Saturday, May 11, 2024

Liveblog: Eurovision 2024


Can a silly song contest take the weight of Israel's grinding of Gaza and its residents? Almost certainly not. 

Although, according to YouGov, most of the people who don't think Israel should be in Eurovision are reacting to geography, rather than the country's indiscriminate and cruel reaction to the indiscriminate and cruel killings of October 7th:

Famed for its grasp of nuance, social media has been absolutely batshit for the last week or so, with people being told that they're clearly Zionist for wanting to watch Olly Alexendar bouncing around the Malmö stage, or staying up to gone midnight while the host of Moldovan state TV's Wa-Hey It's Saturday pads giving three scores to around ten minutes of toe-curling screen time. Or, equally, that they're antisemitic for deciding that this year, they might skip the event and spend the evening watching some of the non-stop Abba output available instead.

It's not going to be a normal Song Contest this year - and maybe that's actually as it should be: if Israel had been kicked out we could all have had a lovely time and forgotten all about it and pretended that the happy peaceful Europe the event is meant to reflect is a reality, rather than an illusion slipping away faster than we'd like to accept. (I don't, for a minute, think that's what the organisers were striving for when they decided that Netanyahu is not the same as Putin; but it's the unintended consequence.) Israel can't be present without the Palestinian people travelling with them. Tonight, we're all locked in together.

Can a silly song contest take the weight of a collapsing world? Almost certainly not. Join me back here at 8-ish to find out.

(By the way: these days I'm almost as rarely on Twitter as I am on Blogger - but you can find me hanging out on BlueSky under norock.)


Last night, there was trouble at rehearsals and the upshot is that everyone who has carefully produced a scoring sheet for their Eurovision parties this evening are having to rip it up and start again.

Joost Klein, the none-more-Dutch0named contestant from the Netherlands, was involved in what is euphemistically being called an "incident" that has resulted in police getting involved and his removal from tonight's events:

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the event, later issued a statement saying they were "investigating an incident that was reported to us involving the Dutch artist".

On Saturday, Swedish police confirmed that a man had been reported for making "unlawful threats" at Malmö Arena, after Thursday's semi-final.

"The police have taken all essential investigative measures and questioned the suspect, plaintiff and witnesses," a spokesperson said.

"The investigation has been completed by the police... and the case will now go to the prosecutor within a few weeks."

If the EBU is clear about one thing, it's not going to tolerate acts of aggressive behaviour. Well, not at the venue, anyway.


I imagine whoever is doing presentation for BBC One this evening has got a Tom and Jerry loaded up to slap on in a hurry, as the last minute preparations are growing increasingly chaotic:

French contestant Slimane broke with protocol during the final dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, by interrupting his song to make an impassioned speech.

"Everybody, I just need to say something," he told the audience. "Every artist here want[s] to sing about love and sing about peace. We need to be united by music, yes, but with love for peace.

"United by music, yes, but with love for peace," he repeated. "Thank you so much. Thank you Europe."

The statement itself may have broken Eurovision's rules on making political statements.

Oh, and also...

Earlier, the Irish contestant Bambie Thug withdrew entirely from the dress rehearsal, after raising a complaint about coverage of their performance on Israeli television.

The singer, who is non-binary, said comments made during coverage of their performance at Tuesday's semi-final breached the competition's rules.

Israeli TV station KAN referred to a "controversy" over Bambie Thug's song, whose lyrics reference witchcraft and the occult, then noted that the performer had "spoken negatively about Israel".

"But we can talk about that later," their commentator said. "Prepare your curses."

The comment may have been a reference to a lyric in Bambie Thug's song, where they put a hex on an ex-boyfriend, but the singer felt it had crossed a line.

"I'm angry with other teams breaching their rules of the EBU, and still being allowed in," they told RTÉ news in Ireland.

I picture a nervous Swedish TV producer is telling their bosses that this is just everyone getting it out of their systems before the main event. (And then knocking back a glass of vodka.)


Meanwhile - look, maybe presentation is going to need a Dad's Army to fill any gaps tonight - the disqualification of the Dutch contestant is getting murkier by the second:

In a statement, the Dutch broadcaster Avrotros, said that Klein had been filmed backstage when he had "repeatedly indicated" that he did not want to be.

"This led to a threatening movement from Joost towards the camera. Joost did not touch the camerawoman," they added, calling the decision to disqualify him "very heavy and disproportionate".

Videos have circulated on social media of Klein being surreptitiously filmed by the Israeli delegation - but the EBU stressed in their statement that the backstage incident "did not involve any other performer or delegation member".

And also:

Norwegian media is reporting that their jury spokesperson Allesandra Mele has pulled out, citing the "inflamed situation" in Malmö.

"... well, as we've left Eurovision early this evening, we've a chance to catch up with a group of University friends retracing their steps along the Welsh borders. Pauline Quirke leads the cast on an unexpected visit to Arthur's Dyke, here on BBC One..."

Nah, I'm sure it'll be fine.


Open the voting! #eurovision

[image or embed]

— Stephen Collins ( May 11, 2024 at 19:25


Norway have also lost their jury presenter:

Alessandra Mele posted to her Instagram to say she would no longer be the person who announces the points awarded by Norway.

In the video, the former Eurovision contestant said that though she was "thankful" for the opportunity to award points from Norway, she had ultimately "taken the decision to withdraw".

"United by music - Eurovision's motto - is the reason why the music unites people," she says.

"But right now, those words are just empty words... I'm asking you all to please open up your eyes, open up your heart, let love lead you to the truth... Free Palestine." 

The words "looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue" could be heard over the production talkback system.


Over on the Guardian's LiveBlog, Martin Belam's dog has just made his second guest appearance of the week, after having been shoe-horned into the Politics Live blog a day or two ago.


I know they've got other things to worry about but Eurovision might want to update the 'meet the artists' carousel on their homepage as... you're not going to be meeting Joost tonight.

Screengrab of Eurovision site showing Joost klein in first slot on the meet the artists carousel


Who's finished. Shhh, it's starting.

Oh, this weird EastEnders trail again.


The Guardian's sent a news alert that it's starting.

Oooh, they're doing BSL on press red this year. That's going to be fun.

The Crown Princess of Sweden is welcoming us all to Sweden, with all the warmth of a harried mother welcoming us to an 18th birth day party.

The sound's fucked, or else Graham Norton's been locked in a cupboard.


Yeah, yeah, we've all got the aurora borealias, now, Sweden. You're not special.

They're doing a 'have we mentioned Abba came from Sweden' thing, but well done Sweden for leaving it a full two minutes before bringing that up.

It's in the context of introducing what appears to be a Swedish Simon Mayo doing Hooked On A Feeling.

Icona Pop now, though, so that's better.

Every year I forget they do the walk-out like it's the Olympics at the start now. I'm not sure it adds that much.

Not sure Eden Golan lip-syncing "I don't care" as she walks out is entirely going to help make things better.

Just the sight of Estonia's group walking on has made bedtime feel a couple of extra hours away.


Roxette takes over from Icona Pop, because we need some extra Nazi action tonight, don't we?

Graham is telling us we can vote before we've even heard a song, which I suppose allows people who only tune in for the geopolitics to stir the pot and still get to see Match of the Day, but makes no sense in the context of a song contest.

Everyone walking on holding their national flags out in front of them gives a 'naked underneath this' vibe, which frankly is a bit much for this time on a Saturday night.

Sweden now reminding us that Abba - here's a fun fact - were in fact Swedish contestants on the Eurovision song contest.


"United by Music" says the backdrop. Well, that's probably overselling it.

The hosts have taken the stage. Are they going to do some knockabout comedy bit?

Malin and Petra are the safe pair of hands. Slight side-eye when saying "twenty-five countries".

Malin does a joke about Abba - "who were never heard of again". 

Petra's got the box set of Gilmore Girls for a gag. This isn't exactly Bill Hicks, but it's not as flat as the jokey bit usually is.

"We're about to create many more lovely moments tonight."

Fate is surely being tempted, right here.


Still don't understand why the UK is the only country not allowed to vote by text.

Petra mentions Dancing Queen. By Abba, don't you know?


And here's the music bit!

1. 🇸🇪 Sweden | Marcus & Martinus - Unforgettable

The twins representing Sweden are either stuck in a lift or a TLC video from 1994. They're wearing space-suit uniforms, but the sort that would be worn by people in the engine room or carrying space potatoes around. The song, despite its name, is totally forgettable.

Oh, now they're trapped in the Matrix. Let's leave them there.


2. 🇺🇦 Ukraine | alyona alyona & Jerry Heil - Teresa & Maria

Jerry Heil? Really? That name has 'You Have Been Watching' all over it.

This pair look like a mismatched cop duo from an early 2000s ITV series.

A lot of "ooooh-oooohing". Jerry has got a piece of a suit of armour on her shoulder. The LED screens are apparently showing tracer shots, which I suppose Ukraine can get away with.

Alyona Alyona has popped up to do a rap bit, while Jerry is regenerating in the background.

This isn't bad, but its thudding beat could sell a shedload of Anadin.

I think they've just done a die-in on the screens. But of course they can't have done, because no politics, right? Right, EBU?


3. 🇩🇪 Germany | ISAAK - Always On The Run

The little preview bits are... slightly lower budget this year; bit of archive, some surely-not-actually-phone-footage.

Isaak starts his song sitting next to a brazier, and so it's possible he's actually out on strike.

I don't think anyone is going to be pushing for ACAS to be involved in getting him quickly back to work.

He looks like someone who would go on Britain's Got Talent just so Ant and Dec could be surprised at his voice.

Norton thinks he was terrific, which... I guess shows what going to work for Virgin Radio does for your musical taste.


4. 🇱🇺 Luxembourg | TALI - Fighter

Oh, it's the one who looks like Lene Lovich.

There are some half naked men on stage with her who don't seem sure why they've been invited to Tali's party.

It's a bit mid-european chugga-chugga, but trying to pull off some handbrake turns to make it interesting. 

The men, disappointingly, are wearing more clothes than it seemed at first.

Some giant cgi leopard action going on, though, which picks things up a bit.

Every so often the music resolves itself into a massive electronic fart.


6. 🇮🇱 Israel | Eden Golan - Hurricane

Not five, of course.

"You may have seen on the news..." says Graham, chanelling Histor's Eye. Yes, Graham. We have seen on the news.

(Are the audience overcheering, or have they just turned the atmos up on the soundtrack?)

This is the sort of ballad that Whitney Houston would have thought a bit much.

Bit on-the-nose that Golan is wearing a dress made out of bandages.

"A mixed reaction" says Graham.


7. 🇱🇹 Lithuania | Silvester Belt - Luktelk

Hey, it's Silvester here, with my fun sunglasses! I am your fun penfriend! Let's have big fun, yes?

Oh, now he's come on stage he's got more of a Mark Zuckerberg vibe to him.

Thirty seconds in, and an unseen producer pushes the "chugga-chugga" button.

I looked away and when I looked back he appeared to be wearing his raincoat. The weather changes so swiftly in Scandinavia, I hear.


They're doing a commercial break. I suppose if Sunak does win the election, the only upshot of him being in charge of the BBC charter renewal is we'll get adverts for Kit-E-Kat instead of these bits of padding.

They're showing the Israeli jury from 1975 fucking things up for the live programme. I mean, that's well chosen, right?


They're recapping the rules. Nothing about not doing a genocide, it turns out.


Back to the music:
8. 🇪🇸 Spain  | Nebulossa - ZORRA

Nebulossa looks like they've taken a night off from their Dollar tribute act.

And they've got the first keytar of the evening.

Tall female drummer bringing Bobby Gillespie era Jesus and Mary Chain vibes.

Aha, now we've got some half naked men in corsets and fishnets.

(Ironically, someone was thrown out of the auditorium earlier because they had a non-binary flag, which was political.)


9. 🇪🇪 Estonia | 5MIINUST x Puuluup - (nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi

Norton's done his Terry Wogan toast.

Oh, it's TWO bands. That's why there's so many of them.

Puuuluuup, not lead, sadly, by Jaaaaaarviiiiissss Cooooockeeeeer.

One of them's down shaking the hands of the audience like this is a proper gig and not a choreographed attempt to pretend that geopolitics doesn't really exist.

If this is what they can do with two bands, imagine what they'd be like with five or six other bands. Just as tiring, I fear.

It's growing on me a little. A taste of the wind blowing off the steppes in a cold winter.


10. 🇮🇪 Ireland | Bambie Thug - Doomsday Blue

Norton warns parents young kids might find this a little frightening. Graham, they've just sat through a bald beardy bloke yelling at them. Any kids still standing are gonna be okay.

Also, they'd have to be kids who were scared by the Wicked Witch in Snow White. 

This is suburban goth. Aleister Crawley.

The mix is terrible, as well - I suspect her voice would be making this all hang together but it's been lost.

Rosie Webster during her goth phase

"Muuuum, you just don't understand..."


11. 🇱🇻 Latvia | Dons - Hollow

Had forgotten the cat was out, and only remembered as we hit the sixty minutes in point.

Dons is wearing a sexy hard outfit, which looks unfortunately like it's been made out of a kiddie's paddling pool.

He's got a pretty strong voice, which is working with some pretty weak material.

The cat's fine, though. That's what counts.


12. 🇬🇷 Greece | Marina Satti - ZARI

Marina's song has been co-written by Gino The Ghost.

She might have gotten away with the diaper-like shorts if she'd not started her song squatting down.

The song sounds like Olivia Rodrigo sending morse code. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

(Martin Belam's suggested it sounds like O Superman, which is being somewhat kind.)


13. 🇬🇧 United Kingdom |  Olly Alexander - Dizzy

Halfway through. Olly's having some fun in Union Jack swimming shorts on the pre-song bit.

He's brought his dirty toilets with him, which is nice.

I've not heard this before - the vocal sounds like it's lost in the mix.

Ooh, some consensual touching of an upside-down boxer's boxers. 

This is the gayest thing that has ever happened at Eurovision. Of 'not the Eurovision type' of gay, anyway.

I don't think it's his greatest work, but it's better than the contest probably deserves.


Lynda Woodruff bit while the ads are on. Actually works. The song about the EBU director is actually the best song we've had so far.


14. 🇳🇴 Norway | Gåte - Ulveham

A guitar keyboard violin type thing

I do not know what that instrument is even meant to be. Is this a Mad Max thing? Has Mcgyver fashioned it after being locked in a music shop by some bad guys.

Gate seem to be lost in the forest.

There's a lot of interesting ululation going on, but there's nothing holding it all together. Certainly not Edward Guitarhands.


15. 🇮🇹 Italy  | Angelina Mango - La Noia

She's started like she's fighting for breath.

Ooh, this is quite something - it's like someone's tried to blend Demi Lovato and classic Eurovision and... it doesn't totally suck.

The staging - a Diet Coke break at the gym in a room decorated with someone's synapses - is unsettling, and the bit where she sings so quickly she might be doing the terms and conditions on a mortgage ad doesn't quite work, but if you can't vote for the UK, you might as well vote for this.


16. 🇷🇸 Serbia | TEYA DORA - RAMONDA

(Whispers) I think Teya might be a proper goth.

Oh, yes: this is very much a late night in the graveyard vibe.

Don't spoil it by going all upbeat.

It keeps threatening to go diggy-lou, diggy-lay, but holds itself back.

It doesn't sound like a Eurovision winner, but I wouldn't mind having this on shuffle on the phone.


17. 🇫🇮 Finland | Windows95man - No Rules!

This is going to be wacky, isn't it?

Young people: Radio 1 DJs used to make 'comedy'. records. This sort of thing was the result. There is a reason why Radio 1 no longer has the type of DJ who would be making comedy records on its airwaves.

The 'oooh, he's got no pants however will they stop us seeing his cock' is inventive, if you've never seen Calendar Girls or that Stella Artois nudist colony advert.

He's zipped himself up and gone away.


18. 🇵🇹 Portugal | iolanda - Grito

Iolanda is being surrounded by men dressed head-to-toe in white, which gives the awkward impression she's being hassled by a bunch of mutant size sperm.

The song is interesting - it's a bit military goth, a bit stuttery march. It's not the first time this evening a contestant has given the impression of singing despite, rather than with, the backing music.


James in the comments - comments! On a blog! In 2024! - points out that Germany having a literal binfire on stage is a perfect metaphor for the competition this year.

19. 🇦🇲 Armenia | LADANIVA - Jako


I know precious little about Armenia's music, and so this could either be bang-on modern for them or a throwback to traditional music, or both, but it's a lot of fun. Like, actual fun. Not Windows95 Man "hey, we're having fun" style fun; genuinely like people are enjoying the fuck out of what they're doing.


20. 🇨🇾 Cyprus | Silia Kapsis - Liar

There is only one song called Liar, Silia.

Also, Silia, there is only one Shakira.

(Actually, I quite like this. And they're using a lot of turquoise in the staging, which is a colour that doesn't get enough stage time.)

21. 🇨🇭 Switzerland | Nemo - The Code

Obligatory Celine Dion mention.

I'm getting Jamiorquai vibes from Nemo's pre-performance video. Let's hope that stops.

It's stopped. It's now more Mika. I think I'd just like them to stop and get cuddled. They seems to really need to be told everything's going to be okay. Calm down, Nemo. Calm down.

Apparently there's a bit of The Magic Flute chucked in here. Hope Mozart's on points.

Ah, more commercials for some; a weird bit of archive of a woman losing her skirt and changing her top into a dress.

Bucks Fizz ripping skirts off klaxon.

Good god, they're showing Bardo. Not playing One Step Further, because they're not insane. But they're showing them.

Petra's just had their mother-in-law rip their skirt off. (She designed the Bucks Fizz outfits, it's not entirely random).

22. 🇸🇮 Slovenia | Raiven - Veronika

We're reaching the final stretch of the first bit.

That's so Raiven.

Is this the first catsuit of the evening? I think it is.

The song is the sort of thing that you'd normally only hear a bit of on an advert for a perfume you might give your mother at Christmas. It'd have a second-string model in it driving in an open-top car on a clifftop as a storm gathered. She'd possibly have a tiger on the passenger seat, depending on the budget and health and safety rules in the country the ad gets shot.

23. 🇭🇷 Croatia | Baby Lasagna - Rim Tim Tagi Dim

Mmmm, lasagne.

Mr Lasagne looks like he should be shepherding pensioners back onto a sight-seeing coach somewhere in Winchester.

The staging is 'the sixth form are doing Amadeus' and the deputy head hasn't yet been along to any rehearsals.

The song is what a paper shredder might sing if it was given consciousness by a passing wizard.

Very much this year's 'if this is the sort of thing you like...' entry.

24. 🇬🇪 Georgia | Nutsa Buzaladze - Firefighter

Only another two hours to go, everyone. Chin up!

Nutsa's come straight from the marathon and is still wrapped in foil. 

Her dancers are doing the full-on Marti Caine style hiding behind her and sticking their arms out bit, which is nice to see a dying art revived.

It's that point in the evening where it's unclear if this is actually alright, or I've just been bludgeoned by the previous 22 songs. 

25. 🇫🇷 France  | Slimane - Mon Amour

France! I'd forgotten France. How had I not noticed we'd not had France yet?

"A big hearted ballad called Mon Amour" says Graham, and I am agog at the inventiveness.

Slimane is wearing a shirt made of cheesecloth. His pants are also cheesecloth. Through the cheesecloth we can see that his underwear, too, has been fashioned out cheesecloth.

The song he sings also has a faint air of brie hanging over it.

He spins the camera; as it completes the arc it's pointing at his cheesecloth-clad groin. He gently redirects its gaze to his face - "my eyes are up here". 


Did you know Abba came from Sweden?

(This leads us in to a little bit of business with Brighton getting a moment in the sun, to answer the question how it was affected by the victory. "Hasn't really". Jokes actually landing during Eurovision! Truly an age of wonders.)


26. 🇦🇹 Austria | Kaleen - We Will Rave

"We will rave" says Kaleen, throwing it back in the face of John Major and his hatred of repetive beats. 

She's bought a version of Zendaya's C3PO dress off of BooHoo dot com.

"Rum-de-dum-dum we will rave."

Eurovision written while circling the M25 at 2.30am on a Saturday morning trying to find the field your friends with the 'snacks' have gone to.

Well. We've got through that bit. Just the voting to go now, then.

They've just given us a reminder of the songs we've just spent two hours listening to. I think that's called "rubbing it in"

Just when you say out loud the jokes and landing, there's a bit about Alcazar being confused with Abba. Which I guess might be hilarious if you've heard of Alcazar.

Oh, they're dragging out again after the band have played.

Now, they're really talking about Abba. It's surprising they've not mentioned them already.

They're doing a link-up with the Abba hologram thing in London. Giving the whole event a bit of a deepfake porn vibe.

Stadium now singing along to Waterloo, though, so they're all happy.

They trotted out Charlotte Perelli, Conchita Wurst & Carola to join the weird karaoke, which is probably the fullest-on 'please don't boo' you're going to see tonight.

They're taking the piss out of Loreen's nails before bringing her out to do last year's winner again.

Graham's doing some shout-outs now. You can take the man out of Radio 2, but...

They've closed the voting. Netanyahu can stop shoving coins in the phone box now.

The green room is just part of the stadium seating which looks uncomfortable.

There's a load of booing drowning out Martin Bigboss bloke's confirmation the voting's all kosher.

Ukraine wearing a dress that looks like she's trying to shove a duvet into a cover. 12 to Switzerland. Nothing to the UK. (Thanks, Kyiv)

UK have got Joanna "I'm Joanna Lumley" Lumley doing our scores. 12 to Portugal.

Luxembourg are excited to be back. There's a weird delay on the line tonight. 12 to Switzerland.

Early indications are Switzerland might do well. UK on zero but so are a lot of people.


Azerbaijan are the first jury presentation to sing. It's ill-advised. 12 to Switzerland.

San Marinohave popped out of Cinderella Rockefellas to give 12 to Switzerland again. I think we're seeing a pattern here.

Malta's guy has killed several teddy bears and is wearing their corpses, but no shirt. He also sings. Tje divorce is going well, clearly. 12 to Switzerland. Might set up a keyboard shortcut for that.

Croatia have sent a sensible broadcaster, but he's wearing a tshirt to show he's fun. Portugal get 12.

Not a bean for Olly yet.


Albania! Albania! Looks like its someone from the local council has turned out to give 12 to Switzerland.

Czecha is keeping the jewellery. They give 12 to Ukraine.

Israel, so far, have managed to scrape three points. (Still better than the UK)

Time for their votes, too - to a lot of booing from the hall. Luxembourg get 12 points from Tel Aviv.

Australia calling. He's got a fucking keytar. Four points to the UK at least takes Olly from nul points. 12 to Ireland. 

Estonia still yet to score.

Denmark claim to be able to hear the noise from across the water. 12 to Switzerland, who are now opening up a hell of a lead.

Spain are going to catch a chill in a skirt that short. Two to the UK; 12 to Switzerland.


Norway standing in front of the Northern Lights (you're NOT SPECIAL ANY MORE). They've given 8 to Israel, taking them high up the bottom half. 12 to Switzerland.

Germany have come as Madonna from the Vogue video; also give 8 to Israel and 12 to Sweden. (Have they mistranslated Switzerland?)

Armenia is padding her bit.  (The subtitles say she was called Brunette, but that can't be right, surely?). 12 to France, though. 

Slovenia are trying fuschia but it's not working. 12 to France. A sudden awakening. (They gave 10 to Switzerland, though, so it's not like things are changing that much.)

Georgia appears to have accessorised with office equipment, specifically treasury tags. 12 to Switzerland. UK still not had anything for a while.

Switzerland are overexcited, which is risky in that dress. 3 to Olly, 12 to Greece.

Moldova has a smile that couldn't be faker if she was telling you she didn't really want a card for her birthday anyway. 12 to Ukraine.

We're more than halfway through. Swizterland, France, Italy and Ireland the top four. Israel solid mid table. UK already standing down Hannah Waddingham for 2025.

We're in the green seating area and Nemo is over-excited and over-tired.

Cheesecloth Man from France is sitting with the air of a man who knows we're only going through the motions of him having a chance.

17 juries and the public vote to go. John Curtice running a slide rule over things.

Greece have a dress that's a bit much for this sort of thing but is a great dress even so. Start this section of scores with 12 for Switzerland.

Estonia are dressed more demurely. But the ear jewellery is quite something. 5 to Israel, 12 to Switzerland. Zero, of course, to the UK.

Netherlands not appearing because they're in a huff. The audience are not happy as Martin gives their 12 to Switzerland.

Austria are wearing an Equality tshirt, which is a statement. The host looks like she's going to cry as he talks about equality. 12 to Switzerland. They also gave 2 to Estonia, taking them from nul points.

France in front of the Eiffel Tower incase you don't get which France it is. 12 to Portugal. 3 to Israel.

Italy are wearing a bow-tie and talking way too much. He's gently moved on. 12 to Switzerland. They're nearly at 250 now. France are on 143 in second.

Finland has got a gold lame jacket. 12 to Switzerland.

Graham Norton trying to keep things interesting by saying the public vote could change everything. Could it?

Portugal give 4 to the UK. They're in a Miss Selfridge spotty number and say something softly political about love. 12 to Switzerland.

Belgium - six to the UK (now on 19, sort of middle of the bottom half); 12 to Switzerland.

Iceland - 8 to UK (late rally kalxon) and 12 to France.

Latvia have slipped off the tie and are relaxed - 3 to UK, 2 to Israel, 12 to Switzerland

Ireland give 4 to the UK  - now top of the bottom half; switzerland get 12 and are now over 300.

Poland have interrupred filming a reboot of Bewitched. 12 to Switzerland.

Cyprus looks like the man who swindled your nan out her pension. 8 to Israel; 12 to Croatia. 'Member them?

Lithuania has a dinner party to get to, and they're not sure if its a swinging one. 4 to Israel; 12 to Switzerland. The UK rally has dried up.

Serbia have come as a space nun. 4 to UK. 12 to Croatia.

Final votes from Sweden. 8 to UK, now bottom of second half. 12 to Switzerland.

So, jury's voting done. Switzerland lead with 365; France have 218; Croatia 210.

UK one place behind Israel 12/13, 52-46

Nemo now looks a little bit sick with excitement.

We're turning now to the public vote. Will it unleash chaos?

It feels a bit like they're padding because they're under-running slightly, which has got to be a first.

Estonia get 33 points, finish on 37

Finland 31, to 38

Norway 4 points ! to 16

Slopvenia 12 to 27

Georgia 19 points to 34

(jury and public seem pretty similar in taste so far)

Austria 5 to 24 (deserved more)

Spain 11 to 30

Serbia get 32 points, end on 54

Lithuania 58 points, bounce to 90

Cypris 44 making 78

Latvia 28 points, 64

Greece 85 pts, 126 points. Olly trying to smile. Arena not happy.

Israel 323 points. Cough. Takes them to 375 and temporary leaderr

Luxembourg 20 points to 103

Germany 18 pointsend on 117
Armenia 82 go to 183

Sweden  49, makes 174

13 for portugal 152

Ukraine 307 points, bounce to top on 453

Ireland 136 points 278

Italy 104 points - 268 final figure

Croatia. get 337 points. 547 and at the lead.

France is next up, but they're showing us the faces of the top three from the jury vote now to build tension.

227 points to France, gives them third place. 445 points.

So how many for Switzerland?

It's Nemo or Lasagne.

The public vote has given them... 

Two hundred and... it gets lost in cheers.

(Actually looks like the subtitlers didn't catch the number either.)

So Nemo has won and is heading to the stage to do their song all over again.

Olly came in at 18th, which wouldn't be that bad but a zero from the phone vote is... pretty bad. How is that even mathematically possible? It's just a hunch, but I think we always do poorly when we put in a really successful artist: that sense of 'we're throwing our biggest guns at this' doesn't play well. And the result is like the cricket team in Ever Decreasing Circles having a go at Martin for fielding an Cambridge Blue.

The massive disparity in the jury and public votes for Israel is interesting, isn't it? There were semi-final conspiracy theories that this was basically Mosad manipulating the vote; but equally it could just reflect a diaspora vote turning out in a way that it doesn't typically do. I forsee a lot of noise around that over the next few days.

Overall, though, congratulations to Swedish TV for keeping the wheels just about turning, and - for the first time I can ever remember - finishing the thing on time.

See you back here next year, probably, for number 69. Nice.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Liveblog: Eurovision 2023


It's a lot, this year, isn't it? Sure, the last time the UK hosted there was a bit of excitement, but I don't recall hotel room prices in Birmingham suddenly clacking into four figures, or half the DCMS decamping to Sparkbrook for a little exercise in soft power and a few meals on expenses.

It's lucky that The Monarch Formally Knows As Prince Charles is hard to warm to, otherwise you'd almost start to feel sorry for him. You wait decades for your big party, and then your actual Coronation serves no purpose other than to act as a disappointing warm-up to the Eurovision song contest. You know you're the downcard when Rita Ora chooses to go to the other party, and you're stuck with Lionel Ritchie doing some odd gurgling.

Meanwhile... there's just a lot. The early entries in this blog were all written in Liverpool and it's a city that I love; I'm not surprised that it's decided to go balls-deep into the party. And you can understand the BBC deciding to wring every drop of Eurovision juice out of the investment. But even so. There's so much. 

Even a Saturday outing for The One Show. Sitting at home, probably still wearing the purple crown ('the rules say that I can only wear it once, but not how long that one time has to be'), slowly realising the Union Jack flags were probably for Mae Muller and not HRH, the King flicks through the Radio Times, muttering that Alex Jones didn't do an extra shift for his big day. On the other hand, Nationwide did an extra curricular episode for his first marriage and that didn't end well for anyone, did it?

Anyway. There's a lot. Geometricians, in their wildest dreams, couldn't conceive of as many angles as the media have found for covering / shoehorning in references to Eurovision. The Rovers has got a beer pump wearing a red, white and blue bow tie. As I write, Saturday Kitchen is somehow cooking Eurovision. The Archers - in a storyline which makes the time Nelson Gabriel kept that elephant on the village green sound plausible - have got Rylan popping in to judge the Ambridge song contest en route to Liverpool. Leaving aside the scheduling question, what route is he taking to get to the North West? And would he really have chosen a stopping service that would be calling at Hollerton Junction?

As an aside - and an indication of how great Rylan is - it's hard to imagine any other 'as themselves' celeb who has popped into the Post Box studios letting the script team have so much fun with characters saying they've never heard of them.

And Radio 2 has been busy. Oh so busy

Perhaps a little too busy.

Local news hasn't been left out. On Thursday, Look East dedicated a large chunk of airtime to a Sam Ryder lookalike. Realising he bore a resemblance, he decided (direct quote) "to use this for good", like he'd been bitten by a radioactive Eurovision competitor. Samryderman, Samryderman, does whatever Sam Ryder can. It is quite a sweet story, really; he does charity stuff and seems to share not just a face but an air of being warm and approachable with the real Sam. Sadly, the report didn't ask the vital question - did he have long hair and a big beard before he became Second Sam; and if he didn't, how the hell did he know he'd look like him when he grew them?

Sam - the real one - is having the time of his life. He's pretty much the Jeremy Corbyn of Eurovision, what with having a beard and a fanbase that seems to genuinely believe that a surprisingly strong second place is actually the same as winning. And he's got opinions, too.

I'm not sure someone singing Ferry Cross The Mersey on the literal ferry cross the Mersey is best placed to judge what counts as cheese, but we'll let him off on this one.

Having used their trump card on Thursday, last night Look East stretched a bit further to discover the Bloke out of Electro Velvet lives in the region. Yes you do. You do.

The reporter asked him if he could still remember the scatty-bit he did in the middle. Of course he can. I imagine every night in his dreams he's taunted by demons doing "beeebabaadooobiedoobie" before yelling "five points" and giggling.

The Look East report didn't mention that he - Alex Clarke - currently (where 'currently' is defined as the last time anyone updated the Wikipedia page) is Mick Jagger in a Rolling Stones tribute act, but perhaps they thought they'd be pushing their luck with two faux popstars in a row.

He got to show off the shoes he wore on stage, which actually felt a bit sad. I went to Vienna for my country and all I got was a slightly scuffed pair of spats.

Anyway, there's a lot. No President Zelenskyy, though, as Eurovision have ruled that having him pop up would be too political. Because doing a whole 'we're having to do this in Liverpool what with a fucking monster bombing the actual country it should be taking place in' themed event isn't a political statement in its own right. And the man isn't an idiot - surely we all know by now that he isn't an idiot, right? - and could have been asked to do a 'can't be in our country but we send love' bit without screaming 'and give us helicopters, you asshole'. Apart from anything, it would have spared us this sort of thing:

Sunak, too, gurgled out a statement saying that Zelenskyy should have been involved, which is the first time in six months he's said anything that doesn't end with "and number five stopping the boats." Had I been a senior Tory politician wanting Volodymyr to get a cameo, I might have reflected that a bit of gentle diplomacy behind the scenes would have been the best approach because now, there's no way he could be involved without it looking like the BBC and Eurovision are taking direction from the UK government and that really would look politics intruding.

Last year, I only saw the second half of the contest, with the sound mostly down and commentary in Dutch. We've got some hours to go and who is to say that won't happen again? But assuming it doesn't, you know the deal. I haven't seen any of the songs yet (apart from the odd snatch of that one about Poe, and bits and pieces of Muller) and through studious avoidance of the semi-finals, I'll be coming to the whole thing fresh. Back here around 8-ish?


I regret to inform you all that Rishi Sunak has "joined in the fun"


If you're in Liverpool, and want something a bit closer to Eurovision than Sunak's stiff Spotify Spadlist, there's always this:


It's going to be Robot Abba, isn't it?.

Mind you, a lot of people speak highly of Robot Abba, although I can't really tell if that's because they really liked it, or if when giant angry pop robots tell you to speak highly of them, you just do that.

People who were milling around Liverpool at the time I was will probably be thinking the same thing as me - surprise band hidden behind a screen on a Saturday night? It's just like Temptation 2, the old uni club night. A night where, if you were well connected to the Liverpool Music scene, or (like me) happened to be friends with people who were well connected, you'd know the secret act in advance and adjust your weekend plans accordingly. This is how, in an anecdote I've told people so often I'm starting to think I made it up, I saw Suede for the first time.

It wasn't always that quality, though. One night was Fabulous.

(The Simon Duffield-led rabble, not the News of the World colour supplement).

The highlight, though, was the time the whole of the city had heard the rumour it was going to be James, and a massive queue snaked round the Guild of Students. It turned out that, actually, it was If?, the short-lived spin-off of the Jo Boxers.

I mean, it might turn out to be If? tonight, which would be a splendid punchline, but... it's going to be Robot Abba, surely?


I mean, when I lived on the Lane we didn't even have a Co-Op but knowing the place, it's possible they built the grocers rounds the decks rather than the other way round. (Legendary Liverpool DJ Bernie Connor used to work in the deli down there, so it's likelier than you'd think)


Meanwhile, BBC One is already three drinks in to its Eurovision party. They've currently got a Eurovision Special of the Hit List (Name That Tune in a push-up bra, basically). And already Eimear Quinn and Linda Martin have battled their way through a Eurovision Pointless and made it to the final round, which is more than Ireland have managed to do for a good few years.

The specialness of the Eurovision Special is that they've got a workaround that has meant the celebrity booker could have half the week off:

In a first for The Hit List, three celebrities will be teamed with Eurovision superfans. Returning to The Hit List are former champions Scott Mills and Clara Amfo, who will be joined by fellow DJ Adele Roberts along with their Eurovision-loving teammates Coinneach, Katie and Amy.


The One Show is coming from the side of the Mersey, adding itself to the list of illustrious magazines programmes coming from Liverpool's docklands, alongside This Morning and that kids show they did from the short-lived BBC Brunswick Dock studios.

Rylan is in wipe-clean trousers and sixteen inch heels; Alex Jones has slaughtered a peacock. They've been joined by Sandie Shaw, who is in a plum wedding dress; Cheryl Baker, dressed for David Van Day's funeral; and Sonia, who has nipped along to Monsoon.


A link-up with Mel out of Mel & Sue, and Scott Mills, out of General Mills, who are doing the coverage for Radio 2 this evening. Mel is wearing a 1970s bedspread in Ukranian colours.

Rylan has been sent over to get ready for the main show. A countdown clock has appeared on screen. The excitement is... well, being manufactured with all the might they can throw at it.

It's hard to imagine a Eurovision like this occurring in the Wogan era, isn't it? There was just a little too much ironic distance.

I guess this is some sort of a last-minute primer, for those of you who like to cram:

One Show now doing a quick tour around the UK, as a prelude to the breathless tour around Europe we'll be getting in about three hours' time.


How many trailers are they cramming into this programme junction?

I mean, I can see why they'd be pushing Dannii Minogue's gay dating show here right now, but even so...

OOOOOOH Doctor Who


And we're off.

Is this the first sighting of Graham Norton this year? Bar his crammed-in-a-screen trailer cameo?

Last year's winning song being done on the top of the Liver Building, with additional Andrew Lloyd-Webber, fresh from closing down his awful Cinderella musical for a second time. Bit like having the bad fairy turn up at a Christening, surely?

Oh, they've got loads of special guests. And Joss Stone.

The Princess of Wales has turned up playing the piano, which I guess makes her sort-of Paddington to Eurovision's jubilee?

(I am now going to be thinking of the Spitting Image sketch of Alastair Burnett fawning over "the dee-ligthful piaaano playing princes' for the rest of the show instead of paying proper attention.)


Yeah, actually, this was a lot better than Sam Ryder's song, wasn't it?

I'd forgotten they now make all the acts march out at the start, like it's the parade ring at Aintree.

This is probably the highest profile the Marks & Spencer Bank has ever achieved, isn't it?

I'm getting an early sense we're in for a distressing amount of flared trousers this evening.

Australia have already had a drink or two, then. The Romain guy has come on like he's about to do a so-so magic act on Britain's Got Talent.

They're interspersing the marching out with little snatches of former Eurovision acts - that one who was like Christopher Biggins with the glittery star on their head.


Going to be weird for Graham Norton to not be talking over the person doing presentation on the stage, because he IS the person doing presentation on the stage.

We're getting the explanation of the voting will work later on.


1. Austria | Teya & Salena - Who The Hell Is Edgar?

And we're off (properly) now with the Edgar Allen Poe one.

Teya (or is Salena) is dressed in a black plastic thing made out of the leftovers of Rylan's trousers. 

I like this. It has that bouncy Poe-Poe-Poe bassline, but also has the feel of a musical interlude from a 1980s US high-school sitcom. Mr Kotter explaining The Tell-Tale Heart to the Sweathogs via a daydream sequence.


2. Portugal | Mimicat - Ai Coração

Norton is back in the commentary box and has sent Mel out of Mel & Sue who was holding the fort back to Radio 2. 

Mimicat is being shown walking through a market and smiling coquestishly into camera. A manic pixie dream girl sequence, but this has given way to a sort of flamenco Marilyn Monroe performance.


Scratch Marilyn. More Goldie Hawn. Maybe post-Cheers Shelley Long.

The staging so far seems a lot less elaborate than we've got used to - no sign of magic cages or emerging walls or indoor waterfalls. The night is young, though.

3. Switzerland | Remo Forrer - Watergun

Remo, bless him, looks like he's on an exchange trip in the preview film shot at Lake Zurich.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HIS TROUSERS? Did he go into Millets and say "give me waders, but sexy"?

His dancers are doing some very light bondage, but the song is forgettable ballad.

The trousers actually turn out to be shiny in some lights. The trousers are great.


4. Poland | Blanka - Solo

Ah, starting with a none-more-80s recorded on video camera effect. You know, like it's Malcolm In The Middle.

I think she's got trapped in the video screen backdrop now. "Oh-oh-oh, that's how it goes" is, oh-oh-oh, how the song goes.

There's a little dance break, where the dancers use their thighs as additional percussion. Keeps it cheap.

Blanka pronouces Solo "solar", which might be a problem given the title of the song.


5. Serbia | Luke Black - Samo Mi Se Spava

Luke Black is showing off his fencing skills in the preview bit, which makes him sound even more like a villain in an Exorcist movie than his name does.

Starting his song lying down on the stage in massive boots. The camera pulls back. Surprise! It's not the stage, he's lying in what appears to be one of those baths they stick in posh hotels that you can never use because they're right in front of the window and you can't make the curtains work.

This song, apparently, it about playing video games at home. Makes you wonder why nobody's ever thought of that before. Lana Del Who?

I hope to god Hasbro aren't watching or there's gonna be a lawsuit over the Transformer-type robot on the screen.


6. France: La Zarra - Évidemment

La Zarra rides a very small black horse through her opening video.  Maybe she's going to do This Girl Is On Fire from the Lloyds Bank advert.

Her dress is large enough that she might have smuggled the horse on stage underneath it.

"My heart, my hand, my eyes, my lips - nothing is mine any more" she sings. Well, yes, the terms and conditions on Bluesky are quite strict, but that's the price you pay to avoid Elon Musk, isn't it?

We've had the first shower of on-stage sparks of the evening.

It was definitely French.

Aleesha Dixon has popped up, which can only mean that most of Europe are getting adverts. There's a giant Peppa Pig for us, for some reason.


If Gogglebox don't have the two guys who live in the building they've just shown in the run-up to Cyprus' bit, commenting that their house is on TV, I don't know what we're even doing here.

7. Cyprus | Andrew Lambrou - Break A Broken Heart

Andrew seems like a nice enough lad. He's got the air of someone from an ITV soap who used to be in a boyband. "Tear me up and move on to another" he sings, and, yes, I think we shall.


8. Spain: Blanca Paloma - Eaea

Blanca Paloma give off the air of what would have happened if you'd locked The Spice Girls in a box and returned twenty years later to set them free.

Nice bit of vocal work at the start of the song, though.

And the second act to have gone with ghostly hands - the first just had them on-screen, here they're real hands poking through the strings.

This sounds like traditional Spanish music having angry sex with EDM. It's all very evocative.

Might have forgotten the "song" bit - a problem with a song contest - but sounds amazing.


Uh-oh. The wolves from last year - which made even less sense with English commentary than they did with the Dutch one we had - are back. We're in the 'pretend Junior Eurovision is charming' ad break  filler right now.

The winner of JunioEuro is announcing Nice as the host for this year's event - the town, not the biscuits. I think not the biscuits.

9. Sweden | Loreen - Tattoo

I'd like to see Loreen try and unwrap a Dairylea cheese triangle with those nails.

This is apparently the favourite this year, but it's kind of Ruslana-lite. I do worry that her big box is going to slam shut on her before the end of the song, though.

It all looks a bit like an advert for one of the perfumes that sells well in Superdrug.


Hannah Waddingham is pushing the Eurovision app.

10. Albania | Albina & Familja Kelmendi - Duje

Sefton Park Palm House getting its big moment on Europe wide television.

Albania are looking towards the Urals with their song and its amazing.

(Although like a lot of Eurovision entries, it starts off full-throated Eastern European and then mushes in something a bit more package tour of the Med). 

They're not lying when they say Familija, either. They do look like some sort of mom, dad and sisters outfit.

Didn't know how to finish it, though, so just hit a drum and stopped singing.


11. Italy: Marco Mengoni - Due Vite

Marco Mengoni dated your sister in the early 90s. Your Mum didn't approve, he didn't have a job but he had a motorbike and a reputation. In the end, it didn't work out.

Surprisingly, he's come on stage wearing a Swarovski vest. I think we now can see why it didn't work out.

The lyric repeats the word 'sleep' over and over again. The backdrop looks like a moon. It's too early in the evening to be trying to lull us into having a nap.


12. Estonia | Alika - Bridges

"She's bought a self-playing piano with her" says Graham. Pianola. They're called Pianolas.

She's sitting at the pianola which carries on happily playing itself, as she laments that all her lies have died. But she's going to build up some bridges to get things back on track. 

This is very LinkedIn. Focus on you. Change one thing every day.

13. Finland | Käärijä - Cha Cha Cha

Bring. On. The. Umlauts.

Oh, this is the guy who was wandering round wearing what looked like a non-compliant floatation device from a budget airline.

He's come on stage in a cage. And in a bit of a rage.

I know this is meant to make him seem like a bit of a bad boy, but the climbing out a packing case just makes me think of Issi NoHo.

This whole performance is what you'd get if Coronation Street needed to do a scene in an S&M club and had neither the budget to dress the set, not the time to research it.

I think I just spotted someone in the audience cosplaying Graham Norton.


14. Czechia | Vesna - My Sister’s Crown

There's always one song title that sounds like it's from a PornHub video, isn't there?

The look says 'sleepover at Barbie's place'. The music says 'revenge attack on Ken'. The lyrics have some complex ideas about how royalty functions in the 21st Century.

This isn't bad, and I'm not just saying that because they are all - clearly - trained assassins. 



15. Australia | Voyager - Promise

They've brought a car on stage. Fair enough, it can be hard to find a parking spot in central Liverpool at the weekends, although I'd have tried the multistorey round the back of Central Station before driving into the Arena.

"Have you ever shut the open door?" Yes. That's pretty much what you do with open doors.

It's a bit like someone's blown their workers comp payment on remaking Knight Rider with themselves in the lead role.

Hold on... was that a keytar? In 2023 you come to me with a keytar?


16. Belgium | Gustaph - Because Of You

Please let this just be the theme to Brush Strokes. 

Oh, the guy in the massive hat.

He's trying to be Boy George. But he's just the bloke who looks after Curious George.

I suppose, if you were looking a track to play as incidental music during a challenge on Glow Up, you could use some of this.

<Checking Twitter> I'm no fan of Mr O'Dowd, but I think he'd have every right to be pissing steam over the way the whole world are happy to see someone in a big hat and think "exactly the same as Boy George"

Aleesha has just reassured the rest of the world that Graham Norton hasn't gone home.

Meanwhile, on Twitter:

17.  Armenia | Brunette - Future Lover

Brunettte is both lying down, like the lad from earlier, and wearing an outfit apparently made from human skin, like Lorreen. 

Hold on, that might just be the lighting. Turns out its a dress made from an old white leather sofa and some shoelaces.

The stage show is really quite good - stark black and white (now they've stopped the pink lighting anyway). 

There's some sort of song she's singing, apparently. It's so weak, though, it's vanished in the bit between my ears and my brain.

18. Moldova | Pasha Parfeni - Soarele şi Luna

Pasha has gone for a tramp in the woods. It's unclear what the tramp did to provoke him. (Joke (c) Bob Monkhouse 1965)

Ah, this is 2023's 'one with the massive drums', is it?

Pasha looks like Adam Barlow, down to the bun, and has got a woodland spirit playing some sort of flute with him. And his backing singers appear to be half Beyonce, half Unicorn. None of this should work but it's actually alright.


19. Ukraine: TVORCHI - Heart of Steel

Ah, Tvorchi. The Bvattery Bvoy.

Can Ukraine make it two in a row? And if they do, does the hosting for 2024 go to the second place or do we just accept Liverpool's really good at this and let them do it again?

I can see why people like this, and the sentiments are fine, but... it doesn't do it for me.


20. Norway | Alessandra - Queen of Kings

Queen of Kings. Someone's going to be bursting into ABC with a plan for a role-reversal reboot in the morning, aren't they?

Having said that, this is less sitcom than HBO prestige drama territory, from Alessandra's natty headpiece and flowing cape to the quasi-choral lines about the progress of a royal warrior.

Sadly, it's crying out for a 'skip titles' button.

21. Germany: Lord of the Lost - Blood & Glitter

Or, apparently, the Kerrang one.

"Very popular in Germany" says Graham, which I think we all know was meant as a content warning.

"We're so happy we could die" they sing, which would really put a wrinkle in the evening, guys.

The PVC catsuit is leaving nothing to the imagination, except perhaps thinking about the conversation where they were asking "do you not have this in the next size up?"

I'm not sure how the crotch can be both too tight but also slapping about like a carp on the towpath.


22. Lithuania | Monika Linkytė - Stay

Monika is wearing boxing gloves and sparring in the little video, and - this might come back to haunt me when it turns out she's Lithuania's Olympic kickboxing champion but - I'd wager that she's never hit anything other than perhaps the 'donate' button on a website raising funds for injured kittens.

The song - and the circle of backing singers in sober black - has the air of a Christian rock troupe who are afraid to veer too closely towards gospel lest the audience start speaking in tongues.


23. Israel | Noa Kirel - Unicorn

One of Israel's biggest stars, apparently.

She's started apparently trapped inside some sort of Escher nightmare, and when the camera pulls back it looks like she's come onto the stage via a low-budget portal. If Megabus did Stargates.

The spine of this song is like synthy indigestion. 

Look, if we've learned one thing from the films of Tom Cruise, it's that you don't fucking touch unicorns. And this one, especially, you should steer clear of.


24. Slovenia | Joker Out - Carpe Diem

They're called Joker Out.

They're called Joker Out.

Is that as in 'we've prepared the cards for Canasta'? Is that as in 'I'm a bit like Heath Ledger and that's all I've got to say about it'? Is that as in 'Beadle's About and filming a skit dressed up as a policeman'?

No, it's as in Mark Owen's brief flirtation with an indie music career.

Another awkward handover between Graham and Mel in the booth, as Norton has man's work to do opening the votes.

25. Croatia | Let 3 - Mama ŠČ!

It's Monty Python's Miley Cyrus.

I suspect if you were Croatian, the satirical bite about tractors would be a bit sharper, but clearly there are going to be people in Croatia having meltdowns that this is the song representing them this year, and you've got to love them for that.


26. United Kingdom: Mae Muller - I Wrote A Song

Brave of the BBC to show so much of the UK's waterways tonight; a rivulet of poop colour running through the multicolour celebrations.

Here we are, then, with the local one. More spooky hands.

This probably sounds more like a Eurovision song than anything the UK has ever entered into Eurovision. Right down to the da-da-da-das. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

I don't think Look East will be searching out a Mae Muller lookalike next year, but I also don't think she'll be mournfully showing her shoes to them in fifteen years time.


And that's it for the songs. Liverpool is going absolutely apeshit with delight.

And the voting is open.


Sam Ryder's here, doing a new song. Which at least stopping him making adverts for Vodaphone. Is this his first new song since last year? He did do a lot of things on the New Years Eve show on BBC One, but I was tired and couldn't tell you if they were covers or not. I'm not sure he needs lots of songs. 

Apparently he had Roger Taylor from Queen on the drums, but it looked like Dave from down the market.

Jan Leeming has been wheeled out to remember hosting Eurovision in Harrogate, while three dozen European networks have their hosts try and explain who she is. Very much the new Katie Boyle.

We're now getting a bit about the scoring sequence. Because it's not like that won't be going on long enough in its own right and really needs a few extra moments in the sun.


Onto the Mersey song cavalcade. 

A terrible reading of Imagine which only has the soothing balm that Lennon will be spinning in his grave.

On the other hand, Pete Burns would be loving this version of Spin Me Round by Netta.

Dadi Freyer has drawn the short straw and is having a crack at making Whole Again into an A-Ha number.

C'mon, lets have some Half Man Half Biscuit, people.

Cornelia Jacobs has made I Turn To You so languid that she's delivering it sitting down. Hold on, no, she's fallen into the bath. Producers going wild trying to stop her white singlet turning music's annual festival into a wet t-shirt contest.

When did we move from ironic love for Sonia into national-treasure love for Sonia? She's being treated here like it's Lady Di come back from the grave.

Got to be honest, this selection of Liverpool toons is going to scupper the chance of Paul DuNoyer's Wondorous Place getting a reprinting.

You'll Never Walk Alone being done by someone in a trenchcoat whose name I missed. For balance, they're going to have to do the Z Cars theme, aren't they?

No McCartney song, huh? I'm revising who I think the Big Secret Surprise act will be in light of this. Unless they're really snubbing him. Maybe Liverpool's not forgiven him for bringing James Corden to the Philharmonic.


We used to live next door to Atomic Kitten's offices. One night, a very drunk group of young girls stumbled up the street and sang Whole Again through the letter box, apparently convinced the band lived in their office and would welcome a 1am audition. Still did it better than the version we've just heard.

Voting is closed.


And we're into the jury vote segment. (So no big surprise, then?)

Ukraine, subtly reminding Liverpool that they're only doing it on Ukraine's behalf.  12 to Sweden.

Italy - presented by a budget Zendaya - 12 to Israel.

Latvia's presenter is a crazy guy, with sunglasses on his head and a wacky jacket. Crazy. 12 crazy points to Estonia.

Already looking a bit grim for the UK.

Netherlands wearing a sweater that hasn't rendered properly.  12 to Sweden.

Malta have got security in to give the numbers. "Thank you for hosting an amazing show, but here are the votes from the Maltese jury". 12 to Sweden.

Moldova offer a budget store Cate Blanchett. 12 to Sweden again.

Ireland have got "Sonia's nemesis"; although they have given UK 2 - so we're now on six. 12 to Sweden. It's a rout at both ends.

San Marino have dashed out of a banker's dinner to give 12 to Italy.


Azerbaijan are giving style, albeit in a thirty years old version. 12 to Israel.

UK still not picking anything up. That's harsh. Mae's no Bucks Fizz but she deserved a bit more love.

Austria are wearing a well-meaning slogan tshirt. 12 to Italy. Sweden still have double the votes.

France, once again in fromt of the fucking Eiffel Tower. Show a bit of imagination, France.  12 to Israel.

Germany and Croatia are still on zero.

Finland are fresh from the dungeon. UK get 4 and sneak onto 10; 12 to Sweden.

Graham looks a bit bored by it all. Been a big day.

Belgium are, inevitably, wearing a big hat because that's their thing. 12 to Austria. I'd forgotten them.

Germany's fun, gay uncle gives 12 to Sweden. We're gonna see those nails again.


Portugal have their scores, which is reassuring. 12 to Australia. (<whispers>I think Portugal are stoned.</whispers>)

Croatia give 12 to Italy.

Estonia are recently divorced. 12 to Sweden, but then they would.

Armenia are on their way to a fetish club but drop 12 off for Israel first.


Poland are dressed for heavy rain in a glittery anorak. 12 to Israel.

Romania have got some nice fountains. "Good evening beautiful world". 12 to Italy. This might just close the gap enough to make the viewers vote meaningful.

Germany still on a flat zero. Everyone's forgotten the UK even exists.

And we're now filling a commercial break gap by chatting to Sweden. Loreen doesn't know what to say.


They had been doing a top 3 summary, but now they've expanded it top 5 because 'who will come third' is suddenly more of a exciting question.

Iceland have sent some sort of killer robot from the future and he's doing a very slow striptease which is pushing the News back to 1am. Australia get their 12 points, and we're all going to have a word with Iceland after the programme is over. We're not angry, just disappointed.

Serbia have dressed as a cowgirl who also busses tables. 12 to Slovenia.

Cyprus has donned a floral print suit jacket which actually is working for him. 12 to Sweden.

Ben From A1 is in Oslo to do the Norway votes. He's got his wolf head with him. 12 to Finland, and Terry Wogan's ghost mutters 'told you so'.

Smiley Switzerland are represented by Fred from Angel. 12 to Czechia.

Australia have got Su Pollard's aunt. "Definitely worth waking up for" she says, although Graham looks like he disagrees. 12 to Belguim.


Denmark's scores come from someone so Danish she's practically made of butter. 12 to Finland.

Spain showing a bit of leg and some Dua Lipa action. Nobody's giving anything to Mae. 12 to Sweden. 134 points ahead now.

Israel have got their first ever entrant back, 50 years on, to give 12 to Sweden. Got to say she doesn't seem entirely thrilled.

Sweden have given 4 to the UK, but it's meaningless now. 12 to Finland.

The audience love it when Finland get a 12. Get a bit rowdy. Peter Kavanaghs at chucking out time rowdy.

Sweden are miles ahead.

Georgia have tried to out-wacky everyone. Mel is chuckling. Don't indulge them, Mel. 12 to Belgium. Bad hat boys stick together.

Czechia give their 12 to Ukraine, who had been languishing in the lower middle of the table so far.

Slovenia have splurged on those earrings. They really shouldn't, but they couldn't resist them. 12 to Italy.

Greece take Sweden over 300 but only gave them 6. They're wearing a polyester suit jacket. 12 to Belgium.


Albania think it would be a shame if anything happened to your lovely shop. 12 to Sweden.

Lithuania are so excited to be here. 12 to Sweden.

And finally, we're getting Catherine Tate with the UK votes, deservedly milking it for all its worth. 12 to Sweden.

So, jury votes counted - Sweden 340, followed by Israel on 177. UK fifth from bottom on 15. No nul points this year.


Time for the votes from the people at home. They've been checked. They've been verified. Georgia have deleted dozens of votes for Trump. We're POISED.


Germany get a dribble from the public - an extra 15

Croatia - 112

Poland - 81

(at this stage, countries need over 300 to be in with a chance)

Serbia 16

The UK... get a large cheer and an extra 9. Which is just enough to not become bottom. But the audience isn't happy.

Albania 59 

Moldavia 76

Slovenia 54

Portugal 16

Norway 216

a lot but won't make much difference

France 50

Ukraine 189

Switzerland 31

Cyprus 58

Armenia 53

These points are fairly equally distributed

Lithuania 46

Czechia 35

Looking very much in the bag for Sweden

Spain 5

Austria a surprising 16

Belgium 55

Australia 21 (Graham can't quite believe this)

Estonia 22

The audience are sounding a bit restless as we get to Finland

Finland 376 - spring into the lead

This has, for the first time all evening, started to feel like a contest.


We're overruning now

Italy 174. So not their year.

Israel 185. Not their year.

Only Sweden can win now.

Sweden need 187 to win.

They get 243.

Loreen is now going to have perform again despite being very - uh - relaxed.

What have we learned?

So... the Liverpool Echo's big secret surprise act... doesn't seem to have been a thing at all. And, really, isn't that the biggest surprise of them all?

Normally the UK does poorly and, really, you just shrug and go 'yeah, probably deserved that' but Mae Muller should have been higher. Not top five, but a ought to have got a decent three figures.

Catherine Tate really enjoyed her evening.

Iceland either were trying to be funny and ended up being disturbing, or are just genuinely disturbing.

Loreen has won by having a song that has just enough of The Winner Takes It All in its DNA to trigger thoughts of Abba, but making her do her act in that crushing block thing after an evening of refreshing drinks is an industrial injury waiting to happen.

Liverpool know how to host a Eurovision and probably should do it every year. (Although I pray to God nobody's thinking 'hey, how can we do an annual UKvision song contest')

It's been fun. Maybe see you next year?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Liz Truss: An apology

Earlier this week, I wrote a post based on a short report about Liz Truss' comments on Eurovision where I assumed she didn't really know what she was talking about.

Having now seen seen her full quote I would like to apologise. I seriously underestimated how far from informed she was.

Earlier, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, dismissed the idea that the UK’s nul points was a “post-Brexit snub”. She told LBC there was a “fundamental problem” with the way entrants are currently chosen and suggested the BBC shouldn’t choose future artists.

“I think we need to have more competition to get the right entrant, I think they need to be more tested with the public,” she said. “I’m here today at LBC responding to questions from listeners, that’s the kind of testing that we need our song contest entrant to go through. So maybe it should be LBC that’s running it, not the BBC.”

There's a lot to unpack here. I think we can safely say that Eurovision is not Truss' field of expertise. I'm not sure such a Trussian field of expertise actually exists. It might just be better to accept that Truss, like a confused sheep on an A-road, has somehow found herself outside a field.

It's perhaps unsurprising that Truss seems to think that going on LBC is somehow part of the democratic process and doesn't realise that, you know, she's an MP and should be listening to the public in the form of her constituents on a regular basis.

It's perhaps unsurprising that Truss also confuses what you hear being honked through the switchboard at Global Radio is a representative slice of informed public opinion and not merely the confused wheezing of people who are dull enough to tune into LBC and puffed-up enough to be bothered to call in. These are people using their time to put questions to you, Liz. That should be a big red flag for a start.

But let's put that to one side, and focus on the barely-beating heart of Liz's argument. Is the suggestion that LBC should choose the entrant Liz being playful, or is she seriously suggesting that a talk radio network ought to be choosing a song?

Taking that idea as being a sensible suggestion, and accepting that LBC listeners would probably choose Nigel Farage doing some skiffle as our entry, there's a bit of a problem with it. LBC is not, under its broadcast licence, allowed to play music except for "illustrative" purposes. So Liz is floating the idea that, in future, it would be better to have our entry for a song contest chosen by listeners to a radio station that cannot play music. 

That's probably not as unlikely as it sounds. LBC often invites its audience to vote on matters about which it is incapable of providing them the basics they need to make a valid opinion. But do we really think a song chosen on such a basis would perform any better at Eurovision, than the results of a Twitter poll asking "something something is it too woke" is at shaping public policy?

If we remove LBC from the mix, though, Liz is suggesting that the reason we flop on the big stage is because BBC clipboards are picking a winner and it would be better put to a public vote. We've already pointed out that Liz seems unaware of the involvement of BMG employees in the process - people whose business is driven by an understanding of what popular music with the widest appeal sounds like - but let's assume that Truss is mostly concerned about the lack of transparency in the process. After all, we're talking about a song contest here, not something trivial like the procurement of PPE during a pandemic.

Liz Truss is a cabinet minister in a government led by the apparent offspring of Humphrey Cushion and Arthur Daley who somehow managed to achieve an enormous majority in the last general election. It's clear why she might have more faith in the outcome of asking the Great British Public 'what do you think?' than those of us who have to live with the consequences.

That, though, isn't the real problem with Truss popping up to go 'why don't we ask the public?' Because, Liz, that's also been tried. It's been tried a lot. Asking the public, Liz, was what was done between 1957 and 2010, and then again between 2016 and 2019.

Now, fair enough, that means that The Public picked Bucks Fizz and Lulu and the Brotherhood of Man, but if we focus on their more recent form, you'd have to admit that the Public aren't really all that good at this selection business.

Joe And Jake? 24th in 2016.  Michael Rice? 2018's choice came bottom of the heap.

More curiously, although the public chose the tracks between 2016 and 2019, the chart positions of those songs suggests that, actually, nobody very much liked them. In fact, no public-selected Eurovision candidate has made the Top 20 since Scooch back in 2007, and there hasn't been a number one since Gina G in 1996. Michael Rice's single didn't even make the charts.

So asking the public to choose the song they like best simply results in them choosing a song they like well enough to send to Europe but not so much that they'd actually pay for it (or, in modern chart terms, even listen to it enough.) Which raises the obvious question: if it's a song that the UK public don't invest time or money in,  why would you expect the European public to give more of a shit when picking a winner?

Obviously, Liz Truss doesn't really give a raspberry tuppence about what happens in the Eurovision Song Contest, any more than I have any investment in who wins her local Conservative Association's Who Can Put The Most Spaghetti Down Their Trousers fund raiser, and the chance to attack the BBC over anything has ministers' knees jerking like they're auditioning for a spot in a Restless Leg Syndrome infomercial.

But, he says spinning to a close-up camera and pulling a serious face, this kind of rough-and-tumble over Eurovision, in which a woefully ill-informed person with a not-very-hidden agenda drives over the creative industries for a spot of sport is like a little microcosm of how the nation is now. There's no analysis, no understanding, no - god forbid - research. Just a stupid, unworkable proposal plucked from the air while Nick Ferrari is cuing up the next advert for a walk-in bath. If you really believe Eurovision deserves your opinion, Liz, could you do us all a favour and put some thought into shaping that opinion?

Anyway, this blog is on hiatus.