturday, it’s mid-May, we’re wearing glitter, it can only mean one thing – it’s the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. By now you may well know the result, but please feel free to play along with the fun. For fun is what we shall have, as we traipse one last time to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

I’m in the pub, there are approximately 30 drunk Eurofans behind me (of course I got there early to get the best seat!), and as usual, we will have 26 acts for our delectation, as well as one or two, shall we say, less expected moments…

And as was the case last year, there is a twist to the voting – we’ll get all the jury (ie. technical) scores first, then move to all of the public scores, and as we saw in 2016, that can turn the result on its head. So where will we be heading in 2018? Let’s find out…

Opening things up for us is Israel’s Imri, a great party-starter – it’s I Feel Alive. You can’t fail to be impressed by this guy’s biceps, I mean, musical ability, musical ability. Actually really enjoying this one, but I am not sure if the first spot may mean he suffers come the voting.

A similarly tricky place to be for Poland, who are up second – tricky, because no one has ever performed second and won. Kasia Mos is highly unlikely to break that tradition with Flashlight.

Belarus continue the fun (ish), Naviband sailing their hovercraft into the arena to perform Story of My Life. I don’t remember this being as upbeat as it was tonight, so perhaps there’s something doing here.

Some felt this was a surprise qualifier – Nathan Trent from Austria, but the lad can certainly sing. Here’s Running On Air. I can’t say it does it for me, but if he can make the final, he can win it – everyone knows that…

Artsvik are representing Armenia this May, and by goodness, it’s bright. Fly With Me. Please.

Now, I know one should never make Eurovision predictions, because in (ahem) 30+ years, I think I’ve called it right the grand total of once, but surely The Netherlands have a strong chance of taking the title? OG3NE perform Lights and Shadows. Listening to this back today, I am less sure about their vocals but their sheer professionalism has won over a lot of the room. As have their dresses…

Another strong contender, it’s Moldova’s Sunstroke Project, with Hey Mamma! What this song benefits from is immediacy and good humour – both should stand it in good stead at the end of the night.

The mood will have to come down slightly now, for Hungary’s Joci Papai, and his song Origo. Yep, this has bathroom break written all over it. Sorry Hungary, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.

Italy next – the first of the ‘big five’ and the first we haven’t seen live yet. It’s Francesco Gabbani with Occidentale’s Karma. There’s definitely a gimmick, some might say two gimmicks – the ape and the orchestra shouting “Allez!” Except – no orchestra. And the whole thing just feels a bit flat. I’m sad to say that I don’t think this pre-contest favourite has hit the high many were predicting.

Denmark’s Anja is here, with Where I Am. I have to confess I pulled Denmark out of the hat in the sweepstake this evening and traded it with a friend for Greece. You can see how much confidence we have in both of these countries…

The bookmakers think Portugal has a very good chance here with Salvador Sobral. His song is Amar Pelos Dois, which translates as something like Love For Us Both, or Love For Two. He has the room holding its breath, and of course, the camera lights are out in force. I don’t know if I’d be able to sing it back to you tomorrow, but I do know that this will take some beating.

Without Russia, this year, I think Azerbaijan has a great chance of being the top placed country from this part of Europe. Dihaj performs Skeletons, and very much ups her game from her semi-final during the week.

I’ve made my feelings on Croatia clear before, so I won’t go into it again, but I’d be grateful if this was the last time I ever had to hear it. It’s Jacques Houdek and My Friend.

Australia are up next – it’s Isaiah, with Don’t Come Easy. I’m still not 100% sure about this one, but I do think he’s grown in confidence and makes a far better job of his performance tonight. Should go top 10, minimum.

Greece. Oh Greece. Demy is back with This Is Love, but will she attempt those high notes tonight? Yes, yes she will, and she’ll bloody nail them. A much better performance from Greece.

Now it’s time for another artist we haven’t seen before, big fiver Spain – their entrant is Manel, he’s going for a surfboard vibe, exhorting us to Do It For Your Lover. And why not? There are few better people to do it for. That said, I have a very bad feeling about this one for the Spanish. It’s a little flat.

Jowst’s back for Norway now, with Grab The Moment. It’s grown on me, this one, even though those face masks just freak me out. It’s a very ‘of its time’ tune, so perhaps that will shove it further up the results table.

The United Kingdom up now in the 18th spot, which is hopefully not where they will come when we hit voting later on. The UK entrant is Lucie Jones, singing Never Give Up On You, which many have dubbed Never Give Up On EU… Lucie really does give it everything, she is using her musical theatre training to the max, and she is backed by absolutely lovely gold graphics and lights. Look: the UK is not going to win on the basis of this, but it’s a far better showing than in previous years, and Lucie should be very proud.

Where has the time gone? We’re not far from the end now. Hovig’s Gravity comes next, for Cyprus. Whilst we have seen several performers drastically up their game from the semi-finals, I hate to say this but I think Cyprus may have gone in the opposite direction. The edge is not there. I still really enjoyed it though.

If you like yodelling, you’ll love Romania – Ilinca feat. Alex Florea, with Yodel It. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a sense of humour (honestly), and I think they are very good at what they do – it’s just not for me.

Germany – now poor old Deutschland came last in 2016, and I hate to say it, I really genuinely do, but I fear they could be in for the same fate in 2017. Levina is performing Perfect Life in a rather lovely dress.

Host nation Ukraine are up next, another we haven’t heard before. It’s O. Torvald with Time. This really mixes things up. We’ve not had any real rock like this this evening, and although it won’t score highly, it’s good to have this here.

Belgium’s Blanche (not actually her real name. She’s called Ellie!) will be needing a really strong performance of City Lights tonight. And hallelujah, she pulls it off. She still doesn’t really look like she wants to be there (maybe she doesn’t!) , but her vocals are strong and she looks a lot more comfortable on stage. This might be my favourite…

Another big hitter, Sweden, with Robin Bengtsson’s I Can’t Go On. He’ll be happier here closer to the end of the show than he was in the first spot in the semi-final, and yes, just like Blanche before him, gives an absolute barnstormer. I Can’t Go On is rather like the Moldovan entry in that it’s very immediate – if you haven’t seen the show before, then you hear this, you know exactly what’s going on. AND YOU LIKE IT.

I can’t help but feel there’s something tactical in the placing of Bulgaria in the penultimate spot… but am assured it’s all done through special musical algorithms… Anyway it’s Kristian Kostov’s Beautiful Mess. Just 17 years of age. I don’t know what I was doing at 17, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t representing my country at an international singing competition wearing a very sharp suit.

And last but by no means least, it’s France – dear Alma and Requiem. Lovely. Cracking use of graphics, a charming little song, and maybe there’ll be a Macron bounce? All will be revealed. Lovely.

What will this year’s interval bring us? It’s probably not going to be up there with last year, sad to say, but we know it will be unique, and most probably feature Ukrainian Euro legends Ruslana, Jamala and Verka Serduchka.

Hahaha. I drafted that before the show, so how was I to know that really the most interesting thing about the interval would be a streaker wrapped in an Australian flag waving his bum around whilst some poor Ukrainian tried to sing? Much to the disgust of Australians everywhere, this guy was actually revealed as a well-known Ukrainian prankster Vitalii Sediuk (thus pretty much confirming our view of pranks as “the worst”)

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There’s also an ‘hilarious’ skit with the three hosts and previous winner Mans Zelmerlow that all four will probably want to forget. So let’s get to the voting, and despite Euro head honchos telling us that this new split system provides more tension and can turn everything on its head, it’s clear who our winner is from pretty early on. I won’t take you through all the votes as you will be getting this post quite late after the event, but here’s the top 10, in reverse order:

10. Norway
9. Australia
8. Hungary
7. Romania
6. Italy
5. Sweden
4. Belgium
3. Moldova
2. Bulgaria
1. PORTUGAL!

Portugal’s Salvador Sobral is the victor, and his emotional reaction (so emotional he has to let his sister Luisa take over the singing!) will linger long in the memory. It’s a fairytale for the Portuguese in many ways: this is the first time in 53 years that they have won, and over the past decade alone, they have been unable to take part several times for financial reasons. The president of Portugal has sent Salvador a message of congratulations and he is using his platform to speak out for refugees, all while suffering with a serious heart condition. There’s nothing here to even be snarky about.

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A respectable 15th place for the UK, 12th for France, and sadly the wooden spoon goes to Spain, who managed just five points (contrast that with Portugal’s 758… or maybe don’t)

This probably wasn’t a vintage Eurovision year, but we enjoyed it nonetheless and I can highly recommend having a birthday clash with a major cultural event, because everyone is happy on the day when you feel tired and old, thus dragging your own mood upwards. Lisbon 2018 is looking very likely, and I have already reserved my accommodation (not a joke)

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About gnidrah

Television, books, music, sports, cooking. I only get paid for one of them.
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17 Responses to Eurovision Song Contest 2017 – the grand final!

  1. martinmegz says:

    I’m sorry if this has been explained earlier, but how is Australia a participant in Eurovision? Also, these write ups have been delightful. I don’t get Eurovision, I want to like it, I know so many people who love it, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed following the drama here.

    • hotspur says:

      At least Australia is real. I suspect some of the countries participating are entirely fictional.

    • gnidrah says:

      Australia… well, it depends. I’m not sure they should be there, but ok. The idea was that three years ago, on the contest’s 60th anniversary, this was a gimmick, to let them in as the show is very popular there. It has not been the promised one-off. *shrug*

      And you don’t have to get it 😃 we’re just happy you tolerate us 😃

      • martinmegz says:

        I have been informed by my British coworker that Israel is also a participant! They’re not even a Commonwealth! I don’t know if I used that word correctly!

        • Beth says:

          It’s about membership of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) – Israel is a member, thus contributes, thus can participate! (I say that like that is just a normal thing that you should just obviously understand) Commonwealth basically covers countries that were part of the British Empire, then when that was no longer a thing, it became known as the Commonwealth. (That’s quite a loose description that you probably did not require!)

        • gnidrah says:

          No idea why that came up as ‘beth’, but there we go.

  2. hotspur says:

    I enjoyed the treadmills of Sweden and they reminded me of that ancient, moldering OK Go video. Well, it is really not that old, it came out in 2005, but if you are in high school today it might as well be a Jenny Lind video (wow, I can’t believe I was able to close with a Sweden reference, what a perfect, not at all obscure comment). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA

    • gnidrah says:

      Yeah, the OK Go video is always going to be the treadmill-in-pop-music gold standard, isn’t it? God bless Robin, he gave it his best shot.

  3. taoreader says:

    Okay, first, MOLDOVA! Energy, tight band, cool sax dude, good moves, microphones stashed in wedding bouquets, all around entertaining and made me happy. But the ones I like usually come in third. (Il Volo, you’ll always be first place in my heart.)

    I’m conflicted about Portugal. While he was performing, I said to my sister that I’d by an album of his, that his thing would be sort of jazz standards and light new songs like the one he performed. And his song was well-performed. I guess it just doesn’t say Eurovision to me, but maybe that’s okay? People really seemed to respond to it. Maybe everyone wanted something more understated this year.

    Also, 17 year-old Bulgarian kid kicked ass. I was really impressed. Did it seem like there were more youngsters than usual this year?

    I would have voted 1) Moldova 2) Bulgaria 3) Maybe Portugal.

    • gnidrah says:

      Well done for holding all that in for basically a week. I would not have had your strength and fortitude.

      As for the youths… yeah there were three or four 17-year-olds (Isaiah, Blanche, Kristian, possibly one of the Dutch girls?). I am on the fence about this, as I am about any ‘child’ performers, I’m happy if they’re happy. But I don’t want them looking terrified or getting torn to pieces on social media.

      I agree with you completely about Portugal, and yes, I think it was in some ways a reaction to recent winners. What I thought was really fascinating about his win was that it wasn’t just juries that went for it – it was the public votes too. My pal says she is really pleased that it won because it will mean that people might start to understand that Eurovision is not the stereotype they think it is (hahaha then you show them a mash-up of Croatia-Moldova-Sweden-the dancing gorilla-Azerbaijan up a ladder and then they forget about the Portuguese ballad and start pointing and laughing again) I’m fine with the win even though it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song, because he seems great and god knows the Portuguese waited a long time for it!

      • taoreader says:

        Yes, agreed. Portugal needed a win and he and his sister are obviously talented musicians.

        But, for good or bad, it’s the dancing gorillas and horse-headed men and fog machines that make me love this crazy-ass contest. But I’m American and don’t have to watch my own country represented by something that looks completely nuts. Well, not in Eurovision, anyway. (insert White House reference)

        Btw, were you on twitter at all during the show? After the German woman sang, the German viewers got on twitter with just straight-up embarrassment and annoyance that she was their entry. She wasn’t that bad. But they were not pleased.

        • gnidrah says:

          I think Euro has to be allowed one or two ‘serious’ entries every year – my reasoning is based pretty much entirely on the current UK situation, though a few other countries have the same issue. Here, for a lot of reasons not all of them musical (!), Eurovision is seen as a joke by many (I’d go into my beliefs as to why, but we haven’t got all day… month… year…!)

          In order to attract good talent to represent, I think broadcasters like the BBC like to be able to say “but look, Portugal last year was a Respected Artist”. It’s all nonsense, of course, because it doesn’t matter who you are or what music you make to have respect. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see an artist of the scale or Abba or Celine Dion coming out of Eurovision again any time soon, but you can have a good career out of it (look at someone like Mans Zelmerlow)

          Long story short, I think it helps for the longevity of Eurovision and for it to keep attracting talent to have a few serious ones in there – it means the rest of us can keep our quirky, brilliant, fun little show and just go to the bathroom during the stuff that doesn’t feature glitter cannons 🙂

          I don’t do Twitter for personal reasons, but I totally knew this would happen to Germany. Look at the Irish reaction to their song too, they hated it. Each nation differs in what it wants/needs, of course, and you can’t please everyone, but I think in Ireland’s case, they want more of a public say in who represents them. In Germany’s case, they last won in 2010 so it’s not quite as dire as the UK situation (1997…) but the public also realises how Germany is perceived in some parts of Europe, and I think they just want a song that represents what they believe their country is about. I think they want something more fun, and more up-to-date, and more ‘them’. I wonder where they will go with their entry next year.

        • gnidrah says:

          Ha ha please come to our party next year. Then I can bore the pants off you IRL 😉

      • gnidrah says:

        And re: seeing your country represented by something nuts, I guess it’s a fine line. Lordi = good nuts. Scooch = bad nuts. It’s humiliating if you’re trying to not be the laughing stock of an entire continent AGAIN and the best you can send is four gurning air stewards.

        • taoreader says:

          I like to think the best of Eurovision is great talent with quirk. Like Katarina Wurst ( I think that’s her name) from Austria who won a couple years ago. She just basically stood there, in a fantastic dress and a beard, and totally killed it. What a voice.

          Or Il Volo from Italy who got third in 2015. Fog, roman statues, pyrotechnics, playing to the camera– but three classically trained tenors who kicked all available ass. That’s the stuff that really gets me excited.

        • gnidrah says:

          Conchita. It’s my Greek auntie’s nickname for me now. I think it’s a compliment…

          A lot of the time things do follow a pattern, but the first rule of Euro is, there are no rules. It was set up to promote friendship and tolerance, and long may it continue. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • gnidrah says:

          And Grande Amore is a TUNE 👌

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