Eurovision 2018 Review – Wronger Than Wrong

Posted: 28/06/2018 in Eurovision 2018, Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

Rest assured, that title does not function as a slogan for my feelings towards this year’s final. It’s simply a manifestation of pure self awareness. It’s the least I could do after having doubted or even ignored the eventual top three. My crystal ball was clearly on holiday. I can already hear septa Unella and her bell behind me. Shame. Shame. Shame!

It might take me more than a walk of atonement to erase the many, many mistakes I made in the past Eurovision season – the previews, the days after and even during the final. Some of you might have been waiting for a confession like this, and it’s not over yet! Do enjoy… Let the breakdown (finally) begin!

The show

RTP might not be the next SVT but they managed to pull three quite enjoyable shows out of their hat. As for the final, my first remark would be that I really missed another serving of Planet Portugal, those bits in the semi were hilarical. But the final was clearly serious business, as the Fado infused opening part clearly demonstrated. Not to mention the interval acts. It was almost a relief to see and hear RTP giving fado and other Portuguese quality music the spotlight, but it also made for a bit of a weird juxtaposition in this light hearted musical setting. It almost put all the competitors to shame, which is a bit of …erm… a shame. But it was all quite enjoyable, and it was especially flabbergasting to see how Sara Tavares has grown since her Eurovision participation more than two decades ago. As if the grey hairs in my beard and on the side of my head weren’t already enough to make me feel old.

Anyway, RTP did a nice job and so did a couple of the four(!) presenters. Filomena Cautela, Sílvia Alberto, Daniela Ruah and Catarina Furtado put their best foot forward, but why did we need all of them? Filomena had enough personality to fill the Altice Arena on her own, and if we were to push for a duo then Daniela would have been a nice second choice. The other two were too nervous and/or stiff to charm their way to the hearts of Europe, I should think.

No LED trickery this year – well, not provided by RTP at least – so we got a lot of…erm…creativity by the delegations. Which makes for an equal amount of variation but a higher level of entertainment, to say the least. Not sure how to feel about the visuals on screen, they didn’t seem to have added value in every performance they were used in but they do provide even more diversity so I’m not writing them off just yet. The stage itself was quite dark but was way less somber than the blogger community from Lisbon were leading on. The design of it all was a bit too busy for my liking, with two bridges and two catwalks it gave a broad spectrum of possibilities in terms of performances, but it looked too gargantuous throughout the night. You really needed a clever stage producer to make the most of it, and not every single delegation already realises the importance of that particular team member.

The voting

In a year where the competition seemed wide open, the voting was unsurprisingly all over the place. But it didn’t exactly go as expected, even if nobody knew what to expect. Certainly not the enormous difference between jury and televoting, especially for some countries, but on the whole it was almost as if the left and right side of the table made a sudden switch. It left Casa Dimivision quite speachless, and that IS saying something.

But eventually, the big favorite prevailed. It wasn’t the 2017-Italy-hype-but-fail scenario I expected it to be, nor was it a 2016-thriller one. Netta came, clucked and conquered. Good for her. But is it good for the competition? Even though I’m still in love with Amar Pelos Dois, I’ll be the first to admit that it was far from accessible and thus hardly had a shot at being a regular in the European charts. Which is kinda what this competition needs. In that aspect, the 2018 winner has (or, by the time this post eventually got published, had) got a lot more potential. In terms of not making Eurovision look like the cliché circus people often make it out to be…not so much. But at the end of the day it’s all about diversity and being able to be 100% your own you, and if anyone fitted that picture this year it was Netta. If orange is the new black, then self confidence definitely is the new orange and that can only be applauded. Even when it comes in a motherplucking toy-store version.

The songs

It’s been a weird Eurovision season. From a slight panic at the start cause it didn’t look good at all, to thinking at least thirteen songs could compete for the crown, to shrugging when the end credits were rolling on the screen. Quite the mixed bag, much like the list of participants in the final. Unlike both semis, my radar was completely off – with an overlap of only four in my personal top ten and five in my prediction, this has to be one of the worst guessing games in the past two decades. Anyway, here’s what my score sheet said by the end of the night:

26. United Kingdom – Surie might have shown her girl power after overcoming what must have been a shock invasion, but her power was the only power on stage. And that wasn’t nearly enough to save that song-o-o. Even the majority of Junior Eurovision songs is more interesting. O-o.

25. Serbia – Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, saw the concert. There’s not even two seconds to find in here that are coming close to sounding interesting – with a visual presentation to match.

24. Moldova – Sure that act was lovely goofy, but this kind of door-dramedy belongs on the stage of some local ‘comedy’ theatre in the early ’90s. Why so many fans and voters thought it was fresh enough for 2018 is beyond me.

23. Netherlands – That must’ve been the world’s fastest brainstorm in Waylon’s manor somewhere at the start of 2018. Waylon: “Guys, I’ve got three words for you: leopard jacket & krumping.” Others: “Yeah, they won’t see that coming!” – Rest of the world: “Wish we hadn’t!” Oh, and someone needs to whipe that smug grin of Waylon’s face, it’s so greasy even John Travolta’s scared of it. Wronger than wrong, but not really the way I’m using that in the rest of this post.

22. Germany – Wronger than wrong, apparently being pushy can get you far. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this could do well. But top 5? It’s so in-your-face it makes me wanna set his ginger curls on fuego. It was dead last in my preview chart though, so kuddos to them for making it visually somewhat unappalling enough for me to not put it dead last again.

21. Austria – Wronger than wrong!Silly me for overlooking this. There I was, watching Melodifestivalen and being convinced the (rather boring) John Lundvik could snatch the win. And then I go on and simply ignore his Eurovision counterpart. César did a swell job in singing and selling the song (and I want that outfit in at least three other colors) but this kind of gospely pop just doesn’t ring my bell.

20. Israel – Too much going on here for my liking: maneki neko, chicken moves, looper, fireworks from the get-go, Netta’s relentless flirty looks to the camera… More is more, I agree – but too much is too much (ask the Spice Girls). But I was wronger than wrong, how could I have forgotten about Girl Power? Silly rabbit. In the end it all comes down to the chorus that is really too easy for my liking. #meih

19. Norway – And that’s how you don’t pull a Johnny Logan. (Sorry for that unfortunate phrasing and the possible visuals forming in your head as we speak.) Wronger than wrong, people don’t care about a returning winner at all! And who can blame them, all things sugar and spice from the Norwegian Final went adrift on the border of the Atlantic – it was all so pedestrian… #yawnalicious

18. Finland – Kill your darlings, darling. That rather brilliant Vogue-esque choreography would have had a lot more impact if you’d left that contraption in Helsinki. Or indeed, X-Factor. Spinning around, climbing stairs, flinging yourself off the platform – tiresome, and then some. Agreed, the song needed some distraction – emphasis on ‘some’. Bonus for my BE & NL homies (look at me, going all street): hands u if you thought nothing but ‘TROS‘ the entire way through! o/ o/ o/

17. Czechia – I’ve kinda liked this one for the majority of the season, but on stage its big flaw was revealed rather quickly: those lower ‘rap’ verses were deadly. I mean, what wàs he on about? Totally undermined the flow, which was going nicely! Bonus points for the backpack-shake-ya-ass moment. I was wronger than wrong in thinking this would have Norway as its main competitor, when it was clearly Sweden – same set-up (more video clip than live performance) and same target audience (that had a clear preference between the two…).Surprised juries didn’t really go for this – oh, what am I saying…I’m proving their point with this review alone!

16. Ireland – It was all just so sweet I could die. No really, diabetes is lurking around the corner. Ok fine, if I’m putting my inner Grinch aside it really was quite lovely all in all. Special mention for the camera work here, which really sold this rather run-of-the-mill ballad.

15. Australia – Not world’s greatest song, not the world’s greatest singer (or dancer…) and not the world’s most impeccable fashion sense – but such fun she had! You go, Glen Coco. Enough fun to tilt it juuuuust above ‘shrug my shoulders’ level.

14. Spain – Seriously, why was there no actual concept for a stage act? It’s Monster Like Me all over again. Except with, you know, a Spanish flair. Much like Ireland it’s cute enough, and so is Alfred on mute. Not as magical as it could have been, luckily not as PDA-driven either.

13. Albania – Contrarily to a lot of its competitors, this one is not so much about the song as it is about the singer. That voice is G to the ORGEOUS, and so is its owner. Almost makes me forget about the fact that the song is so easy to forget. Almost. Wait, how did it go again?

12. Hungary – Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! *insert rock festival devil horn sign* Still a tad too shouty to get into my top ten though. Just a tad.

11. Denmark – I’ve been dissing this all winter (ha!) long but it finally won me over on Saturday with its Game of Thrones (I simply can’t resist anything remotely referencing it) vibe. Beardy McHighPitchFace still isn’t the most talented or charismatic performer, but his troop of wildlings made up for that. Now bring on the rampage!

And now for the real interesting ones: Here are the points of the Dimivision jury!

1 point: Lithuania – Ieva Zasimauskaite – When We’re Old

Granted, it came across more effective in the semi – due to surprise effect or running order – but it’s still cute as a button. Loving the Michelle (NL 2001) style sitting down at the start, and the way the performance naturally unfolds throughout and along the evolution of the song. And just when you think Ieva isn’t really the greatest of singers, with that soft moaning of hers, she pulls out a couple of notes that blow you away. Deducting points for the tears at the end though.

2 points: Italy – Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

As a song it’s still one of my favorite entries this year. As a performance…not so much. It’s so quintessential Italian – shouty, a bit messy, kinda random, check check check! The lyrics on screen help conveying it a lot (and also draw away the attention from some painful faces being pulled by both singers), I probably would have stuck to three or four languages though. The simplicity of the rest of the performance  provides a nice counterbalance, and as a closer of the show it certainly offers something different. Didn’t think it would shoot up the televoting ranks the way it did, but good for them. Ow, almost forgot my yearly tradition of finding a potential husband in the final – congratz Fabrizio, you’re the lucky one this year! Call me maybe.

3 points: Ukraine – Melovin – Under The Ladder

Perhaps not the most exciting song of the bunch, but it compensates with a dynamic performance that really leaves you gasping for air. LOVING the coffin at the start, ADORING the fact that the backings are clearly visible and all in all it’s just one of those timeless firecrackers. Still hate the incomprehensible English though – even though it’s fun to mimick when singing along ‘phonetically’.

4 points: Estonia – Elina Nechayeva – La Forza

I prefer the semi performance where the waving of the hands was perfectly timed to the beat, but I still adore the theatricality of it all. The effects on the dress could have been more surprising and/or mesmerizing (Aliona Moon could teach you a thing or two), a remark that could easily be used for the song as well. But La Voix prevailed – Elina’s way of tackling the verses in a seductive way (sprinkled with the slightest of nerves) and then going full out in the chorus is still delicious. As is the way she nips that high note in the bud at the end of the first chorus. Next time, try going for more content and less packaging perhaps.

5 points: Portugal – Claudia Pascoal – O Jardim

It’s a bit flabbergasting to me that this ended up at the back of the pack – and at the same time it isn’t. Its London Grammar vibe is one you either hate or love – and I thought Claudia did a swell job. She set the tone beautifully in that first verse, which was a world of difference versus the NF performance we’d so gotten used to. Which automatically leads to Isaura, who kinda looked and sounded like an intruder all of a sudden. It’s still easily one of the more mesmerizing songs in the field – bonus points for the pink hair! #pinkpower

6 points: Cyprus – Eleni Foureira – Fuego

WAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM! Simply AWESOME, the way she completely SOLD IT! Everything was thought out brilliantly and fitted the vibe to a T – even with the exaggerated amount of hair tossing going on. Highlight: both Pussycat Dolls moments with Eleni under a red light. It was all really as tight as her trousers. Shame the song wasn’t completely on par – just a bit too Greece-mid-nillies to do better. Great fun all in all though. Especially since it’s Cyprus – what with Portugal and Austria winning recently, I was secretly hoping they’d pull off a win.

7 points: France – Madame Monsieur – Mercy

It pains my heart to do this, it really does. It was my number one the entire season, but something was off on the night. The lower parts are too fragile, which makes for too great a contrast with the vibrant chorus. Not keen on the three minute edit either, which I’d never heard prior to the final – it lacks a bit of flow. The final thirty seconds though – so spinetingling! Oh, and about those black outfits: nicely tailored and all, but why would you wanto to go and look like a Nazi extra from the set of Raiders Of The Lost Ark? Oh look, a pun that really wasn’t intended. It was clear they wouldn’t get near the top, I’ll still play Mercy regularly this summer though.

8 points: Slovenia – Lea Sirk – Hvala, Ne!

First things first: that gap. N to the O. Nope. Nein. Njet. Please, future delegations: avoid at all cost. It doesn’t belong in a three minute routine, especially in one that relies heavily on tight choreography and streetwise bluffing. Other than that, I totally adore this – even if it goes on for one chorus too many. Lea rules, so do her dancers and her pink hair #dontcare. Hvala, ja!

10 points: Bulgaria – Equinox – Bones

There are so many things wrong with this that I ended up really liking it. First off: that female backing should have been included in the line-up. It would have made for a less bizarre opening and end sequence and a better visual balance. Second: that wannabe Lady Gaga wig gave us a light in the dark, but really is too ten years ago. Third: so dark and so gloomy, lighten up a bit guys! Then again, I like the cool vibe of it all, clumsy as it may be at times. But I suppose that’s what prevented Europe to vote for them in the first place. Still, it kinda rocks. Oh, and boggly-eyed-high-pitched-American-Glee-giving-it-all-guy freaking rules.

12 points: Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off

As one particular known yellow figure would say: dee-didely-icious. I love absolutely everything about this. It’s simply so well put together I could die. Sure, el Ingrosso is a tad smug at times. And double sure, it could do with more of a ‘live’ vibe instead of taking the full-on video approach. And tripple sure, it would have been cooler if the backings would have joined him – not only to break up the visual routine but also to make it less ‘clean’ and more exciting. But come on, this is fucking genius. If ever I get to participate (dreams…), this would a be a benchmark performance. Totally ACE.

So, there you have it! It took me a while to get it over the finish line (blame renovations, new job, recent break-up and some vocal activities #overload), but I got there in the end. New Year’s resolution for 2019: start reviewing sooner. Or better yet: don’t try and do everything at once.

anyway, as closure let’s take a look at my all time top 25 where Sweden enters the top five again and Cyprus re-emerges down at the bottom.

See you next year in Israel!

1             France                244 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2             Netherlands        213 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3             Belgium              193 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
4             Finland                189 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
5             Sweden               183 (1974 – 2012 – 2018)
6             Norway               180 (1966 – 1982 – 2000 – 2013)
7             Portugal               174 (1972 – 1998 – 2017)
8             Germany              169 (1959 – 1975 – 2011)
9             Italy                      168 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
10           United Kingdom   135 (1961 – 1965)
11           Spain                    132 (1973)
12           Ireland                  126 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13           Israel                     118 (1976)
14           Turkey                  105
15           Switzerland          96
16           Denmark              92 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
17           Greece                 87 (1981)
18           Austria                 78 (2014)
19           Slovenia               73
20           Estonia                 67 (1999)
21           Bosnia-Herzegovina 66
22           Iceland                63 (1987)
23           Russia                 61 (1994)
24           Cyprus                50
25           Croatia               49

 

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Comments
  1. MaxineAbbey says:

    Portugal was my number one this year… so i was pretty folorn when i saw the eventual results. Isrsael winning was kinda a slap in the face. I was never a fan of the song nor Netta’s in-your-face antics, but well to them and let’s hope next year’s contest will have a long-overdue REGGAE song victory!!!! #happyface

    Final note: And was it just me or did a uptempo HAD to win this year? Because during semi 1 ALL of the uptempo songs got through and in the final they were ALL slaying the scoreboard (well Finland not so much.)

    • Dimivision says:

      I suppose all ballads and lower mid-tempos were simply not up to scratch – and the ones that were, were actually fishing for niche votes (cfr Portugal…)… I personally don’t focus that much on up-temp versus ballad, as long as a song ‘grabs’ me. I suppose it’s the same for viewers at home, and even juries – those tend to favor ballads sometimes (judging by past results), so the up & mid tempos must have done something right 🙂

  2. Love_Love_Peace_Peace says:

    Sweden felt like watching a music video rather than a live performance, and that clearly harmed it in the televote. SuRie is becoming pretty big in the UK, perhaps bigger than she would have been without the invasion which I think frightened her more than she lets on.

    • Dimivision says:

      I am very well aware, but I still adore it 😉 The fact that SuRie is becoming big is well deserved, she was always much better than the song and she was a real trooper in Lisbon. Wouldn’t mind seeing her back, with a good entry this time.

  3. Shai says:

    I love reading your reviews but somehow before starting reading I just knew you will put Sweden as your personal winner of at least at your top 3.

    I think you have a soft spot/blind spot for Sweden. No matter what they sent.
    As song it’s one of the weakest they have sent in years and that 7th place they got in the final, is more to do with the Swedish name than to the song itself.

    • Dimivision says:

      Thanks, I aim to please 😉 My douze for Sweden wasn’t that unexpected I think, as my enthusiasm in my previews was hardly concealed. Even if I’ve followed MF for the past 14 years now, I’d hardly say I have a real soft spot for them though: they weren’t in my top ten in 2013 & 2014, and for the past three years they were only in the bottom of my top ten (8th in 2015 & 2016, 9th in 2017). So I’m not really seeing it. You may find their song this year weak, I happen to love it – long live diversity. Peace and love and all that jazz!

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