ESC2016: Crimea River…

Well, I said that it felt like a surprise winner was on the cards and I was right! I said all along on this blog that I thought the Ukraine would be top three, and I am actually delighted that Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2016.

I was having a conversation with a friend during the first dress rehearsal for the second semi-final, last Wednesday. After seeing all the acts he asked me what I thought about the Ukraine entry. I told him top three for sure. He thought I was talking about top three in that semi-final, not the whole contest. When I clarified top three on Saturday night he looked slightly puzzled, like he didn’t get why I would say that (mind you, it was the first time he had seen and heard the song). Two days later, it’s his favourite song!

I highlighted last week the political reading/subtext/lived history of this song has been dismissed by the European Broadcasting Union, and the artist Jamela. I still don’t see how it can be read (and heard) as anything other than political. Clearly it connected on that level, as well as on the spectacle of the performance (great lighting, staging and art direction, really aided the storytelling of the song). This victory particularly feels like it has captured the fundamental principles of the Eurovision Song Contest: solidarity through song and awareness of our cross-cultural differences, histories and music. Never before has a winning song felt quite so political, which should give us pause for thought today.

The separating of jury votes and public votes highlighted a huge disparity between the two, as has been the case in the past. Well, all it does is highlight that music taste is subjective, and different countries have different tastes. Some of the professional juries seemed to stick to the script in relation to hostilities in relation to non-song contest tensions, and not reward some countries for those reasons. That said, some of the televoting highlighted that, actually, the citizens of Europe are a bit more enlightened and permissive. This was probably most noticeable when there seemed to be Entente Cordiale between the television viewers in Ukraine and Russia: Ukraine gave Russia 12 points, and Russia gave Ukraine 10 points. Power to the people, indeed…

Russia’s entry never quite felt a worthy winner for me, but for the televoters (viewers) it was their favourite. I think the Australian song was strong, and clearly the juries loved it, as they placed it well ahead of Ukraine. Another strong song, with an outstanding vocal.

Sweden’s Frans didn’t quite work last night, and I was a little disappointed with the performance – he did it better to win their national final back in March. That said, this will be one of the breakout hits from the ESC this year.

You have got to feel disappointed for the UK’s Joe and Jake. I thought they nailed their performance and vocals, but clearly the song didn’t connect with the viewers – although the juries were more favourable *and* they got 12 points from Malta. You’ve gotta love Malta for that!

Looking at iTunes today, there are a handful of songs are within the top fifty songs chart: Joe and Jake (17), Frans (25), Dami Im (33), Sergey Lazarev (39). Not as many making a splash as in previous years. Then again, this is a much weaker year. I can’t see Jamala having a smash hit on the scale of other winners (such as Loreen and Måns).

What did you think of Justin Timberlake’s interval performance? Did you think it added anything – other than for the American television audience who were watching live in the USA for the first time? I don’t think it added much, other than what looked like a bit of a bromance between Måns and JT.

I thought Petra and Måns were much more entertaining than JT and many of the songs this week. In fact, other than the winning song and meeting Cheryl baker this week, they have been one of my highlights. Naturally funny, they delivered that script (everything they said was scripted, btw, nothing off the cuff) as if it were more spontaneous than it actually was. Pity that Måns’ own interval song was one of the poorest of the week, ironically!

What did you make of the voting presentation? The result was always going to be the same – but did you like how it was presented? I’m not sure. Good that there was a sense of heightened tension, especially during the reveal of the top ten – much more so than in the past few years when the runaway winner has been known several countries from the end of voting. What was bad was the brutal way in which the first 16 countries were revealed. And yes, the fact that the UK were revealed as the second lowest with the viewers was highly disappointing. I think what will help next year is to inform the viewers of how many points are on offer, so we can be doing the quick maths towards the end to see if the leader can be caught. The unknown number of votes actually detracted from that reveal.

With all that being said, that’s it for another year. I’m done (and done in!). Time to put some of these songs to bed, forever! And time to quietly reflect on another highly entertaining week. The contest will make it’s way to Ukraine next year.

I will most likely sit it out next year, and watch Eurovision week from home. I feel like a year off from travelling to the heart of the contest, and a change to the routine – like I did in 2012.

Thanks for reading, and if I’ve added anything to your Eurovision experience this year, I’m very happy!

Au revoir, my euro chums… tack så mycket!

😀 x


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