Before I start telling you about all about my opinions and feeling about Eurovision 2018, I might need to let you know something about myself, context, if you will. If you don’t want to read all that, just skip ahead and look for this → *** That’s where my feelings and reflections on the 2018 season starts.
First of all, I have a strange relationship with Eurovision, especially considering that I’ve never actually been to Europe. My first Eurovision memory is the 2016 Semi Final Allocation Draw in Stockholm, which I watched on YouTube. From there I watched the entire Eurovision 2015 to get a feel for what Eurovision was. And then I watch as much as I could. At this point in time, I was unemployed, recently laid off (seasonal layoffs) from my job, and I was only taking one class in school to finish up my degree online. So, I had a lot of time to kill and soon feel into the hype of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Another thing you should probably know about me is that I’m a nerd. I’m a weird kind of person who likes spending time over thinking small things that might have big outcomes. I mostly make predictions for big Awards Shows, most specifically the Academy Awards. I track the film industry year round, and along with other nerds around the internet, I make predictions and wonder who is going to be nominated for Academy Awards on Oscar 92, 23 February 2020. But here’s a fact: Many many many more people watch the Eurovision Song Contest than watch the Academy Awards. And that’s a fact (#RuPaulsDragRace). I also love the Olympics! I love questioning where the Olympic cauldron is going to placed, and what the branding is going to look like and yes, the sports are also fun too. But I am attracted to the spectacle of it all. There’s a pattern growing here. I’m just attracted to the insanity of large events. And I think that makes me the right material for a EuroNerd. I’m just that kind of nerd.
This was the first Eurovision season where I was invested in the national final season. To start if off was France, with Destination Eurovision, and it was so good. The slow release of the 18 contestants and their songs was such a perfect build up to a national selection. And what a strong group of strong group of songs they were. “OK au KO” and “Eva” and even “Alliures” still occasionally pop into my head. I don’t speak a lick of French, but I was watching every part of the selection process. And because of this my heart is now breaking because of France’s under performance. It deserved better but that’s the agony of national finals season and Europe as a whole, isn’t it? I thought I was going to watch all of Melodifestivalen, but it was weak this year… and then the Winter Olympics began…
But aside from Sweden and France, I did watch Denmark’s Dansk Grand Prix, mostly because of “Higher Ground”. I followed United Kingdom’s You Decide and Germany’s Unser Lied. I couldn’t watch either because they were during the week and I had to be at work, but I did like what they had to offer this year. Watching Germany select their winner made me a little nervous and confused (but they did well in the end!). Germany has around 20 people in the running to take part in Unser Lied, trying to one of six spots in the final. I was very happy that they let each artist have their own songs, instead of forcing them to sing one of two generic and bad songs like in 2017. But why limit the field to just 6? If you had 20 artists competing at the beginning, why not let the public see? The French made it work for them, and it turned out pretty good, considering they were one of the favorites for the entire season and did win the press award. If you give the people of Germany more options, you have a wider group to pick from. Germany, you can do it, because you have done it, and it worked amazingly this year! Same to you United Kingdom! But Germany, keep it simple, and always side with the public. There’s no need to have a set of points for Eurofan jury, international juries and the public televote. Combine the juries and leave the televote and keep it simple!
Before we move on to the final, special mention to the SuRie from the United Kingdom. As I mentioned earlier, I struggle with bipolar/personality disorder. I don’t know what it was about your song, but it reminds me of the music I listened to as a kid, it was joyful and fun, and a simple message we shouldn’t forget, that I just connected to it. I loved it from the first time I listened to the You Decided songs. And for the record, I still prefer the original version.
“Storms don’t last forever, forever, remember” became my mantra, and when things started to get rough for me, I just sang that to myself, and it made moving on a little easier. And then you said “We can hold out hands together, through this storm (Oh! Oh!),” and when I needed it, I my mind I did hold you hand and I made it through the storm. Thank you for your positivity and love that you broadcasted to the world through the platform of Eurovision. I remember your performance of “Mercy” during the Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam. I was amazed by you spirit and your professionalism. It’s the spirit of Eurovision and it was beautiful. Then came time for you to finally perform “Storms” for the world. I follow Eurovision of the internet, which means I basically know what might happen. I kept my fingers crossed that the UK would receive 12 points, but when you performed, instead of watching the performance to critique it like i did with the others Instead, I sang along and danced, just I image many other people across the world did, because they’ve also been following this show and memorized the lyrics because it was their favorite too. I didn’t even know about the stage invasion until after the performance was done and I checked Twitter, and I am even more impressed by your professionalism and your grace. It was fantastic because you survived a real “storm” on stage as you were performing. Thank you for spreading your love, and giving all you got, and never giving up!
Alright, now onto the event itself, and let’s start with our hosts, Portugal . Compared to 2017, reading about Portugal getting ready to host the event was just fun to watch. It was warm and it was joyous. Granted, it does help the Portugal is just naturally beautiful and stunning. But what made it so much better was the fact that Portugal was finally getting to host, their long awaited time to shine and man did they shine! Filomena was my favorite of the presenters, mostly because she was actually funny and seemed like a natural.
I was also so happy to see that there were no LEDs. It was great to see the performers get to perform next to the fans. It just made sense to have the Euro fans so close to the performers. Israel won the whole thing without the use of LEDs and still made her performance iconic. The use of a looper pedal was a great idea and took Eurovision’s next step into the future. But I don’t think that Israel won based on the looper pedal alone. Israel won because of Netta’s mix of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, #RuPaulsDragRace. She had it all. “Toy” was topical, yet fun. I think it is a bit ironic that in her victory speech that she thanked the fans for “Celebrating Diversity,” considering that that was the slogan of 2017’s contest and was much less diverse than this year’s contest.
I am quite happy that Cyprus and Norway did not win. Watching the odds over the past few months and especially in the past week, and the idea that the 2018 winner could possibly be a rip off of the 2016 interval act or a generic song about fire just didn’t feel right. Sorry, but I did not have the fire, nor did I learn how to write a song. All I’m left with from those songs is an overly long explanation for my lack of feelings for them. And Alexander Rybak knew he couldn’t win, he just wanted more attention, Boo to you Rybak!
Now, I really need to know what happened in the Jury Final/dress rehearsal. Where did Austria come from? Did Cesar perform naked? I wasn’t really struck by the Austrian song. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing or spectacular either. What did he do to catch people’s attention? What this really goes to show is the disparity between the juries and the viewers at home. Sweden came second with the juries, and 22nd with the televote, that’s a huge difference, and especially for Sweden.
I do feel like Sweden focused more on staging this year than they did on actual song quality. I feel like the Swedes just try to impress the juries. It was an impressive performance to watch, but the lyrics had no meaning or substance. Not that thinking outside the box isn’t a good idea, and having a great stage performance is also great, but this year as well and the last 2 years, people seem to be wanting emotional performances Israel wanted you to dance, yes, but it also addressed what is going on in modern society. “Toy” invited invited the audience to dance with Netta with her chickens and Pikachu.
Sweden and Australia both limited their artists to a small space on the stage. This year’s stage was huge and it wanted to the performers to use it. The best performances were the ones where the singers were interacting with the crowd who’d been brought so close to them. Sweden and Australia through away the audience in a sense just for a shiny prop. This felt especially bad with Jessica Mauboy. She has such an energy and such a great message for the audience, but never got close to them, just to stay next to a bunch of glowing pipes. And I know Germany also brought a LED screen, but at least Michael Schulte brought the emotion.
Now, onto the part where my opinion isn’t fully formed yet, the Televote results. My experience watching the televote results be announced was quite different. Life is ironic at times. If I haven’t mentioned it already, I watch Eurovision mostly via Youtube. I used a VPN, connected to Ireland, to watch the show live on YouTube. So while I was watching, the screen on my computer became about 98% darker. So in the panic of this happening, I missed out on hearing the first 14 countries receive their televote results, but I was able to listen to the top 12 countries receive their results, and thus I did listen until the very end. It was a very crazy and weird way to end Eurovision 2018. Don’t worry, I did get the problem fixed, but it was crazy to in a way be zapped back to the radio age in the blink of an eye.
Was there a “Steve Harvey/La La Land” Moment? Something clearly went awry when the one presenter, Catarina Furtado, said “Cyprus won the vote,” which made the world erupt with the false assumption that Cyprus had won the contest. Maybe we need to give this process a closer look. I love how the points are presented, but it’s getting so big that even the presenters seem to be having trouble keeping the results straight under all that pressure. I could tell that they were having the results feed to them through their earpieces and were having trouble hearing them correctly and presenting them. They may need to be written out rather than spoken in their ears. I can only imagine how confusing that could be.
Over all I think it was a fantastic Eurovision Season. I have a few winners of my own. First, France, because Destination Eurovision was amazing! Please do it again next year. Czech Republic, you win because you came of nowhere to be one of the best songs of the year, congratulations! Germany broke the curse of last place finishes (or second to last finish) with a huge emotional punch. It was beautiful and well executed, I’m so proud of you Germany! And of course congratulations to Netta from Israel, for flipping Eurovision on its head, taking on the “Me Too” movement, never backing down, bring it on the night when it counted and snatching the crystal trophy in the end. Next year in Jerusalem!
And on that note, let’s talk about Eurovision 2019. 14-18 May at Jerusalem Arena seems like the most likely dates and venue. Of course as an American, I see Jerusalem as a very strange place to put an event like Eurovision, but then again, Jerusalem did host Eurovision in 1979 and 1999. Tel Aviv certainly seems like a good option, since it’s on the sea and it’s a very gay friendly place. But Israel, you do you, and I’ll be on board either way. And now to do what I always do, let’s make our first predictions on the outcome of Eurovision 2019, which is over a year away. Italy seems to be the most likely of the Big Five to win, considering that they came in 5th and have finished the top 10 in 3 out of the past 4 years. Sweden is going to have to take a hard look at what they send next year, because it’s now becoming clear that the Televote can and will change the outcome of the game, and Sweden has a problem with the televote. With Sweden in mind, it’s worth mentioning that the last time Eurovision was held in Israel, Sweden won with their Schlagger his “Take Me to Your Heaven” from Schlagger queen Charlotte Perrelli. And of course the first time Israel hosted in 1979, Israel won the contest on home soil. Will there be 43 participating countries again? Azerbaijan might have trouble participating in Israel considering they seem to side with Turkey and Iran more than they do with the rest of Europe. Turkey certainly will not make a return next year if it’s held in Israel. Also, there’s the Eurovision ASIA Song Contest to think about. It was announced that it was to be held in October 2018, but no host or exact date has been announced yet. So there’s a lot of other stuff the EBU needs to sort out before next May. So I guess this a good place to end it. Until 2019, Next year in Jerusalem!