The Cheerful Latvian Cake Bakers WUZZ ROBBED.
26. Malta (Coming Home) : 23rd place
Tainted by association, I’m sorry.
25. Azerbaijan (Start A Fire) : 22nd place
Have any country gone from Eurovision A-List status to almost complete irrelevance so quickly? For the last four years at least they’ve been the swaggering villains of the competition, relentlessly finishing in the top 10 despite sending bland forgettable ballads, and being constantly enmeshed in rigging and bribery scandals. This year? They barely qualify for the finals, their ballad is the limpest yet, their staging gimmick is one woman on a trapeze, and even their dodgy jury were overshadowed by Georgia’s, which was so nakedly corrupt that they actually managed to get themselves thrown out of the competition. Do better Azerbaijan, do better.
24. Romania (Miracle) : 12th place
What happened Paula & Ovi? Has so much changed in four years? I loved Mockney scamp Lena with all my heart, but if I’d been doing these rankings way back in 2010, these two would have been a shoe in for the number 1 slot and yet now? Nothing’s left but a pile-up of disconnected gimmicks (random chroma-key disappearing acts, circular pianos,…hugging) and an utterly forgettable song. He’s got a little bit less hair, and her face is a little bit wider, but there’s no reason that the magic COULDN’T still be there. And it just wasn’t.
23. Montenegro (My World) : 19th place
Oooh look, an ice skater.
22. Armenia (Not Alone) : 4th place
This was the massive favourite before the semi-finals started, and I’d explain why, but I’m sure we’ve all heard the word “diaspora” enough this week to last us all a lifetime, so let’s not. On the downside it felt like one of Russell T Davies’ patented overwrought Dr Who regenerations, and in a year of mostly fairly strong vocal performances (you know, for Eurovision), Aram MP3 stood out as outmatched. On the upside it DID all manage to put this in my head. CHOON.
21. Norway (Silent Storm) : 8th place
As a relatively new Eurovision devotee (I only really could commit myself fully to the show and all it represents and means once Terry Wogan had buggered off) I was unfamiliar with the real importance of performance position until this year. Of course there’s the usual reality show voting stuff of wanting to be on in the second half generally and SPECIFICALLY not on 2nd and 3rd, but for me the importance of song placement was made clear when this poor awkward earnest melancholy sap was ushered on to follow Iceland’s technicolour diversity riot. He may somehow have recovered to finish a respectable 16th in the televote, but he never really stood a chance with me.
20. Denmark (Cliche Love Song) : 9th place
Like Bruno Mars and Jahmene from X Factor had a baby. Denmark’s hosting of the competition was marked mostly by mostly inept attempts to capture the cheeky humour that Sweden excelled at last year (did we ever actually reach the end of that “Kaspar from Borgen is obsessed with China!” trail?) and this slightly wobbly attempt to make fun of love song cliches in a song entirely compiled from them was another miss in a long evening of them.
19. UK (Children Of The Universe) : 17th place
The UK doing what it does best – chasing current Eurovision trends and falling flat on their face (god, remember Javine, and how we convinced ourselves she might win because she sounded a bit Middle-Eastern innit?). Perky young woman + sort of dub-step + vaguely pro-integration lyrics + dressing like you’re still on your gap year = about as well as we always end up doing.
18. Sweden (Undo My Sad) : 3rd place
Sweden get to be one place higher because whilst they were still generic and trend-chasing at least they were chasing trends set by themselves. It’s not their fault that the default position for the gay Eurovision fans that dominate the Internet is “any old shit by a white Scandinavian woman”.
17. Belarus (Cheesecake) : 16th place
File under “horrific but catchy” and never ever speak of it ever ever again.
16. Italy (My City) : 21st place
Italy definitely suffered with me for being part of The Big Five and hence automatically qualifying without having to scrabble through a semi-final. On my first and only listen it was an exciting stream-of-consciousness torrent of babble, with the singer wandering around the stage in a manner so eratic Courtney Love would shake her head at sadly, which I enjoyed but which made no sense. Who knows how much I would have loved it if I’d been prepared?
15. Greece (Rise Up) : 20th place
Under-rated hotties of the competition (despite their resemble to that gonk from BBC 3’s “The Revolution Will Be Televised And Will Mostly Be Sub Beadle’s About Pranks”), Greece’s otherwise fairly undistinguished dance-pop was elevated by the presence of two gimmicks – a British rapper looking incredibly bored (seriously, his disgruntled face featuring heavily in the flicker-cut that rapidly flashed as the song reached its climax was a delight) and a great big bloody trampoline. YAY FOR TRAMPOLINES!
14. San Marino (Maybe) : 24th place
The greatest underdog story in Eurovision! Representing San Marino! SAN MARINO! For the third year in a row! Finally qualifying for the finals for the first time in her nation’s history! Loving every second as she ascended to perform in one of the best slots! With a giant triumphant tail-fin behind her! Just a shame that the song was bobbins…
13. Spain (Dancing In The Rain) : 10th place
Hooray! It’s Ruth Lorenzo! – the sum total of my thoughts on this entry.
12. Slovenia (Round And Round) : 25th place
FLUTE WITCH! Apparently she was banned from playing it live by evil Eurocrats. Maybe this is something UKIP could get on, rather than complaining about immigration and feeling a bit wobbly when they hear someone speaking Albanian on the bus. I liked how her entire performance was a visual metaphor for her swirling down the drain to God knows where. Not last obviously, because FRANCE.
11. Germany (Is It Right?) : 18th place
A woman who sounds like P!nk, a woman who looks like an even more awkward Ellen Page on the accordion, and Thomasina Myers in a bowler hat. How German.
10. Netherlands (Calm After The Storm) : Runner-Up
Well done to the Netherlands for continuing to send miserable hipsters for the second year running. These two weren’t quite as morbid as Anouk but their sad soft whispering alt-country-tinged was definitely one of the more downbeat entries, even in a year that featured songs about domestic violence, discrimination against the disabled, and the horrors of being thought of as cheesecake. It was fun, and enjoyable, and a good song well sung, but has somehow become the poster-child for Real Authentic Music in Eurovision, and we all know I’m not here for that.
9. Finland (Something Better) : 11th place
8. Iceland (No Prejudice) : 15th place
It was actually I think a remarkably strong year for modernish rock at Eurovision, given the denim monstrosities that normally get put out. Both softengine and Pollaponk were nice, non-threatening men (seriously, Pollaponk are pretty much entirely made up of primary school teachers, MPs and Phillip Franks from The Darling Buds Of May) singing about not hating people who stutter and questioning the conservative rules of society and helping old ladies across the road. It’s close – Pollaponk were more energetic, softengine were twinkier, Pollaponk hated on maths, softengine hated on English grammar as we know it. I’m giving it to the band with the stutter break…
7. Hungary (Running) : 5th place
Oh SURE, you make fun of Eurovision for being about vapid meaningless pop music and trite rhyming couplets, but when someone comes along with a heartfelt song about the serious issue of domestic violence, you SCOFF. Please note that the attached picture isn’t from the actual performance on the night but actually if anything represents the whole vibe even better.
6. Russia (Shine) : 7th place
It’s hard to believe that the last year of country invasion and human-rights denials WASN’T all leading up to this moment for Russia. A pair of sweet, terrifying, dead-eyed, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, perfect twins singing up-tempo pop on a giant see-saw with their hair tied together, wielding perspex BATONS OF EVIL, and yelling lyrics that seemed perpetually just on the edge of turning into them telling the world to KISS THEIR ARSES. The audience booed lustily every time anything good happened for them and of course, because this is Russia, it did, often, as they sailed towards a top tier finish. More than 95% of the acts this year, Russia brought it. Even if “it” was “evil”.
5. Switzerland (Hunter Of Stars) : 13th place
4. France (Moustache) – Twin Twin : 26th place
The French really have turned being bad at Eurovision into an artform. Neon, colour-blocked hipsters with stupid hair and a song about how sad it is not to be able to grow a moustache, yelling all over everything else going on and leaving Europe united in befuddlement. Bottom in the televote, bottom with the judges, and only a couple of pity votes away from some Scandinavian jurors away from the first nul points since Jemini, I loved them. In the year a woman with a beard won, it was only appropriate a man without a moustache should bring up the rear.
3. Poland (Us Slavs – We Are Slavic) : 14th place
First off, the two acts who were most screwed over by the juries were Poland and Switzerland – clearly the two sexiest acts by a mile. When the jury system was introduced, to make bribery and corruption much eas…I mean to end political bloc voting, who would have thought that in the end it would end up being a tool for basic jealousy? Such a shame. The Polish was both an hilarious booby-fest (and like every other sexually problematic act this year, clearly probably definitely mostly an ironic commentary for sure) and also amongst the snappiest beats of the year. I NEED this song to soundtrack Regina, Gretchen, and Karen all simultaneously arriving for Parent-Teacher evening at the same time and stomping that hallway. So fierce. So Slavic.
2. Austria (Rise Like A Phoenix) : Winner
The best thing about Denmark’s hosting of the show was hands-down the stage-management of how Conchita’s win was broadcast. From the second she was last to be revealed as a finalist from her semi, through that tearful interview midway through the vote reveal (as Molly was face-down in a Curly Wurly cake), to the clenched fist solidarity of her winners speech, the whole thing was impeccably staged to make “the bearded lady” the most feel-good Eurovision winner in a good long while. Thankfully the pageantry of the song matched the march to the trophy, all Bond Theme vowels and giant flaming video-wall phoenix wings. It even had the best dirty mondegreen of the year, starting as it did with the phrase “wanking in the rubble”. Given that Conchita was top 5 in the televote of every single country bar Estonia, I think we can say it all worked, and I was there bouncing on my sofa incandescent with rage at the possibility of an Armenia victory with the rest of them.
1. Ukraine (Tick Tock) : 6th place
This was still my favourite song though. And the fact that the guy in the hamster wheel was cute didn’t hurt either.