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Eurovision 2016 Grand Final

  • Updated 2016/05/15 with markup and pictures.

This is it. The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 (with scenes of repetitive flashing images)... Starting with a montage of backstage recordings, with the acts coming out in a flag ceremony with flags projected onto weird looking paper costumes, in a ceremony that seems to go on forever. Around seven minutes in reality.

Petra and Mans (no, I'm not going to find the little cheerio on the letter 'a') are hosting the show once again, making a pointed statement that although Europe is facing darker times right now, however for the contest Europe comes together for its love of the music. I guess this means "don't boo Russia" (prodding the Bear is Ukraine's job this year).

There was no opening act other than the introduction. Twelve minutes into the competition, we're off with the first song. Why the hurry? Because there are 26 songs to come.

 

As every year, I have totally ignored YouTube, social media, Twitter, and all the rest. My only Eurovision information is the two semi finals and this, the grand final. I watch the songs live and pass opinion on the performances.
The images from the semi-finals were from a recording of a live television broadcast on BBC Four. The images from this, the grand final, are from a recording of a live television broadcast on BBC One. I take my images from the MP4 file now instead of during the performances as this gives me more time to write my commentary as I don't have to worry about taking pictures. I no longer have to worry so much about the image quality or editing out the black parts on the sides (a rather slow process) because it's 2016 - if anything takes your fancy you can go look it up on YouTube and watch it in the quality of your choice, from eye-rot featurephone resolution up to HD. ☺

 

1 Belgium "What's The Pressure"

The upbeat Belgium pop song that finished the second final is now the opening act. A tough place to fill, but a great opening to keep people watching. It could have been worse.
As unashamedly pop as before, hopefully it'll still be memorable after a quarter of a hundred songs...

2 Czech Republic "I Stand"

A static yet dramatic power ballad belted out by one woman. One of many, I'm afraid. I can't see this being entirely memorable. This isn't helped by the fact that a second place position has never ever won. I think that'll hold true this year too.

3 The Netherlands "Slow Down"

The country song with the huge ten second pause, and just to mess with us, the first ten odd seconds are what is possibly supposed to sound like a ticking clock.
It's a bit repetitive, but it's actually a surprisingly catchy song. The faux-country vibe is a welcome distraction from the camp, the weird, and the endless ballads.

4 Azerbaijan "Miracle"

Speaking of ballads, I think this is supposed to be one, but the performer doesn't quite have the vocal power to take us into the chorus. What's the costume of the backing singers? It's like American football meets Ancient Rome. That said, Azerbaijan has always performed strongly in the competition.

5 Hungary "Pioneer"

Wobbly vocals at the beginning, whistling on demand, and a Tibetan monk to keep the drum busy. Were his vocals this scattered in the semi final? Just, try not to pay too much attention to the lyrics. Something about the value of unicorns.

6 Italy "No Degree of Separation"

Oh good, one that is mostly native language. I dunno, look at Il Divo and this song as examples to prove that pretty much anything sounds nice in Italian. The staging is interesting, trees and balloons and stuff, but it just seems so much like Austria's song; though the ending with the...potato? onion?...was such a sweet moment.

7 Israel "Made Of Stars"

I think he performed this better in the semi final, but he is such a strong performer that he carries the song by himself regardless of the strange spinny hoop thing going on in the background. This ought to do well, especially since it's so camp it is in danger of carving out its own subcategory. I mean, come on, who can fault A million faces tied in chains, you ride a black horse in the rain? Class lyrics there.

8 Bulgaria "If Love Was A Crime"

The human chevron road sign (or whatever the hell that dress is supposed to be) is back with that perky pop song in a complete change of contrast to Israel's entry. Okay, her dress glows. Somehow I missed that from the semi final. Probably too busy writing this rubbish. Well, it was joyously performed so ought to do well.

9 Sweden "If I Were Sorry"

A rather static song with an interesting message - all those things he would do if he was sorry. I can only guess that he is not sorry. There's a rather nice "why you suck" speech in the middle there, just as he starts to move. His pronunciation reminds me of Lena (that German girl singing about satellites). Wow, this is actually quite a smart song, I like the lyrics. I rather hope this does well.

10 Germany "Ghost"

Hearts and bows and a girl that probably ought to parade around Harajuku (wiki/Harajuku) or something. Come on now, all those people that think Germans don't have a sense of humour need only look at this to know that Germans do have a sense of humour, it's just different to ours. This will probably do poorly as the vocals are wobbly, which is a shame as it takes some serious balls to pull off that much of a perky goth / fairy kei vibe - this is the ghost of you, haunting the ghost of me. It's like Evanescence on industrial strength Prozac.

11 France "J'ai Cherché"

One of the early favourites, opening in French which is good, switching to English for the chorus. It is nicely performed and interestingly staged (I liked falling on the moon), but is it going to stand out? I hope so, it's a nice song.

12 Poland "Color Of Your Life"

Come on man, smile. Sorry, I just find his voice really annoying, though I can't deny he's putting his all into it, and not quite getting there with the vocals. Another thing that grates is the consistent misspelling of the word colour. In proper English, there is a "u" in the word. He wails: Tell me black or white, what coloUr is your life? It's nonsense. But for what it is worth, my life is cerulean, okay?

13 Australia "Sound Of Silence"

A Korean-Australian, or Australian-Korean? Whatever. Sitting on a big box with the sequin-crazy wedding dress belts out one of the best vocals I've heard so far; and more in sync with the subtle virtual reality gimmick this time. Australia aren't here just to enter. They're here to win. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't actually do so with this song, right up to the epic long held ending note.

14 Cyprus "Alter Ego"

The noisy rock number with the guys in cages and the strobes. The lyrics are more logical than some we've heard so far, but I can't get over the mishmash of pseudo rock styles and the wolf howl, it's like they couldn't work out what tropes to put into their song, so decided to go with all of them.

15 Serbia "Goodbye (Shelter)"

A happy uplifting song about domestic abuse and violence. What can you say? A powerful performance of a depressing ballad. Not as depressing as hell, that comes later on.

16 Lithuania "I've Been Waiting for This Night"

The joy of Eurovision - mood whiplash. It seems a bit crass to have such a syrupy song that rhymes "beautiful eyes" with "lost in time", but maybe it's the best response? Especially since this song is actually kind of catchy.

17 Croatia "Lighthouse"

The weird dress and reminiscence of the Cranberries. Wait, is she supposed to be a lighthouse? Right. Impressive dress, but really, a skewed metaphor driven too hard...

18 Russia "You Are The Only One"

Thunder and lightning, it's getting exciting. The bookies favourite it seems, with the staging from last year's contest taken up to eleven, and then taken up to eleven again. The song is okay, well performed, but really it's the staging that steals the show with a really clever way of interacting with the video wall.

19 Spain "Say Yay!"

The barely-there dress, pratfall, and a pop song in English from Spain. A bit old-school Europop nicely performed, but this doesn't really stand a hope in hell considering what came just before.

20 Latvia "Heartbeat"

A powerful performance of a meh song. This song makes love seem like the most painful thing on earth. Maybe it is - Feeling your heartbeat, that's what I want, that's what I need, feeling again that you're breathing - so either this bloke is in desperate need of his partner...or...um...has just killed her.

21 Ukraine "1944"

The strangers are coming. They come to your house. They kill you all. And say "we're not guilty, not guilty". A heartfelt emotional performance of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars by Stalin in 1944, which coincidentally has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Russia's current situation with the Crimea. Right. This will surely divide opinion in Europe, and risks coming dead last or pretty high up in the scoring. Given how everybody in Eurovision loves Russia, I'm going to peg this as a strong performer.

22 Malta "Walk On Water"

Ira Losco who almost won in 2002. A good performance of a song that I don't think I'll remember soon, other than a lot about water.

23 Georgia "Midnight Gold"

Let me turn the light on so my brain can cope with this horror fest of extreme video wall abuse. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not in the auditorium for this. There are surely better ways to be memorable than to belt out a really meh song while trying to get everybody to puke. I'll be glad when this is over.
At least it gives Sweden a chance to show off some of their live video effects.

24 Austria "Loin d'Ici"

The sweet song by the Disney princess in peach, performed entirely in French...which is not a native language of Austria. Apparently we'll be singing in a faraway country. The lyrics aren't difficult or complicated, this is just going for the cute-points vote. Give her credit for neither wearing black or leather, and for eschewing English.

25 The United Kingdom "You're Not Alone"

An interesting touch to use lots of submitted selfie pictures in the backing, but otherwise there is way too much blue. It's not a bad song, it just doesn't catch me, actually the name in my head right now is Coldplay. It's a better performance than the UK has entered in a while, but given the sort of things that the UK seems to think would win... They won't win, the competition is way too strong (Russia and Australia for example), but it should place better than last, at least.
I predict some dumbass Brexit supporters (said as if there are other possible options) to say that: a, this song's title is a subtle move by the government to garner support for staying in Europe; and b, that if this song does badly, that's why the UK should leave Europe. It's a strong year with many good entries and this song...it's a bit insipid really. It won't win. Don't kid yourself that it ever could.

26 Armenia "Lovewave"

This is it. The final song. Two hours after the contest began, it seems like it's taken longer than that.
A slow but epic buildup for the song to get itself going, and the holographic effects. But will it place well? I'm already forgetting what it was about, except that it looks like half her dress is still in the changing room.

 

My picks

  • 1 Israel - we're all starstuff, according to the late Mr Sagan
  • 2 Belgium - perky pop
  • 3 The Netherlands - gappy country
  • 4 France - a catchy song to remember
  • 5 Sweden - this is actually growing on me, listening to it in the recap
  • 6 Russia - come on, the staging alone deserves votes
  • 7 Germany - I like Japan's entry in this year's contest
  • 8 Italy - a sweet song performed nicely
  • 10 Austria - peachy, yes
  • 12 Australia - love this song, and not just 'cos she's Asian

I would absolutely place Australia in my favourite position, but the next few are so strong that I can pretty much say that Sweden, Russia, Italy, Germany, and Austria are in fairly arbitrary positions. I've changed my mind about half a dozen times during this recap, so I'm going to leave it as shown just above and say "them, but not necessarily in that exact order".

This is a good thing. I have found in recent contests that my selection process was usually being trying to find songs to put in my pick list; but this year it wasn't so much looking at which songs to fill my list with, but rather which ones should drop off the bottom of the list.

I should add that I think Ukraine will do well. It's not in my list because I just don't like the song...

 

Interval act 1

Firstly a little mix video of Sweden's contribution to pop. Damn, I know most of these. Sadly they couldn't throw in Aqua's Barbie Girl. Sounds kind of like a nineties dance track from Sweden but Aqua is actually Danish-Norwegian (well, wouldn't that put Sweden in between?). Cake By The Ocean is American. There's a Swedish connection, mind you, which amusingly explains the peculiar name.

But I bet you didn't think Cotton Eye Joe was from Sweden. Or Eagle Eyed Cherry's Save Tonight. Or that stadium anthem The Final Countdown.

Now a song "Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake. This is my cue to go put the kettle on.
Sorry Justin, I know you're world famous and all, but if we were voting on this song, where d'you think it would place in the score board?
Still, it is nice that a big superstar comes along to participate (and push his latest movie product, some animated thing, I forget what), helps to lend some credibility to a contest that is often derided.

 

Another recap

Okay, I'm going to resist tweaking my picks and instead let's take a crack at who ought to languish around the bottom of the score board?

I suspect Germany will do poorly. Cry Cry Sad Sad
Poland, temporarily miscaptioned on-screen as Australia, oops!
Cyprus
Spain is either going to do well or flunk
Latvia
Georgia - I can't see how this can do well, but it is worth remembering that it actually passed better acts in the semi final. Oh my.

Destiny from Malta won the Junior Eurovision Contest. Wow, is that still going? That fell off my radar a couple of years ago.

 

Interval act 2

A brilliantly funny examination of how to make the winning Eurovision song, that is way too genre savvy, and yet again totally steals the show.

They point out that nothing says "winner" quite like a violin. Yup, that is exactly who you think it is...

Then for a costume change of the hosts, a moment of the annoying fake spokesperson. I wonder if the US and Chinese get that it is a big gag? A bit like the weird Nerd Nation documentary. And given how tonight has been going, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the so-called Loreen girls is the actual Loreen.

 

The voting has now closed, at 23h45.

 

Interval act 3

A new song by Mans, with those hoverboard things that are tracked by the floor graphics. It must be complicated as hell to perform like that, so my hat off to some brilliantly inventive staging there. God, I hope we won't see a load of hoverboards next year...

Now a recap of Heroes, any why not? It's a song everybody likes and it isn't as if we haven't heard it lots before.

 

The results

Only half the votes because of voting changes - these are the Jury results.

Here's how it works. The people from each country give the results of their national juries. When that's done, the presenters will give the results of the public televote by how many votes each country received. I think the point of this is because the juries are supposed to have a clue so ought to vote on the merits of a song, rather than because such and such a country is our ally/neighbour/brother or whatever. Giving the public votes per country also strips away the opportunity for Greece to give Cyprus 12 points. It'll just be so-and-so points to Cyprus.
That's the idea, at least.

Austria starts. They offer their 12 points to Australia.
Iceland, with a dog, to give 12 points to The Netherlands (and 10 to Australia).
Azerbaijan with a long delay give their 12 to Russia which isn't a surprise (7 to Australia).
San Marino gives 8 to the UK, and their 12 to the Ukraine.
Czech Republic give 12 to Sweden.
Ireland offer 12 to Belgium.
A Goth from Georgia gives 12 points to Ukraine (and points to keep Australia doing well).
Bosnia and Herzegovina gave 12 points to Ukraine (and 10 to Australia).
Malta plugging the JESC again and giving a pitiful 3 to Australia, and the 12 to the UK.
Spain (with 8 to Australia) offering 12 to Armenia.
Finland (another 8 to Australia) offering their 12 to Sweden.
Switzerland offer their 12 to Australia.
Denmark offer 10 to Australia so their 12 will be to the Ukraine, a rather dark horse song.
France give Australia 6 points, and their 12 to Italy. A bit eccentric, but nice.
Moldova, and what is she wearing? 10 to Australia and the 12 to Ukraine.

Armenia offering... a weird pause... 12 to France! A few to Australia, but it's everywhere in this result.
Cyprus with 10 to Australia, and their 12 to Russia.
Bulgaria with 8 to Australia and 12 to Armenia.
The Netherlands offer 12 points to Australia. Yay!
Latvia with a mere 5 to Australia, their 12 will be for Ukraine right? Yup. Predictable that.
Israel, who don't answer... so a quick visit to the Green Room.
Let's try again. Israel with 10 to Australia and an impressive mastery of Swedish their 12 to Ukraine.
Belarus (6 to Australia) offering their 12 to Russia right? Okay, that one was predictable.
Germany with a mere 6 to Australia offering 12 to Israel, while the poor German entry has a single solitary point. Ouch.
Russia (2 for Australia!) offer their 12 to Armenia. Well, it wouldn't be the Ukraine would it?
Norway (one of the Bobbysox) offer 10 to Australia and I'm guessing 12 to Sweden. Wow! Italy!? Nothing from Norway to Sweden? OMG!
Australia, where it is daytime, offering 12 to Belgium.
Belgium (and an on-screen whoopsie) offer their 12 to Australia. It's a powerful song.
The UK offering 8 to Australia and 12 to Georgia. Wait, WHAT?
Croatia, who appears to be floating, offer their 12 to Australia.
Greece with 7 to Australia offer 12 to Russia, to a really muted response in the auditorium.
Lithuania offer their 12 to Australia. This is only the jury vote, but Australia is like nearly 80 points ahead.
Serbia (6 to Australia), 12 to Ukraine.
FYR Macedonia with 8 to Australia offer 12 to Ukraine to close the gap.
Albania offer yet another 12 to Australia.
Estonia have 10 for Australia and 12 to Sweden.
Verka (or however you spell it) from Ukraine offer 5 to Australia and their 12 to Lithuania.
Italy with 6 to Australia and 12 to Spain.
Poland with 10 to Australia offer their 12 to Ukraine. Australia still has an 87 point lead.
Slovenia, the headphones girl, offer 6 to Australia and 12 to Ukraine.
Hungary offer their 12 to Australia.
Montenegro, with a mere 4 to Australia, offer 12 to Malta.
And finally, Sweden. Their 12 points go to Australia.

 

Only halfway through the voting as the Jury vote ends, with Australia a sweet lead with what looks like 300 or 320 points already (hard to read the tiny text). It's quite a lead over the second place Ukraine. Doesn't mean it'll stay that way, though.

Now for the result of the televoting. It is quick, so I hope I can keep up with it. Jon Ola Sand, who always looks so surprised to be on camera, confirms that the results are in, are valid, and that we have a winner.

Right, okay. The points from all of the televotes have all been added together. Here goes.

Somebody, the Czech Republic I think, received absolutely zero votes. Damn, that must have hurt. But it was swiftly forgotten as points were handed out from the least backwards. One of the few times you don't want to hear your country called.

Only eight points to the UK, 10 to Germany. Wow, this is really stirring things up. The UK has plunged down to the middle of the right side of the score chart. A big disparity between jury vote and phone vote.

The top ten now:

96 points to Lithuania.
109 points to France.
120 points to Austria. A good score for the peachy girl, with a big cheer in the audience.
134 points to Armenia.
139 points to Sweden.
This is certainly more tense than the previous "we can reveal the winner now" before all the juries have given their points.
180 points to Bulgaria.
191 points to Australia - yikes. Is this enough to give her the lead? Australia has 511 points now.
222 points to Poland (who had a mere 7 from the jury - extraordinary).
323 points to Ukraine. Which just put them into the lead over Australia. Wah!
Can Russia keep up? The votes are...361 votes - he puts him in third place after Australia.

Oh my god, the heartfelt bleak song from The Ukraine just went and won, pipped Australia which had to make do with a perfectly respectable second place. I bet somewhere in the Kremlin, Mr. Putin had just thrown his remote controller through the screen of his television.

 

I'm not even going to comment on the scoring, and eccentricity, and the huge differences between the jury voting and the televoting. I'm sure more nerdy and mathematically capable people will be pulling the results to pieces for weeks to come.

The contest finishes at midnight forty seven (my time), sixteen minutes later than scheduled, but not bad for a program as big and complicated as the Eurovision Song Contest. But it might have been done sooner if it wasn't for all those idiotic tension building pauses before announcing what country got what score. I kept expecting Petra to say "the country with 123 points is....actually, would you like to go fifty-fifty or phone a friend?". It is annoying, please stop.

One thing that is for certain is that Australia should be here to stay. Two years in the contest, two solid strong results. That should prove that they understand Eurovision, perhaps rather better than the UK. Which, sorry UK, I think you really need to have a long hard think about how to improve your chances. Okay, it didn't come last (just), but it didn't win either.

Now, before I go to bed, I will give you the top three and the last three. Reading off an SD screenshot so the text is small. Probably looks better on an HD device. So apologies if I misread any of the digits.

  • Ukraine - 534 - I guess it touched a nerve
  • Australia - 511 - should have won
  • Russia - 491 - I figured he'd do well
Technically, 534 is the highest score ever awarded on the contest. However that is with the jury and public votes counted separately. If you divide by two to match the older combined voting method, you'll find that Ukraine won with an average of 267 points, rather less than Sweden's landslide 365 point victory. In fact, in the last ten years, that score only beats the wins by Azerbaijan (221) and Germany (246).

Now the sorry end of the scoreboard:

  • United Kingdom - 62 and 24th place, ouch. Reasonably liked by juries, slaughtered in the public vote.
  • Czech Republic - 41 - and I can't even remember what this song was about
  • Germany - 11 - slaughtered by everybody. How this can score 11 and Georgia 104 I will never understand; though not without a touch of irony, Germany's lonesome jury point was from......Georgia.

Austria didn't win, but she did okay. Beat Israel too, plus Italy who had a sort of similar song. Poland, who received only SEVEN votes from the juries and an astonishing 222 from the public - okay, that's it. That's time to upload this as a raw and then go to bed.

Goodnight.

 

Addendum added during the markup: I've downloaded Ghost from YouTube. I like it.
Am I the only person that liked this song, or maybe just the only person that "got" what her angle was? Certainly the UK commentator Mr Norton did not, as he introduced the performer with: Now forgive me ladies and gentlemen, maybe I'm just old and grumpy, but there isn't a single thing about this woman that doesn't annoy me.
Yes, Graeme, you're old and grumpy.

 

 

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