Well cover me in a glitter and call me a poorly-synchronised back up dancer but you could’ve knocked me, and I suspect much of Europe over with a very small feather when the Ukraine was announced as the winner of this year’s event.
Talk about coming out of left field.
Granted the song and its singer/songwriter Jamala had attracted a fair of attention throughout the lead-up to the contest and during the event itself, thanks largely to the allegedly political nature of the lyrics which are usually banned under Eurovision rules, but the song did not feature in many Top 10s and while the song was largely favourably reviewed, it was hardly pegged as winner material.
Possessor of a worth message, yes, with a singer who could more than do it justice but not the sort of song that could beat France, Bulgaria, Russia, or for reasons I still can’t fathom, Sweden (I still can’t understand how Frans’ song was so popular).
But there it was, the beneficiary supposedly of a new voting system, in a year with many highlights, which saw the jury votes announced votes first, followed by the televotes in least popular to most popular order.
While Russia was,as you might expect, none too thrilled about the result, and there were cries that Australia was robbed of an historic win, analysis by the number crunchers at Wiwibloggs underscores that the voting system appears to be inherently fairer and less opaque than past years.
And yes it did add to the excitement during voting as was promised. (Well towards the end anyway; the result is the jury vote segment was interminably long, a return to the bad old days of paint-drying-on-the-wall voting.)
But even so, talk about an unexpected win!
No one I know was predicting a Ukraine, even with the considerable pro-Ukrainian, anti-Russian sentiment that prevails throughout much of Europe, with my Top 10 (in no particular order although I’d picked either France or Bulgaria to win), running like this:
Contrast this with the actual Top 10 which shows that while I wasn’t ridiculously off the pace for the most part – though I would never ever begin to think I could divine the mind of Europe – I didn’t take into account how politics still plays a big part in the way people vote.
In this case, not the alleged geographical voting blocks of old but a pro-Ukrainian sentiment which saw a worthy and beautifully sung but ultimately reasonably ordinary song leapfrog with back-up dancer verve over all the favoured contenders.
So that means we’re heading to Kiev next year which many of Eurovision’s most fervent supporters prefer greatly over Russia whose trenchant anti-gay stance would have made life interesting at the very least for anyone of non-heterosexual persuasion.
We can only hope that 2017 offers us what 2016 did in abundance – a random astronaut (Moldova), a suspended singer (Russia), a celebration of unitards (Armenia, Malta, Azerbaijan) and the kind of hilarious self-deprecatory humour and musicality that the charming Swedish co-hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw brought in spades.
See you in Kiev everyone!