Britain - still one of the most successful Eurovision countries - tanked again last night as it has done so often in recent years, finishing bottom with just 16 points.
But the poor performance has nothing to do with Brexit. It's more to do with the fact that Britain just doesn't quite "get" the Eurovision Song Contest...
Don’t blame our Eurovision shame on Brexit, blame our song
19 May 2019
Simply too nice? The UK's entrant Michael Rice
Lots of people are going to blame Britain's last place finish in the Eurovision Song Contest on Brexit and political voting, but the theory doesn't hold up. Yes, it was humiliating. Yes, we placed behind Iceland (BDSM techno band), Slovenia (scarily intense lovers who looked suspiciously like they might be related) and San Marino (Leonard Cohen entertains a cruise ship). And, yes, the winner was awful; the Netherlands sounded like a dog trying to say “sausages”.
Plus there was some political voting. There always is! The crowd booed when the Cypriot judges gave Greece 12 points and vice-versa. Then Scandinavians generally favoured Sweden; many ex-Soviet bloc states liked Russia. But Australia did well (woman up a poll singing about post-natal depression, rather beautifully I might add) despite having no regional allies to call upon, and politics certainly doesn't explain the judges’ love of North Macedonia. If it had come first, that would’ve really put the country on the map, which is useful because no one knows where it is.
Well, at least we did better than Madonna CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES EUROPE
So, were the Europeans punishing us for Brexit? That doesn't make sense given that when it came to the popular voting, Germany – which runs the EU – got zero televoting points, doing worse than our three. No surprise there: the German act had a karaoke “I’ve started so I'll finish” feel to it. In other words, the easier explanation for last night’s results is that the bad songs did badly and the most popular songs did best. They’d been selling well in advance: Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands were all hits in Europe prior to the contest. The bookies thought the Netherlands might win and, low and behold, it did.
What hurt Britain most was that our song was utter rubbish. The boy who performed it seemed very nice and did a fine job, but it was musically unexceptional and un-involving. Euro winners tend be risks that pay off (goth bands); upbeat anthems (remember that boy with the violin?); or something personal that touches a nerve (the Netherlands begged us to “carry me home”, which the police advise strongly against doing).
Britain doesn’t seem to understand this and instead keeps sending bland entries that imply our heart’s not in it. Okay, so maybe we have isolated ourselves with Brexit; maybe we don’t belong with the parade of scary wigs and tinfoil hats that seem to represent civilisation in Eurovision-land. But we're not doing ourselves any favours with songs like that one. Whatever it was called. Something about “we can be bigger”? They're all about being bigger.
Still, we have one consolation: we were better than Madonna. I know she was going for avant-garde last night, but the eye-patch and sequins made her look distinctly Blakes 7. Think Space Pirate from the 25th century: “Avast me hearties, I've a hull full of gold from the planet Neptune. Argh.” I think there was a political message buried in among the dancing pigs and shiver-me-timbers, but it was lost when Madge went flat and the band refused to follow. She got no points at all in the voting. Awkwaaaaard.