Bless Fug Nation: Logo didn’t stream Eurovision this year, but our brilliant people on Twitter knew which countries were not geo-restricting their broadcasts, so I got to curl up on my bed and watch the entire shebang, including a lot of the voting. Which meant that as we got ready to go out that night, I propped it up in my bathroom while I was wrestling with my unruly hair and Kevin kept hearing things like, “WHAT?!?” and “Um, OKAY,” and, “THAT GUY WAS SO BORING,” and of course, “YES, GET IT, NORTH MACEDONIA!” If you would like to watch, this link should take you to one that works.
The big loser: Probably Madonna, if I’m being honest, although technically the UK came in last. Had anyone been allowed to vote for Madonna, though, she might not have gotten very many.
The big winner: The Netherlands, Duncan Laurence, “Arcade,” 492 points.
Obviously, I’m very happy for Duncan, and apparently he was the hot favorite to take it all. Some of that might be that he was, indeed, hot.
“That’s not a moon. It’s a SPACE STATION.”
If you want to watch, he performed twelfth and he starts at roughly the 1:03:04 mark, though you can watch his official produced version and video on YouTube. However, I would always advocate the live performances, because that’s what we’re voting on here, after all. Duncan has a really nice voice, at least, and he belted a very low-key ballad with total softball lines like, “Small town boy in a big arcade // I got addicted to a losing game.” I assume this is about Frogger, a cruel mistress indeed.
His performance was very spare and kind of boring:
While I realize it is TECHNICALLY a song contest and not a pyrotechnics one, surely we can find a balance. Would it have been bizarre for him to sing the words “loving you is a losing game” while video images of Ms. Pac Man played on the wall behind him? Yes. But is this freaking Eurovision? YES. We like things weird and literal and on fire and creative. So would a fire cannon during his refrain have been a delicious point of emphasis? YES. Obviously, the public disagreed with me, since it was the public vote that put him over the top (he was third after the juries voted). But whatever. I have notes. I always have notes.
The rest of the contestants are below — just click on each box, and it will open up. I also linked to where, in the live feed, you can hop to for each performance; the times are approximate, because it’s hard to be too exact on this one, but if you get a little bit of the person’s introductory video first then that’s fine because they are weird and charming, and feature beautiful scenery from around Israel.
As always, I recommend streaming the whole damn thing — you can skip ahead if you don’t like a song, and you can take your time with it — but if you’re going to be selective: At least try and watch, in no particular order, Norway, Australia, Sweden, San Marino, North Macedonia, Russia, Denmark, maybe Spain, those goofballs from the Czech Republic, Israel, maybe Estonia, probably Iceland even though part of me doesn’t want to encourage them because they might be douches… I could go on. AND I SHALL, down below:
2. Italy: Mahmood, "Soldi," 465 points2. Italy: Mahmood, “Soldi,” 465 points
2. Italy: Mahmood, "Soldi," 465 points
Something was in the water this year, I guess, because this was ALSO a dude singing a fairly dull song, and I didn’t think the audience was into it — and yet he was fourth in the jury vote and then leapt to second after the viewers weighed in, so…
His song is all about how he hates his father, who ran out on them because all he wanted was money. (He starts at 01:47:10, and sang 22nd.) There’s a bit of the chorus where he claps twice and the audience claps along; maybe people are just suckers for audience participation. But it’s droning and monotonous to me. However, props to him for wearing a good shirt.
He had three perfunctory backup dancers with red dots on their shirts, who just sort of frolicked around behind him while images of an annoyed little boy flashed up on the screen.
And then it rained CGI money that was on CGI fire. NOW we’re getting somewhere. This is extremely on-the-nose — “Soldi” means “money” — although I find it very interesting that he’s fake-torching American cash and not Euros. George Washington is like, “Why are you burning me? Andrew Jackson is clearly the play!”
It does. I guess Eurovision voters were like, “YOU SEE MY SOUL, MAHMOOD.”
Here’s the produced video:
3. Russia: Sergey Lazarev, "Scream," 369 points3. Russia: Sergey Lazarev, “Scream,” 369 points
3. Russia: Sergey Lazarev, "Scream," 369 points
If Sergei here looks familiar, it’s because he came in third in 2016 as well, and please do revisit that journey of aggressive love declarations. (That was also the year Ukraine won, so Russia didn’t compete the next year in protest. Russia really, really wants to win this, and keeps coming about this close.) This year must have been his sequel to that, because it’s all about Sergey’s throat being on fire but his eyes will be liars and try to stay drier (mostly that’s a direct quote, although my lazy semi-accurate version sounds more like GFY Kanye), and “Not so silent and innocent // Acid rain from your fingerprints // Echoes, rivers of loneliness // Hitting the walls of my heart.”
CUE THE RIVERS OF LONELINESS:
This feels less like rivers of loneliness than “I am outside your house in the rain and you’re not home. I hope you’re at the store buying eggs; you know how I love eggs.”
He also, instead of using dancers, hung out with a bunch of images of himself:
“Oh, and we were also out of Funyuns, and orange juice, and Ritz crackers. CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?!? RITZ CRACKERS!!!!! AAAAAH.”
As his performance went on and built to all its crescendos (he’s at about 31:14 and sang fifth), I wrote in my notes, “It’s very Chess.” Especially the bit with the rivers of loneliness — for real, get to that part and tell me Anatoly isn’t singing this somewhere at a Soviet flag. Once I made that connection, I kind of started to like it? And it IS true that Sergey is where he wants to be and who he wants to be and doing what he always said he would, and yet he (feels he) has not won at all. But he did win the hearts of the public, I guess, because he went from ninth to third when their votes came in.
Here is the official video. It involves a boat:
4. Switzerland: Luca Hanni, "She Got Me," 360 points4. Switzerland: Luca Hanni, “She Got Me,” 360 points
4. Switzerland: Luca Hanni, "She Got Me," 360 points
SO MANY DUDES atop this thing. Luca here sang 24th (you can find him around 1:55:39), and is another adorable little dude with a tuffet of brown hair. He basically tinted his whole performance red and had some hyper-letterboxing happening, which did not really do anything but make my eyes feel very disliked.
YEOW. The crowd went nuts when he came out, though; I don’t know if that’s because he had a big Swiss following there, or people are just Hot for Hanni. Perhaps this has something to do with it:
He’s in a mesh shirt, and it WORKS.
The public vote REALLY turned this thing around — he was in eighth until they weighed in, which is teaching me that I DON’T TRUST PEOPLE. Ahem. Anyway, this is a forgettable little ditty that to me is not worthy of being this high, but whatever, there are no extra laurels for any place below first. However, let me drop this lyrical science on you. It’s a perky little nothing of a song, with some deep lyrical science. Allow me to drop it on you: When she go low, when she go low She go so low, she go so low // Oh, she know, oh // Oh, she know she got me dirty dancin’ // When she go low, when she go low // She go so low, she go so low // Oh, she know, oh // Oh, she know she got me dirty dancin’ // Dirty dancin’ // Dirty dancin’ // Dirty dancin’.”
Sir, there is not even a lift in your song. If you’re going to come at me with the words “dirty dancing” then I had better have the time of my life AND see one of those fine people in the back lifting up one of the OTHER fine people. You’re not even in a corner. WHERE IS THE CORNER. I would also settle for a hologram of Jerry Orbach. All this redness is hurting me. I mean, what is this?
That looks like he’s in the middle of getting hacked.
I assume the official video is more relaxing:
5. Norway: KEiiNO, "Spirit In The Sky," 338 points5. Norway: KEiiNO, “Spirit In The Sky,” 338 points
5. Norway: KEiiNO, "Spirit In The Sky," 338 points
These folks were in FIFTEENTH, but then they outright won the telephone voting, which put them in fifth. Would you like to know why?
I am PRETTY SURE it’s because they hypnotized us and this is our religion now. Also: FIRE. My notes are like, “Eh, kind of boring, some surprise Norwegian yodeling I think, and OH SHIT big finish with fire and I guess we all worship deer now.” If you want in on this action — and you do; I recommend this one — they sang 15th and are at about 1:16:30.
O Mighty Chiseled Deer, conjure me a man who looks alarming like Rolf from The Sound of Music escaped to Norway and discovered song:
O Mighty Chiseled Deer, conjure me please A WOMAN IN THE TOP FIVE, ANY WOMAN AT ALL, but it would be good if she were like Baby Spice crossed with Elle Fanning wearing Maleficent’s wardrobe:
O Mighty Chiseled Deer, please conjure me Leather Michael Chiklis:
The reveal of this guy made me laugh out loud because we didn’t know he was there until he belted out two short lines. His part is actually great, though; I think he’s performing in the style of a joik, which is a national song of the Sami people, and he really gets down with it later.
He also gives attitude. This was one of my favorites because I felt like I learned something? It’s not a song you feel like you could hear anywhere on the radio, and the performance was full of visuals and catchy hooks. JUSTICE FOR NORWAY. Finally, I agree with the public vote.
Here’s the vid, in which Rolf suddenly turns up with… ears made of hair? … and they’re all covered in snow:
6. Sweden: John Lundvik, "Too Late For Love," 332 points6. Sweden: John Lundvik, “Too Late For Love,” 332 points
6. Sweden: John Lundvik, "Too Late For Love," 332 points
Sweden, as I’ve noted every year, is generally very good at Eurovision. They’re ALWAYS in the hunt. This was no exception: John won the jury vote, but the viewers did indeed find that it was too late for love and he placed ninth with them. (Check him out here at 51:06; he sang ninth, and his intro video involves roller-skating.) It was dramatic, too, because it came down to the very end between him and The Netherlands. What they do is they read the total televotes in reverse order of the standings after the jury vote, so by the time they got to Sweden — which had been in the lead — The Netherlands had more votes. They teed it up so dramatically, all, “He needs 253 votes to win…” over and over, and then BOOM, he only got 93. I think he really thought he had it won, and then all of a sudden Mr. Arcade was still on top and John’s face plummeted.
I am wondering if it’s because he sort of punted on the production values, because certainly he is very cute:
Please watch him; he has a GREAT voice, his song is totally catchy and ought to chart in the UK — honestly, it could chart here, too, but it feels DEEPLY like something I should be able to bou on Now That’s What I Call Music next time I’m at Heathrow — and he has RAD female backup singers in sparkly outfits who like wept and hugged him when he finished.
They are super, but they were also kind of all he had, set-wise:
I mean, I’m with you, John, and it will never be too late for OUR love, but some random golden door is not going to cut it. Your song even USES the words “spark” and “burn”! If that’s not a CRY FOR PYROTECHNICS, I don’t know what is.
Here’s the official vid:
7. Azerbaijan: Chingiz, “Truth,” 297 points7. Azerbaijan: Chingiz, “Truth,” 297 points
7. Azerbaijan: Chingiz, “Truth,” 297 points
Y’all, I didn’t think I liked this song that much, but then I replayed it and clicked away to type an e-mail, and realized halfway through that I was nodding along and singing the “SHUT UP ABOUT IT” refrain. Is it possible I just REALLY needed a song in my life that perkily tells people to shut up?
John Oliver briefly touched on Eurovision this week and he called this something akin to “robot laser heart surgery,” and I really can’t say it any better than that:
The song is about him being destroyed from a breakup, so maybe the robots are trying to put him back together again. Or just checking to see if he’s still alive. And he IS…
… but I am concerned he’s activated a portal to another dimension that might not be very friendly. Or at the very least, he, like Norway before him, would like us to bow before an ominous entity:
I have my doubts that Avatar Meets Max Headroom is a super idea for our overlord, but Chingiz has told me to shut up about it, so I’d better listen.
He’s at 1:39:17 here. And the video is here:
8. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska, "Proud," 2958. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska, “Proud,” 295
8. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska, "Proud," 295
Tamara was killing this until the telephone votes, which knocked her from second to eighth. And I was so bummed.
I liked this! Give her a listen at about 44:23. It started out maybe a little vocally rocky, but then she sang her heart out all about women making each other proud, breaking the rules, and being loud and proud. The coverage I listened to was from Sweden, and this performance is how I learned that I am pretty sure I can recognize “I have goosebumps” in Swedish. (If it’s not that, it was close.) She sang in front of a bunch of photos of various women…
… including herself and her child (I think? I’m pretty sure that’s her), which was the big finish. I just wish the dress had moved me as much. It was… not a success, and also, it was her only other big set piece:
If your backdrop is going to be, well, your actual BACK, then there should be some rad stuff happening there, sartorially. Tamara! You had but to call on us!
Here’s her video:
9. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke, "Zero Gravity," 285 points9. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke, “Zero Gravity,” 285 points
9. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke, "Zero Gravity," 285 points
Promise me you’ll watch this one — it’s at the 2:00:00 mark, more or less — because it’s a hoot. A HOOT, I TELL YOU. The singer has a very breathy, light acoustic-indie-type voice — she reminds me a LOT of Kate Bush, especially at the beginning — but she’s also trained in opera, and she uses both to make a song that is both bizarre and an earworm-threat.
First, she came out looking kind of like if you fused Madonna with that time I saw Britney in Las Vegas, and they put her up on a swing in a massive angelic white gown to sing “Every Time.” I realize that’s a very specific memory, but whatever, I think you can go there with me mentally.
“My, she is tall,” you may be thinking.
“And MY, she is PERFORMING ABOVE THE EARTH with two Dementors.”
It’s because THEY’RE ON BENDY POLES. This was very cool to see, honestly, and to me is pure Eurovision: a really wacky, neat stage trick coupled with a totally unusual tune. I read an article the other day in which Pink was saying she’s never sure how to top herself, theatrically and acrobatically, and may I suggest A BENDY POLE? (Not to be confused with Noted Actor Bendywinks Cribbagebridge, although I suppose she could enlist his aid too.)
This looks like it could be one of those inspirational posters with a word in all-caps below it.
She didn’t do a produced official video, so here she is performing in an even BIGGER dress but without the pole. It loses something without that, but whatever:
10. Iceland: Hatari, "Hate Will Prevail," 234 points10. Iceland: Hatari, “Hate Will Prevail,” 234 points
10. Iceland: Hatari, "Hate Will Prevail," 234 points
John Oliver ALSO covered these dudes in-depth, and it is WELL worth a look, especially the “A Few More Moments” they added at the end:
They sound and look like if Marilyn Manson ran an angry Icelandic sex club. They brought pro-Palestine flags to wave during the reading of the jury votes (the contest was in Israel) and their song is allegedly about how shitty Europe will be if it’s not unified rather than encouraging ACTUAL hate to prevail, but… They are clearly performance artists, and may have been messing with everyone, or… perhaps not? I can’t tell, but I am surprised they came in this high. At least Lordi’s monster jam was actually a MONSTER JAM. The jury put Hatari 14th and the televoters put them 6th, so it could be anything from “Wow, they were FREAKING CRAZY” to “Hey, Iceland seems like a fun place to go next,” to the voters being pro-Palestine and simply voting for the act that thumbed its political nose at the host nation. Note: a Hatari fan, or at least someone who knows them better than I do, postered a bunch of info in the comments about them that might clarify some of what they’re about.
The song is a total hoot of a nightmare but you’ll probably want to see it anyway, just… so that you can have this experience. It’s at 1:27:18. Here are the very… red… visuals:
There’s also eyeliner, and a collar:
And this very comfortable-looking costume:
I honestly can’t tell if this person is supposed to be celebrating, or lamenting something, or if he’s just really sad that Cats isn’t an S&M musical.
But then! Hatari KNOWS WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT.
Wait, maybe this song is actually just about how they wanted Game of Thrones to end.
The official video involves the lead singer being carried around on a blood-spattered litter, because obviously:
11. Czech Republic, Lake Malawi, “Friend of a Friend,” 157 points11. Czech Republic, Lake Malawi, “Friend of a Friend,” 157 points
11. Czech Republic, Lake Malawi, “Friend of a Friend,” 157 points
So, you’d think that this song, based on the graphics here, was all about friendship.
But no. It’s actually an INCREDIBLY ’80s synth-pop jam — they are like A-ha Junior — about a dude who is reassuring his current girlfriend that, yeah, sure, when he was younger he used to hook up with the girl next door, but they’re not even tight anymore. She’s a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, so like, don’t even worry, even when we can hear them having sex through the wall. Oh yes. Let me just share the lyrics: “Can you hear it? // There’s someone behind the wall making the same sounds // Can you hear it? // It sounds like you and me when we’re making love // Who is it? // You said you wish they weren’t taking such a long time // She was my neighbour when we were thirteen // She moved back in // There’s not much between us now // Do you know what I mean? // She’s only a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend // She’s never home ’cause she plays in a band.”
This is not so much a song as a personal argument, and one that I SUSPECT is also bullshit. He does TOO remember this girl’s name, and he is TOO kinda interested in her again now that he knows she has sex marathons next door. But, which you can also see demonstrated if you watch it (they sing around 23:04, in the third spot), the dudes are trying to get by on their chipper charm. No one has ever been happier to sing about things that are probably total lies.
“Door frames! We love them! They’re like portals to where PEOPLE WE TRULY DON’T TALK TO ANYMORE FOR REAL I SWEAR live!”
“I just love drumming. I could smile, and drum, and drum, and smile, all the livelong day.”
“Whereas I love strumming. I could smile, and strum, and strum, and smile, all the livelong day.”
“Girl, I floofed my hair into its most sincere bouffant for you. SHE’S NOT EVEN A FRIEND.”
Here’s the produced video:
12. Denmark: Leonora, “Love is Forever," 120 points12. Denmark: Leonora, “Love is Forever,” 120 points
12. Denmark: Leonora, “Love is Forever," 120 points
If you want Denmark’s version of Feist, then Leonora is for you, here at about 36:30.
I am pretty sure this song is about how she worked a really tough shift waiting tables in the background of one of the scenes in Amelie, and then when she went outside the world had turned into a children’s book.
There was also a surprising amount of stage business involving ladders. First she had to get up there, then the dudes left and came back with their own ladders, so that they… could also get up there? They didn’t even sing; they just swayed. Listen, I, too, would take the opportunity to sit on a gigantic chair, but it didn’t make for the most logical or thrilling choreography. The song is cute, though.
Her “official video” is just from the national finals, I think, so it’s the inexpensive version of this set design — yes, there is one:
13. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl, "Sebi," 105 points13. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl, “Sebi,” 105 points
13. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl, "Sebi," 105 points
Another compelling reason to watch Sweden’s performance is to see what happens when the order of show is unfortunate. This came right after that one, and it really sucked all the energy out of the room, because they just stood there this whole time while she sang at his face. They didn’t even move, and no one came out and moved around them.
Of course, they didn’t have to be MOVING for me to decide that something was happening.
I decided she’s completely in love with him and every time they perform she’s like, “DON’T YOU FEEL THIS?!?” And he’s like, “Yeah, baby, but we can’t spoil the MUSICAL CONNECTION,” and she’s like “BULL SHIT.”
And he’s like, “I want to FEEL YOU… through the ART.”
And she’s like, “Or, through sex, which would be much better.”
And he’s all, “We don’t need sex, baby. We’re bigger than sex. We’re MUSIC. God, I’m having a soundgasm.”
But then he’s all, “Sex does sound good, though. Where are my ladies? Anyone for sex?”
“ME. I AM. GET BACK HERE. LOOK AT ME IN THIS TURTLENECK AND SEE THAT OUR LOVE IS BIG. LIKE SPACE.”
“DID I MENTION SPACE?!?!?”
And he’s like, “You’re right, we should take some space, so that we don’t poison the purity of our ART with FEELINGS. You’re neat.” And she’s going to go off-stage and scream. THE END.
Except, per Instagram, they seem to be a couple. And that page is a ride. There are many open mouths. And they posted one today where he is standing in a tree? Also, their official video is super low-fi and there is a private plane and some hats and a LOT of staring and some super morose cuddling. I might love them now?
14. France: Bilal Hassani, "Roi," 105 points14. France: Bilal Hassani, “Roi,” 105 points
14. France: Bilal Hassani, "Roi," 105 points
Bilal is a singer/YouTuber who’s also an LGBTQ icon and activist in France, and I believe the song is all about escaping expectations and living your truth (it’s at 1:43:04). And it started out with ALL the drama:
And in case you didn’t speak French, there were helpful messages:
It’s a super message, but it wasn’t a super song, and she sounded out of breath at times. But this was neat:
I wish the screen grab were better, but: She finished with a photo of him as a kid and they all mimicked the pose, as if to say, “I am still that kid; I have always been me.” She also shouted, “Thank you for allowing us to dream,” at the end. She’s apparently faced death threats since coming out as a trans woman in 2017 and a lot of online mud-slinging from small-minded people who think her choices and appearance demean Muslims (he is French-Moroccan), so I suspect this was a doubly meaningful day. I wish the song had been better, but Eurovision is but one blip in a career.
The produced version made me like it a bit better? But it’s still a little dirgey for me:
15. Cyprus: Tamta, "Replay," 101 points15. Cyprus: Tamta, “Replay,” 101 points
15. Cyprus: Tamta, "Replay," 101 points
As usual, Greece and Cyprus gave each other 12 points and everyone was like, “WHATEVER,” although I liked Greece’s entry better than this one. This is a very average club jam, and you can watch it right around the 1 hour mark here, or just… drink in the pelvic fringe here:
This all feels very much like she heard Madonna was going to be in the building and wanted to impress her. But the effect of that heavy netting and the fringe is that she looks like she has a Barbie groin.
I also cherish that the jacket came off but NOT the sleeves, because they WEREN’T sleeves, because of how they’re pleather arm warmers. One must stay as heated as possible while wearing a single stand of beads and some gaffer tape.
Sweet friend, that is not how belts work.
The produced video, though, has. Everything. Veils! Paint being thrown! A popcorn bucket! Alluring welding!
16. Malta: Michaela, "Chameleon," 95 points16. Malta: Michaela, “Chameleon,” 95 points
16. Malta: Michaela, "Chameleon," 95 points
This one may not have gone to plan. She sang first, so I bet there were a LOT of jitters — if you decide to watch, she’s wearing a great fringey gold jacket in her intro video at about 16:38, and I wish she’d worn it to sing as well:
The song is mildly catchy? It’s a tepid first entry. The crowd claps along to the opening chords as if to be like, “YES, IT’S ALL HAPPENING NOW,” but then she seems to kind of lose them? Also there are some bad pants, and she’s not a born dancer, so you can see her thinking her way through the choroeography:
She’s kind of like the Maltese pop Amy Schumer. It actually did remind me a little of the end of Trainwreck, when she sincerely tries to do the dance number with the cheerleaders even though it’s not her thing.
The produced version smooths out the vocals a bit (as you’d imagine). Oh, and has chameleons.
17. Serbia: Nevena Bozovic, "Kruna (The Crown)," 92 points17. Serbia: Nevena Bozovic, “Kruna (The Crown),” 92 points
17. Serbia: Nevena Bozovic, "Kruna (The Crown)," 92 points
Unfortunately for Nevena, my notes were, “Cannes in space. I’m bored.” She’s at about the 1:52:00 mark if you, too, want to be underwhelmed.
Having said that, her accessories were major. But there is also some awkward moan-wailing?
And she… did this with the floor? The song is about her passionate love for another person, so when she says, “The crown is yours,” she’s not talking about fancy jewelry. It seems to be a euphemism. For her jewels. Ahem. Maybe that’s why she glued her skirt up to her groin; she’s like, “THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE. YOURS. THIS.”
Here’s her video:
18. Albania: Jonida Maliqi, "Ktheju Tokës," 90 points18. Albania: Jonida Maliqi, “Ktheju Tokës,” 90 points
18. Albania: Jonida Maliqi, "Ktheju Tokës," 90 points
Albania, I respect you. You pulled no punches here. You LED WITH FIRE.
And a FAKE RING OF FIRE.
And… a NEST OF LIMBS, because why not!
With bonus sighting of my iPhone volume control bar! Sorry for ruining your aesthetics, y’all.
Of course, the problem with that is, when you start that big, you can’t go any bigger without physically torching the place. So all that fire led to… more of the same fire. But I’m not complaining, because: FIRE. I look forward to the Station 19/Chicago Fire crossover event in which they’re both summoned to Eurovision to try and keep a lid on all that fire, and then, in a shocking turn, SOMETHING HAPPENS WITH FIRE.
She looks a bit more like Peggy Carter in her intro video, at about the 19:33 mark, before she sings. The song is a little hard to get into, but I actually really love it when the artists don’t try to pander to English speakers and just lean right the hell into their musical culture. Apparently it’s about Albanian emigration, so she also had a sociopolitical message; the problem is that the song feels like shouting and there isn’t a hook. To paraphrase the poet John Popper, the hook brings you back, on that you can rely.
Here’s her video:
19. Estonia: Victor Crone, “Storm," 86 points19. Estonia: Victor Crone, “Storm,” 86 points
19. Estonia: Victor Crone, “Storm," 86 points
“Hello. I’m Estonian Oliver Hudson.”
“And sometimes, lightning breaks open my face.”
He has a nice voice, and I actually didn’t hate the song, but it’s not the MOST inventive. He has the tenacity to rhyme “this” with “this,” so… yeah. His official video, below, seems to be his performance from one of the national selection shows? It’s here, but you might as well check out his actual Eurovision effort, at 1:31:06. It’s worth it just for the intro video alone, in which he slowly lifts of his sunglasses and smiles at us. VERY Brandon Walsh.
20. San Marino: Serhat, "Say Na Na Na," 81 points20. San Marino: Serhat, “Say Na Na Na,” 81 points
20. San Marino: Serhat, "Say Na Na Na," 81 points
My very, very favorite tidbit about Serhat is that he is a certified but non-practicing dentist.
“No, stop. STOP. That’s NON-practicing. Do not show me your molars.”
This is only the second time San Marino has made it to the Grand Final; Serhat himself made the semi-finals in 2016 for San Marino, too, but that’s as far as he got. I’m very excited for him, and for the Istanbul German High School Management Association, for which he is a board member (no joke). As for the song… it’s at 40:17 here. And it is a good weird Eurovision fix.
Yes, you guys! Look at him! He’s a board member of things AND he went to dentistry school, and he sings, and served in the military. Actually, hang on, let me fix this for him:
Much better. He ALSO helpfully gave the audience the words, in case they weren’t able to figure them out:
But the real MVPs are the thrashing pop bros raising the roof in their white jorts. Serhat, I tip my serhat to you. “Don’t forget my number; call me anytime,” he sings. “I will always tell you life is beautiful and fine.” I will. I WILL call you. I WILL say Na Na Na. I’M IN.
Please enjoy the official video, which is a staged street dance party. There is a surprise jackhammer in there somewhere.
21. Greece: Katerine Duska, "Better Love," 70 points21. Greece: Katerine Duska, “Better Love,” 70 points
21. Greece: Katerine Duska, "Better Love," 70 points
This was an odd one. She doesn’t sing it well — at times it sounds like a strange bird call; it’s at 1:07:27 — but by the time it was hitting its big finish I was a little caught up in the music and it won me over. The more I work on these, the more bored I am by the winner, I have to say. I’ve had Norway’s song in my head for three days and I forgot what The Netherlands’ even sounded like until I accidentally played it again. ANYWAY. Greece started off looking like a real messy wedding:
And that might make sense, because I can’t think of any messier twist at a wedding than SWORD-FIGHTING BALLERINAS.
But listen, Greece. I have notes. First, fencing dancers, and then ALSO a giant balloon…
… and I kept waiting for the sword-fighters to stab the hell out of that thing, and maybe have it explode with confetti or something, but instead she threw this into the crowd ad the others just kept dance-stabbing each other. WHY. Such a tease, Greece.
We also need to talk about her sheer skirt. Or pants. Or… I don’t rightly know what it was, but you know what would’ve distracted me from it? STABBING A GLITTER BALLOON.
I laughed out loud at the end when these three, who look roughly like they are doing an interpretive chicken dance, actually did make sounds that sounded like squawking. I definitely advocate giving them a look. But the produced video, which does of course sound cleaner, is also a trip full of smaller non-glitter-balls and swords and a whole bunch of sad tights and nipples. Does anyone need Sad Tights & Nipples as a title for something? It’s yours.
22. Spain: Miki, "La Venda," 60 points22. Spain: Miki, “La Venda,” 60 points
22. Spain: Miki, "La Venda," 60 points
Miki sang last, and it was a very perky finish indeed. “La Venda” means “blindfold,” I think; the song starts by saying, “They buy you because you are for sale // You are for sale because you are smug,” HOW DARE YOU, MIKI, but then turns into a ditty about how we should live into all the good things in the world and then when our blindfolds fall we’ll be fine. Or… something. Anyway, Miki fits right into this year’s theme of cute brunet dudes with manes:
I don’t totally know what his whole performance experience was meant to be, though. (It’s here, at 02:02:56.) It started with a bunch of people in little boxes, which I guess means maybe we are all living tiny closed SMUG lives:
We also apparently live them in a variety of brightly colored pants. And then suddenly THE MAN shows up to try and ROCK OUR WORLD:
Which he did via camera work; they made it look like he pulled the set down and the dancers moved accordingly. Anyway, THE MAN staggered on just briefly and then staggered off again, but HE LEFT EVIDENCE:
HIS DEMONIC ACID-TINGED FINGERPRINTS. (Real talk: This might not even be in the correct order. Just go with it.) And then he stole all our Thneeds:
And the we had to drop our blindfolds and fight back, and The Lorax was satisfied, but we still all went back to our little boxes and… wait, this might not have been a happy ending.
“This performance was TOTALLY OK.”
Here’s the vid:
23. Israel: Kobe Marimi, "Home," 47 points23. Israel: Kobe Marimi, “Home,” 47 points
23. Israel: Kobe Marimi, "Home," 47 points
It must be a strange feeling to sing at the one you’re hosting. Rarely do countries win twice in a row — and not since the early ’90s, when Ireland actually won THREE in a row, then lost one, then won the NEXT one. (Ireland didn’t even make the Grand Final this year. Is Ireland out of gas?) So it’s probably at once thrilling to perform in your home country, to YOUR crowd, and also sort of a bummer because probably this year isn’t yours.
Kobe — or, as I like to call him, the Jeremy Sisto of Israel — has a gorgeous voice, which you can hear at about 1:12:25, and I do recommend hearing it. VOCALLY he is the Josh Groban of Israel. Also, his bow tie and chain are smiling, and his face is here for mischief.
“I’ve been NAUGHTY,” he is saying, because actually he’s not Jeremy Sisto at all; he’s Sacha Baron Cohen playing Jeremy Sisto playing Josh Groban playing Kobe Marimi.
And when in doubt: RAIN SPARKS.
Y’all I was legit moved: At the end, off the last line, “I’m coming home,” he totally broke down in tears.
My notes seriously read, “MUFFIN! You ARE home!”
The produced video is more of his alluring mischief face:
24. Germany: S!sters, "Sister," 32 points24. Germany: S!sters, “Sister,” 32 points
24. Germany: S!sters, "Sister," 32 points
As it turns out, these two are NOT sisters, although they kind of look to me like if the Bush twins entered Eurovision:
You can watch this at 27:26, after they go fishing in exuberant sunglasses in their intro video. It’s an anthem about how women should respect each other — sisters in the global teamwork sense rather than the sibling sense. It’s… okay, but often they seem too smiley at times when maybe they lyrics aren’t super chipper. Like, “Sorry for the drama! I tried to steal your thunder.” ARE YOU SORRY IF YOU ARE GRINNING?
It was discordant like their facial expressions on the monitor.
Also, I wish Bizarro Lauren Bush — whose suit I surprisingly like? — would have told Bizarro Jenna Bush that her shirt just looks like a giant torn nylon.
HOWEVER, they finished with some heat, and some dudes staring at their butts instead of getting to look at the fireworks. When they wrapped up the song, Bizarro Lauren Bush jumped up and down with ABSOLUTE DELIGHT and it makes me sad they didn’t do better. A lot of these made me think, “Aw, third to last? They weren’t THAT bad.” I guess SOMEONE had to be third-to-last, and their vocals were admittedly a little rockier in parts than some of the men, but I was at least more interested in them and their harmonies than in many of the dudes wailing about their man-pain. They didn’t even beat Surhat, as much as Surhat is my lobster (and future dentist).
The produced video:
25. Belarus: Zena, “Like It,” 31 points25. Belarus: Zena, “Like It,” 31 points
25. Belarus: Zena, “Like It,” 31 points
My notes refer to Zena as “Noted Luggage Enthusiast and Profound Dua Lipa Fan Zena.”
Sadly, what initially looked like steamer trunks actually appear to be musical equipment cases. Oh well. She might still ALSO be a luggage enthusiast; many of us are.
She also has a tiger living in her brain. Unfortunately, Mind Tiger couldn’t turn this song into anything remarkable, and its placing seems appropriate indeed; even she must have guessed, because at the end, she tried to sway us with…
It didn’t work, and it probably shouldn’t have — I JUST listened to this song again and I’ve already forgotten it. Here’s her national finals video, where there does not appear to be any shipping containers, but her dancers have on fringed pants:
26. United Kingdom: Michael Rice, "Bigger Than Us" 16 points26. United Kingdom: Michael Rice, “Bigger Than Us” 16 points
26. United Kingdom: Michael Rice, "Bigger Than Us" 16 points
This munchkin. He’s only 19, and he placed dead last with this marginal ballad whose title turned out to be vert apt. I do think that this venue was bigger than he is, and they didn’t plan much staging to try and give him an energy boost. I mean, he warmed up to the vocals and he gave it his all, and it’s possible everyone voting in Eurovision is REALLY ANNOYED right now about his Brexit nonsense and he was going to come last no matter what. But.
You can hear it here at 1:20:35. Honestly, what he should’ve done is STARTED with the floor shenanigans:
And then just done an entire song called “Whoops,” and the staging would just be shitclown after shitclown, nonsense after nonsense, and SO MUCH FIRE, all about how the UK is really sorry that Brexit has been such a stupid drama. I genuinely think that would have won.
Madonna's PerformanceMadonna’s Performance
You may have heard that Madonna sang at Eurovision while the voting was happening. She performed “Like A Prayer” and a new song “Future,” and they were… not a pleasant audio experience. I’m just going to put it up top here, in case you want to listen to it, but be warned: Picture Randy Jackson from American Idol shaking his head and saying, “It’s a no from me, dawg,” and that’s how you’re going to feel.
So here’s the thing: She sounded AWFUL on “Like a Prayer,” and the other was heavily auto-tuned by design, so it didn’t even matter how she sang. But I have to give her enormous credit for singing it live, because a lot of major artists far younger than she would not even have attempted it. You can say maybe it was a faulty earpiece, or whatever, and that’s very possible. But it’s also true that this woman is 60 years old. Very few 60 year old people have the range and the pipes that they once did — it’s not a criticism; it’s just a fact of life and hormones and all the rest — and so that could also be part of it. Mostly, as much as I find it exhausting that Madonna is traipsing around in eye patches and whatnot, I admire her a whole lot for still trying to give this as much energy as possible when, as I noted, many younger acts can’t even keep up. I felt sort of bad for her that it sounded so weird – and she clearly agreed, because the BBC put together a reel noting that the original feed and the one available on her site are not quite the same; parts of hers sound a lot more sweetened. Oh, ESTHER.
And yes, in case you’re curious, she’s FULLY committed to the eye patch that she’s wearing for Madame X, her new album.
Liam saw this and was like, “What happened to her eye?” When I explained that nothing at all had happened, and she was just wearing it for show, he shrieked, “THAT’S NOT SAFE.” I guess he’s not aiming for a career in piracy.
I never anticipated seeing Madonna singing this song while dressed as a holy pirate.
I also did not anticipate someone wearing a shopping bag as a mask.
Or, I guess, the trail of… dead bodies? I don’t even know. She courted controversy also by having dancers in both the Israeli and Palestinian flags, but I totally missed that part — possibly because of all the other wincing I was doing.
OKAY, OKAY. I will try. I promise.