by Joseph Sarrington Smith
Last night saw the 61st edition of the Eurovision Song Contest take place in Stockholm, Sweden following their victory last year. This particular contest was the first to introduce a new voting system. Basically, each country got two points, one from the jury and one from public votes via phone. However, the way it was explained to us was confusing beyond belief, sounding far more complicated than it actually is. I must give credit to the technical team for making it all run so smoothly. Eurovision is a great example of phenomenal stage management, and I’m impressed at how nothing ever seems to go wrong.
But what about the content? Well, it wouldn’t be Eurovision without a healthy dose of silliness. There was Italy with its bizarre staging featuring a Meteorological theme, complete with random special effects. Then we had a fashion battle going on between Germany and Croatia. I still can’t decide which costume was weirder but they both resembled the kind of pretentious ensemble you tend to see on the catwalks these days.
Amongst all the craziness, we had Australia with a singer originally from South Korea (what a voice she had!). The decision to allow them to compete might have seemed like a curious one, and may or may not have been controversial with the Eurovision purists. Nevertheless, it would’ve been intriguing to see them win.
Bookies had Russia as the favourites, and they certainly fascinated with some astonishing staging. Perhaps they were inspired by Sweden’s virtual graphics last year, but they took it a step further with a mesmerising 3D interactive wall that allowed the performer to start running in all different directions without missing a single note. It was jaw-dropping in its cleverness.
Georgia’s effort was an epileptic’s nightmare, with an extraordinary amount of strobe lighting and flashing colours. At one point, strange shapes started appearing and it reminded me of that psychedelic sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey when Keir Dullea is careering through space having completely lost his mind.
But well done to Ukraine for winning! Yes, it was a political choice, but 1944 is a powerful song with an interesting historical backstory. A song about Stalin’s deportation of the entire Tatar population of Crimea might not sound like an obvious winner, but it clearly touched a nerve.