What’s going on? Where is the love? Heal the world. Imagine. People have the power. All we are saying is give peace a chance. There we have it: Eurovision 2022 in a nutshell. Or was there more to it than a people powered peace plea? Time for some serious scrutiny! It’s the #eurovision 2022 #review, y’all!
A Ukrainian victory would be inevitable. That was the expected outcome of the Eurovision final on May 14th, long before said final even began. In the weeks running up to the contest, lots of fans began to express the hope disguised as belief that maybe Ukraine would just win the televoting and end up in a respectable podium place. That juries would save the contest from being over(t)ly political once more. That music actually would prevail.
But no. It wasn’t about harsher punishment for parole violators either. It was the actual real deal: world peace. Or at least a sign that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unacceptable to say the least. Or simply a sign of support to the suffering subjects in Ukraine. The 2022 edition of our beloved contest would eventually effectively end up being the Miss Congeniality edition. However. While as a fan I may be disappointed or just ever so slightly miffed that the competition felt a bit decapitated, as a human being I am totally on board with the final outcome. Felix from ESCGO reflected on this in his column the day after the final, and I can hardly put it into better words myself so I highly recommend giving it a read. Not in a ‘the library is open’ kinda way, just to be clear. If you think I’m lazy, I’d prefer to call it efficient thank you very much. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom, Felix.
But as the cliché goes: the show must go on. And let’s take a look at the production value of said show and all of its different components. With one obvious caveat from the get go: would it even be a contest organized in Italy without it all feeling a bit chaotic and slightly improvised? Even with multiple slash numerous rehearsals? Obviously not, because as the Grand Bassey herself clearly stated: it’s just history repeating.
With a theme as vague as ‘The Sound Of Beauty’, it’s no wonder that the entire vibe was a tad vague. No really, what was the theme even supposed to convey? That Italians are stylish? Believe it or not: we kinda know. And even though the visual identity of the theme felt nice and retro, there was less of a cohesive feel to the show than in previous years. Maybe, just maybe (bet you just read that in a Valentina Monnetta voice) it was a tad too much style and not enough substance?
Which makes the approach for the postcards rather intriguing as there was a bit of substance, but they lacked some style. The return to “let’s showcase the most famous cities in the country” was executed by drone, which was cute enough. The holographic projections of the participants however felt like they were beamed up from some early nillies photoshop fails. Nice try, very few coconuts.
Other than the hosts, which we’ll get to in a bit, the show got interrupted a couple of times by the traditional interval acts. Laura Pausini opening the show with a bit of a strange mix of greatest hits, that had more false endings than the third Lord Of The Rings movie, was a bit of a weird move but I’ll allow it. Only thanks to the fab bit with the red gloves, very Urban Theory on TikTok. Not every song choice was a bang, but I guess it didn’t need to be? What it did need to be however, was live. Lip-syncing at Eurovision? It’s bad enough having recorded backing vocals. But perhaps they learned a thing or two from Madonna’s interval in 2019… Did Mika sing live, by the way? His new single YoYo, which I kinda dig, was definitely a lip-sync for their legacy. Again, pity. Slash shame. Which also goes for Måneskin, with the added WTF-factor of them not playing their winning 2021 song. Excuse you? But nevermind, they always were and are now definitely too kool for Eurovision skool.
Honorable mention to Eurovision veteran Gigliola Cinquetti, who clearly didn’t feel the need to hide her veteran-ness. Considering her victory will soon get to celebrate a diamond jubilee, she doesn’t have to. Though a smudge of foundation and concealer might have helped in keeping the focus and attention where it needed to be, which was the quite lovely rendition of one of the best winning songs in those early Eurovision days. It made for a nice moment of calm and zen in an otherwise whirlwind of an evening.
We can’t discuss Eurovision 2022 without touching on the dramatics surrounding the stage design and set-up. That all depended on the wow-factor that was supposed to be the ‘kinetic sun’, which was supposed to feature in the staging concept of a number of entries. Or so the story goes, cause rehearsals brought to light that the sun’s mechanics were too slow vis-à-vis the pace of the show’s scenario. Or changing time between songs. Or or and and. Nobody seems to know anymore, but what we do know is this: the decision to leave the sun unused and opting for the ‘black with spots’ side instead of the LED-wall side was…bewildering. The huge gaping black hole in some performances was just so distracting. Which was only reinforced by the fact that there was an actual giant LED screen behind the sun. Even though production sure will have had reasons for going this direction, it feels like the number one question wasn’t taken into consideration: how will this feel for people at home? The logic feels flawed, and the end result feels discombobulated.
On top of all those shennanigans, the lack of kinetics also made the stage feel HUGE in some performances. To the point of 2009 flashbacks. The enormous ‘satellite’ stage didn’t help that impression at all, and the Garden of Eden that was the literal green room was that bit too much that makes too much of something bad enough. And then we didn’t even mention the water cascade effect. I’m not saying we should revert to a 2010 approach, though the stage compromise almost went there, but sometimes less does equal more…
While I still feel that two hosts are more than enough, I was quite relieved to have only three hosts instead of the almost regular four. Though these three almost counted as double with the amount of excitement and energy they radiated. Those who have been following San Remo will have thought that this was quite a smooth show, but as a Eurovision experience it was quite intense. The final had lots of interruptions, up to the point where it felt that we were back in the 80s with an intro for every entry. So explain to me again why the sun couldn’t be incorporated? You know what: nevermind.
I actually think the hosts were lovely and entertaining, if sometimes slightly clueless in their own way. Laura was nothing short of a diva in the best way possible, Mika brought some balance with flawless English and French and a cheeky grin, and Alessandro was very charming – together the three of them offered something for everyone. Even a bit of drama during the voting, with Laura going AWOL for a while. Not to mention the fashion story – lots of people apparently didn’t like what they saw. But the fashion game was on point from where I’m sitting, with loads of colors and textures, unexpected cuts and constructions… Special mention to Mika’s monochrome suits in different colors. Fashion is meant to make you think and react, to be bold and outspoken. If not, you’re doing it wrong and you might as well go and shop at Esprit.
There were of course some differences between jury and televoting, as there are every year. The jury love for Australia, Switzerland and bafflingly enough Azerbaijan wasn’t exactly shared by the public, while the other way around we had Norway and especially Serbia and Moldova unsurprisingly making up a TON of places once the televotes rolled in.
It was great to see 3 of the big 5 doing very well again, with both jury and televoting. These do feel like flukes for now, because with the exception of Italy those top 5 positions are still the exception to the rule. Look at France and Germany, waving at us from way down at the bottom. Curious to see if the UK can keep up this new found stride. Whether the Spanish NF can deliver once more, or whether it’ll go down the French way where the jury really had no clue. Let’s not mention Germany, as they look like they’ve just given up for now.
Now that we got that of our chest, it’s time for the main course of this extensive blog post: the songs! What tickled my fancy…and what didn’t? As usual, the live version delivered different results than what the previews held in store! Here are the countries that didn’t manage to sneak their way into the Dimivision top ten:
25. Moldova – Contrary to Zdob și Zdub’s earlier attempts, this was not my cup of tea. Just a tad too ‘3 in the morning at folksy wedding’ for me. It was clear to see however that this was gonna do very well. The presentation was simple yet clever, with the focus on the local version of Tintin’s Thomson & Thompson. Moldova sure has a knack for finding these sneaky staging ideas that just work. For others. A lot of others. Still a huge no from me though.
24. Greece – Heathcliff, it’s me, Kathy and I’m BOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIIIING. Seriously, wake me up when the furniture is in a puddle on the floor. The vocal slip-ups in the final made this even more of an ordeal to sit through. And that polyester dress needs to die a thousand painful deaths. Method one: listen to this on repeat until the end of time.
23. Azerbaijan – By the time the beat kicks in, I’ve already dozed off. I’ve seen dozens of student art projects and this one isn’t particularly interesting. Much like Greece, it was rather tedious and boring. Better vocals though.
22. Germany – It must be the ultimate paradox having a youngster fresh out his teens reminisce about the good old days. Get back to me when you’re smack in your actual midlife crisis. Loved the rap part though, very young Eminem. The staging probably needed a splash more than just your average aspiring teen musician’s basement vibe.
21. Switzerland – I’m surprised to see this in, well, not last place. Loved the visual approach with the melancholic projections. The vocals were actually pleasantly delivered, if a tad overworked. Pity he’s just a bit of an awkward performer, for lack of a better word.
20. Estonia – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is probably too straight for me. Even though one of the besties was head over heels in love with this, and he’s as gay as a Christmas tree in Santa’s workshop. I just can’t with the Mumford and Sons sound, and to me it needed more than just the pretty face of Stefan. The temperature of the water: rather tepid.
19. Finland – The performance in the final was miiiiles better than the one in the semi and all of a sudden I was having fun with their completely over the top fake rock vibe. The ‘IT’ reference was secretly genius, the giant balloons less so at times. Pity about the song, which is a soulless compromise if ever I heard one.
18. Serbia – It’s art, Jim, but not as we know it. The chorus is catchy as hell, but those verses are so drawn out I find myself slightly bored. Might have to do with the act, which is too static and repetitive to keep me captivated. But I still love that things like this are here and even do well.
17. Ukraine – For me personally it didn’t really work as there was too much going on. The contrast of rap and folk was already quite the mix, without having clashes of carwash cleaners added. The chorus and flute remain earworms, but all in all I didn’t really feel it. Sorry ‘bout it.
16. France – This was quite frankly a mess. It felt quite uncomfortable to watch all the way through. The girls didn’t seem to feel at ease, and Alvan was stress-sweating so profusely that we in turn felt uncomfortable with them. The vocals were mostly…acceptable, and there were flashes where the witchy wood vibes actually worked. But those were alas too few and far between. Still like it in studio version however. *curses in French like the Merovingian in The Matrix*
15. United Kingdom – Never really felt this one either, and I never really will I suspect. The song is just a bit too MOR end of the ’90s power ballad for my taste. Sam’s enthusiasm is lovely, but he seems like A LOT and it kinda showed in his vocal performance. To me it felt overworked, even if he was way more on it than I had suspected before the Contest. The presentation was a lot as well, with the suit and the stage and the guitar…but it somehow came together. The rock infusion made it somewhat more interesting, but I’m still kinda surprised this did as well as it did. Really, how many more MOR entries have to do well before I start to get it?
14. Belgium – Again a performance that surpasses the one from the semi-final. Jérémy was way more at ease and actually hit those vocals pretty nicely. Still not a big fan of the song, there’s just not much to get into. But the Bond-vibes that are scattered here and there do sound swell. The staging was kinda meh as well, and excuse me while I frown at the VERY casual outfit. (JEANS?!?) But he’s such a sweety, I’ll gladly have him back one day with something more substantial.
13. Armenia – I loved this one in the semi, but in this final it just came out a bit…pale. And they say the ‘draw’ doesn’t matter… The presentation was spot on and matched the vibe of the song to a T. Or a Post-it. Even though it was clearly fabric. With a confident vocal performance that strong, I thought she would fare a bit better. Says the one who put this 13th. It was nice to have it in the final anyway.
12. Italy – This was one of my front runners all season long, both personal and in predictions, but come on guys. This wasn’t a winning performance by a long shot. Blanco overworked almost everything he did and sang, while Mahmood tried to keep it together as to not to descend into complete chaos. Disappointed, you say? You betcha. I will however happily sneak into their dressing room and steal their outfits. Whether they are still in them or not.
11. Norway – This was so frikkin’ stupid that it’s almost brilliant. Almost. The lettering on screen is a bit much, but then everything about it is a bit much. The choreography is ON POINT and deserves douze points all by itself.
And these are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Australia – Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
Just a tad on the dramatic side on every level. The dress, the mask, the vocals… I live. The stairs were perhaps a bit unnecessarily complicated, but OK. The vocals were more restrained in the semi-final, they were – I smell a theme – just a bit overworked on Saturday. He was forced to take off the mask with one hand in the semi, and to me that worked better for the dramatic effect of it all. A bit much, but it’s still quite emotional for me on a lyrical level so one point it is!
2 points: Czechia – We Are Domi – Lights Off
With vocals that were much better than anticipated, even some help from actual live backing vocals if I’m not mistaken, this was a nice opener to the final. I did hear some cracks here and there, was it her or a backing? Anyway. It could have done with some slick choreography, cause the casual pretty-white-girl-does-lacklustre-TikTok-dance was not the T and the leisurely skipping around the stage did not attractive television make. But in the end it’s a nice banger, so lights on, I say!
3 points: Romania – WRS – Llamamé
The somewhat tepid verses aside, the chorus is just SO DAMN CATCHY. Silly, but so catchy. The vocals were surprisingly OK, if we ignore some out-of-breathness. LOVED the staging, with some excellent choreo going on – high five for the gender inclusive partnering. Then again I’m such a paso doble whore (thank you, Strictly Come Dancing) that I can’t say anything but OLÉ! And bébébé, obviously. Welcome to my top ten for the first time in over a decade, Romania!
4 points: Poland – Ochman – River
Hey Siri, play KT Tunstall’s ‘Suddenly I see’. Because all of a sudden, in the final performance, I heard what this was trying to do. Not in the least thanks to the excellent vocals. Even if whatshisface was quite on the timid side, the way less timid stage concept brought erm…balance to the force. If you can call earthquake effects and dancing Dementors balanced. When they started bumping into him he definitely needed a spell or two. It’s a very dramatic take on Arcade, but apparently I’m in the mood for drama.
5 points: Portugal – Maro – Saudade, Saudade
Now we get to the actual good stuff, finally. This was LOVELY. Simply lovely. And lovely simple. The performance felt a bit more involving in the final than it did in the semi, even if the circle of sisters was always going to feel a bit exclusive. The intimacy is ace here however, and I love the subtle hand clapping. The husky lead vocals versus the angelic backings is a gold combo. This is the gentle breeze on a summer’s evening.
6 points: Iceland – Systur – Með Hækkandi Sól
Dreamy and mesmerizing, this just had me from the first Icelandic syllable. Loving the camera work here and the atmosphere is just gorgeous. The vocals only add to the fairy tale. Pity it doesn’t open up a bit more towards the end in terms of production, which makes it ever so slightly uneventful. But again: gorgeous. Which reminds me: hi, drummer boy.
7 points: Lithuania – Monika Liu – Sentimentai
My fave beforehand and this one really suffered from having such a big (and quite inactive) stage. They covered it well in the first act where Monika completely stole the show and gave it all, but then the hypnotic floor effect promised a lot more without ever really delivering. Same goes for the camera shots. The second half felt a bit too empty in energy to propel this any further. Could have done with a bit more magic and some dancers to really make this jump off the screen. Still adore its unique sound, and I will definitely continue to follow lovely Monika on Spotify.
8 points: Sweden – Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
Having suffered slash still somewhat suffering from a recent break-up, this suddenly just hit me like a ton of bricks. Nevermind the red light-green light thingie and nevermind Cornelia’s slightly overly rehearsed casualness – though I kinda dig her rock’n roll level of ‘whatever’. Nevermind the two vocal slip-ups – that freewheeling almost ruined everything…. Ton of bricks. The beat kicks in a bit late but in a clever moment and it all explodes in a very satisfying way. Lyrics of the year for me, along with my number two. In this list, filthy animal. Now excuse me while I go cry some more in the corner.
10 points: Netherlands – S10 – De Diepte
Lieve S10, sweet S10, I just wanna give you a hug after that performance. Really touching when you understand the lyrics and it was performed ever so delicately. The stage concept was perhaps a bit uneventful, even if there were some clever camera cuts and lighting effects. But this was really on another level. I do wonder how this came across to non-Dutch speakers. This was just pure chills for me anyway. Netherlands are on a flippin’ roll. (No, not you, Waylon.)
12 points: Spain – Chanel – SloMo
Again: I’m such a paso doble whore (thank you, Strictly Come Dancing) that I can’t say anything but OLÉ! Especially when it’s set too a Zumbalicious latino pop song like this. The delivery here is simply OFF THE CHARTS on practically all levels. The vocals are quite breathy at the start, but luckily they come through as the song progresses. Which is weird, with that amount of choreography. The routine is packed with ‘moments’, the The Flashdance intermezzo is simply *chef’s kiss* but THAT SLOMO EFFECT IS EVERYTHING. Seriously, best effect at ESC ever. Special mention for the ‘torera’ outfit, which was so much better than the catsuit from the NF. Chanel wiped the floor with the competition from where I’m sitting, literally and figuratively. La reina, la dura, una Bugatti. End of story. Oh, and bless the background dancer that died a thousand deaths during the voting.
All Time Chart
It wasn’t a vintage year by a long shot, which coincides nicely with the winner and reason it will be remembered for. But it’s still nice to see our beloved Grande Dame of a Contest still going strong. Let’s hope we’ll still be able to say this after the ’23 edition. But first: Post Eurovision Depression! James, bring forth the truckload of chocolate!
Before I forget, just a quick look at the Dimivision all time ranking, where Sweden jumps over Italy towards the top three and Spain re-enters the top ten. Somewhere down at the bottom, Lithuania more than doubled its total in the past two years alone. Keep it up!
1 France – 247 (1960 – 1977 – 1991 – 2002 – 2009)
2 Netherlands – 231 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Belgium – 201 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
4 Sweden – 191 (1974 – 2012 – 2018)
5 Italy – 190 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992 – 2021)
6 Finland – 189 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
7 Norway – 181 (1966 – 1982 – 2000 – 2013)
8 Portugal – 179 (1972 – 1998 – 2017)
9 Germany – 169 (1959 – 1975 – 2011)
10 Spain – 132 (1973 – 2022)
11 United Kingdom – 135 (1961 – 1965)
12 Ireland – 126 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel – 118 (1976)
14 Luxembourg – 107 (1956 – 1967)
15 Turkey – 105
16 Switzerland – 105
17 Denmark – 92 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
18 Iceland – 89 (1987 – 2019)
19 Greece – 87 (1981)
20 Austria – 78 (2014)
21 Slovenia – 76
22 Estonia – 67 (1999)
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina – 66
24 Russia – 61 (1994)
25 Monaco – 51
Read you in the spring of next year!