15 May 2022
Get invaded by Russia, win Eurovision. That’s the story of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin where Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, singing Stefania, sensationally won a massive haul of the public vote to give that country its third Eurovision victory, and the second due to military aggression by Russia. The parallels to 2016, when Jamala won with 1944, were already obvious, even if the Crimea situation began 2 years earlier and 1944, despite it a polarising entry, clearly had huge support. Many fans spoke about it glowingly, which wasn’t the case with Stefania. The big difference in the respective situations now is Ukraine is suffering a full scale invasion, whereas Crimea was seen as such a minor incursion that Russia still competed at Eurovision in 2014 and beyond. This year they were banned. Ukraine in 2016 only narrowly won too, finishing second with the jury and the public vote to just pip Australia and Russia. Russia won the public vote easily, only to be crucified by the juries.
Such was the domination of Ukraine’s public vote is that they were awarded 28 sets of 12 points to accrue their mammoth 439 points out of a maximum possible of 468 points. Next best was Serbia with 5, Moldova with 2, and Estonia, Greece, Poland, Spain and United Kingdom with 1. Ukraine finished 200 points clear of Moldova in second on 239 points, then followed Spain on 228, Serbia 225, United Kingdom 183, Sweden 180, Norway 146 and Italy 110. From the jury, Spain and United Kingdom got 8 sets of 12 points, with Greece and Sweden on 6, Ukraine 5, Azerbaijan 3, Italy and Serbia 2, and Netherlands 1. United Kingdom won the jury vote with 283 points ahead of Sweden on 258, then Spain 231, Ukraine 192, Portugal 171, Greece 158, Italy 158 and Netherlands 129.
That 439 points for Ukraine from the public surely must be some sort of record. Italy scored only 318 points last year, Netherlands 261 in 2019 (Norway won the public vote with 291), Israel 317 in 2018, Portugal 376 in 2017 and Ukraine 323 (Russia 361) in 2016. As for the two big winners in the jury/public 50/50 era, Loreen for Sweden in 2012 got 343 points while Alexander Rybak for Norway got 378 points.
Music simply had no hope for Eurovision success in Turin as politics pervaded even the broadcast. For an event that’s meant to be non-political, Ukraine is the most political winner ever. It’s a slap in the face of real music. I feel sorry for United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain, who finished close together in second, third and fourth. They are the real winners.
01 Czechia – We Are Domi – Lights Off (38 points, 22nd)
Had the best position to perform if you had no chance to win. Were first to the green room within the arena while the other artists hang out the back somewhere waiting for their turn. Got an equal response from the jury and public and 22nd spot, especially with 38 points, is ok. They were the best dance or uptempo song this year, and were a quality act on stage. Good energy, staging and, just as important, excellent vocals. 8/10
02 Romania – WRS – Llamame (65 points, 18th)
Dimmed in comparison to their semi final performance and following Czechia. Solid entry. 6/10
03 Portugal – Maro – Saudade Saudade (207 points)
Maro really savoring her last moment, often looking at the crowd and smiling. That rubbed off on the viewers. Always a lovely song, especially with Maro’s haunting voice. 171 of their points came from the jury, as you’d suspect. 7/10
04 Finland – The Rasmus – Jezebel (38 points, 21st)
Much improved from the semi. Could be personal familiarity with the stage as they were first in semi final 1 and there’s often an adjustment phase to a new stage. Perhaps a low result in retrospect. Although, I always thought the song got a bit repetitive. 7/10
05 Switzerland – Marius Bear – Boys Do Cry (78 points, 17th)
Solid rendition. Got zero points from the public. Time to cry. Ouch! 6/10
06 France – Alvan & Ahez – Fulenn (17 points, 24th)
Nondescript. I actually zoned out for the latter half. Says it all. 4/10
07 Norway – Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana (182 points, 10th)
We’ve seen it enough already. They’ve put me off bananas for a year. 146 points were from the public. 5/10
08 Armenia – Rosa Linn – Snap (61 points, 20th)
A bit lacklustre in comparison to others. Changed the top half of her outfit from the semi final to hide her ample bosom. Not sure why. 7/10
09 Italy – Mahmood & Blanco – Brividi (268 points, 6th)
Hoping for more emotion. Disappointing, and degenerated into karaoke at times. Probably there for a good time, not to win. They can’t complain too much about 6th in that sense. 6/10
10 Spain – Chanel – SloMo (459 points, 3rd)
That ass. That ass! That the performance made me forget about that ass, says it all. Exceptional choreography, especially that Chanel held her vocals throughout. Duly rewarded by both the jury and the public. Fourth is Spain’s best result since 2nd in 1995. In fact, their best result since 2004 is only 10th place (on two occasions). That Chanel cracked it for a third (really second) is a tremendous reward for song, dance and booty. 9/10
11 Netherlands – S10 – De Diepte (171 points, 11th)
Better than the semi final where Stien looked nervous and disengaged at the start. This needed a vocal moment to really elevate it. It never came, so a slight disappointment for my second favourite song going into Eurovision. 7/10
12 Ukraine – Kalush Orchestra – Stefania (631 points, 1st)
Lame rap-folk with the only hook the Stefania chorus. The last half was mostly drivel. If this song was for any other country, it would barely be top 10, if not struggle for the final. In that sense, the vote was purely political – a vote of solidarity and support for Ukraine. That’s fine if that’s the message you want Eurovision to provide. For me it’s the music that should triumph, and we were robbed of three songs able to fight it out and get a deserving winner. Kalush Orchestra didn’t even win the national final; Alina Pash did, and with a far better song. Yet the Ukrainian broadcaster threw her out because she visited Crimea in 2015. Let’s also not forget Ukraine halting Russia’s Julia Samoylova from competing at Kyiv 2017 and the Maruv debacle in 2019 that saw Ukraine end up withdrawing from the contest altogether. Ukraine are adept at using Eurovision for propaganda as anyone, and Europe were hoodwinked into awarding them this win. To protect the integrity of the event, countries under invasion perhaps should be suspended or only appear as guests. Otherwise you get these ridiculous and rigged results. Let’s hope it was just a very rare year and we can return to music as the driving force for our votes in 2023. 3/10
13 Germany – Malik Harris – Rockstars (6 points, last)
Germany failed at multiple styles this time instead of their usual one. Simply tried too hard, and proved the theory that the total of several things average is still average. Got zero points from the jury. 5/10
14 Lithuania – Monika Lui – Sentimentai (128 points, 14th)
For a song that does little for the last minute, I got a bit more out of this performance than the semi. It was forgotten after that, and 14th is an adequate result. It had been 20 years since we heard Lithuanian at Eurovision. 6/10
15 Azerbaijan – Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black (106 points, 16th)
This is mostly about the last minute, particularly with the vocals and staging. Average up until then, and 3 points from the public says it all. In the semis it actually got zero public points and was the 10th qualifier. 6/10
16 Belgium – Jeremie Makiese – Miss You (64 points, 19th)
Lost impact from the semis. Still good. Just 5 points from the public. 6/10
17 Greece – Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – Die Together (215 points, 8th)
Lovely voice, and it flowed so naturally, and the chorus has been stuck in my head today. Stood out for being the rare ballad by a solo female, particularly with these great vocals. Many solo women were purged in semi finals, particularly the second one. 8/10
18 Iceland – Systur – Med Haekandi Sol (20 points, 23rd)
Stood there and did their thing. Good, bouncy, country song. 6/10
19 Moldova – Zdob si Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenuletul (253 points, 7th)
As the obvious comparison with Ukraine, this is far superior, so it emphasised the excess votes that went to Ukraine for political reasons. Moldova were second with the public, which awarded them all except 14 points of their total score. In that sense, the public did have a taste for this kind of folk/pop music in Turin, and I enjoyed their performance of a song I initially felt as average. 6/10
20 Sweden – Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer (438 points, 4th)
Cornelia somehow added more to her performance, notably some big vocal flourishes towards the end, to leave the audience in rapturous applause and me in awe. If there is a niggle with this song, especially to explain it fourth overall and only sixth with the public, and I need to remember way back to the first semi final of Melodifestivalen, is that it’s not as instantly appealing as UK and Spain that finished just above it. 10/10
21 Australia – Sheldon Riley – Not The Same (126 points, 15th)
Just two points from the public was a big slap in the face, and confirms there remains a large resentment vote against Australia in Eurovision. Mind you, the jury vote was ridiculously high, and that’s always been a trend too. 2023 is supposedly the last year of Australia’s 5-year special invitation deal, and it really should be the last. Not sure why Australia was afforded such a luxurious amount of time to set up and clear the stage either. It seems there’s rules for everyone and none for Australia. As for the performance, Sheldon tried too hard, which exposed his limitations, and the theatrics were overdone. Being positioned between Sweden and UK portended he was filler. Otherwise, well staged and a pleasant voice. 6/10
22 United Kingdom – Sam Ryder – Space Man (466 points, 2nd)
Wasn’t a fan of the hand, facial and even verbal gestures, otherwise a stratospheric performance of a highly infectious song. Loved the guitar solo during the bridge and, overall, it was brilliantly staged. Deserved to win. Should have won. Did win in my books. If Ukraine can’t host next year due to the war still continuing, the logical host is Britain. This is their 16th official second place finish at Eurovision. 9/10
23 Poland – Ochman – River (151 points, 12th)
Did by far best of the five solo sad boys with the public, scoring 105 of his points there. The other four of Belgium, Azerbaijan, Australia and Switzerland could only score 10 between them, while the duo from Italy did manage 110 points. They could set up a Failed Sad Boys Club, much like UK, Germany, Spain and Netherlands last year could set up a Zero Public Points Club. Twelfth is no doubt lower than Poland hoped, although, for me, the song was always a bit generic except for the bridge section, and would be almost ignored without Ochman’s stellar vocals. Twelfth is about right. 7/10
24 Serbia – Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano (312 points, 5th)
Adding some translations on screen, as I hoped they would, was genius. It turned some nonsensical drivel into something interesting. 6/10
25 Estonia – Stefan – Hope (141 points, 13th)
Smiling Stefan provided the audience with a great finale. Full of energy, hope and smiles. A well deserved 13th spot. No surprise Armenia gave him 12 points as he is of Armenian origin. 7/10
My Grand Final Top 10
01 Sweden 10
02 Spain 9
03 United Kingdom 9
04 Czechia 8
05 Greece 8
06 Finland 7
07 Netherlands 7
08 Portugal 7
09 Estonia 7
10 Poland 7
Average score is 6.5, which is respectable, and it’s largely due to no truly bad songs. Lowest scores were 4 for France and 3 for Ukraine, while Sweden got 10, and UK and Spain got 9. In comparison to other years, the 2021 grand final holds the record of 7.3 The 2019 grand final scored 6.5, 2018 scored 6.3, and the two grand finals before that scored 6. 2014 scored 7, which seems high in retrospective, and probably was a time I was more generous with scoring. The strong Eurovision of Malmo 2013 scored 6.7 for its grand final. The next highest scores of any show are the 6.9 for the second semi final at Rotterdam 2021 and the first semi final in Malmo.
My Overall Top 10
01 Sweden 10 (-)
02 Spain 9 (+6)
03 United Kingdom 9 (+6)
04 Croatia 8 (-)
05 Czechia 8 (-)
06 Malta 8 (-)
07 Greece 8 (+19)
08 Finland 7 (-1)
09 Netherlands 7 (-7)
10 Ireland 7 (+2)
11 Portugal 7 (+11)
12 Estonia 7 (+13)
13 Austria 7 (-10)
14 San Marino 7 (+17)
15 Latvia 7 (+6)
In bold are those eliminated in the semi finals. The +/- represents the change from my Top 40 ranking before Eurovision started. Greece made the biggest leap, followed by San Marino. Austria and Netherlands fell the most. Only Austria (third favourite) and North Macedonia (10th) fell out of my top 10. North Macedonia didn’t even make my top 10 in their semi final, albeit, it was a tough semi, and several songs did improve. They only just missed anyway.
Semi Final Results
Ukraine swamped the first semi, as you’d expect, with 337 points. Netherlands 116 points behind in second, then Greece and Portugal closely behind them. Iceland was the 10th qualifier, with the wonderful Mia Dimsic of Croatia in 11th, 28 points behind. Albania (9th ranked) was the only public song to miss, being displaced by Switzerland (public 16th, jury 5th). The jury had Croatia 10th in their top 10.
Cyprus was the unlucky public choice (ranked 9) to miss in the second semi final; replaced by Azerbaijan (last and zero points with the public, jury 6th). The jury had North Macedonia as 10th, which was the 11th song overall, 20 points behind Azerbaijan. Sweden smashed the semi with 396 points. Even considering the extra song in the semi and therefore more points on offer, it’s remarkable Sweden exceeded Ukraine’s semi final score by 59 points and beat the next best country by 153 points. Australia led a pack in second that spanned 34 points with Serbia, Czechia, Estonia and Poland as third to sixth, respectively.
Due to supposed irregular voting patterns in the second semi final by the juries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino (all voted for each other), the votes of those countries were removed, with a substitute set calculated and used instead. That set included all their 12 points going to Sweden (72 in total) and all their 10 points going to Australia (60).
Did last year’s winners perform Zitti e Buoni at all during any of the shows? All we got during the grand final was their new single, Supermodel. What a joke! I can’t recall ever the previous year’s winning song not given a reprisal. They should have performed at least a minute of it. They did leave us with one great moment when vocalist Damiano David, after their performance, was asked to offer advice for this year’s artists, and said: “Have fun, and don’t get too close to the table.” That was in reference to allegations last year that he was snorting cocaine in the green room.
Ukraine were hot favourites all along, and led Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom and Spain before Eurovision. After rehearsals, it was Ukraine, UK, Sweden, Italy and Spain. UK and Italy switched places. Final result of Ukraine, UK, Spain, Sweden and Serbia (Italy 6th) shows the betting public got it almost exactly right. Not that it was a difficult year.
01 Sweden (4th)
02 United Kingdom (2nd)
03 Ukraine (1st)
I also had Spain to finish fifth, and they got second. Not too bad, especially compared to other years, which are often totally wrong.
This year, and despite Ukraine being hot favourite in the betting markets, I stubbornly refused to believe there were enough sympathy votes out there for them, that people would truly vote just because of the Russian invasion, or that the jury would rate them so high. The jury rating them fourth with 192 points, about 100 more than I anticipated or hoped, meant the leading countries would need a lead of 100 points over Ukraine as a bare minimum. UK, with 283 points, got their lead to 89 points, not that that was anywhere enough. Ukraine scored 211 points more than Spain and a whopping 256 points more than UK.
When Moldova and Serbia got huge public scores early on, it already looked dire for the juries’ leading top 3 of UK, Sweden and Spain. There’s only so many sets (about 4) of 200+ points available, and two sets were already gone. A run of low votes helped build up the points remaining until Ukraine, read fourth last, took 439 points. Two of UK, Sweden or Spain had to seriously flop, and that was unlikely to happen. It was all over. Ukraine win.
What the heck. War, war is stupid. People are stupid. Already looking forward to next year. Ciao!