So I have now attended three Eurovision shows (the two live semis plus the jury grand final) and it’s been a great experience. In advance of the grand final this evening, here are my reflections on the jury final (the show the juries watch to allocate their votes) and a preview of the final for viewers at home, including thoughts on how the running order seemed to play out and may (or may not) influence countries’ chances.
Reflections on jury grand final show
So while the two semis were undeniably amazing, and all that I had been hoping for and more from my Eurovision experience, the best was saved to last with the jury grand final. I’m not sure why for certain as there were no results or votes to read out but perhaps that’s why it made for a friendlier and more relaxed atmosphere. We had a good chat with lots of people around us, fellow Brits, Irish, Danes etc.
It also felt special to see the run through of all the 26 finalists, including having our first view of the Big 5 and hosts Portugal. I have got to say I thought the quality level of these finalists was extremely high. There a few favourites for sure, but I think the votes could go to quite a wide number of countries which in turn might affect the result and even give a surprise winner. It’s going to be exciting!
Grand final preview
Overall thoughts on running order
With one notable exception, I thought that this running order seemed to work really well. My only change would have been to have Moldova or Bulgaria close the show rather than Italy – it just a felt a bit incongruous. I’ve popped a few thoughts down on how I thought the final went for the various entrants below, grouped into sections of the show.
Song previews 1 to 8 (Ukraine to Portugal)
Ukraine was an eye-catching opener, if not as effective as when they closed the second semi. Spain really are killed by that running order place I think. Lithuania, Austria and Estonia are all high quality songs and performances, as is Portugal (if perhaps a little inaccessible for a wider audience), and I felt served to make Alexander Rybak’s song look cheap and tacky (which it is!). Lithuania gave me goosebumps as well as a tear to my eye. Early running order songs rarely win though so while I am sure some of these will do well, and Ukraine will hoover up votes from the ex-Soviet countries, I don’t expect to see the winner from these first eight (though Lithuania may yet surprise).
Song previews 9 to 16 (United Kingdom to Australia)
9. United Kingdom
14. Czech Republic
SuRie did the UK proud and the arena was singing along (very loudly) within just a few notes of her starting! Both that and a relatively good running order position will be enough, I hope, for us at least not to be in last place, as it just wouldn’t be deserved. Many strong songs in this – Germany puts in a performance that might tug on heartstrings (though not mine!), Albania’s vocals are awesome, France are quality and clearly a big fan favourite, as is Australia, though I still feel it’s nothing special and her vocals and staging are not the best. It will do well though I am sure as it is popular in the fan base.
Denmark’s song perhaps stands out most in this section – it’s like a West End musical come to Eurovision and the effects towards the end of the song of a swirling snowstorm create quite an atmosphere. I think this could do much better than people have hitherto thought. It went down very well in the hall.
Song previews 17 to 26 (Finland to Italy)
Some of the big favourites in this last section of the show. Majority lived up to the hype I think. Still loving Finland, Saara gives it her all, and Moldova is such fun. Bulgaria was good but had a slight vocal problem at start which may cost a few votes. Hungary was spectacular once more. Not sure if they can win, but they will pick up a lot of votes. Sweden I felt was quite cold (but I am not a big fan of the song so perhaps I am biased against it!) but it will still do well I am sure.
Netherlands got a muted reception in the hall but being a specific genre and the only one of its kind in contest it will pick up points I am sure. Italy also got quite a quiet reaction but could be because it follows Cyprus. Does feel an odd closer to the show though. Ireland stands out as a quiet moment in this uptempo and loud section and you never know, could do very well tonight.
Israel and Cyprus remain the top two in the betting and it could still be that it is between these two for the win. Israel got a huge reception and performed well, but Cyprus got an even bigger reaction in the arena (and was another amazing performance from Eleni) I would say and I just wonder if Cyprus will edge it with having a broader appeal than Israel’s song?
All to play for though – who do you think will in this year’s contest?
The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 will be broadcast at 8pm BST on BBC 1.