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And so it is over for another year, and the Eurovision bandwagon heads off to the Netherlands in 2020. But here are a few of the things we learned from the 64th edition of the competition in Tel Aviv.


1. Staging only gets you so far
The most impressively staged songs underperformed when it came to the votes. Azerbaijan had dancing medical-looking robots projecting a laser-drawn heart on to Chingiz’s chest. Australia had Kate Miller-Heidke seemingly floating in space, although with all the video effects on it, quite how impressive it looked in the venue is open to question.

And Russia’s Sergey Lazarev cleverly made you think he was surrounded by mirrors, before the reflections began to do their own thing – and spent what seemed like half the song stuck inside a shower on stage. But none of that was enough to impress the public voters.

2. You can still casually say ’mentalist’ on TV in Israel
Who knew? There was a collective wince in the UK as magician Lior Suchard was introduced as a ’mentalist’ before performing a mind-reading trick.

3. Eurovision crowds have finally had enough of that Cyprus and Greece shtick
It might be one of the most expected and traditional things in the whole of Eurovision, but the Tel Aviv crowd actually booed Cyprus giving Greece their maximum score.

4. Madonna should have stayed at home

It wasn’t just that her vocals on Like A Prayer were pitchy. It wasn’t just that new song Future is lacklustre. But watching a pop icon of her stature having to endure Eurovision host chit-chat and stilted comedy based around an openly gay married man wanting to propose to her was excruciating.

Given the political flak – and being called a ’total prostitute’ by Bobby Gillespie – that came with her decision to perform in Tel Aviv, Madonna must be questioning whether it was worth it.

Bless her guest star Quavo though, who in a brief interview with the hosts managed to insult Madonna’s age by pointing out his mum grew up listening to her, and made it quite clear he had absolutely no clue what he had landed himself in when he agreed to do Eurovision.

5. You couldn’t escape the politics
The European Broadcasting Union tries to keep the event politically neutral, and Eurovision has had controversial hosts before, but with calls to boycott this year’s event from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement the political aspect of Israel as host was difficult to escape – especially on social media. Eurovision nights are often a huge outpouring of joy and bonhomie on Twitter, but this year the laughs and jokes were punctuated with reminders of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And while organisers must have feared bigger protests and demonstrations in the arena itself, they could not prevent Iceland’s entry Hatari waving Palestinian scarves as they were awarded their public vote points.

6. Announcing your national votes with musical jingles is now a thing

Russia had a pianist. Greece had a rock guitarist. Latvia’s presenter sang their douze points. All anybody wants is the votes delivered as swiftly as possible, with as little fuss as possible. Knock it off.

7. Nothing this year was quite as good as the winners of yesteryear
A point absolutely rammed home by a segment which showed Eurovision stars of the past performing each other’s songs. Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw and Eleni Foureira took it in turns to sing, with a welcome return for the legendary Verka Serduchka who was a 2007 runner-up for Ukraine with Dancing Lasha Tumbai.

8. The UK came last again
It’s the fourth time it has happened now in the last 16 years. But take heart – the Netherlands hadn’t won since 1975. The theme of this year’s show was “Dare to dream”, and we can surely still dare to dream that one day, eventually, the UK might get to host the whole extravaganza again.

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