And so it goes – the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 is behind us.
The 63rd contest was the first ever to be hosted in Portugal following the country’s triumph at the previous year’s event with Salvador Sobral’s dreamy “Amar pelos dois”. Unfortunately, Portugal failed to repeat this success in 2018, instead becoming an unfortunate statistic of a host country scoring the least points and finishing last.
Compared to previous years, the 2018 contest was relatively uneventful. Portugal might be excused for taking the honour to host the annual event a little too seriously – it was its first time, after all – but most of the four female presenters’ jokes seemed disappointingly forced and the acting wooden. The quality of the hosting is perhaps best summarised in a single question one of the presenters asked a member of the audience, namely “Why did you choose Lisbon?”. Er, my guess would be because the contest was taking place there, but you never know.
As for the winning entry, the night offered few surprises. Israel scored its 4th victory in the history of the contest, taking the trophy home with the bookies’ favourite, “Toy” performed by Netta. In an intriguing coincidence, exactly 20 years had passed since Israel’s previous victory, in 1998 – while its first Eurovision triumph happened in 1978. Talk of superstition here!
Eleni Foureira came second with her upbeat “Fuego”, scoring the most successful Eurovision result of all time for Cyprus. The top choice of Europe’s jury voters, Cesar Sampson, came third with “Nobody But You” – Austria’s third best achievement in the history of the contest.
THIS YEAR’S REAL WINNERS AND LOSERS
Boring bits aside, let us proceed with my annual tradition of selecting my own Eurovision winners and losers – as always, drawn across fairly random categories.
Starting with the worst lyrics, I am sure I will not be raising any eyebrows by saluting the night’s winner, “Toy” representing Israel. I don’t know about you, but “pam pam pa hoo, turram pam pa hoo” really doesn’t sound like it took the singer a long time to come up with. At least the lyrics were easy to remember: as hard as I have tried to get them out of my head, I am still here and humming them three days later.
Continuing with the same category, I am pleased to make an honourable mention of “Lie to Me” otherwise masterfully performed by Mikolas Josef of Czech Republic. “These greedies wanna eat my spaghetti”, as the singer insisted on stage, was by far the most sensible line in the entire song. I encourage you to read the full lyrics here, looking for the deeper meaning as you do so.
The worst comeback of the year undeniably goes to Norway’s Alexander Rybak. The singer famously took the 2009 Eurovision by storm, receiving the highest number of points in the history of the contest at the time. His comeback this year was, however, far less memorable: “That’s How You Write a Song” failed to conquer Europe and finished 15th. I think Rybak started with his iconic violin and worked his way backwards: perhaps “rolling with it” isn’t how you write a song, after all.
The most forgettable entry took me a while to, well, remember. Portugal’s “O Jardim” was a close runner-up here, but the singer’s bright pink hair made sure that the whole package did stay in my mind. The real winners here are Spain’s “Tu Cancion” (the duo performing the song are apparently a couple in real life) and, of course, the UK’s SuRie (the stage invasion indeed being the only memorable part of that performance). All three songs finished in the bottom four.
Continuing with brighter horizons, it is my honour to mark Moldova’s quirky “My Lucky Day” in the best ethnic rhythms category. Interestingly, DoReDos became the first band from the region of Transnistria to perform at Eurovision, and did so with excellent aplomb – watch their performance here, and let me know what on earth is going on there.
My best rip-off award goes to Waylon of the Netherlands and his “Paradise City”. Except, wait, the song was actually called “Outlaw in ‘Em” and borrowed heavily from Guns N’ Roses’ timeless classic. An established country rock singer, perhaps Waylon had simply entered a wrong contest.
Further, the runaway winner for my best lookalike award goes to Ukraine’s Melovin. Seconds into the singer’s “Under the Ladder”, I was about to conclude that someone had inadvertently invited Dracula to Eurovision. Perhaps it was a hidden tribute to the Romania-sized hole in the grand finals, for which the country had failed to qualify.
This year’s Eurovision featured relatively uneventful costume choices. Two performances did, however, catch my attention, though for very different reasons. My worst outfit award goes to Denmark’s Rasmussen: the performers’ Viking look decidedly failed to match the music, which sounded like a cross between a boyband audition and a rugby fan anthem. Rasmussen’s attire would have been a lot more convincing had he played something along the lines of the Hungarian entry. Random fun fact: despite all the noise, the Hungarian song title merely means “Goodbye, summer”.
As for the best outfit, Estonia is the undisputed winner here. Elina Nechayeva’s magnificent dress covered the entire stage and had dreamy colourful images projected directly onto it. The dress actually nearly missed Eurovision altogether due to its crippling cost, but eventually made it to Lisbon thanks to sponsorships. Needless to say that, despite severely limiting the singer’s ability to move, the dress became one of the main discussion topics of the night.
The good news is that Eurovision can only get better next year. See you all in Israel!