14 May 2018
In one of the wackiest voting sequences ever seen, Israel’s Netta won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon thanks primarily to a whopping win in the televote. This came after surprise packet Austria won the jury vote ahead of Sweden and then Israel. From there it was a matter of how much the public would agree with the jury so Israel could overcome the 49 points deficit. That Sweden was called fourth with only 21 points in the televote section was one relief, and when Austria was called halfway through with only 71 points, that was the second relief.
It was now a matter of Israel not wanting to hear their name until the end. Not forsaking another wacky voting moment of Italy third on televote, it came down to a head to head between the public heavyweights of Israel and Cyprus. If Israel were called first, Cyprus would still need to wait to see if they could overhaul their 29 points deficit with Israel after finishing 5th in jury vote. Alas, their fire was snuffed out when they were called next, ensuring Israel the win. A big win it was in the circumstances, 93 points ahead of Cyprus and 187 points ahead of Austria in third.
To make the win more satisfying, last year’s winner, Salvador Sobral, who earlier in the week disgraced himself as a Eurovision ambassador when labelling Toy as “horrible” and “fortunately this year I don’t have to hear anything”, had to suffer the ignominy of handing the trophy over to Netta. Remember last year, in his victory speech, he trashed “fast food” music, so it must be he ultimate humbling experience and great irony that the legacy of his precious “music with feeling” was eviscerated by the ultimate fast food song in not only one year, in his own country too. He did his basic duty of awarding Netta then, as the sanctimonious, ungracious snob he is, marched straight off the stage like a total brat. Good riddance to this creep who has been a blight on Eurovision since he won, and betrayed its core ethos of friendship, acceptance and respect. The only redeeming quality to his win last year in Kyiv was that Eurovision came to this most delightful cities and countries.
The Top 10
01 Israel – Netta – Toy – 529 (8)
The favourite all along, and despite a late rush by Cyprus, vindicated that favouritism with a polished and fun display of a great song. Loved the golden lucky cats most especially. During the jury voting, which is staged so the result is kept close for as long as possible, I thought Sweden and Austria were the tease countries and would soon drop, leaving Israel to pull clear. Instead Israel were the tease.
02 Cyprus – Eleni Foureira – Fuego – 436 (6)
Always a cheap song to me, and excelled due to the brilliant execution.
03 Austria – Cesar Sampson – Nobody But You – 342 (6)
This was far more appealing in the grand final, possibly because I watched almost entirely on the screen, and the platform seemed a genuine part of the act, not as a novelty idea. I always liked the song; it just felt drab during the semi final stage. Interestingly, Cesar was confident all along of doing well.
04 Germany – Michael Schulte – You Let Me Walk Alone – 340 (7)
Brought his own screen, and that probably helped set it apart. Still an enjoyable song, and the one I felt had the best chance of a good result of the pre-finalists. Probably not this good, though!
05 Italy – Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente – 308 (5)
This was probably a bigger shock from the televote (third pick) than Austria and Sweden in the jury vote. Possibly European people saw it as a song of resilience and unity against terrorism, whereas the jury, typically smug elitists, saw it as highlighting terrorism, and by extension, those that cause much of it. Personally, it was simply an average song.
06 Czechia – Mikolas Josef – Lie To Me – 281 (5)
One of the cheap songs that was done well. Has appealed all along to many fans, and would appeal to younger audiences, so I always expected it to be scratching around the top 5. Fourth on televote.
07 Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off – 274 (2)
Thankfully it was the public that had the sense to knock this trash down. What the hell did the jury see in it other than the typically Swedish-style overly slick and polished presentation? Gasps filled the arena when they were called so early during the televote. I cheered. Upon watching the replay of the voting, the gasps were more the Swedish fans in my vicinity, as there were far more cheers, as fans of Israel and Cyprus knew that was one rival knocked out.
08 Estonia – Elina Nechayeva – La Forza – 245 (9)
Still my favourite after all these listens, and there’s even more appreciation to hearing Elina’s voice when in the arena. She’s such a sweetheart too!
09 Denmark – Rasmussen – Higher Ground – 226 (5)
Had the viking vibe and a great presentation going. I just couldn’t get into this song, and it was a bit repetitive by end. Fifth on televote and only 20th on jury.
10 Moldova – DoReDos – My Lucky Day – 209 (8)
The best and most clever presentation of the competition, and a fun, catchy song. As suspected, the red suited male double was third set of the female legs in the first half of the songs. Note him in high heels initially.
11 Albania – Eugent Bushpepa Mall – 184 (7)
I thought they had it won when leading the jury after 3 rounds. Best vocals of the competition and a nice song.
12 Lithuania – Ieva Zasimauskaite – When We’re Old – 181 (8)
Easily the sweetest and emotional song this year, and really should have been higher. I never grew tired of seeing it.
13 France – Madame Monsieur – Mercy – 173 (6)
I never understood the fan appeal of this song and this is about the right result. I’m guessing much of the appeal was inflated due to its refugee message. Conversely, through Europe, there is resentment to the “open borders” style of immigration policy in recent years so the refugee message might have hurt. Eighth on jury and 17th on televote explains a bit.
14 Bulgaria – Equinox – Bones – 166 (6)
They would have expected more from this. Singing groups are often difficult to manage on stage, and it showed with a fairly uninspiring display. The song was never that strong either.
15 Norway – Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song – 144 (6)
Even though well presented, the song was always a bit too silly. After winning his semi final, it’s a big drop to 15th too. It reinforces the weakness of that second semi final. Thanks for coming anyway, Alexander. See you in another 9 years, and hopefully with a better song!
16 Ireland – Ryan O’Shaughnessy – Together – 136 (7)
Lost some of its impact after repeat views, and the song was one of my least favourites all along. The excellent staging and choreography will make it one to be remembered.
17 Ukraine – Melovin – Under The Ladder – 130 (6)
It was a song more about props and fire than anything that great, it was rejected by the jury in finishing last and reasonably loved by the public in finish 7th. That is why we have separate voting systems. It might also have benefitted, too, due the almost total wipeout of ex-USSR countries. Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Latvia – all out in the semi final stage. Only Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova remained.
18 Netherlands – Waylon – Outlaw In ‘Em – 121 (6)
Weird African dancing aside, this was presented really well with a thumping country-rock sound and powerful vocals.
19 Serbia – Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca – 113 (6)
Even though it presented well, and who doesn’t love a wizard on stage with a flute and peculiar dancing, it was never that strong a song and a grand final spot was a good achievement.
20 Australia – Jessia Mauboy – We Got Love – 99 (6)
More like We Got Hate after that total rejection by the public. That’s two years in a row, and then add the disparity between the televote and jury vote for Dami Im in 2016, and Europe seems to be sending Australia a message: get the hell out of Eurovision; you’ve overstayed your welcome. Naturally, all the Australian fans returned to slamming the staging, and crying injustice. Talk about an undignified lot for a country that has no right to be in Eurovision and is only invited as a guest. As for the performance itself, there was nothing wrong with it. The problem was the song was never that strong and too formulaic, and the attempts Mauboy made to lift it with big notes at the end only highlighted her limitations. While the televote result was harsh, she was only ever a top 10 proposition anyway.
21 Hungary – AWS – Viszlat Nyar – 93 (7)
I was enjoying this more and more and, quietly, hoped for a much better result. Facts are rock struggles at Eurovision, and this metal variety even more so. A grand final spot was a great, if not lucky, result as they finished in 10th and just 4 points ahead of Romania.
22 Slovenia – Lea Sirk – Hvala, Ne! – 64 (5)
Always a bit on the cheap side this song, and mostly held up well due to Sirk herself.
23 Spain – Amaia & Alfred – Tu Cancion – 61 (7)
Again, Europe simply refuses to vote for Spain! A lovely song such as this deserved much better. In fairness, the mood for this year was for an uptempo winner, so Spain would always struggle, as did nearly all of the slower songs. It was one of the few songs the audience sung along to; Israel being the other.
24 United Kingdom – Surie – Storm – 48 (5)
This had good fan support (no doubt from the many travelling Brits) so a suprise it’s this low. Overall it was a bit bland and repetitive, and that’s despite Surie’s pleasant vocals.
25 Finland – Saara Aalto – Monsters – 46 (4)
It’s not second again for Aalto in a singing competition, it’s second last! This was always a bit of a bland and generic song, and suffered accordingly. Finland were tenth into the final from the semi final, albeit with a significant points gap over Azerbaijan.
26 Portugal – Claudia Pascoal – O Jardim – 39 (5)
Didn’t get going until the end and then it was all over.
My top 10: Estonia, Lithuania, Moldova, Israel, Hungary, Albania, Spain, Ireland, Germany & Australia. Quite difficult to narrow it down. The first four stood out, and then it’s really filling the list. Most are there because of Eurovision appeal, not personal appeal for the song or song style. Only Elina Nechayeva will I consider following her career (and see if she branches out of opera), while it’s only Zibbz from Switzerland from the semi finals. In fact, they are my one and only band to really follow, and check the rest of their music.
Average score is 6, which suggests a good final. The first semi was 6.4 and the second 5.5. The last two grand finals, in Kyiv and Stockholm, rated 6 and 6.3. Although, that’s not always a great indicator of the strength of a show if the battle between Kyiv 2017 and Stockholm 2016 is any guide!
Semi Final Results
Who were the unlucky countries in that hot first semi final? You could say Azerbaijan, Belgium and Switzerland, as they were next in line to qualify after Finland in 10th. Finland had a 14 point gap, so not so much an injustice in that sense. Whereas semi final 2, Hungary only squeaked in ahead of Romania by 4 points. Those Romanian dummies will no doubt regret those silly dummies on stage! Israel, Cyprus, Czechia, Austria and Estonia headed SF1, with FYR Macedonia and Iceland the bottom two – and by a long way. In SF2 it was Norway, Sweden, Moldova, Australia and Denmark at the top, with San Marino and Georgia at the bottom. Interesting to see how a semi final winner like Norway ended only 15th in the grand final. It’s about competition, and in SF2, Alexander Rybak barely faced any.
The Lisbon 2018 Experience
This being my third Eurovision in a row, some Eurovision fatigue has set it. Mostly that was earlier in the week, as the arrival of the grand final will always get you amped! Quite simply I hadn’t decompressed from the previous ones, and Eurovision is such a hectic week and overwhelming experience that you do need to decompress. That this one ended on such a high with Israel winning, it’s certainly one I will want to savour for a while. In fact, really savour all three. It was only that Portugal won, a country I always wanted to visit, that saw me attend anyway. Thankfully I did, because the 8 days here has made me realise that it would one place in Europe where I could happily live.
In terms of organisation, it’s been so smooth at the arena, and Lisbon’s transport as been faultless. The shows themselves have been perfunctory and “down to business”, much like the Portuguese themselves. It was difficult to appreciate the hosts because they couldn’t be heard that well among the frenzy in the arena, and there were too many of them. No chance for any personalities too shine. Of the four Portuguese Desperate Housewives, the short brunette (Filomena) and the blonde (Silvia) seemed the most fun. Other than Israel winning, the first winning song I’ve liked since 2014, other highlights were the crowd roaring Surie on and her determination to continue on after the stage invader, and Coco from Zibbz pointing at me during the family show. I mentioned on their instagram account I’d be in a Swiss t-shirt in the golden circle, so it was cool to be recognised and acknowledged, and really warmed the heart. As a musical legacy from this year’s Eurovision, Zibbz will be the only act I follow.
Away from the arena, in the city, there was very little that showed Eurovision was on, while the Eurovision Village suffered with ridiculously tight security and, like Kyiv, no obvious schedule posted anywhere. The Blue Carpet was a mess by taking 3 hours, mostly due to ridiculously long interviews at the start, while the fan zone was largely empty because the self promoted “longest Eurovision carpet event ever” only allowed officially accredited fans, not regular OGAE club members, and certainly not the general public. Kyiv allowed OGAE card holders, while Stockholm held it in an open area so the public could see it from a distance.
Then there’s the Australian factor. The whole “oi oi oi” jingoism and obsession about winning sapped Eurovision of much of its fun and frivolity that made it so endearing to us in the first place. We treat it too much like a sport, not a cultural event, as all you ever heard was “our Jess” this, and “go Jess” that, leaving little room to sample or discuss other entries. Then the swings in criticism from the rehearsals, then “our Jess” was so great in the semi final, then to criticism after the grand final rejection, and even calls of injustice, it was sickening at times. We need to remember we are invited special guests to Eurovision. Technically we are ineligible country to enter and have no rights to be there, and again we took a grand final spot from a nation that is eligible and fulfils all the broadcasting and financial obligations. If one or two Europeans protested, we’d be out.
Instead of being appreciative of these kind gestures, we prance around like self-entitled brats and resist any indication we’ve overstayed a welcome. Of course, that is the Australian way. We must be involved in everything. At the Australian Embassy party, the CEO of SBS, Micheal Ebeid, said exactly that, and now most Australians, including Jessica Mauboy, think we are a fully, entitled part of Eurovision. How about we step back and consider that everything that made Eurovision great in the first place came without Australia in it, and Australia involved now hasn’t made it any greater. It’s only another non-English song, caused us to be too self-obsessed, and let’s not forget the complications that winning would create. Eurovision doesn’t need Australia to excel nor does Australia need to be in Eurovision for it to excel in Australia, and with Europe sending a clear signal that enough is enough, if the European Broadcasting Union doesn’t end this dubious and nonsensical arrangement, let’s hope we have the sense to do it ourselves. Obrigado!