Sunday, 24 May 2015

Eurovision Song Contest from Vienna - Sweden triumphs (again) as U.K. gets trodden on (again).

Well, at least Russia didn't win, though for a time it came awfully close to it. That was my main consolation of the night.
The actual winning song, 'Heroes', performed by very good-looking Mans Zelmerlow, had been the bookies' favourite for weeks, though I would have ranked it in about 10th place (I'd have placed Russia around 6th or 7th).

I think what helped him one was the sometimes remarkable backscreen effects, so one was distracted from what I felt was a little more than ordinary song.
This was Sweden's sixth win in the 60 years of the event's history, one better than the U.K's achievement so far, and one short of Ireland's record-holding seven wins to date.

 Conchita Wurst, bearded drag-queen winner for Austria in 2014, made multiple (too many, for me) appearances in the roles of presenter, interviewer and performer during the nearly four hour-long show, supplementing the already three-woman-strong presenting team. He was so ridiculously over-lauded throughout, that one might have thought he was the Second Coming incarnate! 

Despite Russia's entry, 'A Million Voices', being one of the better songs, its message of unity, hope, love and tolerance was so at variance from the political workings of the current ruling class in that country with their odious domestic policies and their supine support of the repressive Russian Orthodox Church, that it seemed a joke to their ever having approved the song, affectingly performed by a sweet young thing, Polina Gagarina (containing in her name echoes of both Lady G. and the first man in space) who sang her heart out - and who cried when the voting was half way through when it looked like she was the most likely to win. (Of course the message of the song is the image the Russian rulers want to project, as though we were all totally stupid). Comforted by the ubiquitous Conchita, she was careful this time not to be seen getting too pally as, according to commentator Graham Norton, she was reprimanded by her Russian overseers at the semi-finals for exchanging pecks on the cheek with him. ("Euro-pervs!") 

Another very satisfying moment was seeing the first-ever Australian entry, 'Tonight Again', with their happy, baby-faced smiler, Guy Sebastian, finishing in an unexpected and extremely creditable fifth place - and looking every bit that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. It was an mood-uplifting performance. Give that Guy a hug!

Apart from that it was a long night of groans and incomprehension - in other words, much as it's been in previous years. With more countries (27) participating than ever before, the extended running time itself over-ran by half an hour, finishing close on midnight.

My championing from the start of the upbeat, chirpy and risk-taking British entry, the 1920s pastiche 'Still in Love with You',  from duo 'Electro Velvet' (Bianca Nicholas and Alex Clarke, he of the disarming smile), turned to dust as we limped into 24th place with an aggregate of just 5 points (as against Sweden's 365 and Russia's 303 ), and those points from only two of the other 39 voting countries. (Craig, in comments below, says he thinks three countries gave us some minimal support). I still like the song.

My own top choice, Estonia, (Elina Born & Stig Rasta with 'Goodbye to Yesterday') finished in 7th place:-

However, my runner-up choice, Austria, (the 'Makemakes' with 'I Am Yours') was spoilt by the gimmick of a piano on fire - part of the 'act') and finished joint last with Germany, both countries picking up zero points!

Cyprus I liked too, with an unpretentious, simple song performed with modest resources - and I gave nods to Hungary and Romania as well.

Actual third place was the well-received Italian entry, 'Grande Amore', performed last, with a young version of 'The Three Tenors' doing a reasonably attractive, though not very memorable, song.
Belgium came in fourth place, their highest finishing position for as long as I can recall.

However, for very nearly all the voting time it was clear that the real competition was going to be between Sweden and Russia until, even before all the votes had been declared, it was announced that Sweden was going to be the winner as by then it was clear that it couldn't be caught.

And how can we omit mentioning Lithuania's full-on gay kisses? - the 'shock' of the night if one wasn't expecting it. Several national governments will have been outraged, including China that was broadcasting the contest live for the first time. Good :-

A reasonable event for 2015, then, though I think not the most entertaining of recent years.

So, the question for us, as it seems it's been forever is - Will the U.K next year finally break the jinx? (Even a top five placing would be refreshing and reassuring) - or are we so disliked in so many countries that the question contains its own answer?.


  1. It was an interesting although awfully long show Ray. I wasn't wild about Germany or Austria but they were far better than zero points and way above some countries with much higher scores (Montenegro? Please!)
    We actually received points from 3 countries I think - Malta, Ireland and San Marino.
    Sweden was OK but like you I thought it top 10. I was pleased that Italy did well and Norway did reasonably well too.
    How to fix the UK issue? The main problem is that artists and songwriters view the competition as a poisoned chalice only for for those whose career is in decline. If we can get past that, we might have a chance.

    1. It really was far too long, Craig - and those maddening pauses and long-winded congratulations during the voting process, already having to suffer long-distance relay exchanges! Dear me - talk about trying ones patience!

      I can't recall Germany's song at all now, but Austria getting nothing was a travesty, I thought.

      Montenegro? Exactly! In this morning's observer it mentions the resemblance of the performer to our Respect's (until recently) M.P. George Galloway, which was precisely what I thought last night. Now that was an entry that really deserved 'nul points'!

      I'll assume you're right about the U.K. getting points from 3 countries and post an insert to the effect.

      I got nothing at all out of Norway's song and very little from Italy, I must admit.

      I still think the British entry was our strongest in years, but if it was true it's still not working. Don't know WHAT the answer is. Eurovision, we all know, is only a bit of light-hearted fluff, but when your country's honour is at stake, by golly it's serious! :-)

  2. I actually really liked England's entry--fun and full of energy. Out of the "top 3" I did like Sweden the best. I didn't know until the very end that it was live streaming on YouTube and I had only watched a few of the various entries as I could find them. Maybe next year...!

    1. Hooray! At last, someone else who liked 'our' entry! Too bad that hardly anyone else did.

      if you'd seen them all, Sadie, your final verdict might have been very different, but I do hope you can watch the whole contest next year - and then be able to vote with due impartiality.

  3. I LOVED our entry, bitterly disappointed that we didn't get higher, and 1 measly sodding point from Ireland!! i couldn't believe it! The cheek!Only jealous cause we got in and they didn't ;)
    Its funny how the Russian girl got reprimanded for kissing Conchita on the cheek considering their song was supposed to about embracing diversity! personally i couldn't stand Sweden's song, as usual it is the shallow voters who obviously voted on looks rather than on any merit of the song,i think Australia's song was much better, i was reminded of a mixture of Bruno Mars and Olly Murs :)
    UndomesticDiva x

    1. There was no justification for our low score, U.D., the song being far more entertaining and tuneful than at least half of the others. I don't think it was helped either by clumsy camerawork which, while focussing on the singing couple, made the antics of the backing dancers and singers look peculiar. It needed more wide shots. If we couldn't do it with a song like this it makes one wonder if we ever will.
      I didn't dislike Sweden, only that there were more than a few more worthy to have won.
      Guy Sebastian as Olly Mars? Yes, now you mention it there is that attractive cheekiness about him. A carefree song that made one feel good.

      Ta for your most welcome comment.

  4. Thanks to You Tube I got to see much of the show - you're right about Conchita Wurst, does he know that in English is last name translates to sausage? The Russian entry was too white and way to pretentious. What was up with that wolf number from Albania? At least I think it was Albania. The Italian Entry? I don't speak Italian so I saw 3 young men in tuxedos singing a song I didn't understand in front of ancient statuary while Vesuvius erupted in the background. I think the UK entry was simply overpowered by that big set piece. If you go back a couple of months and watch the video for the song, they used a similar set design but it's filled with people so the performers are dwarfed. Sweden, on the other hand, took a catchy pop song, and using some very extraordinary lighting techniques on a small black screen, ignored most of that massive stage. They new their limitations and worked with them. I can see why they won.

    1. Dave, I don't have the slightest doubt that Conchita (real name: Thomas Neuwirth) knows how his/her name translates. It's a self-deprecatory in-joke. I read that the name 'Conchita' is also colloquial for the female pudenda so it's a double wink.

      Every year the contest has many curiosities and gimmicks, some working but others seem to arise out of desperation to get a song noticed. There are always some which are just daft.

      The video of the U.K. song worked much better than their performance, largely because Eurovision limits the number the acts can have on stage, and even with reduced numbers, the camera didn't pick up on where the visual focus should be.

      I didn't think Sweden's entry was special enough to win, but that happens just about every year so this time was no different.

      Many thanks for your observations, Dave.

  5. The estonia boy was cute as a button!