Europe, we have a winner! Israel’s Netta received the most points in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Her unique pop song ‘Toy’ turned out to be the favourite of the televoters at home and finished in third position with the professional juries. After being the one to beat for weeks according to the bookmakers, Israel was in second position behind Cyprus at the start of the grand final, but managed to overtake their rival in the most tense, surprising result show we have seen in years. Some jury favourites were not picked up by the televote and the other way around. A Bit of Pop Music guides you through everything that happened with a review of the performances and results.
01. Ukraine: Mélovin – Under The Ladder
After closing down the second semi final, Ukraine opened the final with Mélovin’s upbeat, dramatic pop song ‘Under The Ladder’. After rising from a coffin, he sings his heart out on stage and climbs up a burning piano to finish his performance. I would have preferred it if he performed in his own language (from the interview in the green room, we learned that he does not speak English, so why sing in English!?), because he was hard to understand at times. This was always going to be a performance that would resonate more with the televoters, but juries putting him dead last was a bit much. He ended up on the 17th position overall and 7th with televoting, which is a respectable result for this talented young man!
02. Spain: Alfred y Amaia – Tu Canción
Spain had bad luck this year, as the show producers decided to give them the unlucky second starting position. The couple performed their love duet ‘Tu Canción’ (your song) with passion and their romance really did shine through on stage. Vocally, Amaia sure was the stronger one of the two, but both did a good job at working with their nerves. Although I would have loved to see these two higher up the scoreboard, I was not surprised their sweet, sugary ballad only finished in 23rd position.
03. Slovenia: Lea Sirk – Hvala, ne!
Slovenia’s qualification was one of the big surprises in this year’s contest, but based on Lea Sirk’s charisma on stage and screen and her impeccable vocals, she deserved to be here. ‘Hvala, Ne!’ (No Thanks!) was not one of my favourite songs in the competition, but she sure performed the hell out of it with a slick choreography. The moment were the music stopped worked better during her semi final performance, but other than that she was just as good as on Thursday night. Slovenia was never going to play a main role in this final and a 22nd spot is about what I expected, but Lea sure can be proud of her performance and the fact that she made the final in the first place!
04. Lithuania: Ieva Zasimauskaité – When We’re Old
Lithuania came to the contest not being one of the favourites at all, but when Ieva qualified for the final, there was a hype train that predicted great things for her in the final. Interestingly enough, her lovely ballad about growing old with her husband (who appears at the end), only finished ninth in the semi and was not even in the top 10 of the juries. Her warm vocal performance was appreciated more in the final when the juries put her 11th again, but this time out of 26 contestants. Televoters voted her tenth, resulting in a respectable 12th position for Lithuania!
05. Austria: César Sampson – Nobody But You
Austria was easily the biggest surprise of the Eurovision final. Bookmakers hardly gave him a spot in the top 20, but he proved them wrong and then some! César gave another vocally perfect performance of his soulful pop track with gospel influences. I still think his backing vocals should have been visible as they are so prominent in the song, but even with this stage show, he managed to win the jury vote. Interestingly enough, the televoters at home only placed him on the 13th spot, which gave him the 3rd position overall. César Sampson can be proud and I think ‘Nobody But You’ does have potential to become a hit on radio in the coming weeks!
06. Estonia: Elina Nechayeva – La Forza
The gorgeous Elina Nechayeva gave another faultless performance of her opera and pop hybrid ‘La Forza’. She hits every single note like it is no effort for her at all. The stage show with the projection dress works really well to emphasize the climaxes in the music, while the camera work underlines this perfectly. Personally I hoped this stunning performance would have been enough for top 5, but both juries and televoters appreciated her enough to give her the 8th spot overall. Estonia should be proud of their new Eurovision queen!
07. Norway: Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song
Before the contest I was afraid that Alexander Rybak’s return to Eurovision, after having won in 2009 with classic ‘Fairytale’, would be a case of ‘That’s how you ruin your Eurovision reputation’. It turned out that there were enough people who disagree with me that this is one of the weakest songs in the competition. I still find the track too repetitive and childish, but Rybak sure knows how to perform it with charisma. Interestingly enough, he won the second semi final, but in the final he did not go any further than the 15th spot.
08. Portugal: Cláudia Pascoal & Isaura – O Jardim
Host country Portugal went from victory to last place, just like Austria did back in 2015. I do think they deserved a little bit more though. Sure, ‘O Jardim’ is not one of the most memorable compositions on first listen, but it is one of those tracks that creeps up on you with every single play. Obviously there is no time for that in Eurovision, but I thought Claudia still perfectly conveyed the emotion of the song. Vocally it was sweet and fragile, just like it should have sounded. Oh well, someone had to take that last position…
09. United Kingdom: SuRie – Storm
Surie’s ‘Storm’ was one of my least favourite songs before the contest, because I thought it lacked a strong hook and the lyrics don’t flow well in the melody. This opinion did not change, but I did gain a lot of respect for SuRie after that performance. Halfway though, a stage invader took her microphone away to make a political statement (or something). SuRie was having none of it and after the security wrestled the man, she got her mic back and finished her song. She channeled the anger she must have felt in her vocal performance. When offered a chance to perform again, she interestingly enough declined. Maybe the UK delegation hoped for pity votes, because I can’t think of another reason not taking the opportunity to perform your song the way it should have been after months of practice. The UK ended up 20th in televoting and 24th overall.
10. Serbia: Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca
Serbia was one of the surprise qualifiers during the second semi final and I think it was clear from the beginning that their performance would mostly receive points from other Balkan countries, because of the specific mix of folk and contemporary elements. Vocally they delivered another strong performance, but for me personally it was one of the least interesting ones. Televoting awarded them a 12th position, while juries placed them 20th, which resulted in a 19th place on the scoreboard. Interestingly enough, during the second semi final they were saved by televoting, after the juries gave them the 11th spot.
11. Germany: Michael Schulte – You Let Me Walk Alone
Germany showed us all tonight how to create an effective stage performance for an emotive song. Michael Schulte sang the track ‘You Let Me Walk Alone’ for his father who passed away. On the screen behind him we see the lyrics in combination with family pictures to underline the message that must have hit home with a lot of people. Vocally he wasn’t flawless, but the fragility in his performance added another emotional layer. After years in the bottom, Germany is back in the game with a 4th spot and Michael Schulte absolutely deserved it with this soul baring performance!
12. Albania: Eugent Bushpepa – Mall
Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa was one of the surprising qualifiers in semi final 1, but with that vocal performance he thoroughly deserved it. He sure is one of the best singers in the contest this year and his rock song ‘Mall’ perfectly showcased this. Looking at the result, it is clear that Albania this year was a juries darling. If it wasn’t for the juries, he would not even have made the final. Televoters placed him on place 11 there, while juries awarded Eugent a spot in their top 3. In the final, juries voted him 7th, while televoting placed him 18th. Overall, this gave him the 11th position, which sure is nothing to be sad about.
13. France: Madame Monsieur – Mercy
France was one of the pre-contest favourites, but with both their performance and result, they did not live up to the expectations. Duo Madame Monsieur performed the song ‘Mercy’, about a baby born on a boat with refugees. The French delegation did nothing on stage to emphasize their message of compassion visually, with might have cost them votes as not everyone understands the French lyrics. Vocally, the performance was decent enough and the crowd interaction with pointing the arms in the sky gave a nice effect. After juries awarded France the 8th position, televoters were less impressed. They only voted Madame Monsieur on the 17th spot, which resulted in a 13th place overall.
14. Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef – Lie To Me
Czech Republic made the final for the second time in Eurovision history, and they did a whole lot better than in 2016. Mikolas Josef gave a better performance than in the semi final in terms of choreography and energy and his swinging, contemporary ‘Lie To Me’ still sounds like a hit to these ears. No surprise that this entry scored higher points from televoters, who awarded him the fourth place. Juries gave him the 15th spot, which meant Czech Republic ended 6th. This is their best result by a mile. Well done, Mikolas!
15. Denmark: Rasmussen – Higher Ground
Just like Czech Republic, Denmark delivered a better performance in the final, than on Thursday night. Rasmussen’s vocals still sound too thin to carry the powerful ‘Higher Ground’ at moments, but he improved. Visually it is a slick show that brings back the viking theme that is going on. This somehow clicked with the televoters very well, as he won the public voting in the second semi final, while the juries did not even want him to qualify, placing him 12th. A similar pattern repeated in the final, where he finished 21st in the jury vote, only to let a top 5 placing in the televoting lift him to the 9th place overall.
16. Australia: Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love
Australia’s Jessica Mauboy gave another vocally questionable performance of her not so great tune ‘We Got Love’. The hook is decent, but the lyrics just sound too cliche to these ears and those bigger notes in the last chorus were simply butchered. Mauboy has a nice stage presence though and she does her best to keep the public at home hooked with just herself dancing around. Unfortunately, the televoters gave her the least amount of points and Australia had to be saved by the juries (who put her in 12th position), resulting in the 20th place overall.
17. Finland: Saara Aalto – Monsters
For me personally, Finland’s result was the most disappointing of the night. Saara Aalto’s typical Eurovision pop dance tune ‘Monsters’ was one of my favourites in the contest and I sure am a big fan of her over the top staging. How did she manage to sing so well with that choreography!? Unfortunately the juries were not nearly as impressed as I was. If it was up to them, Saara would not have been in the final, finishing 15th in the semi final, but luckily televoters came to the rescue, giving her the 7th spot, which was just about enough to qualify. In the final she finished 25th out of 26 which is way lower than she deserved. If you liked ‘Monsters’ as much as I did, definitely check out her latest album Wild, Wild Wonderland!
18. Bulgaria: Equinox – Bones
After a 4th and 2nd place in 2016 and 2017, all eyes were on Bulgaria again to do well. They formed supergroup Equinox to perform the electro pop composition ‘Bones’. Vocally the five performers did a good job and visually, the act was simple but effective. Somehow, something did not really connect with me. I did not feel their performance as much as I did others and it turns out the same happened to the televoters. While the juries gave them the 9th spot, televoters placed them 14th, which resulted in a 14th position overall.
19. Moldova: DoReDoS – My Lucky Day
Moldova might not be remembered for their song in this year’s contest, but their staging surely was one of the best. The slapstick comedy effect with the opening doors is contagious and simply a lot of fun to look at. Vocally trio DoReDoS does not stumble while doing the choreography and it all elevates their folk pop tune ‘My Lucky Day’ on stage. Both juries and televoters appreciated the performance which resulted in Moldova ending up in 10th place!
20. Sweden: Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off
Sweden sent another handsome young fellow with an infectious, contemporary pop tune ready for the European charts. The staging with the lights behind Benjamin Ingrosso, who’s dancing is the main focus of the performance, works and I was convinced Sweden was ready for another top 10 result thanks to both juries and televoters. What I did not expect is that the juries would appreciate it enough to give him 2nd place. The proper shock however came when it was announced Sweden only placed 23rd in televoting! Even with a 7th position overall, this must have come as a shock for the Swedish delegation that clearly takes Eurovision very seriously every single year!
21. Hungary: AWS – Viszlát Nyár
Hungary took the risk of taking metal to the Eurovision stage with band AWS. They gave another explosive performance of their track ‘Viszlát Nyár’, but the vocals in the verses seemed weaker this time around. The grunting in the chorus still is not my taste, but then again metal is not my favourite genre of music, to put it lightly. Not surprisingly, juries did not appreciate this as much with a 22nd spot. Their 15th place with televoters made them finish at 21 overall. In the semi final they were saved by the televoters too, as juries voted them out with a 14th place.
22. Israel: Netta – Toy
Israel’s Netta was the bookmakers’ favourite for weeks before the rehearsals in Lisbon started and in the end she actually took the victory home to Israel. Her song ‘Toy’ was promoted as a message in the #MeToo discussion. Netta tells all the ‘stupid boys’ that she is not their toy in a playful and insanely catchy manner. She opens her performance with her looping style and her already infamous chicken sounds will be the topic of discussion for days to come. Whether you like ‘Toy’ or not, I think it is not right to just dismiss her performance as ‘another Eurovision circus act’. ‘Toy’ actually is a catchy and unique pop composition with some powerful lyrics and Netta is a memorable performer with a strong voice, who knows how the play the camera with her over the top facial expressions. Although she might not be your or my personal number 1, I think she absolutely deserved her victory!
23. The Netherlands: Waylon – Outlaw In ‘Em
The Netherlands had the tough gig of following up the winner’s performance, but Waylon did so with grace. His country rock sounds excellent in an arena setting and so do his powerful, raw vocals. The stage act certainly was a choice with passionate dancers that do not fit the genre of the song at all. To me, it worked a little distracting from the song and the main star Waylon. After his runner up finish as part of The Common Linnets back in 2014, he now had to accept the 18th position, which is nothing to be ashamed of either. He does have the juries to thank for this, as televoters placed him in 12th position in the semi final, which would not have been enough to qualify. In an interview after the result show, the confident singer already announced that he would love to do the contest again one day! That’s the spirit Waylon!
24. Ireland: Ryan O’Shaughnessy – Together
Ireland managed to qualify for the first time after four years of failed attempts from the tougher first semi final with Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s guitar pop song ‘Together’. This stripped back love song with mostly high notes in the chorus, was given a memorable stage show with two male dancers portraying a gay couple. Vocally Ryan’s performance was decent, but certainly not flawless. The bookmakers placed him in top 3 at one point, but I think the 16th position is about right for this middle of the road tune.
25. Cyprus: Eleni Foureira – Fuego
The entry from Cyprus this year has all the ingredients for Eurovision success. A catchy pop tune with hit potential and some native instruments? Check! A performer with star power? You bet! Some slick choreography? Sure thing and don’t forget about the completely on point hairography too! Eleni Foureira’s ‘Fuego’ might not have won in the end, but I think it stands a good chance of becoming the biggest hit in Europe. Can we also take a minute to appreciate how Eleni is such a graceful runner-up, immediately praising the winner and saying how happy she is!? Cyprus will definitely be proud of her for reaching the country’s best result ever!
26. Italy: Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente
Italy was last up with duo Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro and their powerful song ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’. To make their Italian lyrics about the state of the world more universal, they put translation on screen in different languages. Their vocal performance was powerful and their simple staging underlined their message perfectly. This message definitely resonated with the televoters at home who put Italy in third place. In my humble opinion they definitely deserved some more than 17th place from the juries as well. Either way, Italy should be happy with their 5th position, one place higher than last year when they were the favourite to win!
On a last note I just want to share that eventhough Israel’s victory will sure divide the public’s opinion, as her ear catching song and outspoken performing style is not everyone’s cup of tea, it would be great if people would show some respect to this lady who wants to send a message to bullies. There is no need to attack Netta, just because you would have liked to see another country win. Nor is there a reason to discredit the whole contest or start rumours about rigged voting, just because the outcome is not your personal taste. Next year you might have more luck and your favourite might end up at the top of the scoreboard! Let’s just enjoy this great contest of great pop songs and sometimes questionable camp, showstopping performances or hilarious antics that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. All these elements are what make Eurovision such a special event and a party to watch every single year!