As this year’s Eurovision Song Contest once more blows through, it is time once again for me to conduct the post-mortem on the event. As ever, I will be asking three basic questions. Firstly, was it a good show? Secondly, did the right song win? And finally, where next for the UK after another spectacular failure?

In response to the first, I have to say it was very enjoyable. The fact it was in general much more up-tempo this year helped, as last year did seem to creak under the weight of the ballads. Plus, elaborate staging as embraced in such a way as never seen before.

Sweden are always good hosts anyway, striking the right balance between tongue-in-cheek humour whilst keeping an ordered seriousness. Petra Mede, in particular, is a natural at this kind of thing, with a sharp wit and a keenness to hurry along any spokesperson who is taking too long. Justin Timberlake’s appearance didn’t hurt either, giving the interval a Superbowl feel. He won’t be the last big superstar to happily exchange pleasantries with the hosts about how lovely European music is in exchange for promoting their new song to 200 million viewers.

So on to the songs. The split voting system certainly made things tenser, whilst also showing the disparity between the juries and the public. In fairness, the juries seemed to have got it spot on – Bulgaria, France, Russia and Ukraine all hovering around the top with Australia leading. Even the UK seemed to be doing alright.

Then the public votes came in. Countries that had been on course for doing well plummeted, such as Malta, Belgium and The Netherlands. Vice-versa, Poland and Lithuania found themselves shooting up. Poland is a particular bug bear of mine – a weak song and dull staging that took third in the public vote and then managed to finish 8th overall. Then the biggest shock – Australia had taken 4th in the public vote but still looked good for the win. Then, a gigantic wodge of points went to Ukraine for 2nd, pushing them to first overall. Even Russia couldn’t stop them.

In my view, Ukraine was not the right song. I found it too heavy and political. The staging was beautiful and she sang well, but I am confused how a Saturday night voting audience wanting a good time rated it so highly. Maybe the diasporas have it now.

Personally, I preferred France and Bulgaria. I also, to my surprise, enjoyed Russia, whilst Cyprus was the most underrated song of the night. Israel, Australia, Spain and Armenia also delighted me. On the flip side, Italy bored me, Sweden and Poland irritated and Georgia gave me a migraine.

So, what of the UK? Well, the splitting of the vote has helped identify our problem. A respectable 17th from the juries, including a douze points from Malta. But then, a crushing second to last in the public vote. To be fair, as pleasant as our song was, there did feel to be a missing ingredient from it. The staging didn’t wow me or my friends, and it felt overall like it was competent rather than stunning.

The lack of love from the public suggests it is this connection between the performers, the song and the staging that is missing. We didn’t exploit the new technologies other countries have embraced over the last couple of years. In 2011 we had the opposite problem of a weak song from Blue but a good connection with the public. Clearly we need to combine the two halves – an experienced and charismatic performer with a strong sense and great staging.

How we achieve this though is a different matter. I think perhaps we need to make a bigger thing out of our selection process, which will lead to bigger names, and perhaps better songs. It also wouldn’t hurt to mirror the voting system used, giving an equal split to juries and the public.

Anyway, until next year, when it looks like the show will be coming from Kiev with artillery fire in the background, we will just have to lick our wounds. Again.

 

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