Good morning.

Well…that was a mad one.

Firstly, a most heartfelt and sincere congratulations to the Kalush Orchestra for taking Ukraine’s third win at Eurovision. In any circumstances, a monumental achievement.

Yes, the ongoing conflict will have affected the result. The overwhelming televote will in a certain way have been politically motivated. Prior to the Contest I had my own misgivings but actually seeing the result, it felt right.

There’s no point in saying the Contest isn’t political. Everything in our day-to-day lives is in some way influenced by politics on some level. We all know music isn’t apolitical so why should Eurovision.

Nobody wants a stream of ‘political’ songs but when you have an important situation, such as Ukraine, people want to use the little soft power they have. Last night sent the right message. Europe collectively showing two fingers to Putin is a beautiful thing.

This also shouldn’t detract from the fact that Ukraine was already a contender prior to the conflict. This modern take on a folk style for a song dedicated to the singer’s mother will have always appealed regardless. There will also have been recognition for the lads to put on a fantastic performance against all odds. I don’t even particularly like the song but make no mistake, this was earned and deserved.

I’ll admit I had my doubts prior to last night but in the end, it felt right.

So we’ve dealt with the winners…who came second? US! WE DID! The United Kingdom topped the jury vote and came second in the Eurovision Song Contest. I still can’t quite comprehend that’s a sentence I’ve just written.

Since the collaboration with TaP Music was first announced last year, they and the BBC have not put a foot wrong. They found a great artist with an incredible voice that can perform live. That same artist was one who understood Eurovision.

We had a positive, engaging movement from the BBC, spearheaded by Radio 1 and Scott Mills. They sent our boy far and wide to charm international audiences, knowing who would be voting. They put together a stage show that felt like a Eurovision performance, not simply a live arena performance.

They even eschewed the usual comedy sketch during the semi-finals, instead showing the actual interval acts. Something small, but something we’d been asking for for years.

The result almost felt like it wasn’t going to matter. I thought we’d end up left hand side and likely to be top 10 within that. I dreamt that we had a route to a top 5 finish but 2nd? I can’t still quite believe it.

Those first points from the Dutch jury felt like a weight off our shoulders. The first twelve from Ukraine felt like a win itself, the British delegation chanting “WE GOT POINTS! WE GOT POINTS!”. After the next Albanian jury the UK topped the jury scores, and from then we were not to overtaken.

Seven more sets of douze points and a consistent flow of points continued. I don’t know about you but I could not control my emotions. Repeated exclamations of “what is going on” accompanied near constant shaking and crying. It was an experience, to say the least.

We were never going to match Ukraine but the fact we then held on to second after finishing fifth in the televote is MASSIVE. 34 of the 39 nations gave us some public votes.

EUROPE DOES NOT HATE US!

So many people need to be thanked for this first massive step in the right direction for us, but ultimately it has to Sam. It was Sam who nailed a truly stunning performance to charm the Contintent. It was Sam that always showed light and positivity throughout this journey. It was Sam that batted back the typical questions from home and abroad with considered thoughtful responses.

Thank you Sam Ryder, you mean more to us than I ever think you’ll know.

SECOND PLACE??? YA WEE DANCER!

And as I’m writing this the exceptional viewing figure for the BBC have just dropped, only adding to that feeling that we’re at a turning point. At a time when young people are turning away from television Eurovision is bucking that trend. Absolute scenes.

There were so many great stories right the way through the field. Spain, huh? Like us, the perennial underachievers, pulled off 3rd places right across the board. When Chanel was picking up those early jury 12s there was a little part of me that was contemplating a Spanish Contest in 2023.

This incredible performer was hounded off Twitter when she won Beniform Fest, such was the vitriol she faced. Those who abused her do not deserve to enjoy this result. Well done Chanel, that was for you.

HEY HO! LET’S GO! Of course Moldova came second with the televote. It’s a shame the vote reveal isn’t done like 2016 or else Zdob și Zdub & Advahov Brothers would have had a mega Michał Szpak-esque leap up the scoreboard.

I’ll admit I was underwhelmed with their staging when I first saw it but I was wrong. It was the perfect mix of joy, silliness and authenticity. Please Moldova, never change.

Cornelia Jakobs may not have won but still scored an amazing fourth place that will hopefully cement this new era of Melodifestivalen. That song and performance will forever be one of my faves.

And Serbia rounding out the top five? Imagine after that first night of Pesma za Evroviziju that that intense looking hand washing woman singing about Meghan Markle would finish fifth. I love Eurovision.

On a personal note I’m sad for the Czech Republic and Armenia not placing higher but running order, especially for the former, won’t have helped. There were a couple of uncomfortable blanks but nobody scored that big 0-0, I never want any country to experience that feeling!

And now, we have a long summer ahead. Some countries will be looking inward to find improvements. There will be recriminations regarding the suspicious voting patterns found during the final. As well jury integrity, jury criteria may need to be looked into as well.

Then there’s the small matter of hosting. But that’s a question for a few months time. To be to Netta, she’d have had one hell of a job calling where we’re going next year!

Well done Kalush Orchestra.

Well done Sam Ryder.

Well done Chanel.

Each one against the odds, scoring amazing results. Just wonderful.

Image Credit: EBU / Corinne Cumming

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