ESC Pulse Article: “True Music” Wins In Kyiv

I almost didn’t turn up in Kyiv this year for several personal reasons, nothing relating to the actual country for the record. After several moments of serious reconsideration, I decided to stick to my guns and fly out in the end.

Now I’ve finally returned home and battling a chest infection as a result of the sudden switch from warm Ukrainian weather to chilly British rain, I can certainly say that I am so glad I came after all.

The sudden change of rehearsal dates starting from the usual Monday to a Sunday meant that I missed the first day, which made me slightly irked. But once I finally arrived, I was quick to catch up with everyone else, and the work train was on a roll with the usual vlogs and livetweets, as well as treating myself to a few selfies with the acts.

Me and Nathan Trent.

I didn’t get to have much extended contact with the acts this time around, but out of the ones I had a quick chat with, Nathan from Austria was by far the friendliest, and he gave me a big hug as I helped the Eurovision Ireland team with their interview. I remember in particular loads of people wanted pictures with OG3NE at their meet and greet, and the girls looked genuinely sad and were very apologetic that they couldn’t have time to have selfies with everyone. My dearest Blanche was very shy and awkward when I met her, and kind of reminded me of myself in a way.

I also got to meet up with the Norwegian delegation again a few times during my stay, and even got an exclusive for what their hosting plans would be should they win in the near future (most likely the Telenor Arena again, but they would consider other cities).

However, by the end of the first week, the work train came to a shuddering halt. The last two months had been a difficult time for me for various reasons, and the stress of Eurovision didn’t exactly help. Then personal difficulties suddenly came to a head when I least needed it, and long story short I ended up in hospital. I won’t delve too much into what happened, but I will say that the ward they put me in very much had a frightening One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest vibe to it.

After a couple of days rest and being cheered up by friends, I was back to work. Eventually the first semi-final came around and to say that I was shaking with nerves would be an understatement. After having to deal with so many nasty comments in the press centre about my favourite, I was fully expecting the worst.

The few minutes after the final envelope was revealed were so surreal for me, I was an utter mixed bag of emotions and I suddenly had so many cameras in my face asking me what I thought about the result. So chances are you might have seen me being a screaming mess on your local news broadcast.

The next semi-final was a far less pressured event for me, if anything I was excited and anxious to see the result. Jana from FYR Macedonia gave me and everyone else all the feels with her two announcements, there were even tears of joy in the press room.

Then I got the biggest surprise once the show was over: for the first time EVER, I got ALL 10 qualifiers correct!

Along came the final. Before I arrived in Kyiv, I had no idea who was going to win, expecting someone to wow in rehearsals and get the momentum train rolling. By the Friday morning, I had a pretty clear idea of who was going to win: I truly felt this was Portugal’s year, with Bulgaria putting up a really tight fight. I went to the press centre on the Saturday night, a little too excited and rowdy, and had a grand ole time.

And not only did Portugal finally break their duck and win the whole thing, they did it with such a monumentally big score. According to ESC Xtra, if the old scoring system was in use this year, Portugal would’ve smashed the points record with a whopping 417 points!

For a long time I never imagined that Rybak’s record could possibly be broken, and if any song was going to break his record for the highest-scoring winning song of all time, I’m glad it was this one. Even though it was only my fifth favourite of the year, I did give it a perfect score in our review (a 5 out of 5), and I admire the wonderful composition, the heartbreaking lyrics, and the quirky yet touching performance. I’m so pleasantly surprised that a gentle, retro-leaning song like this made such a big impact with those watching at home.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Salvador’s winning speech about how “music isn’t fireworks, music is feeling”, and criticising so-called “fast food music”. As I was scrolling through Twitter reactions on my way to Euroclub, I was horrified to see certain people I follow have such a visceral, rage-fuelled reaction to his speech, which really caught me off guard and put a slight dampener on my night.

A lot of people in the Eurofandom obviously took his speech as an insult to the contest. Some people went as far as to project his comments as insulting their favourite entry. If you pardon my language, I think that is all complete and utter b******s, and just goes to show that certain vocal sections of the Eurofandom concentrate far too much of their energy on being negative on every. little. thing. A trait that I’m very much increasingly getting sick and tired of. I turn 30 next year for crying out loud, I’m too old for this!

My feelings in a nutshell, the clean version.

First of all, the fact that he and his sister covered a couple of this years entries (my favourite being one of them), clearly demonstrates that he doesn’t hate the contest.

 

Second of all, what he said wasn’t a display of “arrogance” or a “sense of superiority over his competitors”, he was simply speaking his mind about how too much of the music we consume today is made by committee, and not through “the love of the art”. The fact that Robin Bengtsson, whose entry was very much a product of the Melodifestivalen hit machine assembly line, was the first act from this year to attack his speech says a lot more about him than it does about Salvador.

Robin Bengtsson in a nutshell.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with liking “fast food music”. I’ll admit that there’s so much shallow, blatantly focus-grouped crap that I both ironically and unironically enjoy, but a lot of my favourite songs of all time come from a place of strong emotion. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more popular songs to come from a genuine place. As an amateur visual artist, I can very much sympathise with his sentiments.

With that, I think I’ve done enough ranting for now. So that leaves me to give my thanks to Kyiv and Ukraine for looking after us so well and doing a solid hosting job, I can definitely see myself coming back to visit one day. I truly believe that this year’s contest will be a future classic, one that fans will look back on fondly, so you should be proud for hosting this particular edition.

And finally, thanks to RTBF and everyone involved in my favourite song from this year. It’s a song that came at the right time for me, it echoed a lot of the emotions that I am going through right now, I always think of a special someone whenever I hear it. Maybe one day that special someone will be ready to take my hand…

Best of luck for the future Blanche.

So, onwards and upwards to Portugal (and possibly Lisbon)! I’m very much looking forward to see how the contest will turn out with an RTP production. And I’m very much looking forward to the nice, sunny weather! Vejo você ano que vem!


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