Saturday night saw the arrival of the annual event in our calendars that is Eurovision. Whether you avoid it like the plague or fret over whether you’ve got the right flags stuck into your cocktail-buffet at the themed party, it’s an event that gets Europe talking.
Saturday’s euro-pop extravaganza was the finale to a run up of semi-finals, narrated to our shores by Radio One’s Scott Mills and Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters (well why not?), with the big night being overseen by Graham Norton for the fifth year since Terry Wogan’s departure. Norton’s commentary provided moments of hilarity through the night in his signature style; quippy and disparaging but honest at the right times.
Malmö proved excellent hosts, with the smaller-than-usual stadium of just 11,000 spectators giving a warm feel, and links between performances relating to each performer, not the host city; these shone out over some questionable camerawork choices.
But how can we discuss Eurovision without picking apart the talent of the night? Finland, one of the early performers proved interesting; their entry of ‘Marry Me’ which the entrant wrote as a ‘hint’ to her partner (reckon he’ll get what she means?) was the reason Turkey didn’t screen the competition this year, due mostly to the kiss she shared at the end included as a stand against Finland’s ban on gay marriage.
Belgium took the title of having the youngest performer at just eighteen years, and was a fine entry in the series of men with astonishing eyebrows (also see Lithuania and Armenia). Cascada strutted onto stage for Germany; though it seemed many would’ve been far happier if they’d cracked out an old hit; Evacuate the Dancefloor, anybody? Arguably the most interesting performance came from Romania; it’s hard to describe the wonder that happened in their slot, just wonderful.
Bonnie Tyler took the stage for the UK, amidst viewers asking if she was drunk; never the best response, but she went for it! Hopefully some of us did ‘#believeinbonnie’. Sweden’s entry was unfortunately no Loreen, and Hungary appeared to enter the first Hipster they dragged off the street. Denmark’s lovechild of Shakira and Ellie Goulding with the voice of Marina owned the stage before Thor sang his heart out for Iceland, and a man in a box made Azerbaijan interesting.
Greece were destined to do well with their song ‘Alcohol is Free’, a folk song set ‘in an ocean of whisky’, their entrants were somewhat of a Greek answer to Madness; wow. Ukraine entered a lovely song brought on by a seven foot giant (not sure why, but we’ll go with it), Norway entered possibly the most credible and commercial song of the night and Ireland finished off the night with just a bit too much leather.
The interval acts admittedly stole the stage, surely many people booked visits to Sweden after seeing the main piece and earlier comedy by Lynda Woodruff. When it got to the voting, the tension was palpable; it could have been cut with a Disney plastic knife. Denmark took the lead early on and despite voting staying close to begin with, by halfway through it was becoming apparent nothing could stop them, and Emmelie de Forest won with four countries left to vote with ‘Only Teardrops’; hurrah! Sweden didn’t do as well as the year before, and frankly it was a crying shame Romania didn’t do better.
But what came of us? Bonnie placed us 19th with 23 points, beating Engelbert last year, a valiant effort on her part; let’s hope she doesn’t ‘fall apart’ with that result (apologies for that).