So it’s all over for another year. The glitterballs and wind machines have been packed away, various nations are licking their musical wounds and Azerbaijan will no doubt be delighted with the three-hour ad for their country on Saturday night.
But thankfully, the best song won. Loreen’s Euphoria - written my Tomas G:son, author of the fine Spanish entry too - looked like a stand-out from the first Swedish heat back in February (colleagues in the Attitude office can testify to the fact that I have been banging on about it for months), and despite choking on her snow effect in the jury final on Friday night, she left the Russian grannies trailing in her Kate Bush-inspired wake. It’s back to the milking shed for the game gals from Udmurtia.
Sweden will do a fantastic job next year, not least because they love the contest - and hopefully I’ll not be mainlining Immodium - but they have a big new shiny stadium in Stockholm. Convenient, eh?
Sweden also got the award for best score announcer since the British/Swedish singer and presenter Sarah Dawn Finer reprised her Linda Woodruff character from the Melodifestivalen final. See link by clicking here Hilarious, but I think only the Swedes and Brits got it - the Azerbaijanis were clearly perplexed. Praise, too, for the German announcer Anke who got in a political dig to Azerbaijan about voting and having a choice.
After contests in Norway and Germany that were more about Europe and including everyone, the Azeris went back to the old format of extolling the virtues of their country between every song and at every opportunity. To be fair, the Crystal Hall venue, built in seven months, looked incredible, and Baku is a unique if slightly fake place (shame you can’t swim in the oil-slicked water).
Many people in the street were curious and friendly, and at the shows themselves, I don’t think I’ve ever had my picture taken so many times. It was partly the curiosity at there being so many foreigners in their country at one time, but also the Union Jack is cool (though you wonder after our showing this year). Even the legions of security staff, clearly instructed, would crack a smile once they noticed you were a visitor - but there were some odd incidents too. After a while you realised there was an undercurrent to the place and human right demonstrators saw the sharp end of that.
We did find the only gay bar in town, a dirty basement with filthy toilets and a fair sprinkling of very plain clothes policeman (that was how you could pick them out). It opened the week before the contest and has probably closed already. Another way of keeping an eye on the gays. And presumably neighbouring Iran has now returned its ambassador to Azerbaijan after protesting at a non-existent ‘gay parade’.
So the Eurovision circus moves on, but have you noticed that all the recent winners - Russia, Norway, Azerbaijan, Sweden - are countries that have the money to stage it. Just sayin’....
And the UK this year? Awful, awful, awful. Beating only tuneless Tooji from Norway - and it was his birthday too. Once again the UK, which has the best pop music in the world, was punished by the rest of Europe - and quite rightly, too.