Hi all. Well every year… most years, I have a Eurovision post. It happened around 48 hours ago now, the 2018 Grand Final of Eurovision in Lisbon, Portugal. So here we go for this year’s thoughts, and not just this year’s but thoughts on Eurovision’s incredible 62 and a bit years of competition. 1956 saw the first competition, this year the 63rd.
Personally, the last two years have been kinda disappointing on me. Then again, my Eurovision credentials are solely based on being in the same city as Eurovision as it was on in 2004. That was Istanbul. And I’ve mentioned it enough over the years in the blog so shan’t do so today. Any more, that is.
This year’s show was better than last years. I have a confession, I have not really seen any of last year’s show. Destroying my credentials somewhat. I got the CD and have listened to it a few times and absolutely nothing stood out for me. I couldn’t name a single song in the thing. But I didn’t mind track 20 on disc one. It seemed flat to me and also the numbers all seemed to be ballads or slow.
This year, however, was better. I saw the winner before the show, all songs can be seen on youtube before the semi-finals get underway. This year’s winner was Netta from Israel, with ‘Toy’, a song inspired by the ‘Me too’ movement, and it was probably my favourite. It wasn’t a ballad (yay!), it was performed with spunk, had a humorous element to it and there were chicken noises and dance moves involved. What more could you ask for? A worthy winner. There were also a few other songs in there that weren’t too bad, kudos to the Czech Republic, Denmark and Moldova and the UK song wasn’t too bad either. Then again, Italy came in like 5th which was bizarre. Cyprus came second with its best ever finish.
Australia had its fourth entrant. I know, what the heck is Australia doing in a competition for European countries? Well, apparently we’ve been eligible for a long time as our SBS has the right ties to the European Broadcasting Union. Also, is Israel part of Europe? It’s been performing in Eurovision for decades. Azerbaijan won it a few years ago too. And apparently Central Asian countries are also eligible should they wish to partake.
This year Jessica Mauboy represented Australia. She is everywhere here – every year there seems to be two new drama series featuring her. And she’s pretty amazing all said. However, this was Australia’s poorest finish and I think the song, although not a bad song, wasn’t really a stand out and it was a little… well vanilla maybe? Having said that, half the songs don’t make the final.
In my humble opinion, the last really awesome competition was 2016. Please disregard the winner, Ukraine, who won because of political reasons smeared with more than just a touch of anti-Russian sentiment across a lot of Europe due to their invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. Politics is never far from Eurovision, and a key to doing well in the televote is to have loads of your countrymen now living in another country who can vote for you – as you can’t vote from the country you are in. Which can result in some dubious winners.
In 2016 there were some absolutely brilliant songs. Australia’s Dami Im belted out ‘The Sound of Silence’, Poli Genova sang ‘If Love Were a Crime’, probably Bulgaria’s best ever entry, and then there was Russia’s ‘You are the Only One’ which was a seriously good pop song. Also, it has the MOST incredible staging. Sadly, those three filled spots 2 – 4 in the results (2. Australia; 3. Russia; 4.Bulgaria).
I first discovered Eurovision in 2003, and still to this day that is up there in my mind as one of the best competitions. I mean really, on quality, it’s not. But it put stars in my eyes and before I knew it, I pretty much knew half the songs that year off by heart. Then the following 6 – 8 years were pretty bloody special I thought.
But in 2011 I went overseas for the year and all I know is that Azerbaijan won. I don’t think I’ve ever heard half the songs. 2012 was actually pretty special, I was overseas in Japan and I didn’t see the thing but I got the cd and listened to it ad museum driving to school each day. This was probably at the time the best winner since I had got into Eurovision (although kudos must go to ‘Molvita’ which won for Serbia in 2007, an incredible song). Loreen from Sweden with ‘Euphoria’, this was a genuine hit, amazing stagecraft and use of lighting sung with incredible power and passion.
This was topped in 2014 though by the most incredible power ballad you are likely to hear, sing by Austria’s Conchita Wurst, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. Where can a song sung by a person in a dress with long hair and a neatly designed beard triumph? Only at Eurovision. Eurovision accepts all comers. Eurovision is about being different. But one thing’s for sure – this song was utterly, totally, completely (yes I’m a freaking thesaurus today, what of it?) MAGNIFICENT.
But it’s not only this century that has its Eurovision gems, and the 20th century had 45 competitions with some great winners. And the fun of Eurovision is discovering amazing songs from yesteryear before I even knew what Eurovision was. To learn about Johnny Logan, two-time winner as an artist, but also penned the winner in 1992. To see some of the more bizarre acts, technical fails, Buck Fizz winning despite the fact they barely hit the right note once in their performance, this is all part of Eurovision folklore. It’s not just a singing competition, it has a long and sometimes fascinating history too.
And then there’s this song from Austria in 1997. Which until a couple of days ago I had never seen nor heard. It’s all kinds of wonderfully dreadful. And if I’m honest, I miss this kind of thing. It’s far less cheesy these days.
Finally, above is a wonderful interval song from 2016 (semi-final) sung by probably the best host the contest has ever had Petra Mede. It sums up just how to create a Eurovision hit. Thanks for reading, watching and listening today (if you dared!) May the Journey Never End!