So long, farewell…

And so we’re off to Sweden next year! What a great result for them, and for the rather charming Måns Zelmerlöw. Sweden have finished in the top three four times in the last five years, and won it twice in that time. Their victory last night means that Sweden is now outright the second most successful country at the Eurovision Song Contest, with six wins. They also overtake the UK, France and Luxembourg, each of whom have five wins. I wouldn’t think it would be that long until Sweden overtake Ireland’s current record of seven.

Much of the Swedes success at Eurovision is due to their selection process – the highly popular Melodifestivalen. At home it is the biggest television show of the year (even beating Eurovision), and streamed around the world it has a huge following. Each year, over the course of six weeks, 28 songs compete to make it to the final in Stockholm. I have been a fan of the contest for over a decade now, and for the past three years I have travelled to Stockholm for the weekend of the Melodifestivalen final, with my good friends Rachel and Brian. By then the songs are well known to us, and it was rather easy for us to predict that Måns would win with “Heroes” this year, and also Eurovision. What was good about it is that is was a familiar sounding song, with awesome presentation for you guys watching at home (close-up shots of him interacting with the anmation), and also wide shots of everyone going bonkers in the arena. Genius!

The fact that the Swedes continue to send highly competitive and highly popular songs is due to their quality, and appeal. The Melodifestivalen producers are very good at quality control, and what’s great is that there is always a musical style to complement the varied tastes of the Swedish public (in the first instance). Quality control of the music, and a great television spectacle ensures that the songs are good and presented well. Also, the winner is determined via an international sweep of 12 countries and also the Swedish televote, which ensures that the winning song is almost guaranteed international appeal.

That’s how you select a winner, and surely the BBC at some point needs to change their failed formula. It really is becoming a national embarrassment. Sure, Electro Velvet got a great reaction in the arena, and they seem like nice people, but clearly the music is not good enough and that’s a major disappointment for us all. Something needs to change, but please god that Simon Cowell doesn’t ever get his hands on it!

Here’s how things finished last night after what I thought was an overly long programme (four hours?!)…
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Did you know that the EBU use an algorithm to determine in which order the results are called? This ensures that votes can be reported by the national juries in a way which builds momentum for the audience, and also tension for us too! It sure worked! Only after twenty something countries did Sweden leapfrog Russia to take an unassailable lead. I’m not sure what the audio levels for the live sound were like at home, but the roar from the arena when Måns took the lead was incredible – as much of a roar as I have ever heard (and on a par with Conchita’s performance in the semi-finals last year). I would also be interested to see (hear) how the rather loud booing, aimed at the neighbourly votes for Russia, was heard?

Let me be clear, there had been no booing throughout the week for any performance of “A Million Voices”, so it was highly distasteful and ignorant really for it to be the case last night. I was a bit embarrassed to be in a venue and guilty by association. The interventions by the presenters to remind us of that we were supposed to be ‘building bridges’, twice, showed their indignation for the boos (did you see how peeved Conchita looked!). That said, the simmering hostilities about neighbourly voting seemed heightened last night. You might say how else could Sweden have won, but their points came from a wider pool than just their neighbours – they got points from every single country. And actually, in a quite shocking departure from neighbourly voting, neither Cyprus nor Greece gave each other the douze points for the first time in years.

Booing and voting algorithm’s aside, we have a winner, and we’re done for another year. The jury and public votes how now been made available by the EBU, but I’m not concerning myself with that level of detail today. I am at Vienna airport as I type this, and waiting to board my connecting flight via Munich to Manchester. I can’t wait to get back home and have a curry! 😀

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this week, and tracking my moves in Vienna. I’ve had a lot of fun, not least with trying to think of blog post titles that either directly draw from, or allude to, songs from The Sound of Music. Not by chance, it’s also my favourite film! Any excuse!

So, whilst the hills really have been alive with the sound of music this week, I will sign off for now.

Auf Wiedersehen, friends… 😀 x