Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eurovision 2017: The Liveblog

An empty room. A figure enters, a cloud of dust billowing up in the light of their torch. They tug at a dustsheet, revealing one of those big old tape-driven computers underneath.

They push a button.


They push more firmly.

"Come on, come on."

The tape spins a half-turn.

The figure pushes the button once again.

This time, the tapes spin, and, slowly, the lights go on in the room. The figure pulls another dustsheet off a computer terminal, sits down and types a sentence:


They make a mental note to never do this in the NHS IT nervecentre again, though.

According to the Daily Record, despite Brexit, the UK should clean up tonight:

That's because it's been predicted the United Kingdom will wow its European neighbours and not finish last, for once.
Yay! Not finishing last "for once"

(Although the last time we actually came last was 2010, so... that's not exactly a great leap forward.)

Meanwhile, that same mean spirit of Brexit which is going to drag us out of the EU and into the 1950s is showing up elsewhere. BBC News reports:
The poll of 1,650 Britons by YouGov found 56% would quit the competition.
And it found those who backed Leave in the EU referendum were most likely to want to drop out, with 76% to 21% in favour of quitting. Remain voters were 65% to 35% in favour of competing.
Good god, how shrivelled must your face be to think that Brexit has to mean an end to singing with our nearest neighbours? Jesus, it's even got Australians in it. Australia is happy to be part of it, and they've never even thought about joining the Euro.

If you're trying to avoid Doctor Who to save it for later, this is worth a few minutes of your time - Paul Cotterill on his Dad and Eurovision:
From childhood memory, dad did not speak not much at home, and spent free time alone on the hills or on his bike, though he always took us out when he could, to show us how to navigate in the mist, and how to “just get up that one last hill, son.”

Yet for one night every year, this strong, silent man — a man who might even be described as drab and fun-free — would be glued to the most undad-like glintz of Euro Song on TV (well, as soon as we had TV — I think we were late adopters); I can still remember his utterly confident prediction of an ABBA win in 1974 as soon as he heard it.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Ukraine, the Russians have blocked Eurovision, as France 24 reports:
But not all Donetsk musicians are sorry to see Eurovision skirt them by.

Yevgeny Ryba is the lead singer of a popular local rock band called Duglas and treats the pop extravaganza with a big dose of disdain.

"That is not real music," the 40-year-old huffed while taking a break in a local music cafe.

"There is no Eurovision on TV? Fine. They do not show Indian cricket here either," he said with a sarcastic grin.

Ryba's band performed in Donetsk during Eurovision's opening gala ceremony in Kiev last Sunday.

He argued that shows such as his have created a "cultural renaissance" out of the ruins of war and alleviated the constant sense of crisis in the region.

Chkhan agreed that "no one really knows what country we will end up living in".

But she also laughed off the suggestion that the music scene in Donetsk had risen to international standards.

We were robbed of the chance of seeing Kazakstan taking part this year - they got really, really close. Wikipedia reckons:
Kazakhstan – Khabar Agency became an associate member of the EBU on 1 January 2016, opening up the possibility of a future participation. However, the EBU announced on 28 September that while Khabar Agency were unable to debut in the 2016 contest because they did not have active membership, they are reviewing the rules for the 2017 contest, which may include opening up the possibility of Khabar Agency making its début in the contest. However, Kazakhstan was not on the final list of participating countries announced by the EBU on 31 October 2016.
Not to be. Maybe they can take our place next year.

And we're off

Children running through the not-war-torn bits of Ukraine. Ooh, and a beautiful doggy. Isn't Ukraine beautiful (apart from the war-torn bits?)

Looks like the Ukrainian lottery machine has broken and spilled its balls everywhere.

They're doing a flag parade - "a new tradition" says Graham Norton, although something is either a tradition or its new. Don't pull that Elf On The Shelf shit with us, Eurovision.

The professional juries have already voted; Norton explains who our jury were - none of them household names.

The flag parade isn't really a parade; it's just the singers emerging from the darkness to wave and walk towards a baying crowd.

The Americans aren't watching live this year, apparently. Despite all that hoopla last year when Logo signed up for it.

The three presenters are very diverse - one has a beard, one has a glittery jacket and one looks like a cowboy from a low-rent Westworld.

Seymour is a Euro fact machine, which is like a love machine. But with facts. What? What does that mean?

And we're off, again, but now properly.

Israel IMRI "I Feel Alive"

Imri is having all kinds of fun in the into video.

He feels alive everytime we come around, apparently. This sounds like the sort of moribund corpse that you find in the darker corpse of a Ellie Goulding album. It doesn't quite ever get as uptempo as it needs to.

And to be fair, Goulding can usually bring something like this off; Imri, though, sings with the conviction of a man who knows that his chorus isn't really a chorus.

Poland Kasia Moś "Flashlight"

For a moment I thought that was Fleshlight, which would have been interesting.

Poland are being represented by Eva from Coronation Street.

"Fire... like a burning desire"

Really? Fire like a burning desire? Really?

Hold on, though, the giant light dog in the background is interesting. Or is it a stag? Hard to keep track.


Norton's suggesting the Polish diaspora might carry it for Eva and Her Giant Dog.

Belarus Naviband "Story of My Life"
"This is a bit Mumford and Sons" says Norton, and not in the tone of voice you'd usually use for a dire warning.

Oh, god. They look like Persil Automatic have tried to recreate the White Stripes for an advert.

The song is... artisan. In other words, it sounds like it's been made with dirty hands. My suspicion with most things from Eastern Europe that sound jolly and folky is that they're actually singing about the crushing destruction of other nations, and the success of collectivisation.

There's even some yodelling. That should see them sent back to the State Farm.

Austria Nathan Trent "Running on Air"

The preview vid shows Nathan (who has chosen this name, apparently) in "the studio" nodding along to "the mix".

He's sitting on a half moon, like he's the Dreamworks logo.

Did he just say "if you let me down I'll drown like an edelweiss"

Did he just say "I can't dream of tacos, even if your life's a mess"?

"If you put me down, I'll just get up again" says Nathan confidently. Yeah, I've had cats tell me that in the past.

"I'm sure there'll be good times, there'll be bad times..." Well, you're half right.

Armenia Artsvik "Fly with Me"

Ooh, I like the billowing smoke monster on the edge of the stage.

This is what the Banarama reunion would be like if Shakespeares Sister had been in charge.

"I'm not sure these ethnic instruments have a Goth setting, captain, but I'll see what I can do".

Netherlands O'G3NE "Lights and Shadows"

The Netherlands team are out doing some shopping, which is an incredible insight into their life. Three sisters, apparently, and two of them are twins, which sounds like a "brothers and sisters have I none" type riddle.

Two are wearing short skirts and one of them doesn't think they need to do that sort of thing to win.

Kudos for crowbarring the phrase "on a scale of one to ten" into a pop lyric, although the song is more "show us on the doll where he hurt you".

Looks like the other channels have gone to adverts, lucky sods. We're left with people karaoking an awful version of Volare.

Back to the music:

Moldova Sunstroke Project "Hey, Mamma!"

This band are almost identical to the trio of presenters. Apparently they delighted us in 2010 as well. Moldova isn't a big country, so I guess it's like jury service and you can end up having to do it repeatedly.

This sounds like the sort of track they'd use to advertise tape cassettes in the 80s. Complete with cool guy playing a saxophone.

You're grown men, stop hassling your mothers, dudes.

See you in 2024...

It felt like it was over, but they've decided to go "Hey Mama, hey ma ma ma" until we all die of old age.

Hungary Joci Pápai "Origo"

He's bringing a milk churn on stage. To play. Like he's a rural version of Stomp!

Joci is dressed like he's recently been cashiered from a 19th century army.

He's got a perturbed face; as if he's not entirely sure why he's been sent to a song contest when he was meant to be ensuring the cannon were fully charged.

Spot of Hungarian rapping, which shows that it's not a language that naturally embraces hip-hop styling.

Italy Francesco Gabbani "Occidentali's Karma"

This was an early favourite,

Francesco accompanied by the grandchildren of the Spinners, in matching sweaters.

This has been a big radio hit right across Europe, which to be honest makes me feel a bit better about Brexit for the first time since June 23rd. Maybe UKIP had a point.

A man dressed as a gorilla on stage now, which - if memory serves - was one of the gimmicks End Of Part One proposed for Party Political Broadcasts. The monkey is meant to be the best choreographer in Italy, but he's not even very good at wearing a gorilla suit.

Denmark Anja "Where I Am"

"Your love is repeating".

Try Gaviscon, love.

This song very much stuff which would be better thrashed out with your mates over a third bottle of wine rather than performed at Eurovision.

Portugal Salvador Sobral "Amar Pelos Dois"

The restaurant is closing; just a couple of tables left; the pianist loosens his bowtie and tries something he's written for himself. The barman stops wiping the glasses and listens; his mind drifts to a forgotten time, and a lost love.

I'll bet Salvador's spent ages desperately trying to work out how to crowbar a man dressed as a gorilla into this, though.

Bit of business between the presenters. They're reading out tweets.

Azerbaijan Dihaj "Skeletons"

Right, so they're in a schoolroom; she's got goth make-up and a cheap mac over an even cheaper negligee.

In the intor video they looked more like a third-string Indie Top 20 act (a Salad, or something in that order).

Oh! It's that guy with the horse head who used to do Big Brother's Little Brother with Russell Brand. I never thought he'd work again.

Blackboard's over. This is the most kickass detention since the Breakfast Club.

It's not quite as interesting as they thought it was.

Croatia Jacques Houdek "My Friend"

Instant conspiracy theory in the room is that this is the Hungarian again in a different poorly chosen jacket. There's a reason for this jacket, though - half formal, half rock. He's a shapeshifter, see?

Jacques is doing something that is half 70s MOR, half the Three Tenors. "Do your best, take a test" he appears to be singing.

Australia Isaiah "Don't Come Easy"

Well, yeah, nobody wants that.

Lovely head of hair. He's clearly been carried a long way on his hair alone.

"It don't come easy; it don't come cheap" he emotes, like a man singing about IT security in the health sector.

More business from the side of the stage. "Give yourself a cheer" encourages whichever one of the three presenters was hanging about. "People here don't even have to wear shoes" he explains.

Greece Demy "This Is Love"

She's got massive hands. You could clear a septic tank with those hands.

This sounds like the sort of song you'd write if you wanted to write a song that sounded like a Eurovision winner.

Half naked men have just popped up from the ground. Maybe they were having a look at the tank while they were down there.

Spain Manel Navarro "Do It for Your Lover"

The run of 'Don't come easy, this is love; do it for your lover' suggest Eurovision doing one of those Spotify playlists

There is a dancing VW camper in the background of this; you would be able to extrapolate the rest of the look and act from that one detail alone.

"Hey, we've bought our guitars to the beach, and we've got a song to sing..."

They've now been superimposed onto surfboards.

Disaster! His voice broke halfway through the performance.

"Wrong notes there; I wonder if something's going wrong technically" says Norton, generously. Yes, something's technically wrong. These people aren't technically singers.

Norway JOWST5 "Grab the Moment"

Fucking hell, it's the ghost of Jim Diamond.

"I'm going to kill that boy" sings ghost Jim, which surely should have been enough to have him detained.

Oh, he's going to kill the voice in his head, not a boy.

Wish he'd kill the voice in our heads, which is his voice.

There's still two hours of this to go.

There's been a comedy insert. Let's all of us pretend it didn't happen.

United Kingdom Lucie Jones "Never Give Up on You"

Started out at 28-1, you'll recall. So very much the Corbyn of this particular battle.

Stacey Soloman, this could have been you.

Lucie singing like there's a really bad smell under her nose.

One of her eyebrows is a lot higher than the other, and I can't tell if this is acting or just how she came out the box.

"Don't let go when you're so close". How many songs in this Eurovision sound like the lyrics have been cribbed off a poster in an HR office?

You expect the song to burst into something bigger, bolder, better but when it hits the point where that should happen, the gauge is just turned up to Slightly Less Mild.

Cyprus Hovig "Gravity"

The intro film for this makes Hovig sound so dull they're superimposing a warning about flashing lights to try and inject some danger into proceedings

He's a rip-off Rag And Bone Man.

Gravity is the force which drags you down. Never has a song been so aptly named.

BREAKING: Wish I'd known this important detail before:

Romania Ilinca and Alex Florea "Yodel It!"

Rap meets yodelling.

Words like 'small children meet chipping machine'

In a strange twist, the yodelling is actually the best bit of the song; the rapping is horrible. Who would have put money on that?

There's canons on stage; hope the guy from Hungary is secure backstage, otherwise we could be in for a tragedy.

Germany Levina "Perfect Life"

First lying down on the stage of the evening

The lighting makes it look like her head's on fire.

This. Song. Has. Emph. Atic. Beats.

Ukraine O.Torvald "Time"
Was feeding the cats during this, but could see it was a band going "we're a proper group and we do proper music", with all the late period Ocean Colour Scene that implies.

Belgium Blanche "City Lights"

Was so hoping this was going to be a tribute to Blanche from Corrie.

Blanche looks terrified. More rabbit in headlights than city lights.

Hang on... she's starting to seem a little more confident. "Hey, this isn't so bad, is it? It's going well. I AM going to get through this. Thank god I took the rescue remedy before going on stage."

I bet she's hoping she doesn't win and have to go through that again, ever.

Sweden Robin Bengtsson "I Can't Go On"

You and all of Europe, Robin.


It's like a meerkat in a shopping bag.

Graham Norton warned us about the Australian's eyebrows, and yet didn't mention the cock flapping about like a codfish in a drained ocean?

Bulgaria Kristian Kostov "Beautiful Mess"

"Born in this century", making us all feel like Bulgaria's Great Uncles.

Kristian is like a baby Michael Mcintyre.

Oh, hang on, he's singing, isn't he? I spent so long wondering if there was some sort of structure holding up his hair, I didn't notice.

France Alma "Requiem"

Was so hoping this was going to be a tribute to Alma from Corrie

Instead, it turns out to be Kym Marsh marching across a European wasteland. Just shaded into some jaunty marching, but still marching.

Just been discovering how fucking hard-to-get Luxembourg played this year:
While RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg (RTL) announced on 25 May 2016 that they would not participate in the contest, the Petitions Committee of the Luxembourgish Government announced on 21 June that they had received a petition calling on RTL to return to the contest. The Luxembourgish Government have decided to debate the proposals set out in the petition, and the possibility of Luxembourg returning to the contest in future. RTL reiterated its intention not to participate on 22 August.

Meanwhile, Turkey's not here for reasons:
Turkey withdrew after last participating in 2012, due to their discontent at the introduction of a mixed voting system to the contest and the automatic qualification of the Big Five for the final.
Yeah, because if we've learned one thing this year it's how much Turkey values democracy.

Anyway, all the songs are now over, and Europe as one is heading to the toilet. And then will hit the phones, and vote vote vote.

Oh god, they've dragged back that Biggins-in-space performer from some years back, like a drunk glam teletubby.

They're brought us Ruslana, who might be the last Great Winner of Eurovision. This is better than pishy Timberlake last year.

And she's wearing Chain Mail.

Can we write-in this as a winner?


They're now going to bring together the traditional and contemporary sounds of Ukraine, which I bet sounded like a brilliant idea at the breakfast meeting where they came up with it.

Actually... this is pretty cool. Mainly because they're dressed like sexy Stormtroopers.

In the 'halloween costume' sense of 'sexy Stormtrooper', and the Star Wars sense. Except Halloween costumes never pay to licence brands, so they'd be Sexy Space War Fighters.

They're talking to a fan. It's hard to say who looks more uncomfortable.

Presenters have done a costume change, but as you can't remember what they were wearing earlier it's a moot point.

The winner of Junior Eurovision is on, despite it being way past her bedtime. She's a better presenter than the actual presenters. She's not a good presenter, but she's better than them.

Recap of the contestants again.

Meanwhile, a message to Europe:

Jamala's on now. Of course, last year Russia moped about her winning song, because they thought it was critical of Russia. Which it was.

Graham Norton's just apologised for a glimpse of a "bare bottom" during this performance.

Choosing a Eurovision winner, says one of the hosts, is like choosing a chocolate from a box. Difficult, because there's so many delicious ones to choose from. Clearly they've never had Dairy Milk.

The voting is about to begin.

"The grand wizard" might not be who the Ukrainian hosts think he is.

Off we go to collect the points from the juries...

Sweden first... 12 to Portugal

Azerbaijan has turned up in a tshirt. Cool. 12 to Belarus.

San Marino are hiding behind a giant carboard cut out for some reason. 12 to Portugal.

UK currently have just six points, but that's midtable right now

Latvia have spent the entire budget on hair extensions. 12 to Portugal.


Israel are showing off their skills at languages, and running through the times they've won. IBA are closing down, says their host, and won't be taking part any more. That's brought things down a bit. They give 12 to Portugal before sliding off into the night.

Montenegro give 12 to Greece, which is a surprise.

Albania have the Very Best Waiter in Tirana giving the scores. 12 goes to Italy.

But Portugal still way out in front.

Malta pass 12 across the sea to Italy.

Macedonia's evil magician gives 12 to Bulgaria.

"Greetings from Denmark... where I am". Yes, that's the point. 12 to Sweden.

Austria are very excited. 12 to Netherlands.

Portugal have broken 100.

Evil twins from Norway stop floating and knocking on windows long enough to give 12 to Bulgaria.

Spain's jury leader looks so regal, she can barely bring herself to talk to us. 12 to Portugal.

Germany are on zero. That's a fucking outrage, Europe.

Finland have been independent for 100 years. Putin's sitting at home saying "that's enough". 12 to Sweden,

France have obviously got the Eufeel tower in the background and won't shut up. 12 to Portugal

Greece have borrowed the white jacket, but must try to stop getting grass stains on it. 12 to Cyprus.

Lithuania give 12 to Portugal

Estonia have nipped out of a wedding to give 12 to Bulgaria

Moldova say "you've done a great job, really." Clearly being sarcastic. 12 to Romania.

It's unlikely the split voting is going to overturn Portugal's lead.

Armenia could only afford 3/4 of her dress. 12 to Portugal.

UK languishing in the middle of the table.

Oh, god, they've had to fit in an ad break which means the awful scoring procession has been stopped for some really horrible comedy dancing.

Bulgaria says "looks like you're having a lot of fun over there", so clearly can't see a TV screen. 12 to Austria.

Iceland's votes being shared by Edward from the League of Gentlemen. 12 to Portugal.

Serbia are smiling too much. Portugal have broken 200.

A human/koala hybrid from Australia now. 12 to the UK. That's because Australia don't give a shit about Brexit.

Italy is sharing their good karma with us, and if she leans forward in that dress, we'll be sharing a lot more. 12 to Azerbaijan.

Germany giving votes despite still being on a flat zero. The hosts have just made the crowd cheer for Germany, which is a bit patronising. 12 to Norway.

Portugal appear to be wearing a halloween nurse's outfit. 12 to Azerbaijan (nothing to Spain, you note)

Switzerland's boy-man gives 12 to Portugal.

Netherlands have brought a puppy. "This is Tammy, the most wonderful girl in the world." Ukranian host seems as disturbed as the rest of us. 12 to Portugal.

Nicky Byrne is doing the Ireland votes but he doesn't have a puppy. 12 to Belguim. Nothing for the UK.

Georgia is sleeping in his car right now, but just until things get sorted out, right? 12 to Portugal.

Cyprus is wearing those funny Groucho Marx glasses. 12 to Greece.

Sounds like some booing in the audience for that.

Belarus give 12 to Bulgaria.

Romania refreshingly wipe-clean tonight - it's not a sexy dress, looks more like something you'd wear for woodworking. 12 to Netherlands.

Hungary give their 12 to Portugal, and take them past 300.

Slovenia pass 10 to the UK, and make a joke about the pub. 12 to Portugal.

Belguim got their hair done at Audrey Roberts. 12 to Sweden.

Spain on nul still

Poland give 12 to Portugal.

Katrina out the Waves reminds us she won 20 years ago; the hosts say "the year I was born". Katrina glowers. 12 to Portugal.

Croatia's dress is a tribute to architecture. If not morality. 12 to Hungary.

Czech give 12 to Portugal.

Last jury is Ukraine, 12 go to Belarus.

It seems unlikely that the popular votes will overturn Portugal's lead.

Norton suggests our indistinguished middle table position is "going quite well".


They're trying to explain the voting system. It still doesn't make much sense.

Host is behind the judges table saying he wants to touch everything. Judges looking scared.

They're milking this.

Spain have finally got some points.

12 to the UK, which isn't good news at this point of the show.

They ought to be counting down how many available points remain on the screen.

Hungary have bounced from near bottom to quite high up.

Actually, this is quite tense after all.

Until they start milking it again.

Belgium did really well in the popular vote for someone who was terrified.

Portugal win.

Hang on, which one was Portugal? Oh, yes. That one. Closing time song.

He's been given a giant glass microphone and jesus was that a gunshot?

They want "even something" from Salvador. He says something tart about bringing back real music.

"The amazing year comes to an end" says one of the hosts. They don't want to hand over so they're talking and talking and talking.

Salvador is going to do his song all over again. Appropriately, they're going to roll the credits over it, aren't they?

His sister is singing a bit - she's got a better voice than he has.

Obviously, if his sister had sung it for the competition Portugal would have super-won it.


Well, that's that for another year. What have we learned? Only how much the guy from Netherlands loves his dog. And that, perhaps, is enough.