Jury what? Televote who? This is the only Eurovision result that matters.
(Yes, I am shamelessly stealing this idea from Chris, and no, I don’t care.)
26. Belarus (Teo: ‘Cheesecake’ – 16th place)
“If you don’t vote for me, I shall thcweam and thcweam until I’m Thicke.” Oh. Too late. Honestly, I was far more interested in bona fide Eurovision legend Alyona returning to read the results of the Belarusian televote (and blasting out a line of her top 16 smash ‘Solayoh’) than anything this tribute act had to offer.
25. Malta (Firelight: ‘Coming Home – 23rd place)
“Sort of like Mumford & Sons with a whiff of Gary Barlow,” said Graham Norton, presumably as a coded warning to the National Grid that eight million viewers were about to decide to put the kettle on/go for a piss/shred some old bank statements for the next three minutes.
24. Azerbaijan (Dilara Kazimova: ‘Start A Fire’ – 22nd place)
Honestly, I was getting so much enjoyment out of the hearty booing in the arena every time anyone mentioned Russia that I didn’t even notice the other card-carrying Eurovision villains going down in flames this year. I don’t know whether this is delayed retribution for their attempts to fix the contest (again) last year, or whether it was because they were on early with an entirely forgettable song, but this was Azerbaijan’s worst-ever result at Eurovision. Not only was it their first time finishing outside the top 10 (or indeed the top 20), but even more humiliatingly, it was the first time they were beaten by the United Kingdom. That sort of shame doesn’t just wash off, you know.
23. Montenegro (Sergej Ċetkoviċ: ‘Moj svijet’ – 19th place)
Honestly, would anyone have given even the tiniest of shits about this one if not for the possibility of the figure-skater/rollerblader behind him eating it after a bungled triple axel midway through the performance? No. (I love that picture of him, though. Just casually hanging out in the 1940s, as you do.)
22. Denmark (Basim: ‘Cliché Love Song’ – 9th place)
Denmark went for the standard host country trick of putting in some effort for the sake of appearances while making no attempt whatsoever to win again and have to host the contest for a second time next year, sending an X Factor fourth-place finisher (MISHA B FOR EUROVISION 2015 PLEASE) with some sub-Bruno Mars nonsense. And just in case that sounded a little bit too appealing, they dressed him in black trousers and white socks. I see what you did there, Denmark. Very clever.
21. Slovenia (Tinkara Kovač: ‘Round And Round’ – 25th place)
First of all – yes, that is actually a picture of the Slovenian entrant and not, despite appearances, one of Rachel Dratch impersonating her on Saturday Night Live. I was set against this performance from the very beginning, because it was basically the same tune as the Israeli entry that failed to qualify (and in fact finished 14th out of 15 in the second semi-final – poor Mei Finegold) but a decidedly inferior song, no matter how much of a comically inflated dress she wore or how many “band camp” jokes that flute allowed Twitter to make. The one thing I can say in favour of this entry is that after hearing it in the semi-finals the intro lingered in my head so defiantly that I kept expecting it to be the intro to every song. Damn you, catchy flute refrain. Damn you to hell.
20. Finland (Softengine: ‘Something Better’ – 11th place)
The internet was awash with soundalike comparisons during this performance, with most people coming to the conclusion that they’d basically nicked a Killers demo that hadn’t made the final album cut, but personally I couldn’t quite fight the notion that they sounded a bit like lostprophets, and nobody should ever have to think about lostprophets again, so I’m penalising them for that.
19. Greece (Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd: ‘Rise Up’ – 20th place)
This one was hotly-tipped before the contest, by UK pundits at least, possibly because RiskyKidd was born in Hackney and therefore supporting them is almost like not having to support the foreigns at all! Unfortunately, this was one of those cases where everything looked good on paper but the song was a bit shit and no amount of trampolining could save it. Still, at least they were all quite fit, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
18. Norway (Carl Espen: ‘Silent Storm’ – 8th place)
While it was encouraging for me to hear that Carl got to compete in Copenhagen this year despite a lack of professional singing experience (“represent the UK at Eurovision” is still very much a thing on my bucket list), there were enough angsty ballads in the contest that for me this one got lost in the shuffle a little bit. Also, every entry that Norway sends from now on will be measured against the yardstick of Margaret Berger last year, so the low-key song, vocal and staging this year were a sad disappointment.
17. Armenia (Aram MP3: ‘Not Alone’ – 4th place)
The pre-contest favourite to take the grand prize until we heard it in the first semi-final and realised whoops, he can’t actually sing it live, can he? It didn’t really help that his all-black outfit and pallid appearance made him look like a zombie David Schneider, or that every time I heard the song I became increasingly convinced that the dubstep section needed to kick in a good 60 seconds before it actually did. Still, residual goodwill carried him to fourth place, and frankly he should be grateful.
16. Italy (Emma: ‘La mia città’ – 21st place)
I’m not quite sure why Britney Spears singing a Pink cover while dressed, as my insightful friend Hazel observes, as “Shirley Manson as Caesar”, didn’t resonate better with the juries and viewing audiences, but sometimes Eurovision is a mystery to me.
15. Germany (Elaiza: ‘Is It Right’ – 18th place)
Then again, maybe two countries from the Big Five sending what amounted to a Pink tribute act just left the rest of Europe thinking that having a guaranteed spot in the final is making us lazy. They may have a point.
14. Spain (Ruth Lorenzo: ‘Dancing In The Rain’ – 10th place)
I ended up scoring this much higher than I initially thought I would, because despite the fact that it was X FACTOR LEGEND RUTH LORENZO PERFORMING AT EUROVISION, I didn’t think the song was up to much. And yet, proving that this is the Eurovision Stagecraft Contest every bit as much as it’s the Eurovision Song Contest, she sang the hell out of it and really sold it and made it appealing in a way I never thought possible. It’s still not quite enough to make the left-hand side of my scoreboard, but it just goes to show that a good performer can cover a lot of songwriting cracks.
Since we’re at the halfway point, I’d just like to express my appreciation to Denmark for laying on what is arguably the most attractive hosting team since Finland, 2007. All three of them – individually, any combo, all together, it’s all good. They didn’t get the universally positive response that Petra Mede got in Malmö last year (and that’s only fair, because Petra Mede is in a league of her own), but I thought they did a good job. Lise actually turned her slight woodenness to her own advantage as she wandered around the green room during the voting and force-fed all the contestants their alleged favourite foods while revealing all kinds of trivia about their families, scaring the shit out of them in the process (UK entrant Molly’s face during the whole “EAT YOUR FAVOURITE CURLY WURLY CAKE FOR ME, MOLLY” segment was priceless), and when France failed to give the answers that they were supposed to give in the script, it was even better. I enjoyed the “Pilou is obsessed with China” running gag more than most people, I suspect (although even I’ll admit they dragged it out slightly too long) and Nikolaj had an appealing unflappability to him. Also, the ode to 12 points was amazing (and if my maths teacher had looked anything like Nikolaj I’d have paid a lot more attention), as was the bit during the results where Pilou and Nikolaj decided that they’d HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR SARCASM AND MAKING FUN OF US, GRAHAM NORTON, and had him sprayed with confetti on camera in front of the whole of Europe. Really, the only disappointment of the evening was that Pilou had slicked back his lovely Hoxton hair from the semi-finals. Now I’m just hoping that BBC4’s next Danish import will be a wacky odd couple sitcom starring Pilou and Nikolaj as mismatched flatmates, with Lise as the sexy single lady next door. (And if the final episode involves Pilou and Nikolaj getting drunk and making out a bit, that would be fine too. WHAT, I’M ONLY HUMAN.)
13. Iceland (Pollapönk: ‘No Prejudice’ – 15th place)
I suspect that this is what people who don’t really watch Eurovision think that all of Eurovision is like – comedy foreigners in brightly-coloured outfits singing a plea for tolerance. Not that that’s a bad thing: this tune about a young person who speaks with a stammer and fears being made fun of as a result was a legitimately great pop song, and picked up a fair bit of support. Also, they had an Icelandic MP as one of their backing singers, which is a great idea. Fingers crossed we send Danny Alexander to sing back-up for our lot next year, and also that someone steals his passport and his return ticket while he’s out there.
12. Romania (Paula Seling & Ovi: ‘Miracle’ – 12th place)
SPOILER ALERT: this is the first of three songs to finish in the same place in my countdown as they did in the actual competition. After their triumphant second-runner-up finish at Oslo in 2010, Sophia Bush & That Guy From Marketing came back for a second attempt, bringing with them some cheap CGI and a circular keyboard. The song wasn’t quite as good as their last effort, but dang, Paula can really hit those high notes.
10. United Kingdom (Molly: ‘Children Of The Universe’ – 17th place)
Well, I’m sure there will be countless discussions about What Went Wrong for the UK this year – we sent an up-and-coming singer-songwriter with a song that people seemed to like, we threw everything at the staging, we got to close the show and there were pre-contest hopes of a top five finish, and for all that effort we got 17 points more and two places higher than when we sent Drunk Bonnie last year. I have no idea where we went wrong (although it might not have hurt to dial back the henna and chains a little bit since she ended up looking a bit like the boss of the Sand Temple in a Legend of Zelda game), but no doubt this will just leave everyone huffing that EUROPE HATES US even though we finished 11th in 2011 (and probably would’ve been higher if Lee Ryan hadn’t fucked up the jury performance) and fifth in 2009, so we are obviously CAPABLE of a decent finish, it just didn’t happen this year for whatever reason. Still, at least we beat Azerbaijan, right?
8. Switzerland (Sebalter: ‘Hunter Of Stars’ – 13th place)
Meanwhile, Switzerland sent this sweet, sweet piece of whistling eye candy which, to me, was far more pornographic than all that Polish cleavage. Sample lyric: “I fear your judgement, oh I fear your judgement, I am so wet, I’m dirty.” I’ll be in my bunk. (Seriously, look at that picture. HE COULD FIDDLE WITH ME ANY TIME, HURR HURR HURR.)
7. Russia (Tolmachevy Sisters: ‘Shine’ – 7th place)
It will never not be hilarious to me that Russia spends the entire year trying to be the biggest bastard that it can possibly be, and then invariably sends sweet young girls to Eurovision to sing about how we should all be nicer to each other. Since this year’s contest was being held in Denmark and the arena was typically full of lefty gays, any attempt by any country to give Russia any points whatsoever was heartily booed, as was the Russian representative reading the results (Alsou!), as was Russia qualifying at all in the semi finals – basically, any time that Russia was shown or mentioned, everyone booed the shit out of them. The Tolmachevy Sisters were surprisingly resilient in the face of all that hatred (even the caustic Graham Norton felt compelled to remind us repeatedly, in his best Louis Walsh voice, that they’re only seventeen and therefore should probably not be held responsible for their country’s political misdemeanours), and in the wake of Azerbaijan’s colossal misstep this year, Russia at least held up its responsibility as Villain Country That Has A Shot Of Actually Winning. Much to my shame, I actually quite liked the song, but could never bring myself to fully support it given that the staging was eerily reminiscent of the 11 o’clock number in a white supremacist musical.
6. Netherlands (The Common Linnets: ‘Calm After The Storm’ – Runner-up)
I’ll be the first to admit that it was quite exciting to see this one properly come from nowhere in the semi-finals and suddenly emerge as a favourite to win, since it turns out that wistful country music does surprisingly well at Eurovision. That said, I listen to a lot of country music (translation: I watch Nashville) and this definitely felt more like one of those filler tracks that they chuck in near the end of a plot-heavy episode when they realise they’ve not actually had a song this week. It was no ‘Love Like Mine’, let’s put it that way. Now, if they’d had Rayna’s adorable daughters singing it, that might have been a different matter…
5. Sweden (Sanna Nielsen: ‘Undo’ – 3rd place)
The pre-contest favourite after Armenia’s semi-final performance, Sanna got an unfavourable first-half draw, and I suspect it’s no coincidence that the friendly Danish organisers put her on 13th, i.e. as late in the first half as she could possibly go. Despite the dodgy lyrics (“undo my sad, undo what hurts so bad”), this played right into my “absurdly melodramatic ballad” sweet spot, and the only thing stopping it from finishing any higher with me is that across both the semi-final and the final performances, Sanna never quite sang this as well as she did at Melodifestivalen. #eurovisionhipster
4. San Marino (Valentina Monetta: ‘Maybe’ – 24th place)
Not that I want to take anything away from lovely Conchita, but for me San Marino was the real success story of Eurovision 2014. Valentina, possibly San Marino’s only pop star, finally qualified for the final on her third (and reportedly final, but who knows?) attempt. It would’ve been nice for her to finish higher than she did (and I genuinely think this is a really good song), but I suspect that once Valentina knew she was going to perform on Saturday night, anything else that happened was just gravy. I was a bit surprised she didn’t get any points from Italy – it looks like she did well in the televote but got smacked down by the jury for some reason – but honestly, I was just so excited to see her finally LIVING THE DREAM. And hey, the prospect of Eurovision 2015 being held in Valentina’s kitchen if she actually won was quite a fun idea.
3. France (TWIN TWIN: ‘Moustache’ – 26th place)
I know the whole point of France at Eurovision is to turn up out of sheer obligation, defiantly sing in French even though it inevitably costs them votes, and end up somewhere at the bottom of the table, but I hoped that the concept of comedy French hipsters singing about moustaches might be a more popular idea than it actually was. Oh well, I liked it.
2. Ukraine (Mariya Yaremchuk: ‘Tick-Tock’ – 6th place)
This week on The Vampire Diaries: after escaping whatever hell dimension she was banished to, Katherine returns to Mystic Falls and traps Matt Donovan in a giant hamster wheel in her latest evil plan. Meanwhile, Elena and Damon have sex and break up for the ninth time.
1. Austria (Conchita Wurst: ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ – winner)
Despite all the pre-contest claims that conservative nations would never vote for a bearded drag queen, Conchita pulled into the lead about halfway through and stayed there more or less to the end (and it turned out that she pulled in solid scores from every country that had a televote, so on the occasions when she didn’t get any points, it was because of the jury). I probably changed my mind about six times during the evening on the matter of what my favourite song was this year, and if I’m honest I’m not sure ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ was ever on the top of the pile (though it was definitely in contention), but when the results started coming in, all I knew was that I wanted Conchita to win, so evidently this was the performance I clicked with on an emotional level. Also, nobody eyefucked that camera harder than Conchita. Nobody. Werk, girl.