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Junior Eurovision 2018: Poland wins in real life, Georgia wins in #esc

Junior Eurovision 2018: Poland wins in real life, Georgia wins in #esc

escgo.com and the #esc chat woke up from the off-season hibernation by gathering to watch the 2018 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest this afternoon!

And of course, it wouldn’t be an #esc viewing of a Eurovision-related event without some voting, would it?

Georgia won the #esc chat’s vote on JESC 2018, with Tamar Edilashvili’s “Your Voice” picking up an average score of 7.67 out of 10 from our chatters, followed by Russia (7.33) and Wales (7.09).

The actual winner of JESC 2018, “Anyone I Want To Be” by Roksana Węgiel from Poland, was met with relative indifference in our chat, finishing 15th in our ranking with an average score of 5.25.

Malta was our least favourite by some distance, scoring just 3.28 out of 10 on average – almost a whole point below the next-worst entry from Portugal.

As the on-season for ESC 2019 begins, with the first internal artist selections imminent and Festivali i Këngës just around the corner, stay tuned to escgo.com as we prepare to unleash our unique editorial view on proceedings.

There are plenty of other places you can watch the Polish winner, so let’s instead end with a reprise of the #esc chat favourite from JESC 2018!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

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 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
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When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

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Eye Cue from Macedonia win the 2018 Barbara Dex Award

Eye Cue from Macedonia win the 2018 Barbara Dex Award

The winner of the Barbara Dex Award for the worst outfit at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest has been announced, and the (un)lucky recipient is Eye Cue from Macedonia.

Not content with their entry “Lost & Found” giving us at least three songs in one, the Macedonian stage performance featured a series of unfortunate fashion choices for lead singer Marija and her backing group, most notably a clingy pink/grey sweater and hotpants combination that seemed specifically designed to highlight certain aspects of Marija’s shape with minimal subtlety.

The runner-up in this year’s Barbara Dex Award was Jessica Mauboy from Australia, while Belgium’s Sennek took third place.

Named after the self-designed outfit worn by Belgium’s 1993 representative and based on a public internet vote, the Barbara Dex Award has been presented since 1997 to the singer or artist deemed to have made the biggest fashion mistake at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. While the voters occasionally seem to have missed the point of the award (giving it to t.A.T.u. in 2003 and Verka Serduchka in 2007, for example), it’s hard to argue with their choice of the Macedonian dual fashion crime this year.

We should have known, really – the clues were already there in the preview video…

all images from eurovision.tv

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

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Mea culpa: The art of being wrong about Eurovision

Mea culpa: The art of being wrong about Eurovision

People are wrong about the Eurovision Song Contest all the time. And that’s okay. After all, if we knew everything that was going to happen, there’d be no point in having a contest in the first place.

But when you write your thoughts on any kind of public forum – even a relatively small website like ours – it’s important to be able to put your hands up and acknowledge not only when you get things wrong, but why you get things wrong.

As the dust settles, then, this is my mea culpa (and not in a Catarina Pereira way) – a look at some of the things I totally failed to see coming at ESC 2018.

Cyprus
Where to start but with this year’s runner-up, Cyprus? I never truly believed in “Fuego”, even once the press centre hype had firmly kicked in. By the time of our final team predictions, I’d given into the inevitable and rated it the most likely winner (although not to the extent that it derailed our overall team prediction of an Israeli victory, thankfully). I still think it’s an absolute nothing of a song, albeit one that fits nicely into the current real-world pop music trend of using instrumental hooks instead of actual choruses. What I failed to grasp was exactly what you can achieve by performing the arse off a nothing of a song. The Cypriot staging was far more than just a tacky rehash of “Düm tek tek” or “Qele qele“; it was inspired by dark and interesting elements of entries like “LoveWave” too, making the whole thing a lot more modern and less inherently cheap.

And obviously the real ace in the pack was Eleni Foureira. What a performer, if you like that kind of thing. Beyond her dance moves, though, what I didn’t realise was just how warm, fun and personable she would be – not to mention meme-friendly, of course. The moment we saw fans in the arena holding up “YEAH YEAH FIRE” signs, I knew it was game over, and the only question was whether Cyprus could still be denied victory.

Of course, despite fan rumours to the contrary, Eleni didn’t actually win the semi-final and hence didn’t really merit her position at the very top of the betting odds. With that being the case, I still think there’s an element of groupthink involved in her result in the grand final. Would the juries have been quite as generous if they hadn’t known Cyprus was the favourite in the betting and if “Fuego” hadn’t been given a prime spot in the running order? I have my doubts – jurors are people too, after all, and just as susceptible to external influences as the rest of us. But the fact remains that Cyprus was the second favourite of the viewers at home, and I’m happy to hold my hands up and celebrate the island nation’s best finish on the scoreboard by some distance.

Russia
I’m not going to apologise for a prediction made from a position of cynicism as long as we have the likes of Azerbaijan and Armenia ranking each other in last place under all circumstances, but still: I assumed Russia could qualify for the final with anything, even a singer who can’t actually sing particularly well and a fairly limp and tired staging concept. After 2018, I’ll have to revise that to “almost anything”.

Denmark
When you’re inside the fan bubble, it can be easy to forget that the Eurovision Song Contest is, first and foremost, a family light entertainment show. That explains why viewers warmed to Michał Szpak‘s cheesy balladry and Jack Sparrow styling in 2016 whereas the juries firmly rejected “Color Of Your Life”, and it also goes some way to explaining the jury/televoting disparity for this year’s Danish entry. Rasmussen and his band of pacifist marauders actually have a lot in common with Szpak – a familiar, almost parodic visual style (your standard Game of Thrones/Vikings motif), a non-threatening and easily accessible song, and an inherent naffness that they were happy to own rather than appearing embarrassed by. Add in some live backing vocals that brought far more life to the entry than it had shown in the Danish final, and it’s no wonder “Higher Ground” outperformed my expectations. Winning the semi-final televote is still a bit baffling though!

Austria
Jurywank. Should have known.

Germany
This is the biggie. So many of my assumptions went astray here: The voters did not respond badly to the obvious similarities between “You Let Me Walk Alone” and a certain Adele number. Literally nobody but me gives a damn whether the lyrics of a Eurovision song are a bit clunky and don’t seem to appreciate that there isn’t a 1:1 equivalence between the German “lassen” and the English “let”.

And then there’s Michael Schulte himself. “Singer who became famous singing cover versions on the internet” is such a tired old trope that I took against him immediately, especially as that background seemed at odds with the claim of “authenticity” being foisted on him by Peter Urban and the Unser Lied für Lissabon process in general. Not only did that sense of irritation cloud my initial judgement, but Michael has come across as a thoroughly decent guy in every interview since, far removed from the self-pitying wet blanket suggested by his lyrics, and that humility undoubtedly helped to make “…Alone” work as a package.

Most importantly of all, though, I totally misread how the song itself would connect with its audience. As Eurovision fans of a certain demographic, we can get so fixated on looking for “high-end” relatable content – with examples in 2018 including Netta’s body-positivity and #MeToo message, Italy’s carefully subtitled peace anthem, France’s hymn to refugee tolerance – that we overlook how a common human experience, a heteronormative family tale delivered simply and honestly, can be ultra-relatable for the people at home.

I still feel like the live staging was too dark and inorganic for an emotional song like Schulte’s, but nobody casting their votes on Saturday night seemed to mind. And how brilliant for Germany to get the much-needed confidence boost of a good result after several years of mediocrity (and worse). Would they mind sharing a few tips with the UK?

The Netherlands
Just kidding. Waylon’s still a douche.

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

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Back from Lisbon: Something had to win

Back from Lisbon: Something had to win

So I am back home in Berlin. I arrived late Sunday evening and still haven’t unpacked. Before I get to do that, let my unpack my thoughts on the final results!

The winner
Congratulations to Israel!
20 years might not be that long a time to wait to host Eurovision again, but in real life, 20 years is a damn long time, and it seems to be Israel’s pattern after 1979 and 1999. Maybe we’ll finally get Tel Aviv 2039?

I have to be honest though, my excitement about Netta’s victory is rather limited. A song from the lower third of my personal ranking, something I wouldn’t put on any Eurovision playlist and that wasn’t really well performed either, won. But I am not surprised, because what were the alternatives?

The top 5
In the Top 5, we had Cyprus (2nd). While I would have loved to visit Eurovision on the Mediterranean island, this entry as the winner would have been very bad for Eurovision. I prefer imperfect singing over supported singing, and so I’m glad that Eleni didn’t win. The show she brought onto the stage was hilariously entertaining though. But the song… no, then I’d rather have “Toy”. But I’m happy for Cyprus’ best result ever.

Austria (3rd), Germany (4th) and Italy (5th)? None of these would have been a deserved winner, either. Austria maybe, but I was very surprised that Germany and Italy finished this high. Italy and Germany together in the top 5 last happened in 1987, Germany and Austria last in 1972, and these three classic countries together in the top 5 has never happened before.

Places 6-10
The Czech Republic (6th) or Estonia (8th) would have been the best winners of those in the top 10, in my opinion, though at no point did I believe either had a real chance of winning. Sweden ended up that high (7th) mostly thanks to the juries. Has there ever been such a discrepancy between juries and televoters? I was shocked that the professionals could get so blinded by this polished, arrogant, clinical stage show and fail to notice how weak the song behind it actually is. Thankfully the televoters did notice, and rewarded the Nordic country with the correct amount of points.

And then there was Denmark (9th) and Moldova (10th), both coming with remarkable stagings. I’m not surprised that televoters liked Denmark, while I would have expected a better result for Moldova. But again, neither would have been good winners either.

Places 11-15
Albania (11th) and Lithuania (12th) each reached their third-best result ever, while Madame Monsieur surely expected – and were expected – to get a better than mid-table result for France (13th). Maybe the song took too long to get to the point (“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!”)? I fell in love with Bulgaria (14th) during the two weeks in Lisbon, and would have liked to see them higher on the table, whereas I’m happy and not especially surprised that Norway‘s Alexander Rybak ended up as low as 15th.

Places 16-20
The beauty of Ireland (16th) was mainly the dance of the two guys. The song itself was boring and forgettable, but together with the stage show it worked, more as a soundtrack to a movie than a song by itself. 16th is totally okay for that. I’m happy to see Ukraine (17th) not totally under the scoreboard ladder, and surprised that The Netherlands (18th) and Serbia (19th) made it this high on it. If Australia (20th) had had a better performance, it could have reached a far higher rung on that ladder, but no surprise here after what Jessica delivered, unfortunately.

The bottom 6
Well, Hungary (21st). I thought it could be the surprise winner. How wrong I was. The rest of the bottom 6, though, was more or less expected: Slovenia (22nd) was my least favourite entry of the whole year, Spain (23rd) was nothing but an acoustic sleeping pill, the United Kingdom (24th) was my second favourite but I knew everyone else was dissing it, and Finland (25th) essentially did a “Vampires Are Alive”. Poor-too-gal from Portugal (26th), the host country, last place. That hurts a lot, but I didn’t expect much better for a difficult song like that, to be honest.

So what does all the above tell us? In my opinion, 2018 didn’t have a single deserved winner, but something had to win, and that was Israel. There was no alternative really – it was a bad year. Now I will have to file “Toy” into my “least favourite winners” box, together with “Molitva”, “Believe” and “Satellite”… and move on, because Eurovision 2019 is on its way.

It can only get better.

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

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The View from San Francisco: Lisboa – Jerusalem

The View from San Francisco: Lisboa – Jerusalem

I’m a liar. There’s no way around it so I might as well just say it.

I said I could take it easy this season. I said that I felt detached enough that I could go through the final free from nerves. And I was actually right for the most part – until the televote results started, and I found myself muting them because I was slightly too nervous (even though I was certain we would win the public vote). And I absolutely did cry as soon as Israel was announced as the winner. I have to give it to the system – even when the hosts mess it up, it’s still designed in such a way that you have absolutely no time to process anything. You’d think that having the same winner that was predicted all season would be somewhat obvious, at least in retrospect, but the last two weeks didn’t feel like the narrative of a story that was writing itself as expected. At least I was stubborn enough to stick to it all the way through, despite a mounting sensation of having absolutely zero clue what would happen.

For a person who had zero clue, having guessed the three most possible winners last night as Israel, Cyprus and Italy – and in that order – isn’t too bad, though. And I actually want to say that I’m absolutely thrilled for my two favorite songs this season, Italy and Austria, to have done so well on at least one side of the vote. In a season in which I actively loved five songs, having three of them reach the top five and the one from my country actually win feels like a pretty nice way for the universe to apologize for everything else it put me through over the last few months. My other two favorites, France and Portugal, didn’t do quite as well, but I could see the French result coming, and while I was hoping Portugal would fare better, seeing it in a very typical Portuguese position wasn’t really that surprising.

I also had a soft spot for SuRie and her song for the entire season, and seeing her performance and the way she handled the intrusion – something that had me shaken, even – was a great demonstration of character and professionalism. I am sorry that she had to be tested in that way, but so very impressed with how she dealt with it nonetheless and relieved to see her safe and sound. Some things are more important than music and competitions.

That last thing is one of the many elements that made watching the Israeli win and the subsequent reactions back home so special, too. Not only had “Toy” been such a popular song in Israel since its revelation – the biggest success of any song I can remember, well before its eventual win – but the country as a whole walked this incredible journey together with Netta down a path I never imagined seeing us walk. Maybe this entire season was about journeys, really. The journey of one fan from not caring to celebrating her country winning; the journey of a team that took the reins of the Israeli selection four years ago and transformed a recent history of repeated failure into four consecutive qualifications and a win; the journey of a new broadcaster that will celebrate its first birthday in two days’ time with the honor of being handed the responsibility of hosting next year; the journey of a country from closeted fans to celebrations in the markets and city squares on Saturday night; and the journey of one girl from social isolation and low self-esteem and confidence to prime-time adulation on European television.

I went through dozens of stories, videos and tweets after Netta’s victory on Saturday night. The Israeli press covered it pretty much like having just won the World Cup, including live broadcasts of the celebrations across different TV channels at 2:30am. There were so many things to write about, but actually, the tweet that caught me the most was one that I saw almost by chance, one which got almost no likes or retweets. An old friend of Netta tweeted, “And to think that 6 years ago I had to get her drunk to have her go on stage in an open mic evening. I’m so proud of you”. Just take a moment to think about that person: the one who eventually went on a reality show just to try and get some exposure, ended up barely winning it – she was second in the audience vote – and then went through the incredible pressure of being a fan and bookmakers’ favorite for two months and the response over the last couple of weeks, only to pull it off when it matters the most. And despite not having won the audience vote initially, she has quickly become a role model in Israel, in addition to the huge success of “Toy” as a song. At Purim (the Jewish Halloween, if you will) girls dressed up like her. People who I never heard say one word about Eurovision posted her videos performing other songs (I almost spat on my computer in shock when I saw my cousin had posted Netta’s acoustic cover of “A-ba-ni-bi”).

The tweets last night expressed that too. Shiri (no, not that one) wrote that “if you told little Shiri 30 years ago that a woman like Netta can do this, I wouldn’t have believed you. Every day the world showed me in a thousand ways that big women can’t be successful and that big women can’t dream. And here, here, here we have this.” Shahar wrote, “wow, the tears just stream down with all this emotion, and all I can think about is that Netta’s win is also the win of all the special, different people, wherever we are.” And Alon got me with a tweet about his young daughter: “The thing that makes me the happiest about this win is what it means for my daughter, Alma. At 9½ years old, Netta is her hero, and this is exactly what that kind of hero should be like.”

The other Israeli Wonder Woman celebrated on Instagram and posted a video of her watching Netta’s winning moments (you can hear her say in the background: “she’s so lovely, she’s so sweet, what a champion!”), although I was slightly disappointed to not get a Deadpool reaction video. Gal Gadot was not alone: every other celebrity in Israel seems to have posted an Instagram story broadcasting a live reaction to the end of the voting or Netta’s reprise performance. Was anyone watching anything else?

The judges from the Rising Star show watched the result from different places around the globe – Harel Skaat in Israel and the successful music duo, Static and Ben-El, in Los Angeles – but the reactions were the same. The videos from everywhere, from the delegation backstage to the hotel with all the fans and the people back in Israel, just kept coming in.


(The video is in Hebrew but the important things are universal.)

Lucy Aharish, an Israeli-Arab journalist and one of my favorite people in the world, tweeted: “So my conclusion is this: politics can be racist and anti-Semitic, but when it comes to people, they can see beyond that… and we have this larger than life woman who broke so many stigmas and showed there’s no such thing as impossible.”

The day after was full of celebrations as well, with an entire country – as far as I can tell from the social media feeds and texts from family and friends – walking around at work and school like zombies (Sunday is a regular workday in Israel).The TV channels dedicated full shows to the win, in a country where there’s always so much news the headlines change every two hours, and interviewed everyone, starting with her parents who wore T-shirts with a “yes chi-ken” artwork and ending with every person who has ever represented Israel.

I was particularly touched listening to an interview with Doron Medalie, co-composer of “Toy”, who is a very successful Israeli composer who often comes across as a bit too pompous and perhaps self-centered. It’s easy to dislike him, but every time I hear a proper interview with him I remember that sometime it’s very easy to judge people by first impressions or the masks they wear. Talking in the next morning, sleepless and disbelieving, he was speaking quietly and on the verge of tears.

Asked about Netta’s words concerning the conversations she has with younger Netta, Medalie was asked how it is like talking to young Doron:

“Everything I did here was to come full circle from when I was a kid. This kid’s first memory is Ofra Haza singing ‘Hi’ at Eurovision when I was five years old. Eurovision is my life, it’s in my DNA. I think I manage to write hits and catchy choruses only thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest and its three-minute rule. It’s my sixth time at Eurovision, my third time as a composer. I’m 40 years old and everything I wanted in life just happened.”

As Lindsay D once sang: No Dream Impossible.

This is what I’ve always loved about Eurovision, and what it was always supposed to be. ESC is meant to be a place where we all come together, where we all get to hear and learn from other cultures, other places, and most importantly other people. And it’s always been important to me that the song and the artist sent by Israel are something I feel represents that crazy, complicated country that I come from. For many of us, when we look at other countries, our view is automatically narrowed to what we know about that place and what we see about it in the news – and while those realities definitely exist, and the importance of discussing and resolving them is always there, it becomes too easy to forget that countries are not just that one thing alone. All those different places are made first and foremost out of people. People who have different opinions and support different ideas and love different things, care about different things. I am not naïve, and I know the next year will inevitably become a lot more political than I would have wanted it to be (and that has nothing to do with where I stand), but the people in Israel – as people – are way more than whatever you see about the country in the news.

I know that many Israeli fans have always felt that people don’t like us. Sure, some don’t. Others have a lot of problems with our government’s politics (God knows I do too, and did I already mention how my friends and I enjoyed seeing Netta pretty much hanging up the phone in Netanyahu’s face on Saturday?), but the problem is that hatred and negativity are always louder than anything else. So Israeli fans have always heard the negative voices, the voices that were hating, while it’s been a long time since they had a way to see that there are a lot more people who don’t live their life by making decisions based on a flag or a country name.

When Portugal won last year, I wrote a very long article (hard to believe, I know) about how much more beautiful that win was just due to the level of connection they had with their entry, and I was happy to experience the same thing this year. Having seen Dana International in 1998, which was also a very important and iconic moment in society back then, there was not the same kind of excitement leading up to the competition. In part, that was because the song itself, while important for ESC and for Israel, was more manufactured for the contest and was never really something that sounded like it came from us. To this day “Diva” still isn’t one of my favorite songs, for all the occasion as a whole was extremely important to me and many others in Israel in terms of what it meant for our society. “Toy”, however – despite being in English – sounds so very much like a song that comes from the depths of our music industry, which makes complete sense since the two people behind it have been involved in so many success stories there over the last years.

It’s not an easy song, and many people – Salvador Sobral included – will find it to be three minutes of noise, which is entirely understandable. It is noisy. It is very ethnic. It is incredibly crazy. It has chicken sounds. It is not as listener-friendly as “Diva”, “Hallelujah” or “A-ba-ni-bi”, and it never tried to be. Much like “Amar pelos dois” last year, it was exactly what it was supposed to be. It was a song that worked for the performer, a song that worked for the occasion, and a song that sounded like where it came from: loud, crazy, and five thousand different things all at once. Take it or leave it. Like last year, like every year, you don’t need everyone to love it; you just need enough people who do. Everyone else will get to have those years where the songs they like do better. But not today.

As we say in Hebrew, to next year in Jerusalem, which might be all politics to some of you, but will always be home to me. Even more specifically, my favorite basketball team – Hapoel Jerusalem – actually plays in the Pais Arena Jerusalem, which is a leading candidate for hosting Eurovision. I have always said that this was the place outside my own home where I felt at home the most, so it doesn’t get closer than this. As it happens, the team has a tradition of tweeting a smiley face whenever they sign a new player, and an image welcoming the player to Jerusalem and to our Pais Arena home. Yesterday they welcomed a new friend.

And as Netta says: Kapara Aleichem, Europe!

title image: eurovision.tv

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

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 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

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Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

Israel has won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

“Toy” by Netta, the long-time bookmakers’ and fans’ favourite, won the grand final on Saturday night ahead of its recent usurper in the betting markets, “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira representing Cyprus. It was a dominant victory in the end, with Israel scoring 529 points to Cyprus’s 436. The rest of the top five was made up by Austria, Germany and Italy, all of whom exceeded 300 points.

Cesár Sampson from Austria had been the surprise leader after the jury voting, but he swiftly fell down the scoreboard as Netta took a clear win in the televote ahead of Eleni.

Last place in the final was taken by the home country Portugal and the song “O jardim”, albeit with a fairly substantial 39 points – nothing to be ashamed of there.

You can see the full scoreboard below. More reaction and response over the next few days, including what will surely be a long and intriguing View from San Francisco from our US-based Israeli writer Shi!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

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Who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2018? Our prediction for the final

Who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2018? Our prediction for the final

Need a scoresheet for tonight’s show? Download ours here!

Happy Eurovision – the big day has arrived! Tonight the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Lisbon, Portugal.

We are slowly reaching the climax of another long season. We’ve seen favourites rise, then watched as some of them fell – and now it’s less than half a day until we will know the host country of ESC 2019.

Throughout the last six months, we have encountered some classic national final entries that we are still remembering and voting for in our SongHunt final – don’t forget to vote for your favourite here! – but tonight it’s the successful entries from 26 countries that will finally compete for the Eurovision crown. And we all wonder: Who will hold the trophy at the end of the show?

It’s time for our team’s predictions!

The format is simple: Each of the escgo! team members (Martin, Felix and Shi) has 100 points to distribute across the entries depending on how likely they consider them to be tonight’s winner.

And here’s what they think:

Country Martin Felix Shi TEAM POINTS VICTORY CHANCE in %
1. Ukraine  0  1  0  1  0.33%
2. Spain  0  0  0  0  0%
3. Slovenia  0  0  0  0  0%
4. Lithuania  0  5  0  5  1.67%
5. Austria  0  0  0  0  0%
6. Estonia  0  6  0  6  2%
7. Norway  10  8  0  18  6%
8. Portugal  0  0  0  0  0%
9. UK
 0  1  0  1  0.33%
10. Serbia  0  0  0  0  0%
11. Germany  1  1  5  7  2.33%
12. Albania  0  1  0  1  0.33%
13. France  5  9  5  19  6.33%
14. Czech Rep.
 0  4  5  9  3%
15. Denmark  0  5  0  5  1.67%
16. Australia  0  0  0  0  0%
17. Finland  0  0  0  0  0%
18. Bulgaria  0  1  0  1  0.33%
19. Moldova  0  6  0  5  2%
20. Sweden  5  1  5  11  3.67%
21. Hungary  0  15  0  15  5%
22. Israel  35  10  50  95  31.67%
23. Netherlands  0  1  0  1  0.33%
24. Ireland  2  4  0  6  2%
25. Cyprus  40  20  20  80  26.67%
26. Italy  2  1  10  13  4.33%

So what do we expect? Much like the betting markets and the fans, we generally see it as a head-to-head between Eleni from Cyprus and Netta from Israel, but with lots of question marks floating around whether that will actually prove to be the case. Felix in particular has spread his points around a lot, while Martin is most confident in a Cypriot victory (although he hasn’t followed that up in his bets, which may tell its own story!). Meanwhile, Shi is happier to accept that the push towards Cyprus is more of a press centre hype, still believing that Netta was leading the way for nearly two months for a good reason.

In terms of who’s next in line, Shi trusts in Italy to make an impact from last place in the running order, while Felix believes that Hungary could pull off a sensational screamo scoreboard surprise. Meanwhile, Martin is hedging his bets with a sneaky ten points for Norway‘s Alexander Rybak (and that one he has bet on… just in case). And we all think Madame Monsieur from France are somewhere in the mix – not a frontrunner, but the kind of thing that could pick up enough support, especially from the juries, to make an impact tonight.

In this diverse and unpredictable year, there are relatively few songs we give absolutely no chance of victory, although it may be surprising to see early-season favourites Finland among them, not to mention the mainstream pop banger from Australia.

What do you think will happen tonight? Do you agree or disagree with our views? Let us know in the comments, on social media or in our chat – and however you watch the show tonight, we hope you have a great Eurovision day, and may the best song win!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

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 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
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That’s how you place a bet: Your guide to the grand final!

That’s how you place a bet: Your guide to the grand final!

The final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is nearly upon us, and as always, one way of adding a bit of spice to proceedings is to have a bet or two on what’s going to happen. Unlike the semi-finals, today is where the mainstream bookmakers also turn up with some interesting markets. This post will help to navigate some of the bets available to you for tonight’s show – though as always, you should take anything I say as information and not an active recommendation!

Our good friends at Sofabet have a handy guide for you if you need some help understanding betting odds – I’ll be using the European-style decimal odds throughout this piece. All odds are correct at time of writing but liable to change as the day progresses. You have been warned!

So let’s start with the obvious question: who’ll be the winner tonight? Eleni Foureira from Cyprus picked up momentum after her first rehearsal and is now seen as the clear favourite – the best odds you’ll get for her to win are a remarkably short 2.38 (Betfred). Her nearest rival in that respect, Netta from Israel, is currently trading at around 4.0 (Boylesports) at best, which is a little shorter than she was a few days ago – that may reflect a strong performance at last night’s jury final.

You might want to hedge your bets by going each-way, which means betting on a song to win and also to finish in the top 4 (or 3 or 5, depending on the site – make sure to check!). For example, reliable ESC performer Sweden probably won’t win tonight, but odds of 21.0 (various) make them an interesting each-way punt. Further out, Michael Schulte from Germany (26.0 at Black Type) has gained a lot of momentum in the last few days, or you might fancy an each-way nibble at the cheesiest entry of the night, DoReDos from Moldova, at 67.0 (Paddy Power and others).

Bet your hat on a DoReDo?

If you’d rather eliminate the potentially confusing each-way option, you can just bet directly on a country to finish in the top 4. Ryan O’Shaughnessy from Ireland has been perhaps the biggest mover in the market since the final running order was announced, and while an eighth Irish victory seems highly unlikely, odds of 3.1 (BetStars) are available for “Together” to suck up the ballad vote tonight and sneak into the top 4. The aforementioned fun-loving Moldovans are available at 9.0 (William Hill) if you believe Europe will fall for the charms of their Carry On Up The Chișinău performance, or you could take a punt on Waylon from the Netherlands to repeat his high-scoring antics from 2014 as part of the Common Linnets – odds of 29.0 (BetStars) say he’ll reach the top 4 tonight.

The top 10 market is an interesting one, not least because the number of points needed to reach that particular mark on the scoreboard can vary wildly – just remember 2015, when Bojana from Serbia grabbed a top 10 spot despite scoring very little outside her obvious target audience. So where’s the value here? If you think returning hero Alexander Rybak from Norway has enough residual love among Europe’s televoters to at least hit the upper reaches of the scoreboard, you can currently get 1.8 (BetVictor) for him to achieve a top 10 finish. Ukraine have been given the opening spot in the contest, and they have a bit of recent form in that respect, finishing 6th from the same position in 2014. If you think Melovin can repeat history to a sufficient extent to make the top 10 tonight, odds of as long as 4.0 (Boylesports) are available. And speaking of repeating history, Australia have never failed to reach the top 10 on their three contest appearances to date. Following some shaky rehearsals, Jessica Mauboy is surprisingly far out to make it four out of four for the Aussies – you can back her at 2.1 (Bet365 and others).

Rybak: Still pulling in the crowds

There are several group bets available for the grand final, too. Bulgaria are the clear favourites in the Top Balkan market (1.4 at Betway is the best you’ll get for them); if I say the nearest challenger is Albania (8.0, Bet365), that gives you some indication of how uncompetitive the market is. Top Scandinavian country is a far more interesting proposition: if you think frontrunner Sweden is overrated, you could punt on Norway at 3.5 (Betway), or you could plump for Saara Aalto from Finland to leave all the boys behind and take the Nordic crown – odds of 9.0 are available at various sites for that outcome. There’s also a non-regional group market for the Top Big 5 country, too. No one is inside 2.0 here, with France leading the way at 2.2 (Betfred). Given their excellent starting position and the potential for the other “big” countries to flop, you could do worse than bet a few currency units on Italy, which you can grab for odds as long as 7.0 (Betfair Sportsbook).

A few sites are also offering head-to-heads or match-ups. The advantage here is it doesn’t matter where your pick finishes on the final scoreboard in absolute terms, just as long as it finishes higher the other country in the bet. For example, if you feel Eleni has been overrated by the fan hype, you can get 2.62 for Israel to beat Cyprus tonight. You may think the Bulgarian team have put in enough groundwork to finish ahead of Mikolas from the Czech Republic – 2.00 is available for that outcome. Alternatively, if you believe AWS’s screamo schlager will prove more popular than the fun but dated DoReDos offering, odds of 3.0 are available for Hungary to beat Moldova. All of these (and more) can be found on Bet365, but several other sites are offering similar markets, so do check them out.

There’s also an interesting little market at Betfair Exchange for the lowest score, i.e. how many points will be scored by tonight’s last-placer. The options are under 10 points (currently 1.62), 10-15 points (2.44) or over 15 points (1.76). The latter could be worth a punt if you believe this year really is as all over the place as it looks.

Stormy times ahead?

And last of all (appropriately enough), there’s the small matter of who will occupy that last place on the scoreboard. The “big 5 + host” automatic qualifiers are always at risk of taking home the wooden spoon, as they haven’t been subjected to quality control in the same way as the qualifying semi-finalists. As such, it’s no surprise to see the United Kingdom leading the way in this market at 3.0 (Betfred and others). If you think SuRie’s vocal strength and natural charm will persuade enough people (especially jurors) to at least lift the UK to Joe & Jake levels of mediocrity, you might want to consider the host country Portugal (13.0, Paddy Power) or even the Spanish lovebirds Amaia and Alfred with their early slot in the running order (15.0, Boylesports). If a semi-final qualifier does fall through the cracks and end up at the bottom of the pile, meanwhile, it could be Slovenia – they almost did exactly that in 2014, after all, and Lea Sirk shares the Spanish fate of an unfortunately early place in the running order. Odds of 5.50 (Ladbrokes) say that Ljubljana will be the destination of the 2018 wooden spoon.

As always, you can see an overview of the odds in most of the available markets at Oddschecker. Wherever you place your money and however you watch the show tonight, I hope you have a wonderful and profitable evening. May the best song win – and your best bets, too!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

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A German in Lisbon: Yeah Yeah, Inflammation

A German in Lisbon: Yeah Yeah, Inflammation

I’m crawling out of my bed to type this. So, Eurovision did it again: I’m ill!

Anyway, where were we? We were at that point when the Eurovision experience in the host city makes you lose your sense of time, your knowledge of what day it is (oh, it’s the Saturday!), and what is actually happening around you.

So as I really don’t remember what happened when in the last few days, let me mention just some of the highlights:

1. I met Jessika!
San Marino was the only song I cared about in semi-final 2, and sadly it didn’t qualify. I spent all my 20 votes on “Who We Are”, so you can imagine how I felt after the envelopes. At Euroclub though, I had the pleasure to meet Jessika, and you can probably imagine how she felt! I showed her all my votes, and received a hug from her in return. If I managed to console one of my favourite Eurovision artists of the year over a disappointing result, then my Lisbon visit was already worth it for just that.

They are who they are

2. The first dress rehearsal of the final
It was a very chilly experience in the hall yesterday, surely not helped my cold. Having watched all the songs in the final running order, I get the feeling they actively placed similar songs close to each other (Spain / Lithuania, Hungary / Netherlands, Australia / Finland), but then again there wasn’t a lot of room to play within, considering the allocation draw. As it was so damn cold in the arena, I approved of Hungary and Cyprus a lot, so my prediction might have been influenced by the warmth of the pyros. I didn’t see the interval act yet, as I literally escaped into warmer territory as soon as Italy was over, so that will be new for me as well.

3. Dinner in Bairro Alto
Yesterday I also happily got to do a little socializing with friends, so we went to Bairro Alto and had typical Portuguese food and wine. This part of the city was full of Eurovision fans – at one point we could hardly move any more as the narrow streets were completely packed. I think this was the night when Lisbon realized what Eurovision is. It’s not just a TV show. Whoever says so has not a single clue.

And now? The final awaits us.

I am going to watch it in the Eurovision Village, as long as my cold doesn’t completely knock me out. I literally have no idea if it’s really going to be Cyprus, or if Hungary is the surprise winner, or if it will be Israel after all, but that’s the good thing about this year: it still is quite an open contest. The Eurovision Song Contest is never won before the Eurovision Song Contest happens.

Yeah, yeah, winner?

I pretty much think that’s it for me with this blog from Lisbon. I would have loved to do a lot more, but my cold and the lack of electricity for fan-accredited people killed my plan. But that’s life. What’s next? I literally have no idea. I will drag myself to the public viewing of the show somehow, and take things as they come. And even if “Fuego” wins, a song from my personal bottom five, I will appreciate a new country joining the ranks of the ESC winners and hope we all get to party together on a beach in Cyprus next year. Lisbon hasn’t really brought the fans together, considering the separation with the Fan Café and Euroclub (and some fans had to stay out of both), but it has been a wonderful place to spend these weeks in, and I will surely come back for a non-Eurovision visit!

So in case I don’t get to write again tomorrow: Thank you for following my blogs and photo galleries from Eurovision in Lisbon! I hope I get to do this again, and I hope I can do more next time. We will know more – destination included – in less than ten hours from now. Enjoy the show!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

Units of time, from shortest to longest:

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The View from San Francisco: Last Thoughts before the Final

The View from San Francisco: Last Thoughts before the Final

And this is it. The day that feels so far away for most of the year, and when it comes it feels like it is here a bit too soon – and, at the same time, like it can’t come quickly enough. I realized last night, on my way home for work, that today I will be watching my 30th Eurovision final, which is terrifying on so many levels. As I was trying really hard not to fall asleep on the train and miss my stop – this week has been taking its toll, and I did actually take the wrong train home last night because I was so tired and couldn’t tell the difference between Ocean Beach and Ocean View – I was thinking about what that means. How many hours of my life have I spent watching Eurovision? Not just the live recordings, but the video recordings back in the VCR days and oldies on YouTube since? How many hours have I spent listening to ESC songs, rewinding tapes in my Walkman, burning CDs or listening to songs on my mp3 player? How much time have I spent watching Lithuanian heats and Maltese national finals? No, wait, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.

Point is, I’ve always been a pretty constant person. The things I love I have always loved, and always followed, but the levels of interest have changed with the years. If for some things I used to spend time and money watching, visiting, following or buying everything, for some I now just check the website, the game score or what people wrote on Twitter. There were things I stepped away from for a while before getting back into them again. But Eurovision is somehow the one thing that was always there, every single year. For as long as I can remember myself, I have never not watched it, and I have never not followed it ahead of time to whatever degree technology allowed. I have missed parts of the semi finals this week due to being in California and having a full-time job I couldn’t take days off from, and that marked the first time I have missed anything in the broadcast, but I still saw at least parts of it live and I definitely made sure to watch the results. I always make the effort for Eurovision. Even for that second semi.

And mind you, those grand finals lasting five hundred hours nowadays don’t make it any easier for us to hold on to our Eurovision love, but we made it through semi 2 and we shall survive this too!

I am not doing a full preview today, but I thought that after reviewing each semi’s performances, it was time to give the direct finalists a bit of love (some of them, anyway).

Lovebirds

I will admit I laughed out loud when I saw Spain’s running order placement, and then felt like a horrible person. With Operacion Triunfo being back from the dead this season and turning into a huge success, backed up by it being the first social media season, the interest and faith in “Tu canción” was huge over there – even if I never shared that opinion (but was occasionally worried they’d somehow be right) – and as someone who is no stranger to this position in the running order, I can imagine it felt awful for everyone involved to know what exactly the production makes of you and your chances. Having watched the performance, though, it’s not like they did a lot for their chances as well, and while managing good vocals and chemistry, it’s entirely lost on a fairly uninteresting staging (which is at least one level above distracting) and fashion choices that take any potential youthfulness out of it.

Portugal has been one of my favorites this season, but I need to be in the right mood to get into it, and this stressful week (where Eurovision was just the minor stress of it, imagine that) was not it. I do hope that my own excitement about the final and the home crowd will lift “O jardim” for me so it can be what it was when it was chosen.

Stormy times ahead

I have actually always liked “Storm”, unlike most fans, and I love SuRie to no end, so I have had my hopes that the United Kingdom could rely on a feel-good song with such a charismatic performer to help themselves up the scoreboard. But trust the Brits to take one of the best performers they sent in recent times and lose her on stage, again making the good old Eurovision mistake of sending a random prominent prop that has nothing to do with the song just so that their singer has something to play with.

I’ll simply never get Germany this year, and watching their performance clip was an experience of conflicting thoughts. That stage looks silly! But it looks different from everything else! He is so forgettable I forget about him even though he stands right there! But I’m sure a lot of people will be deeply touched by him and this song! At least I am grateful for the existence of the big five now, because I will only have to sit through “You Let Me Walk Alone” once. Or, if the universe really wants to test me, twice.

Earnest

Having been in my personal top three for the entire season, I have been entirely unable to see France winning this, despite many voices saying otherwise. After watching this, I am even less sure it can do much – I’d love to be wrong, though. I thought they looked quite lost there with those choices of clothes and camera angles. On top of that, the crowd participation towards the end of the song that is supposed to be the highlight of this looks considerably sillier than I thought it would be. Having listened to the jury rehearsal today, and hence to this in the running order, it fell flat there for me too. Still, a gorgeous song by wonderful artists who are maybe just a bit too camera-shy for this to work.

I suppose it is appropriate to close this post with my overall favorite this season. Italy is not the most obvious choice for a closer, but this is not the first time the production went for drama at the end, and this one ends with a lot of gravitas and emotions. With a dynamic staging and a message, these are three minutes of thinking and feeling as much as possible. The message is still not very obvious to really come across to the viewer at home, even with the superimposed lyrics, but there’s enough intensity to make up for it. I have been entirely unable to predict where this one will end and I still can’t, but I’d be so happy if this did well.

The dudes abide

As for the rest of the show? I honestly don’t know. There are some things I’d love to happen, there are some things I really don’t want to happen, and there’s a lot in between to show us all how reality compares to our obsessions throughout the season. The universe has been toying with me this year, and it has only a few more hours to tell me how I am going to remember this Eurovision season. Let’s do this, cosmos!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Imagine actually being proud of this xenophobic nonsense 😂

Can’t decide on your Top Ten #Eurovision songs for the #ESC250? There are 1062 to choose from on this playlist:
https://t.co/F29Zfj1Plr

When you're idly flicking through the back catalogue of a Eurovision boyband and your eye falls on track B4 and, um...

https://t.co/b7iYacWGIT

Units of time, from shortest to longest:

Millisecond
Second
Minute
Eurovision song
Hour
Day
Week
Month
Year
Brexit cabinet meeting
Misión Eurovisión 2007

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