Featuring precisely no Justin Timberlake
26. Georgia (Midnight Gold) – 20th place
I’M SEEING DOUBLE! FOUR GEORGIAS!
Ahem. Chugging rock is a genre I try to approach with an open mind with regards to Eurovision, because so many people check out the instant they see a guitar (apart from our jury members apparently, who had this ranked top, THIS NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED UNDER DAVE ARCH’S BENEVOLENT UK EUROVISION JURY REGIME) (seriously I looked up our jury and it includes a “singer/songwriter” whose songs are struggling to scrape 4 digit views on Youtube, who selects these people?) but honestly this was…difficult. Like Muse and Kasabian collaborating to cover the “Matchbox To The Rescue!” advert jingle complete with visual effects straight from an episode of The Word circa 1993.
25. Hungary (Pioneer) – 19th place
Body off Baywatch, voice off Autumnwatch. More specifically an episode where a badger’s having its sett disturbed. Also knock off the whistling guys, you’ll never be Sebalter.
24. Italy (No Degree Of Separation) – 16th place
The new play in London’s West End, starring Chandler Bing! Oh ok not really, just the weakest in this year’s obligatory line up of Up With People entries from winsome young ladies telling us to all love one another. I’m not sure why she was trying to give me an onion at the end. Maybe it was symbolic?
23. Croatia (Lighthouse) – 23rd place
Oooh look she’s wearing a funny dress.
22. Poland (Color Of Your Life) – 8th place
Poland’s lookalike industry is clearly in rough shape if this is the best they can do for a Cheryl Cole-Fernandes-Tweedy-Versini-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Payne-Malik (THAT’S RIGHT, YOU’RE NEXT ZAYN!). Poland’s journey in this year’s Eurovision mirrored their experiences of two years ago with the slutty milkmaids – traduced by the juries but beloved by the televoters, seeing them rise from 26th place to the heights of the top 10 in the space of mere seconds under the new vote-reveal structure. Sadly unlike with the slutty milkmaids, it was with an absolute dirge of a song. Don’t challenge me over what colour my life is, when the colour of your song is fucking taupe. (How many years will it be until my write-ups for Poland don’t consist mostly of references to the slutty milkmaids? Many.)
21. Belgium (What’s The Pressure?) – 10th place
And lo James Brown begat Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars begat Fleur East and Fleur East begat…well this. An amazing mash-up of the genres of “disco” and “wedding disco”, and bringing with it a whole parcel of irritating fans who were all THIS IS LITERALLY THE ONLY HAPPY AND JOYOUS SONG IN THE COMPETITION ZOMG SO HAPPY AND GROOVY. When, like, Austria exists. And Spain. And France. And Lithuania. Talk about your tyranny of fun. As indicated above it was basically Sax which is basically Uptown Funk and that particular formula has gone through too many dilutions to really do it for me any more.
20. Israel (Made Of Stars) – 14th place
Like if Nadia Almada were a hipster and tried to do a Bond Theme. Those two people shagging in a giant hula hoop in particular were very James Bond credits sequence. People will be getting bonus points throughout this ranking for how they came across when they were forced to interact with Mel Giedroyc as part of the BBC’s Eurovision coverage, and Hovi Star here came across like the most Team Boy George person ever to exist outside of the walls of The Voice UK (yes generally I do sort all of humanity into which team they would be on The Voice UK, like a less beloved version of the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter). Which isn’t worth a lot of bonus points, but is worth some.
19. Sweden (If I Were Sorry) – 5th place
I actually think I would have liked this if it had been performed by someone with an ounce of stage presence, rather than a guy who looks like he’s in a Clearasil advert pretending to be Justin Bieber. I think we all would have been much happier if Sweden had instead entered Love Love Peace Peace or that song about the joys of Eurovision from the semifinals instead. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing that would unite the Internet Eurovision Fnabase more than the idea of Petra Mede being a Eurovision winner. (Yes yes, the performances would have flagrantly broken the rules about singing live and the amount of people allowed on stage at one time. Still would have been better than this).
18. Spain (Say Yay!) – 22nd place
I love her because anyone who turns up dressed in a gold lame basketball top with hair styled like she’s the Spanish Caroline Flack, doing the worst dance moves I’ve ever seen to a song with an incredibly dorky title, and preaching about the unfairness of the Big Five getting automatic qualification AND probably shagging the French entrant (get it girl) was always going to be on my team, but…the song was doing too much, I apologise. The song actually highlights how the Big Five system ends up hurting them, because I get the impression that if I’d heard this all the way through more than once it might have started to coalesce but…noep.
17. Netherlands (Slow Down) -11th place
As with above but an even bigger chasm between the quality of the human and the quality of the song. A horse-riding Dutch bisexual called Douwe Bob who opened a pop-up bar in Stockholm especially for the contest and who used to date(/bang) Anouk (aka the 2013 entrant aka Miserable Dutch Bitch), with an alledgedly hooge wang who gives the camera creepy sex-eye constantly. Paired with a Dutch country’n’western song that doesn’t so much go nowhere as return repeatedly to exactly the same place over and over and over again for three minutes before a fake finish that doesn’t even work. BUT LOOK AT HIM ON THAT HORSE.
16. France (J’ai cherche) – 5th place
I think he had a song as well?
15. Serbia (Goodbye (Shelter)) – 18th place
God even when they’re not really trying, Serbia do Eurovision better than 60% of people. I liked the styling and the Strong Female vibe and the guy constantly nuzzling her neck throughout, but I’m damned if I can think of anything else to say about this. It sounded a bit like Umbrella?
14. Malta (Walk On Water) – 12th place
I wasn’t a huge fan of this in the semi-finals, mostly because of the truly awful and distracting contemporary dancing being done by her accompanying bloke, the sort of thing Simon Cowell would do his nut over on X Factor, but it all came together in the final, partially in the fact that the song was so flagrantly outdated it became a selling point (seriously it sounds like it’s being used to launch new Windows product in 2004) and partially with the realisation that she was massively pregnant, a fact highlighted at the end of the song as she stroked her belly and smiled. The naffness ❤
13. Germany (Ghost) – 26th place
Germany continuing to be an absolute goddamn mess at Eurovision ❤ After last year’s debacle when their elected artist dropped out at the last minute, this year we had the esteemed German Selection Panel realising that oops they’ve chosen a massive racist/homophobe as their artist, and having to sub in the most recent winner of The Voice instead. Who then dragged the pendulum all the way to the other end of the scale by being a tumberlina k-Pop lovin’ cultural appropriation machine, singing a twee song about ghosts whilst dressed like someone auditioning to be one of Gwen Stefani’s mute slave girls. And came last. Again. Bonus points for the fact that the chorus TOTALLY sounded like she was asking a Eurovision audience “who’s gay now?”.
12. Latvia (Heartbeat) – 15th place
Yet another song written by last year’s entrant from Latvia, this time performed by a young chap who seemingly only wears leather and orally favours passion over precision, which I can get behind. This ended up getting a little lost in the shuffle on the night just because of the sheer number of male-fronted and angsty entries this year, but I still have love in my heart for Justs, and also bonus points for being the most nakedly terrified of Mel Giedroyc on the BBC’s semi final coverage. He’s never going to be able to watch The Great British Bake Off ever again without having PTSD flashbacks.
11. Russia (You Are The Only One) – 3rd place
Probably the most blatant attempt ever to mimic the winner of the year before as a path to victory? A hot guy, with incredibly elaborate staging mostly revolving around an interactive video wall, spending most of their promo campaign talking back homophobic statements (albeit in this case of their home country rather than of themselves) and taking their shirts off, doing an uptempo piece of slightly dated club pop with banging choruses, driving beats, and cliched rhymes (lightning/exciting? in this millennium?). Sergey fits well in the pantheon of slightly desperate doe-eyed sweetheart sleeper agents Russia has sent to try to persuade us all that they’re not so bad after all, honest (why is it that the one time they’ve won it was the one time they actually sent an absolute bell-end?) but this was too much of a copy thematically of something that I wasn’t terribly fond of last year to make my top 10.
10. Ukraine (1944) – Winners
An entry born in political scandal, as Eurovision is won by a song about an historic atrocity of great weight and import – when Peter Andre was voted the winner of the Blackpool dance-off despite being his jive bein shi…oh no, wait JAMALA. Sorry, I misread my notes there. This song was in fact about the ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tartars at Stalin’s instruction in the dying embers of World War Two, supposedly for Nazi collaboration but actually probably because, y’know, Stalin was a bit of a twat. In these days of Eurovision getting ever steadily less…well, European, and more of a global big shiny floor show, it’s great to see something so defiantly Euro and above all else *earnest* win (seriously, Jamala was in tears from five seconds into her first performance til the very end of the results reveal and let’s face it, probably at the aftershow later as well, wailing in the lavs), even if in practice it was an xx album track being performed with more intensity than it perhaps deserved.
9. UK (You’re Not Alone) – 22nd place
On which tangent I am *devastated* for our brave boys, who deserved better than exactly the same placement as Electro Velvet with a much better song and concept. I was expecting us to be at least…well actually I was predicting about 16th/17th place but even that would be a big deal for us at this point wouldn’t it? I guess the whole WE’RE SUCH GREAT MATES thing never really came across on stage as much as it did in real life, and let’s face it, neither of them are exactly posessed of the sexual magnetism you need as a man to succeed in this competition these days (despite what Rita said about Joe on The Voice, over and over again, put it away woman seriously).
8. Austria (Loin d’ici) – 13th place
The TRUE Eurovision Sweetheart of this year, take that Italy, take that Belgium. A mononymic child actress whose previous projects include something called “Doop Doop (Baby Remix)” who sings in cheerful French about a faraway magical fairyland for no earthly reason I can determine (the most succcesful French language entry in years not coming from France <3) and whose staging truly defined “walking with children in nature”. UP WITH PEOPLE!
7. Lithuania (I’ve Been Waiting For This Night) – 9th place
Less a song than the bridge from “Every Breath You Take” dragged out for three minutes, but man what a performance. Donny Montell here comes from a family of gymnasts and was determined to show it off, spending his entire performance sprinting round the stage like he was holding some sort of impromptu Zumba class, diving, tumbling, crouching, and spinning about on his knees, all culminating in the moment that he ripped his jacket off and sprinted at his portable trampolene like Fat Sandra bombing towards the highboard in Magaluf to end with a full front somersault. All this so that Donny could finish 5 places higher than he did when he performed in Baku. What an inspiration, I hope he had a proper cooldown afterwards.
6. Czech Republic (I Stand) – 25th place
Zero public vote goddess ❤
5. Azerbaijan (Miracle) – 17th place
Is there anything more Eurovision than a feud between two attractive brunettes in catsuits based on and around a disputed Middle Eastern territory you’ve never heard of? No, no there is not. Samra was definitely the lesser of the warring divas, although sadly the legend of just how horrendous her vocal abilities were proved to be unfounded on the night, as she managed to get through her song with the audience’s ears relatively unscathed (not at all because of the hoards of backing singers stowed away backstage wink wink), but still LOOK AT THAT CATSUIT. With Nicole Scherzinger having let Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber down so badly by abandoning his new New York run of Cats to do X Factor instead, would anyone bet aganst Samra becoming his new muse instead? I hope not.
4. Cyprus (Alter Ego) – 21st place
Chugging middle-aged dad rock ❤ Looking like System Of A Down but sounding like The Killers bit slightly more fruity ❤ Performing on a stage representing a provincial piss-sex dungeon ❤ THAT HAIR ❤ Cyprus ❤ That this finished one place lower than that Georgian abomination is the biggest crime of this entire competition
3. Macedonia (Dona) – Semi Final 2 11th place
Am I over-reacting to Australia being allowed to stay in Eurovision despite being geographically about as far away from Europe as it is possible for a country to be? Maybe. But I do know that their presence in the final this year robbed this glamorous middle-aged Macedonian Idol judge from making her second Eurovision finals with a song which involved her seemingly yelling incoherently about donuts whilst flapping her arms about like she was trying to take off, all culminating in one ridiculous whistle/scream note where she actually grabbed herself by the throat. And that’s enough for me to argue that Eurovision should take a long hard look at itself and think about what its priorities are. Soullessly slick pop from the other side of the planet from a performer who clearly couldn’t care less beyond being able to up the rate she charges for corporates? Or THIS GLORY?
2. Bulgaria (If Love Was A Crime) – 4th place
Probably the greatest pure pop song of this year’s contest, it was so heartwarming to see just how much it meant to Poli to get her country’s best ever finish after having failed to qualify from the semi finals 4 years ago (can you imagine anyone from this country caring enough to try twice? Ever?). It also helped that the chorus sounded incredibly like she was yelling “RIDE ME LUTHER! RIDE ME LUTHER!” over and over again. If the BBC are looking for a theme tune for the next series, one that really addresses that show’s many many subtexts, they really could do worse. Also her adorable bandy legged dancing ❤
1. Armenia (LoveWave) – 7th place
The clear victor in this year’s Battle Of The Catsuit, and my Eurovision favourite 2016, Armenia started with subaural spoken-word mumbling and just got better and better from there with every close-up caress of a thigh or random ear-piercing shriek. Armenia’s always been a place for the bizarre, and that that bizareness is sometimes pretty po-faced is not a new angle on things by any means, but the intense weirdness of this whole spectacle, with jump-cuts so vicious I found myself almost yelling DUCK! on a number of occasions was the most compelling piece of Eurovision this year. So that’s the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict decided, and the country will be handed over to the Sexiest Woman In Armenia forthwith yes?