2018 - Lisbon

And so we head to Portugal (one of our Eurovision favourites) for the first time. They've eschewed the PowerPoint-enabled stage approach (though there's a lot of video effects being added on, and some people brought their own stage), and they've responded to last year's all-male hosts by giving us a four-strong all-female presenting line-up this year.

Eurovision is in a funny place at the moment. At times it's seriously slick, like Sweden's 'George Michael Jackson'-esque entry. At times it's going for a gimmick, like Denmark's lusciously hirsute vikings and their SAGAPO tribute. This year we seemed to be asked to make a philosophical choice: what kind of contest do we want to see? How deliberately wacky are we prepared to allow it to go? How serious? How much music do we actually want? And how many bad suits? Which approach will chime most with the audience? Which will chime most with the juries? Which will chime most with us? Let's see
(we had Sweden in 11th place and Denmark in 12th, before you ask. But that's another story).

Leading our table for the slick side of the coin: Austria's Cesár Sampson in his rubber t-shirt,
making full use of the elevating pneumatics at the centre of the stage, as he sang a soulful little number (with a hint of James Blake) that one of us was still humming when she woke up in the morning. Also going for seriousness, but getting drunken laughter on our part, were France. Just look at their very earnest guitarist Monsieur and try to keep a straight face. Enjoy the journey as Madame leads us on a walking tour of the first Eurovision stage believed to be inspired by Kings Cross St Pancras tube station.

Keen to spice up their staging, Ukraine went back to the prop cupboard and found a piano in there behind all the giant cogs and hamster wheels. Unfortunately, inside the piano was a vampire fly with a wonky eye, so Eurovision high-camp ensued. And fire. We all love a flaming piano, except if there are Austrian cowboys involved.

As for Moldova, they went to their now rather deep well of skronk-laden fun: a technique that always bags them a good deal of love from certain quarters such as ours. This year they came as a bedroom farce trapped inside a Rubik's Magic, and stretched the six-performer limit to breaking point (enough to warrant a behind-the-scenes video). It's visually impressive, but also holds up musically, which is why we gave it the win.

Drinking heavily from Moldova's well were the Czech Republic, debuting in our top ten with more than a hint of last year's Sunstroke Project to their horny groove. Mikolas Josef has gone for the 'Kevin Clifton doing a dance as the Eleventh Doctor' look, and thrown in a novelty backpack for good measure. It's a sartorial choice on a cringily ironic par with his shell-suited backing dancer. Musically, though, this falls in the slick pile, as did the surprisingly decent UK, back in our top 10 for the first time since Daz Sampson. Eurovision have since removed SuRie's Final performance, editing in the jury performance in its stead to obliterate the memory of a stage invasion. But we didn't give points for SuRie's shaken terror; the song was genuinely half-decent.

Another act at the Moldovan springwater was Israel's Netta, like a Homogenic Björk dressed for an evening jog. She popped "Seven Nation Army" in the blender with Wang Rong Rollin's "Chick Chick" to make a delightfully silly soup. It's a willfully wacky song (it's got a chicken dance in it after all), and its victory is telling. Last year's winner would not approve, which is probably all to the good. That it could bag Israel a win at a time when politically speaking they were by no means everyone's favourite country is credit to the sheer infectious joy of it.

Of course, Israel's victory may mean we can expect a lot more wacky entries in future. There's a fine (and difficult to judge) line between 'good' wacky and 'bad' wacky: flashbacks to Switzerland playing music on the contents of their garden shed back in 1979. Please don't let next year be full of song after song of watering cans. Please.

For each year's songs we apply our points in the 12-10-8 style of the modern contest, irrespective of how the voting functioned at the time. In brackets is the position the song came on the night:


"My Lucky Day"


Cesár Sampson
"Nobody but You"

Mikolas Josef
"Lie to Me"

Madame Monsieur


"Under the Ladder"

Saara Aalto

Jessica Mauboy
"We Got Love"



Europe had Cyprus second, Germany fourth, Italy fifth, Sweden seventh, Estonia eighth, Denmark ninth, Albania eleventh, Lithuania twelfth, Norway 15th, Ireland 16th, Netherlands 18th, Serbia 19th, Hungary 21st, Slovenia 22nd, Spain 23rd, and hosts Portugal last.

Israel's win makes it a resounding 8-2 to Eurovision-of-Old in our post-Wogan Battle of the Blocs. We'll stop counting now.

Nobody pulled out! This makes 2018 the joint-biggest contest to date.

Chinese broadcaster Mango TV censored the first semi-final to remove tattoos and suggestions of homosexuality. The EBU banned Mango TV from broadcasting the remainder of the contest.


Europe's winner: cluck cluck cluck cluckability.


Our winners: Moldova's menage et six.

Mikolas Josef

Backpacking to the Czech Republic.

Cesár Sampson

Austria's Cesár Sampson
takes a ride on his mini oil rig.

Madame Monsieur

"Je suis un guitariste sérieux."


Mélovin's prepared piano
(sets on fire if sprinkled with holy water).

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