Reflecting on last year’s Eurovision Song Contest
May 8, 2019
The 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held last May in Lisbon, Portugal.
Portugal hosted because they had won the competition in the previous year, and the grand final was held at the Altice Arena which has a capacity of around 20,000.
Following two lots of semi-finals, the number of contestants was whittled down from 37 contestants to 26. Thirty-seven acts in one final would make the show far too long; it’s just about manageable with twenty-six.
As is often seen in Eurovision, for some of the acts, it’s not their first time in the limelight. We had Bonnie Langford representing Great Britain back in 2013, and the X Factor’s Jedward represented Ireland in both 2011 and 2012. Last year’s competition was no exception to this rule, with Saara Alto who rose to fame on The X Factor in 2016, representing her native Finland. Slightly awkward that she finished in the second-to-last spot, though.
Top Five: Eurovision 2018
Okay, then. Let’s take a look at the countries who finished in the top five last year. Surprisingly, of the top five acts, only one of them was correctly predicted with the Eurovision odds to get anywhere near. Perhaps we can get a feel for what works and what makes those on the Eurovision radar tick, in an attempt to see who might stand a chance this year.
Netta came onto the scene in 2017, when she auditioned for Israel’s national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, HaKokhav HaBa. She flew through the first round after getting 82% of the votes with Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’.
Full of enthusiasm, personality, and excitement, Netta brought a Japanese-inspired visual essence to her performance, most definitely making it a memorable one. This, paired with her very niche talent of advanced ‘clucking’ and almost beat-boxing through her performance, made her stand out. Don’t believe us? Have a watch below.
The same competition has been used to find Israel’s contestant for Eurovision 2019. Kobi Marimi’s song ‘Home’ is perhaps as opposite from Netta as is possible. He’s got a good set of lungs, nevertheless.
Of course, there are no boundaries with what you can and can’t do with Eurovision, but this contrast is massive. The question is, will Israel be safe from as big a flop as Portugal? Having won in 2017 to then host in 2018, Portugal came last at home. Hopefully Israel will have better luck on home turf.
Cyprus: Eleni Foureira
JLo met Beyoncé in this sassy, dance-packed production of ‘Fuego’ from Cyprus. It’s certainly a catchy tune, and with flames sparking off and the singer in an outfit which looked like a glittery flame itself, she was destined to get a great reception. We all love a good dance routine, let’s face it.
It’s no surprise, then, that Elena was a judge on the Greek version of So You Think You Can Dance. With some hits under her belt before Eurovision, she has had successes in both Greece and Cyprus.
For the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, Cyprus have Tamta singing ‘Replay’, which sounds like it could be one of the songs you’ll be bopping your head to by the pool on holiday. She’s poppy, edgy and looks like fun. It’ll be exciting to see what kind of performance she brings with the song in Tel Aviv this year.
Austria: Cesár Sampson
Cesár represented Austria singing ‘Nobody But You’. Opening up on a darkened stage, as the lights came up, it appeared that he was on a platform a few metres in the air adorned with lights. With a bit of a Rag’n’ Bone man vibe, the song was pretty good and soulful, and he busted some moves throughout the performance too. Particularly making wave motions with his arms. Each to their own.
Germany: Michael Schulte
A redhead singing a stripped-back song with some doodles and baby pictures behind him on the screen. No, it’s not Ed Sheeran, it’s Michael Schulte. Singing about family, ‘You Let Me Walk Alone’ was a touching song with none of the bells and whistles beyond the videos on the screen. Rather than the common cringe-worthy performances of Eurovision, Michael had the right balance of everything, making it an enjoyable performance. A worthy fourth place.
For 2019, S!sters are representing Germany. Plot twist, they’re not sisters and met not long before they first performed together. They won the country’s Eurovision selection show but have both performed in various events around Germany previously.
Germany have appeared in last place twice since 2015, with the 2018 result being very impressive. This time, will S!sters take Germany to the top or slide them back down towards a ‘nil point’?
Italy: Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro
With many countries performing in English, it sometimes comes as a surprise when people sing in their own language. Their song titles translated as ‘You haven’t done anything to me’ with words of different languages showing up on the screens, so most of us would have an inkling of what they were singing about. The overall message is that as a world, we should stay united and stop messing things up with disputes and our behaviour.
Just looking at some of the comments on the YouTube clip from the Eurovision 2018 final, there are many people saying that these guys were robbed, losing out with their deep messages to someone doing a chicken impression. Ha!
For Eurovision 2019, Mahmood is representing Italy with ‘Soldi’. It’s a touching song with a good track behind it, making it a bit more modern than last year.
There are some other great moments from Eurovision 2018 which didn’t feature in the top five.
Let’s talk about Ukraine’s Melovin. He started off in some kind of coffin with a cut-out top section which then opened up and made him rise from the ground up to his feet. Très theatrical, indeed. It was high energy once the chorus picked up, and then he flung off his coat and the coffin had become a piano.
A piano which, first of all, I’m not convinced he was actually playing, and secondly, was surrounded in huge flames. Ukraine can put on a show, that is for sure.
Unfortunately, they have pulled out of this year’s contest, but hopefully they’ll return with a showstopper next year.
Now onto Norway and perhaps the funkiest violin-playing to grace our ears, ever? The viewers at home had the on-screen illustrations to see he was miming playing a guitar, a keyboard and all-sorts. The studio audience, perhaps not.
With the song titled ‘That’s How You Write a Song’ it was certainly educational. Unfortunately, despite singing us through the steps of how to write a song, Norway finished up in 15th place. They might have to re-evaluate that formula. Their 2019 entry is called ‘Spirit In The Sky’, but it will need a lot to top the Gareth Gates version in my personal rankings.
What about SuRie’s stage invasion?! Our UK act was interrupted during her performance of ‘Storm’ which was one of the better entries we have had over the years. Someone ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted something offensive into it.
Incredibly, SuRie got the mic back and finished the performance. She deserved better than third-to-last place after dealing with that!
Lastly, we had some rock & roll from Hungary. AWS were the guitar, drums and screamy combo of lads whose lead singer was storming the stage barefoot. Despite having looked at the translation of the lyrics, it still doesn’t make much sense. The stand-out feature was definitely the growly screaming, almost reminiscent of Finland’s Lordi back in 2006.
Take a Punt on Eurovision 2019
Well, we know what works and what is slightly more questionable. All that’s left to do now is pick your favourite and wait it out. The final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will be held on Saturday 18th May with the semi-finals running earlier in that week.
The decision is in your hands. Are you keen to back a winner from the outset, or would you prefer to see who makes it through the semi-finals before you make your choice?
The Netherlands, Russia and Italy are currently lingering in the top positions of the Eurovision odds, but it could all change during the semi-finals. Netta was favourite to win by the day of the final last year. So, do we think it can be just as easily predicted this year? Keep an eye on the Eurovision betting odds from the 14th May to see how much the odds get switched up.
You can have a scroll through all of this year’s acts on the official website before you make a decision on who to back with the Eurovision odds. And of course, if you’re a Eurovision fiend, you can have your say with an actual vote on your favourite on the night.
Here are your 2019 Eurovision betting odds
Laura has been sharing her opinions on all kinds of popular culture for over a year, with a strong focus on great music and questionable TV. A massive Geordie who has a love of all things Newcastle United, when she isn't sprinting across the Tyne Bridge to St James Park, we normally find her in-front of the TV watching Shrek, Coronation Street or Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.