Saturday, May 13, 2023

Liveblog: Eurovision 2023

 10.30am

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?


12.30

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


12.45

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


6.15pm

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?

6.40

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)

6.45

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.

7.40

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.

7.45

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.

7.58

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

8.00

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.)

8.05

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.

8.15

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.

8.20

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.

8.23

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.

8.26

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.

8.31

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.

8.35

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.

8.40

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.

8.45

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.

8.50

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.

8.55

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.

9.00

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.

9.05

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.

9.10

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.

9.20

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. 

9.23

Aleesha Dixon, PUT THAT AUSTRALIAN ACCENT DOWN NOW BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT.

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?

9.30

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.

9.45

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.

9.50

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.

9.57

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.

10.01

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.

10.05

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.

10.15

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.

10.17

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

And the voting is open.

10.28

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.

10.45

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.

23.00

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.


23.08 

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.

23.15

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.

11.20

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.

11.25

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.

11.30

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.

11.35

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.

11.45

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.

11.48

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.

11.50

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.

Midnight

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.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This just in: Nobody got nothing at the Brits

Some happy news this afternoon, as the testing for the Brits' live event has been completed, and <a href="https://www.musicweek.com/live/read/brits-boost-for-return-of-live-music-in-june-as-test-event-records-zero-covid-cases/083355">nobody got coronavirus as a result of being near Lewis Capaldi</a>.

Given how many previous Brits Award shows have left so many people feeling sick, this is a solid demonstration of what happens when you don't ask James Corden to host. Oh, and run a covid-aware event.



Monday, May 24, 2021

Eurovision postscript

New intelligence on what absolutely nobody is calling Snortgate

Meanwhile, Liz Truss has suggested that the BBC be stripped of its responsibility for choosing the UK's entrant. She squirted this thought into the world on Nick Ferrari's LBC show, and marks a strange decision for Truss to move her remit from the job she's being well paid to do badly, onto something that she clearly doesn't understand. Sorry, onto something else that she clearly doesn't understand.

Perhaps if she knew that the choice of UK entrant is actually one of those public-private partnerships so beloved of the Tories - BMG have a voice, too - she might have come to a different decision. Sadly, Nick didn't take the opportunity to grill Truss on what her proposal for an alternative selection process might look like, nor to ask her what she saw as the flaws in the current process.

With most of the Cabinet currently subtly pushing the line that the BBC killed Diana, I suppose Truss focusing on Broadcasting House's culpability for Jemini marks her out as a more liberal part of Johnson's team.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Liveblog: Eurovision 2021

1.30pm

Someone asked me a few days back on Twitter if I was going to do this, this year; and I said I was quite prepared to interpret that as "overwhelming public demand". The exchange has since disappeared from my timeline, and I'm presuming that the person responsible has gone into hiding to avoid retribution from their friends and neighbours.

It's all too late, though, as here we all are. Back, again.

I'm not sure about the idea that Eurovision is rebooting live music after the pandemic - it's a bit like professional sports putting the Olympics and FA Cup on hold and giving the first outing to Jeux Sans Frontières instead. (And I know that the Brits organisers probably grind their teeth that, having done their best-show-albeit-with-a-low-bar-to-clear in about a decade, and having had a large crowd, the narrative is still that this is the kick-off point for The Comeback of Live Audiences. It's not enough to be first, darlings, you must be flamboyant enough for people to believe you're the first, and the hard work put in by Dua Lipa can be so easily erased by Lewis Capaldi having been left alone with a lager top before he takes to the stage.)

As usual, I've gone out of my way to try and avoid coming across any of the entries before tonight, so that I can look at them through fresh eyes. Not unjaundiced eyes; I've not looked at anything like that since about the time the BBC stopped Teddy Edward reruns. But fresh eyes.

So... back here, later, then to see if we can all remember how to watch music. 


7.30pm

BBC One is warming us up for an evening of shall-we-say magic with that odd 'can you tell who is a good singer by looking at them' show; the weirdest format of them all since the answer is obviously 'no, all you can do is guess'. There's a contestant saying that it's really easy if you're a good salsa dancer to add some lipsyncing to it. They're saying it with a degree of confidence that is impressive, but almost certainly misplaced.

Still, it's nice to see a programme where being a shit singer doesn't make you a target for ridicule.

7.45pm

Elsewhere, the Glastonbury livestream is providing a realistic experience as nobody seems to be able to get to see the bands they were hoping for, although it's invalid code messages rather than slow-moving crowds traipsing through mud that's blocking people from getting in front of Wolf Alice.

7.55pm

The only thing that makes no sense about I Can See Your Voice is that... even bad singers aren't bad as the bad singers here. I mean, the woman who has just done a Debbie Harry bit is so comically bad even Gareth Malone might just shake his head and say 'maybe stand at the back and open and close your mouth in time with the tune'.

8.00pm

And we're offffffffffffff!

It's a montage!

A Eurovision montage of people doing things outdoors. How we've missed you, Eurovision montages.

And now we're in the studio, which seems to be a tribute to Jailhouse Rock. In Space.

Oh, and it's the Olympic-style walk-on of all the artists...

8.05pm

Switzerland appear to have sent Michael McIntyre along. And didn't quite catch what nation that was, but the trio all in lemon make me fear we're in for a very long night indeed.


Oooh... is Graham Norton signalling the number of Instagram followers one contestant has as a subtle way of suggesting she's got international support that could swing the evening for her?

Shots of the audience in what I'm trying to not think of as a massive plague pit.

The bloke presenter has got a gravity-defying haircut. It is literally ALL the backcombing in honour of National Goth Day.

They've had 24 months to write the bit of business for the introduction. That time has not, I'm afraid, been put to good use.


8.10

Cyprus Elena Tsagrinou El Diablo

Nice dress, in a Littlewoods doing Anne Summers way. The song is a bit stop-start and has a dreadful rap bit in the middle that drags it down. The backing singers, though, have come as Britney from the Oops video. It's a strong start.

8.15

Albania Anxhela Peristeri Karma

From the devil to karma. We're in for that sort of a night are we.

She's wearing the same dress. Is that safe in the current climate?

Nice flash of red smoke in the background. It's a bit more California evacuating as trees burn than Tales of the Unexpected.

Unquestionably it sounds Albanian.

There's a bloke in the audience with an Albanian flag who, really, appeared to be clapping out of nationalism rather than enthisiasm.


Israel Eden Alene Set Me Free

Graham Norton promises the highest note ever sung at Eurovision.

She looks a bit FKA Twigs. She sounds a bit like early 2010s chart music. (Actually, this sounds precisely like the Eurovision song that was playing in Chiquito earlier which I couldn't remember the name of then, either.)

Obviously, even with the best will in the world Israel is going to struggle to get much support tonight.

The high note was just a squeal. And it didn't shatter any glasses here. Might have been better off with Memorex.


8.20

Belgium Hooverphonic The Wrong Place

Hooverphonic sounds like the sort of band who would be the last track on a free Melody Maker cover mount, included so that the record label would allow the Shed Seven track to appear.

The drummer has taken time off from teaching science in the local comp; the singer is possibly a reanimated Lulu. 

The song is better than it has any right to be based on the foregoing observations. But it's going to need to build to something. 

Those boots look like they might be gardening wellingtons. 

I don't think this is going to build to anything.

No. It just ended. Hooverphonic just sort-of sucked.


Russia Manizha Russian Woman

Song title or opening gambit in an unsolicited email pledging to be marriage minded and disease free?

Oh, that dress is going to open up, isn't it?

Yes, it does, to reveal a boiler suit.

Her backing singers are wrapped up like cheap supermarket chocolate biscuits.

It's more Russian than the Albanian one was Albanian. I suppose this is what happens when you stay at home for months on end.

"Don't be afraid" she keeps chanting, which is one of those phrases that sounds more ominous the more it gets repeated, isn't it?

The back wall appears to have turned into a Zoom conference. Might have been the Russians hacking the judging sessions and accidentally pressing the wrong button.


8.30

Malta Destiny Je Me Casse

Now, the BBC News were talking about her last night, in the gaps when they weren't beating themselves up about Diana, so I have heard bits of this before. Not sure about the lilac bodysuits for the backing dancers, and it's that dress from the first two again, but... this is ballsy. I like this.

Portugal The Black Mamba Love Is On My Side

Love may be on his side, but that hat is counting against him. A ten gallon hat on a two litre head.

I bet the restaurants reopening gave him a difficult choice about which job to go with this evening.

Over on Twitter, James has told me that it's Lituania who came on all in yellow, so that's something to watch out for.

Portugal ended with a promise that they'd be making love tonight. I suspect they won't.

8.40

Serbia Hurricane Loco Loco

This is Ruslana-by-numbers and I'm fine with that. Even the "don't forget the robot" loco-loco vocaliser bits


Eurovision is going for a break, so they're doing something that appears to be hacked together from stuff they found on Instagram.

8.45

Now, the bit we've all been waiting for, like the way we wait for a visit to the dentist, or the death of a beloved pet. It's the UK entry.

UK James Newman Embers

Graham Norton keeps saying he wrote his own song. In a way that makes it sound like we should be kind to him because of it.

James is being menaced by a pair of giant cartoon trumpets, which is a curious design choice.

Oh, he's like Rag And Bone Man auditioning for Take That.

Probably deserves more than the twelve points it's going to inevitably score.

The more it goes on, the more I like this, but I don't think we have the two hours it would need to go on for me to like it enough to ever want to hear it again.

Greece Stefania Last Dance

She's on a bare stage wearing a glittery purple outfit, but I fear that won't last.

Oh, lord, it's someone doing the sort of "I'm just dancing trousers" schtick ITV used to pop into Paperplay to enliven a dull episode or two.

There's also apparently a song here, but I'm not sure.

Switzerland Gjon's Tears Tout L'Univers

He looks a lot less than Michael McIntyre than I thought when I saw him earlier, and unfortunately that turns out to be all that he had going for him.

He also looks like he's about to burst into tears. Which might explain his stage name.

Mitteleurop Ken Doll Pop.

9.00pm

Iceland Daði og Gagnamagnið 10 Years

Graham Norton does appear to be tipping everyone for victory this year.

This is the second rehearsal rather than live tonight, because of covid. If they do win, what would happen, though? They can't come on to play the song, as they're holed up in their hotel isolating. I now want them to win just to find out the answer to that question.

I know everyone likes their quirky style, but the amusing Christmas Jumper meets mining schtick isn't doing it for me.

Hold on, though, the using the curved keyboards to create a prison for themselves is a nice move. Although a bit ironic given they're locked up in a hotel room tonight.

Spain Blas Cantó Voy A Quedarme

We're promised "the largest prop" ever tonight, although at first I thought Norton had said "largest cock", and when the guy came on I thought "yeah, sounds about right"

I'll bet his sweating like a fucker in that shirt (ten euros, from Primark)

The big prop is a large moon hanging from the sky.

Wait... that's not a moon...

Sadly, it's not a Death Star, either. So it just looks like Miley Cyrus fell off her Wrecking Ball on the way to the stage.

9.05

Moldova Natalia Gordienko SUGAR

It's that same dress again. And she's being backed up by four men from the Chippendales version of Men In Black.

The song is called Sugar, presumably, because it's a bit of a lump.

Ooh, we're being treated to the old Max Headroom backdrop. Someone at Moldovan TV has been going through their old VHS tapes.

Pretty certain the dancers are just there to stop her claiming political asylum.

Germany Jendrik I Don't Feel Hate

He's got a necklace that reads "annoying", which has at least saved about three seconds of processing time because... yeah, that's what this song is.

There's... a woman... wearing a giant hand costume which appears to be giving the whole of Europe the finger.

"I don't feel hate" says Jendrik. In a way that is rather challenging if he wants the rest of us to join him.

Oh god, he even does a little Thought For The Day at the end.

I don't feel hate, but I really don't feel love, either.

Finland Blind Channel Dark Side

Tonight's slice of hard rock.

But it's not Lorde hard rock. It's the guy from the deli down the road, right, well his girlfriend's son has got a band, and they've rehearsed a few times and they're alright.

A-grade eyeliner game, though. They should try Glow Up next year. Give the Eurovision a swerve.


Quick dip into Twitter as they taek a break:


9..20

Bulgaria Victoria Growing Up Is Getting Old

This is quite nice, but... it's very much The Sort Of Song That We Had A Lot Of Through Necessity  In The Last Twelve Months. An NPR Tiny Desk At Home Concert for Europe.

Lithuania The Roop Discoteque

Here's my lovely little lemons, just as the laptop I've dragged out for tonight starts to melt down. A song about discotheques! In 2021! Apparently written by someone who has never been to a discotheque. Or perhaps heard music.

The dancing is a little bit... emphatic. The sort of dance you'd expect someone in a yellow outfit to be doing. You can't ignore it, but you know in your heart you really ought to not be giving them the attention.

9.30

Ukraine Go_A Shum

They've bought a tiny part of an enchanted forest. And there's an element of throat singing going on. I don't know this is quite the noise they wanted to make when they set out, and it is getting a bit 'the room is spinning and I might throw up' but... there's something.

Hold on: is she salting herself up?

Extra marks for not using the massive bongos at the side of the stage.

France Barbara Pravi Volia

Graham Norton thinks this one could win, too. Graham, you can't introduce every song with a 'might win' just so you can go 'called it' at the end.

She's forgotten her blouse. She'll catch a chill, the way the wind whips in from the North Sea in Rotterdam.

This song is so French it could blockade a port all on its own.

Azerbaijan Efendi Mata Hari

The giant moon was one thing, but coming on with a massive chocolate orange hanging from the rafters is inspired.

They know Beyonce will find out they've ripped off Survivor, right?

Ooh, there's a big snake in the chocolate orange now. Have they confused Mata Hari with Cleopatra?

Norway TIX Angel

"He's gonna come on dressed as an angel, see, because the song is called Angel, right, geddit? But, no, wait, he's in chains, too, with four people tugging at them. And they're... no, wait, you're gonna love this, right, they're dressed as devils, see? "

The embracing and centring of his facial tics in front of a massive audience is to be applauded, but... the song... maybe not so much.

9.45 

Netherlands Jeangu Macrooy Birth of a New Age

Home town act. Instantly popular with the Plague Pit.

There's a crumbling wall behind him. Is this new age the fall of the Berlin Wall? The music seems to be from the same era.

His suit makes it look a bit like he's wet himself.

Hang on, the wall is now saying "You can't break me", which given it started off by developing a massive crack is a confusing message to be sending out.

9.50 

Italy Måneskin Zitti E Buoni

Zitti E Buoni always my go-to choice at Prezzo, of course.

It's heavy metal, if your only experience of metal is Cirque Du Soliel doing a tribute to Kiss.

The size of the heels, though. Is that style, or is just compensatory?

Rotterdam! Are you ready to rock? Again? Just a little bit?

The glances at the audience suggests Rotterdam is not ready.

Sweden Tusse Voices

We've not seen much of that bendy-over, wavy hand dancing on Eurovision. Judging by how we've only just got to songs about discos, it'll be about 2036 before that really starts to show up on the Eurovision stage.

I think Tusse has a lot more personality than this song is allowing him to express, which is a bit of a shame.

San Marino Senhit Adrenalina

We're nearly at the end of the first half.

I was about to say 'some national dress' and then realised I have no idea what the national dress of San Marino would even look like, and by the time I'd finished that thought she'd thrown it off and was rolling round the floor.

Norton said this was a fitting song to end on, and it does have "yes, this is probably enough songs now, thank you" vibe to it.

Florida has turned up now - the rapper, not the state - for no reason other than to provide pub quiz questions for the next decade.

10.00pm

All over bar the voting, then.

Oh, god. The voting.

Let's have another dip into Twitter:


That... clears that up, then.

The giant finger woman has won tonight - official.

10.15

While the votes have poured in, and my laptop crashed again, we've had some sort of classical-dj collaboration with a spot of augmented reality. It's so 2016 it's going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

The video featured a couple of kids running away from a parent. Only they caught a tram, which is going to have given him a pretty good idea of where they were going. He did catch up with them but, the magic DJ music made him turn from being a sort-of-grumpy probably-racist into a smiley dancing dad. Eternal story, isn't it?

10.20

Voting numbers recap again, so another quick dip into Twitter:


Read this thinking "what song are they parsing so closely? and then realised it was Gary Numan doing something else:


The comedy bit was mercifully short and unsurprisingly unfunny. 

10.40

So, over at Glastonbury they had to take down the paywall - which is a digital revival of the 1980s tradition of the fence being pushed over by punters without tickets.

10.45

Back in Rotterdam, we have to ask: is it really a Eurovision if Lordi haven't turned up?

Which reminds me:


We're getting the reprise of the last winner. I mean, they say it's the track that won last time round, but frankly it's so flat and it was so long ago now I couldn't honestly say, hand on my heart, if I have heard this before in my life. 

10.51

It's the countdown to the close of the vote, with a tune that owes a pretty hefty debt to Richard Whiteley's old stomping ground.

"Europe stop voting now". Yeah, I think we have that feeling quite often.

Apparently the supervisor of tonight's events has written two successful thrillers. I bet he's going to ponder what to lead with on Linked In in the morning.

Graham Norton's been a lot less arch tonight, hasn't he?

10.55

We're going to get the scores now. Apparently the jury votes were done last night, and we get those first.

Israel say "we all needed Eurovision". Hmm. Maybe some other things, too? 12 to Switzerland.

Poland - "dressed as Zebra". Okay, Norton's still got a raised eyebrow. 12 to San Marino.

It's early, but UK already running a zero score.

San Marino have written their score down on a piece of paper, in case they'd forget the word France.

Albania's judge appears to have broken off a date with a divorcee to bring 12 points for Switzerland

11.00

Over to Malta, who are showing their skill with languages. 12 to Albania.

It's a bit of a mixed bag of scores so far, apart from everyone hating us.

Estonia give 12 to Switzerland.

North Macedonia - their first scores under this name, but still not significant enough for them to buy a proper shirt. 12 to Serbia, to add to the single tick they'd had so far.

Azerbaijan have two people doing the scores. And they're singing. And milking their time for all its worth.. 12 to Russia.

The UK is still on a flat zero.

Now to Norway, giving a 12 to Malta

Spain are up next; she's an old hand at this, so does the bluster quickly before getting to 12 to France bit.

Austria are wearing an EQUALITY shirt. So 12 to everyone? No. Iceland get special treatment making you a HYPOCRITE.

Switzerland are leading the pack; Malta's contestant looks a bit glum.

Here's Amanda Holden, fresh from the Singing Show. "I'm Amanda Holden" says Amanda Holden. 12 to France.

Just UK and Norway yet to score.

Oh, Italy given 2 to Norway, so... another good year then. Italy's 12 to Lithuania. Well done, little lemon gang.

Slovenia has a glittery jumpsuit and a massive belt. 12 for Italy.

Greece are up way after their bedtime - he's ten years old. Knows to give his 12 to Cyprus, though.

Latvia give 12 to Switzerland from their Goth jumpsuit.

Ireland give 12 to someone - France? - and Moldova come on and play a saxophone, apparently in a bid to become the Most Hated Country in Europe. 12 to Bulgaria. Bulgaria? Really?

Off to Serbia, who are dressed as Jessica Rabbit but remember to say good morning to Australia. The 12 for France nips them ahead of Switzerland.

11.10

Bulgaria have made an effort. Moldova get 12. Nobody is running away with it tonight.

Cyprus' budget Greg Proops brings 12 for Greece.

Belguim have come all in white. They've trotted out 12 for Switzerland.

The UK sit, forlornly, at the bottom on zilch.

Some of Europe are now enjoying adverts, and we're not. We're backstage. At least the French singer has been able to get a tracksuit top to give herself a bit of warmth.

11.15

Back to the votes.

Germany appear to be trying out new teeth as they come on screen. 12 for France.

Australia are up early, or are they late? He sounds like he's had more than one of the massive glasses of champers he's holding. Malta crack a smile at last as they get a 12.

Finland are wearing a massive spangly jacket, and endosing Switzerland.

portugal are doing a Lego minfig tribute with 12 to Bulgaria,

Switzerland are now two points ahead of France.

Ukraine are dressed like Mother Christmas and there's 12 points for Italy in their sack.

"We're now joined by Iceland" says the presenter, and she sounds tired.

Iceland's bit about the movie and Ya Ya Ding Dong is probably funny if you've seen it. Switzerland get 12.

Romania have sent an Olympic Gymnast - no, really. Malta get the big score this time.

Croatia have put a proper suit on.. Doesn't fit him, but it's expensive. Italy are their choice.

The Czech Republic are wonderfully overdressed. Portugal hit the 12.

The UK are on zero, still. Switzerland opening a lead.

Georgia are wearing a t-shirt with a map of Georgia on. probably. 12 to Italy.

Lithuania are the Collector from Guardians Of The Galaxy. Ukraine score 12.

Denmark couldn't be any more Denmark. Switzerland get 12 again.

Five more to go. Switzerland 249, France on 218. UK...0.

11.25

Russia: two mics and a crucifix. Moldova get a dozen.

France have a mouth full of teeth, and douse points for Greece

Sweden are having their raincoat adjusted as we join them. "I know how your contestants feel" she says. Yes, they're feeling like they'd like you to get on with it. Malta, eventually, take 12.

UK? Still on zero.

Switzerland are in leopard print - twelve to France, but hardly anyone noticed.

Finally, the local score from the Netherlands - and it's 12 across the border.

11.30

So, that's the juries.

Now, to the phone votes. Oh, after a break. So time for a quick look at the leaders:

Switzerland 267, France 238, Malta 208, Italy 206

NOW for the public votes.



Remember, too, they're going to dock us 50 for Amanda Holden.

The UK gets zero from the public.

Holy shit.

The crowd in the Plague Pit do give James a lot of love, though. And I think he's had a drink. 

Germany also get a zero. So does Spain.

Did nobody vote?

Nothing for The Netherlands.

More votes coming in, and countries are starting to get a dribble of votes. But it's all very low.

Lithuania have got 165, the first decent sized score. Go Team Lemon.

Then back down to earth as Belgium get just three.

Finland get 218, which pings them from bottom half to - for now -  being in the lead.

11.40

They're going to overrun, by the way.

Ukraine scoop up 267 points. That's enough for the producer to play some funky music and sticks them on top of the board with 364.

Russia's 100 gives them a total of 204, strong middle placing.

Portugal only get 27 public votes, for a total of 153. Bulgaria only get 30.

Iceland are gifted 180, and that takes them to the top.

Italy 318, gives them 524 and pushes them to number one.

11.45 

"It's not going to be long now" - tell that to whoever's waiting to do the news, mate.

Malta only get 47 - she's trying to look like she's okay with it. But she isn't.

So will it be Switzerland, or will it be France?

They're trying to drag out the tension.

France get, from the public, 251 points - which only takes them to second.

So, which side of the Alps has won - Switzerland or Italy?

Switzerland need 258...

Oh, god, we're getting a recap.

165.

Italy scoop it up.

Bloody hell.

That was actually quite exciting - although not quite as exciting as they were trying to make it.

At least it's a memorable winner, because I can't remember how the Switzerland one went.

11.50

So, what have we learned?

The Blogger HTML editing interface has become bloody awful over the last couple of years, mainly.

The UK are never going to win Eurovision again; we couldn't do any worse if we sent Keir Starmer in to do a song and dance routine. 

The European public, left to their own devices, can't be trusted with voting, except when they can.

And having a year off made Eurovision feel like a lot more fun.

11.55

Maneskin are doing the reprise as they roll the credits. It's an okay song. Sort of thing you might hear in the taxi as you head towards Turin airport, and might even Shazam, before promptly forgetting their name before you even get a luggage trolley from the rack.

Midnight

Victoria Derbyshire looks knackered and frankly could have done without the extra fifteen minute wait, thank you very much.

"Good morning" she says, tartly.

Just time for a quick final look at Twitter:


It's been fun. May very well be back next year, pandemics permitting.