Eurovision Song Contest 2019 review: results, reaction and winner revealed

Will the UK's Michael Rice take the Eurovision crown? Who is favourite to win in Tel Aviv? Find the best background info, analysis, tweets, memes for tonight's grand final in Israel

Eurovision 2019

**This live blog has now concluded**

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12.20am And with that I bid you goede nacht!

Thanks for joining me for one of the closest Eurovision contests in years. Obviously a shame about the UK’s finishing position, but overall I think we can all agree that DUNCAN (as the Eurovision presenters called him) and song Arcade are worthy champions.

But we’re all winners here, right? We’ve witnessed Australian dementors, Norwegian cosmic rapping, a giant chair from Denmark and an anti-capitalist BDSM industrial techno trio.

What more could you want from a night in?

See you in Amsterdam next year!


12.16am That’s now five Eurovision wins for The Netherlands, equal to the number of UK victories

12.06am The bookies favourite from the start, 24-year-old Duncan Laurence has stormed to victory.

If you’re a big fan of The Voice of Holland (who isn’t?) then you’ll recognise Duncan from the fifth season of the show, where he reached the semi-finals.

12.02am The Netherlands!!!!!

11.59pm any moment now….

11.58pm And the winner of Eurovision 2019 is….

11.54pm On the plus side, it looks like a great night for Fred from Norway. That’s a win for me.

Screen-Shot-2019-05-17-at-13.51.45-5738529

11.52pm Ouch, that means the UK finishes dead bottom in Eurovision 2019

11.47pm THEY LEFT OUT GHOST AGAIN!!

11.44pm A reminder of how the next stage of the voting works: all the results from each country’s public votes will be combined to give one overall Eurovision viewer score per song.

These scores will be revealed in reverse order: the country who received the least number of votes from the public will be awarded their points first.

This means that the winner of the contest is only revealed at the very last minute.

11.42pm If instruments are allowed then couldn’t we have at least given Rylan a kazoo or something…

11.40pm still 8 countries to go…

11.37pm Knew I recognised him from somewhere

11.35pm I want whatever Barbara is on

11.33pm Is this why? Is Frozen messing with me again?

11.29pm Current mood

11.26pm Just a reminder: before tonight North Macedonia was tipped to finish in 14th place

11.22pm North Macedonia?!?!?!

11.20pm still just 2 points for the UK’s Michael Rice

All Together Now Michael Rice

11.19pm Now, you might think that the UK is most likely to get douze points from Ireland than anyone else. And it’s true, in Eurovision history they’ve given us more points than anyone else. However, in recent years, Luxembourg and Malta have proved our best allies. Both countries have handed the UK an above average vote 60% of the time, higher than any other countries.

11.18pm In the same way you should look out for Hungary, it’s best ignoring how Azerbaijan vote (unless they give 12 points to the UK, of course). The country only give a maximum number of points to eventual winner 10% of the time.

11.17pm Now, here’s an interesting factoid as the results come in: watch out for how the Hungary jury vote – they’re pretty darn good at predicting a winner. In fact, 88% of the country’s votes for the eventual champion have been above the average score – more than any other country in the history of the competition.

Don’t like that fact? Send your hate mail to bwin sports – my source of most upcoming stats.


11.16pm Give yourself a pat on the back if you said B) Tower Bridge.


11.14pm FYI: the UK’s spokesperson this year is the one and only Rylan Clark-Neal. But what will his backdrop be? Buckingham Palace? Tower Bridge? Westminster Palace? PLACE YOUR BETS NOW

11.12pm Wondering how this works? Here’s a brief explainer…

The juries from each country award 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 points to their favourite songs, and reveal those jury scores through their national spokesperson in the usual time-consuming yet exciting way.

Viewers from each country also vote via phone, with points from 1-12 awarded to the most popular acts amongst the viewers. Then, all the results from each country’s public votes will be combined to give one overall Eurovision viewer score per song.

These scores will be revealed in reverse order: the country who received the least amount of votes from the public will be awarded their points first.

This means that winner of the contest is only revealed at the very last minute. Exciting, eh?

11.11pm HERE WE GO GUYS! FINGERS CROSSED!

11.07pm Sneaky message from Madonna here…

11.04pm Pewdiepie, king of Youtubers has spoken. And he’s spelt ‘Australia’ wrong

11.01pm That’s BBC1’s Years and Years episode 2 ruined then

11.00pm A massive cape and a huge staircase. Is this a good idea, Madge?

10.58pm Oh, is Madonna performing tonight? The hosts should have mentioned it

10.55pm For context (again)…

10.54pm The wait is worth it purely for this. Yes, this is from the guy who plays Euron Greyjoy (he hosted Eurovision in 2014)

10.52pm WHEN IS SHE COMING ON THOUGH?

10.49pm A fun/depressing fact about Netta for you: since Eurovision 2018, Jack White of the White Stripes has earned a writing credit for her winning Eurovision song TOY. Following a complaint from Universal Music Group that the track was similar to White’s Seven Nation Army, the Toy songwriters added him as a composer.

Are the two songs really that similar? As I’m sure the Radio Times lawyers would agree, I couldn’t possibly comment. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.


10.45pm Stay with this guy, the payoff is worth it

10.43pm Also me, six hours into this blog

10.42pm Me waiting for Madonna to come on

10.35pm Laugh and you’re a bad person. Just like me

10.33pm Just a reminder of the best songs of the night

  1. Australia
  2. Australia
  3. Australia
  4. Australia
  5. Australia
  6. Australia
  7. Australia
  8. Australia
  9. Australia
  10. Australia
  11. Australia
  12. ICELAND – HATE WILL PREVAIL

10.31pm There was an idea called the Eurovision Initiative…

10.29pm It seems a fitting time to remind you about the interval performance of 2016 in Sweden. Perhaps the greatest Eurovision song of all time (except Australia’s 2019 entry. GOOD GOD, JUST VOTE AUSTRALIA ALREADY!)

10.27pm God this is awkward: just realised I’m wearing the same outfit as Conchita

10.25pm And remember: VOTE AUSTRALIA AND THE UK MIGHT HOST EUROVISION

10.24pm If you’re still struggling to vote, the easiest way to do it is via the app. Here’s how to get it…

10.22pm Somehow the original is even better. And more migraine-inducing…

10.20pm Of course, the 26 competing acts aren’t the only ones performing tonight. Here’s a reminder who else you can catch on the Eurovision stage soon…

Madonna

Yes, there were plenty of worries earlier in the week that Madge wouldn’t appear – she still hadn’t signed a contract for the performance on Tuesday. However, stop your worrying: it’s all now confirmed.

Madonna is set to perform two songs during the show’s interval: 1989 hit Like A Prayer and new single Future (featuring US rapper Quavo).

Netta

The Israeli winner of the contest last year will return for a lap of honour and A LOT of chicken noises. Like Madonna, Netta will perform two tracks. TOY (the Eurovision 2018 winner) and new single Nana Banana, which is objectively brilliant.

10.18pm Just a reminder: you can vote over the phone or via the Eurovision app, which is available on iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Each person can vote up to 20 times but voters will be unable to select their own country’s entry. UK-based viewers cannot vote by text.


10.16pm As if you needed another reason to vote Australia tonight #KateWillPrevail…


10.10pm Now, after some talk, it was decided I keep this blog pretty neutral, just acting as your guide for the night. But, with that said, VOTE AUSTRALIA TONIGHT.

Not only is there track an absolute gem, but if Australia win there’s a fair chance the UK will host Eurovision next year! Rather than being held down under, if Australia triumph they have to nominate a European country to co-host. And Germany, France and the UK are in the running here.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 - Dress Rehearsal

In fact, when speaking to Aussie competitor Kate Miller-Heidke earlier this week, she told me she’d prefer Eurovision to be held in London if she wins.

It looks like a real possibility: discounting The Netherlands, Australia is favourite to win tonight. HELP THEM MAKE IT HAPPEN!


10.06pm Some absolute 10/10 reactions to that incredible Australia performance

10.04pm THIS IS IT. THE LAST SONG OF THE NIGHT: Spain’s Miki with La Venda (The Sale).

It’s a track that will see Miki will perform on and around a giant Wes Anderson-style house set. With the absence of a man running in a hamster wheel, it couldn’t be more Eurovision if it tried.


10.02pm If you’re interested (which you definitely are) this is how Australia get wheeled out on the Eurovision stage…

And this is how Kate makes her way to the top of that pole (her dress was rolled up around her waist with velcro while climbing tonight).


9.59pm Ever wondered what the dementors are up to since worked dried up after the Harry Potter films? Answer: they’re competing for Australia at Eurovision.

You can catch two of them swinging in the background of the next song, operatic club track Zero Gravity (sung Ze-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ero Gra-a-a-a-a-a-a-avity) by Kate Miller-Heidke.

And it’s a real treat. Not only is the song, IMO, the best of the night, but the staging is incredible. Kate and the dementor-like backing singers will perform on the top of five-metre bendy poles, swinging across the stage.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 - Dress Rehearsal

9.56pm Switzerland’s up next with She Got Me by Luca Hänni, a song that’s been very popular since it was released. I can’t quite work out why though. Is it the catchy chorus? Or funky choreography? I can’t put my finger on it…

Hmmm what could it be?

Nope, I’ve got nothing.

Anyway, the lyrics to this one are all about dirty dancing. Which, judging by the choreography, is the little jig you do when you’re bursting for the loo.


9.51pm TOILET BREAK ALERT

Now, Serbia’s song isn’t necessarily bad, just not particularly noteworthy.

The most interesting thing this entry: its singer, Nevena Božović, is the first person to perform lead vocals in both junior and adult versions of Eurovision. That’s all I got for you, I’m afraid.

Oh, and this tweet from her semi-final performance…


9.50pm Just this

9.48pm FIVE MORE SONGS TO GO.

The first of which being Italy’s Mahmood with Soldi, another favourite to win.

It’s a very catchy song. But, if you’ve got subtitles on, you’ll soon realise it’s not a very happy one. The lyrics are based on Mahmood’s relationship with an unreliable father, whose main priority is money (soldi in Italiano).

But I do have one piece of trivia for you here: there’s one line of Arabic in this song – Waladi waladi habibi ta’aleena (my son, my son, darling, come over here). This makes Soldi the fourth Eurovision song ever to feature the language.

If that’s not a fact that will drastically change the way you see Eurovision, I don’t know what is.


9.47pm Jesus…

9.44pm Time for another favourite now, it’s France: Bilal Hassani with Roi (King en anglais), a very uplifting track all about acceptance.

2019 Eurovision Song Contest: Grand Final Dress Rehearsal

An LGBTQ icon already on YouTube, the 19-year-old Hassani might remind you of a young Conchita Wurst (sans beard). If so, that’s a great shout: Wurst is one of Hassani’s biggest influences – Bilal auditioned The Voice Kids France back in 2015 with her track Rise Like a Phoenix.


9.42pm “Reasonable similarities”  indeed


9.40pm Azerbaijan now with Truth by Chingiz. As well as being a pretty good track, it also comes with some pretty incredible staging.

Every year there’s a group using robots and 2019 is Azerbaijan’s year. Chingiz is set to turn up on stage with two mechanical arms apparently scanning his heart.

It’s great, but just makes me pine for the best robots in Eurovision history: the San Marino backing dancers of 2018.


9.39pm YES YES YES YES

9.36pm Belarus is prepping to go on stage now. And, at the risk of sounding a tad harsh, I wish they’d never turned up to Eurovision this year and I absolutely hate everything about this song.

You see, Like It by ZENA has been stuck in my head ALL day. It’s not great. It’s not bad either. But it’s chorus is very catchy, the Eurovision equivalent of Baby Cakes (you just don’t know know).

Belarus – Zena

However, I shouldn’t be too mean: ZENA is only 16 years old (!). She was a finalist in the 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Minsk and came in 3rd place in 2016, before co-hosting last year.

Another fun fact for you: she also voiced the Russian language version of Disney’s Moana back in 2016.

What can I say except you’re welcome.


9.33pm Well, Hatari’s caused quite the reaction on Twitter


9.31pm Next up is Estonia and singer Victor Crone whose performance features graphics I’m pretty sure are the result of his production team discovering the transition effects on Microsoft PowerPoint.

2019 Eurovision Song Contest: First Semi-Final Dress Rehearsal

Also, we should warn you now: Crone has some serious “anyway, here’s Wonderwall” vibes.


9.28pm It’s about time I admit it: I’m OBSESSED by Hatari. In fact, I was lucky enough to speak them a few weeks back and they were INCREDIBLE.

Here’s what they said…

  • They’d be up for trouser wrestling Theresa May and Boris Johnson – “If [they] name the time, place, and terms of the Glíma, we will honour their call.”
  • Everyone from the UK is welcome in their BDSM colony. Which is good to know.
  • Their hobbies are a tad out there – “Our hobbies include promoting our image on social media, marketing products to children, going on scenic tours to appreciate the numerous well-spaced parking lots around the Reykjavik area.”
  • They have the perfect reason UK viewers should vote for them – “Because Doomsday is upon them, they look into the mirror and recognise themselves in Hatari. We are all Hatari.”

Check out the full article here. Because interviewing an Icelandic BDSM bent on destroying society is perhaps the crowning moment of my career.

hatari2

Yes, my parents are proud of me. Why you ask?


9.24pm Better send your gran out the room for the next song: it’s Iceland’s industrial techno BDSM trio Hatari with song Hatrið mun sigra (Hate will Prevail).

Iceland Eurovision 2019

And mother of god, there’s a lot to say about them, so you better read quick…

  • Hatari have a plan to bring down the current socio-economic world order ­– They say they’re performing at Eurovision to destroy society and capitalism. You know, just like Marx would.
  • Turn on your subtitles! That way you enjoy lyrics such as “The hangover is endless/Life is meaningless/The emptiness will get us all” before a rousing chorus of “Hate will prevail/Europe will crumble”. 
  • They challenged the Israeli Prime Minister to a match of Icelandic trouser wrestling. Before arriving in Tel Aviv, they said they wanted to face Benjamin Netanyahu – leader of Eurovision host nation Israel – in a bout of the Icelandic sport known as Glima. Hatari said if they win, they’d have the right to build a liberal BDSM colony on the Israeli coast.
  • They’re keen bakers. If you’re wondering what they look like out of their whips and chains, the group previously posted a video of themselves at home making a unicorn cake. It’s even weirder than it sounds.


9.22pm More of that sweet sweet #Fred content for you…


9.20pm Okay, we’re up! The UK’s Michael Rice is about to take to the stage with Better Than Us. And I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for him.

UK – Michael Rice
Can the 21-year-old bring back the Eurovision crown for the UK for the first time since 1997? I’m sceptical. It’s by no means a bad track, just not great either.

Just a little bit about Michael: he’s a former winner of BBC singing contest All Together Now (the one with 100 judges) and past X Factor contestant (he bowed out at the bootcamp stage in 2014).

All the best tonight, Michael. You’re going to need it.


9.20pm GET IN THERE, FRED! NAILED IT

9.17pm Next up: Norway with Spirit In The Sky by KEiiNO. And this is set to be one of the talking points of the night. Not just because one of the lead singers looks like Ronan Keating.

The group features a rapper called Fred – he’ll be the one wearing the budget X-Man Doctor Strange outfit. And in about two minutes in he’s set to shoot to the Eurovision hall of fame.

Turn on the subtitles and bask in the best Norwegian rap/demon summoning you’ll ever hear.

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(p.s. the UK is up NEXT)


9.16pm Right, I’m back (and yes, I did wash my hands, mum). Thanks for covering, guys

9.13pm If you’re hearing the crowd go wild, it’s because Israel’s act Kobi Marimi is set to come on with ballad Home.

My advice: TAKE A TOILET BREAK NOW. There are three huge acts about to come on (including the UK), so run to the loo now. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

You’ll hold the fort for me, won’t you, guys?

Guys?


9.12pm terrifyingly accurate


9.08pm Now, we know what you’re thinking at this point: where on earth all the fencers on this year’s show!? Worry no more: serving up some sabre realness, Greece’s Katerine Duska and her sword-bearing backing dancers are about to come on.

And this song doesn’t just demonstrate how relaxed Eurovision’s eye protection regulars are getting. It’s also a track that shows off the songwriting talents of a certain David Sneddon (see below).

That’s right, Better Love was co-written by the man who won Fame Academy way back in 2002. Sneddon’s also penned songs for the likes of Matt Cardle and Lana Del Rey (National Anthem). #TheMoreYouKnow

XS Festival At Rivermead Leisure Centre In Reading

9.07pm We knew there was something missing…

9.06pm Just a helpful reminder of all the song we’ve still got to go…


9.04pm Right. This. Is. It: The Netherlands, who are the massive favourites to win tonight’s contest. They’ve sent along Duncan Laurence with Hozier-type track Arcade. And I’ll say this now, it is very good and very touching.

There’s not much to note staging-wise though, Duncan set to perform alone on a piano. It’s a bit of a disappointment considering the song’s amazing underwater music video, but that would be impossible to create on the Eurovision stage.

Still, I had my fingers crossed he’d perform in a paddling pool, thrashing around a little during the chorus.


9.03pm 10/10. Would lol again.

9pm 

8.59pm Okay, with Slovenia safely back to the mothership, it’s time for Cyprus and Tamta with her song Replay.

The good news: it’s a pretty decent track featuring a bit of TV trickery during the chorus (no, your screen hasn’t messed up). The bad news: looks like Tamta couldn’t find her hairdryer before coming on stage.

2019 Eurovision Song Contest: First Semi-Final Dress Rehearsal

Also, just to warn you now, this song contains some stripping and suggestive looks to the camera. Don’t be surprised if your dad goes quiet for the next few minutes.


8.57pm Great news if you’re into The XX and high stakes staring matches: Slovenia are up next with duo Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl. Their song: Sebi (English: Oneself).

Contrary to what some have said on Twitter, the pair haven’t escaped from a cult and/or are brother and sister. Y’all been watching too much Game of Thrones – judging by their Instagram, they ARE a real-life couple. Let the conspiracy theories end here.

With that said, Zala is undeniably an alien. Or not human at the least – I’ve never seen somebody not blink as long as her.

Actually, I quite like the idea Gašper etched some inflammatory drawings on her eyelids and now she can’t blink without some serious legal consequences. Classic Gašper!

slovenia eurovision

8.54pm This was SPOT ON.

8.53pm As Graham said, London-born Lundvik actually co-wrote Better Than Us, the song to be performed by UK entry Michael Rice.

He first planned to represent Sweden with Bigger Than Us before switching to the (arguably better) track Too Late For Love.

8.51pm CALL EVERYONE BACK FROM THE BATHROOM/KITCHEN: Sweden is up next.

This year, they’ve brought John Lundvik, a hot(ter) version of Chris Kamara. And his song is something I think the youths these days call a ‘certified club banger’.

Sweden Eurovision 2019 (Getty)

Not surprisingly for Sweden, it’s one of the favourites to win by the bookies – something we’re putting down to its whole infectious Disney’s Hercules energy.

Enjoy – and watch out from a cameo from your nan’s gas fire.


8.50pm Dang, think I owe you guys all a drink. I’ve only found one. It wasn’t actually a serious bet though. Right guys?

Guys?


8.46pm TOILET BREAK ALERT. It’s now the perfect time to run to the loo, unless, of course, you’re keen on seeing North Macedonia’s Tamara Todevska take to the stage. And, be honest, you’ve already forgotten her name.

If you do stick around, though, something is going to become apparent very quick: this big Balkan ballad uses some mirror staging that looks a lot like Russia’s, but on a much smaller budget.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 - Dress Rehearsal

In fact, I’m calling it now: there’s going to be at least three “’Can I copy your homework?’/’Yeah, but don’t make it too obvious.’” tweets in the next two minutes. In fact, I’m willing to bet each and every one of you a drink on it.

Shake on it? No take backs? Right, game on.


8.43pm This is actually Serhat’s second time representing San Marino, previously bowing out at the semis in 2016.

With a population of 35,000 (that’s smaller than Chichester), San Marino is no stranger to re-using acts: singer Valentina Monetta has represented the country four times in its 10 years at Eurovision.


8.42pm * clap emoji x3 *

8.41pm Act number seven? San Marino. And instead of major theatrics, they’ve opted for quite a bold strategy of sending along Serhat, a singer some have said is, let’s say, vocally challenged at best.

'Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel' From Berlin

But as much as it’s a surprise he qualified for the final, I find it impossible not to warm to Serhat. He’s clearly loving every minute of it.

Yes, he’s got the vibe of that uncle you secretly hate doing karaoke, but the man gives it all he’s got. Which, judging by how much the backing vocals get turned up here, isn’t a lot.

One last thing: if you’re wondering, the backing singer on the back left isn’t SuRie off of Eurovision 2018. Though it would be fitting if she invaded somebody else’s performance…


8.36pm Up next: Denmark and song Love is Forever.

This year they’ve handed the microphone to Leonora Colmor Jepsen, a 20-year-old elite ice skater who’s won several national competitions on the rink.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: is she going to show off her skills on the ice during the performance? Perhaps glide on stage, demonstrating a perfect salchow or two mid-chorus?

Erm, not exactly. Because this is Eurovision, Jepsen is instead singing stationary on top of a giant chair wearing some extremely French-looking stripey T-shirts and scarves.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 17: Leonora, from Denmark, performs live on stage during the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 17, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

Maybe they should leave the flat pack furniture to the Swedes.

8.34pm And here come the memes…

8.32pm 100% this


8.31pm Hear that rumble? It’s the noise of thousands of memes about to hit Twitter thanks to Russia and their entry Scream.

Sung by Sergey Lazarev – who was a member of the brilliantly-named Russian boyband Smash!! before coming third in Eurovision 2016 – it’s a track with some truly spectacular staging: Lazarev will scream at several versions of himself in the mirror before locking himself in a glass water tank.

Here’s a little preview…


8.30pm Esteemed BBC news anchor Simon McCoy, ladies and gentleman.

8.28pm Germany are predicted to finish dead last at this year’s competition – before the show kicked off they were tipped by some bookies as 750/1 to win.

If they do finish last, it will be the third time the country has ended up bottom of the Eurovision table in five years.

See, maybe the UK isn’t such a Eurovision omnishambles after all…


8.27pm Right, Germany now with a duo called S!sters. And they’re singing Sister, a track all about sibling bonding.

Just one problem here: they’re not actually related. At all. In fact, Carlotta Truman (19) and Laurita Kästel (26) never actually sung together before deciding to enter Eurovision.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 17, 2019: Members of the S!sters band representing Germany perform during a dress rehearsal for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final. Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS (Photo by Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images)

Nope, nothing at all creepy about this staging.


8.26pm The lead singer of Czech Republic’s band half of Twitter is now swooning over? His name is Albert Černý and his Instagram is here.

Don’t say I do nothing for you.

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 11.46.14
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIIWBpz6fr8

Oh, just to add something else about Černý: he says his musical epiphany came, like most artists, when playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2.

Hearing Coldplay’s The Scientist in the background, he vowed to one day perform on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury festival. Presumably with that British a ccent.


8.24pm OKAY. No lies: proper Eurovision starts NOW. Forget about the last two songs – if anyone asks, they never happened. For us, the real show starts with Czech Republic’s grin-tastic indie pop group The Wiggles Lake Malawi and their song Friend of a Friend.

And there are two things you should look out for in this friendzone anthem…

  1. The lead singer’s fake London accent. It comes about 30 seconds in. And. It. Is. Glorious. I mean, as a Londoner, it’s flattering such an accent is considered a cool voice to put on. But his version is very Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

  • The smiling bassist. During rehearsals and the semi-final performance, he didn’t break his grin for second. He’s probably just happy to be playing on the Eurovision stage, but to me he has the look of somebody playing for his life under threat of some horrible mafia threat. He’s probably just happy to be there, though.

8.23pm And the best tweet of the night so far goes to…

8.20pm Second up, it’s Albania. And this is where Eurovision really kicks in. Expect fireworks, touching lyrics and an unheard-of plot twist as an elephant made out of fireworks stampedes its way on stage halfway through the song.

Just kidding. Nothing interesting will happen in the next three minutes: this is your perfect chance for an early toilet break.

Sung by Albanian Nigella Lawson Jonida Maliqi, Theju Tokës (a song title that roughly translates to ‘return to the land’) is a pretty slow ballad that you won’t remember this time tomorrow. Not after Iceland and Australia’s performances anyway.

2019 Eurovision Song Contest: Second Semi-Final Dress Rehearsal

With that said, stay around and her Jafar-style outfit and chirpy lyrics “Each day you live/in view of death” are sure to get you in the Eurovision mood.


8.15pm HERE. WE. GO.

First up: Malta and 18-year-old singer Michela Pace with Chameleon. A track that, sadly, isn’t anything to do with Culture Club.

It is, however, a song featuring an actual chameleon. Well, if you count the CGI one projected on the stage backdrop.

Malta 1, Boy George 0.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 - Dress Rehearsal

Interestingly, Michela was selected to represent her country after she won Malta’s version of The X Factor – not a prize we can see Simon Cowell introducing for the UK version.

All in all, most people aren’t expecting huge things from Michela tonight. Not exactly the most exciting start to the show, most bookies predict she’ll finish 15th at best.


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8.12pm Now, there’s a chance you might recognise one of the hosts tonight. Sadly, she’s not another Game of Thrones cast member, but a 33-year-old Israeli supermodel, TV presenter, actress and businesswoman called Bar Refaeli.

And, since we’re being nosy, it’s okay to tell you she dated Leonardo DiCaprio between 2005 and 2011.

8.10pm You better believe Graham, the Australia performance is truly incredible. Here’s a sneak peek…

8.07pm Once again, here are all the acts you can expect tonight (the UK is 16th here)

  1. Malta: Michela – Chameleon
  2. Albania: Jonida Maliqi – Ktheju tokës
  3. Czech Republic: Lake Malawi – Friend of a Friend
  4. Germany: S!sters – Sister
  5. Russia: Sergey Lazarev – Scream
  6. Denmark: Leonora – Love Is Forever
  7. San Marino: Serhat – Say Na Na Na
  8. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – Proud
  9. Sweden: John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
  10. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi
  11. Cyprus: Tamta – Replay
  12. The Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – Arcade
  13. Greece: Katerine Duska – Better Love
  14. Israel: Kobi Marimi – Home
  15. Norway: KEiiNO – Spirit in the Sky
  16. United Kingdom: Michael Rice – Bigger than Us
  17. Iceland: Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
  18. Estonia: Victor Crone – Storm
  19. Belarus: ZENA – Like It
  20. Azerbaijan: Chingiz – Truth
  21. France: Bilal Hassani – Roi
  22. Italy: Mahmood – Soldi
  23. Serbia: Nevena Božović – Kruna
  24. Switzerland: Luca Hänni – She Got Me
  25. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
  26. Spain: Miki – La Venda

8.06pm hear hear

8.02pm In case you’re wondering, this is Netta the 2018 winner (the chicken clucking one)

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 14: Netta Barzilai, Winner of the 2018 Eurovision award, performs during the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 14, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Guy Prives/Getty Images)
Getty

8.00pm THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Eurovision 2019 has now officially started! LET’S GET READY TO RRRRUMMMMBLE!

7.56pm Final reminder: Euron Greyjoy once hosted Eurovision. That’s all.

7.55pm FIVE MINUTES PEOPLE. BRACE YOURSELF.

7.50pm ICYMI: tonight’s favourite (by quite a long way) is The Netherlands and entry Arcade.

Fun fact about this song: if you don’t like it then we can’t be friends.

7.44pm Bad news if you’re waiting to see Ireland tonight: they didn’t qualify. Singer Sarah McTernan and her song 22 (nothing to do with Taylor Swift) was knocked out during the semi-finals.

7.38pm Now, as much as there are some absolute crackers on tonight, not every song is unmissable. And, you’re going to want a loo/tea/chardonnay break at some point, right?

So, I’ll explain as we go along, but he’s the night’s running order again marked up with the best times for a toilet break…

  1. Malta: Michela – Chameleon
  2. Albania: Jonida Maliqi – Ktheju tokës POTENTIAL TOILET BREAK SONG
  3. Czech Republic: Lake Malawi – Friend of a Friend
  4. Germany: S!sters – Sister
  5. Russia: Sergey Lazarev – Scream
  6. Denmark: Leonora – Love Is Forever
  7. San Marino: Serhat – Say Na Na Na
  8. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – Proud POTENTIAL TOILET BREAK SONG
  9. Sweden: John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
  10. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi
  11. Cyprus: Tamta – Replay
  12. The Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – Arcade
  13. Greece: Katerine Duska – Better Love
  14. Israel: Kobi Marimi – Home POTENTIAL TOILET BREAK SONG (MAKE IT QUICK THOUGH!)
  15. Norway: KEiiNO – Spirit in the Sky
  16. United Kingdom: Michael Rice – Bigger than Us
  17. Iceland: Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
  18. Estonia: Victor Crone – Storm POTENTIAL TOILET BREAK SONG
  19. Belarus: ZENA – Like It
  20. Azerbaijan: Chingiz – Truth
  21. France: Bilal Hassani – Roi
  22. Italy: Mahmood – Soldi
  23. Serbia: Nevena Božović – Kruna POTENTIAL TOILET BREAK SONG
  24. Switzerland: Luca Hänni – She Got Me
  25. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
  26. Spain: Miki – La Venda

Print it out, frame if you’ve got time and thank me later.


7.29pm Of course, the 26 competing acts aren’t the only ones performing tonight. Here’s who else you can catch on the Eurovision stage…

Madonna

Yes, there were plenty of worries earlier in the week that Madge wouldn’t appear – she still hadn’t signed a contract for the performance on Tuesday. However, stop your worrying: it’s all now confirmed.

Madonna is set to perform two songs during the show’s interval: 1989 hit Like A Prayer and new single Future (featuring US rapper Quavo).

Netta

The Israeli winner of the contest last year will return for a lap of honour and A LOT of chicken noises. Like Madonna, Netta will perform two tracks. TOY (the Eurovision 2018 winner) and new single Nana Banana, which is objectively brilliant.

Gal Gadot

gal gadot wonder woman

Yes, Wonder Woman herself is set to appear – sadly not performing a classic cheesy Eurovision number (she’s already got the outfit though, right?). The actress is set to feature in a pre-recorded message.

Some magician guy

Also performing is mentalist Lior Suchard, Israel’s answer to Derren Brown. We’ve got no idea why he’s there, either.

TBF, he appeared on the second semi-final earlier this week and made me audibly shout out “HOW DID HE DO THAT?”. In many ways, I’ve never recovered.


7.18pm I’m seeing a few tweets asking why Israel is even in the contest, seeing as the country is outside of Europe. And, since I’m so ruddy helpful, it’s a question I’m going to answer.

Despite its name, Eurovision isn’t strictly geographical, hence why Australia can take part. The contest is organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), a body made up of various broadcasters from countries across Europe and beyond.

The BBC is a member of the EBU, as is RTE in Ireland, Rai in Italy, SVT in Sweden and so on. There are 73 member stations from more than 56 countries, including associate broadcasters from Israel, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan, Japan, the United States and even Syria.

In theory, any of those countries could apply to be in Eurovision. Even member Vatican City could technically be granted a slot on the Eurovision bill, something we’d all want to see. Especially me: as a child I used to dress up as the pope at Eurovision parties for a joke.

No, I didn’t have a lot of friends as a kid. Why you ask?


7.09pm Just a reminder that Pilou Asbæk, AKA Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones, once presented the Eurovision Song Contest. 2014 He fronted the 2014 contest in Denmark.

Not that you need telling, but he’s the bloke on the left in this video…

8.58pm Who are my favourite acts tonight? Glad you asked. IMO, there are four big acts to look out for…

  • Czech Republic (3rd in the running order)
  • Iceland (17th)
  • Norway (15th)
  • Australia (25th)

I’ve covered Iceland and Norway below, but here’s why the other two deserve a watch…

Czech Republic: Lake Malawi (Friend of a Friend)

AKA the Czech Wiggles. Sure, their unapologetically cheesy indie pop entry is insanely catchy, but it’s their constant smiling I can’t get over. Or how the song is basically a friend zone anthem.

Also, the lead singer’s fake British accent: about 35 seconds in, he stops singing and drops a sentence in the strangest Londoner impression you’ve ever heard.

Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke (Zero Gravity)

Currently the bookies’ second favourite to win, Zero Gravity (or Ze-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ero Gra-a-a-a-a-a-a-avity, as Kate sings it) has everything. Not only is it genuinely touching – the lyrics documenting the singer’s experience breaking through postnatal depression – but its enigmatic operatic club sound is mesmerising.

And then there’s the staging. Good god is it good. Kate and her backup dancers perform on five-metre tall bendy poles, swaying around the stage to the music.

It gets even better: turns out that if Australia win then the UK has a good chance of hosting the 2020 contest. Eurovision rules state that should the Aussies finish top, the contest can’t be held Down Under, the country having to nominate a European nation to host for them. Although previously thought this would be Germany, turns out the UK has a decent chance.

At least, that’s what Kate Miller-Heidke told me earlier this week [PERSONAL PLUG ALERT]. “At the moment, it’s up in the air between Paris, London and Berlin,” she told me when asked where the contest will be held should Australia win. “However, it’s a decision that’s out of my hands. But London would get my vote – I lived there for two years previously.”

TL;DR: VOTE AUSTRALIA IF YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND/ HAVE THE UK HOST EUROVISION 2020.


6.44pm As always, Graham Norton will be commentating for BBC1 tonight. Christ knows what he’s going to make of Iceland.

6.29pm Who’s the favourite to win? By far, it’s The Netherlands, their singer Duncan Laurence having a 47% chance of winning with his song Arcade, according to most bookmakers.

And it truly is a cracker. No, it’s sadly not another high-tempo hit like Netta’s 2018 winner Toy. It doesn’t even feature a single chicken cluck. However, the Hozier-style track packs a decent emotional punch and is memorable.

And, fun fact: It also contains a cameo from that cheap paper ball lampshade you regret buying from IKEA.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 - Semi Final

It’ll be quite a victory if The Netherlands do finish the night as champs: the country hasn’t won Eurovision in 44 years. They’ve been waiting for victory twice as long as the UK.


6.15pm Let’s get the big question out the way now: how well will the UK do tonight?

It’s probably not a surprise to learn that representative Michael Rice is tipped to finish on the right-hand side of the table – most bookies predicting a 19th place finish.

Although that would be a huge improvement from last year, when SuRie finished in 24th place after THAT stage invasion, I’m predicting the UK will do quite a bit worse than 19th.

Sorry guys.

This isn’t to do with the song, Better Than Us, though. It’s by no means terrible – and it was actually co-written by Sweden’s representative John Lundvik, one of the favourites to win tonight.

Instead, it’s all about the running order, with the UK performing 16th. Not only is this traditionally a pretty bad spot to have (no Eurovision winner in the competition’s 63-year history performed in the 16th spot), but the UK is sandwiched between two of the night’s juggernauts.

Firstly, there’s Norway – 15th in the running order. Although not tipped to win, their group KEiiNO will give viewers one of the standout performances of the night.

More specifically, they’ve got a ‘rapper’ called Fred who is set to become one the most memorable Eurovision performers ever. It’s all thanks to his half rap, half demon summoning spell about halfway through the track.

And then there’s Iceland in 17th place. This year, they’re sending along an award-winning BDSM anti-capitalist industrial techno group called Hatari (Haters, in English).

Let’s face it, you’re not going to forget them in a hurry.

In other words, the UK needs to pull out something truly special tonight. Currently, Michael Rice is stuck in a sandwich between a Norweigan wizard in a budget X-Men outfit, and a bondage-synth-punk trio.

And no, I don’t regret that wording.


6.00pm Goooood evening! We’ve now only got two hours (!) until Eurovision, the musical equivalent of a nervous breakdown, starts broadcasting from Tel Aviv.

And we can expect some very decent tracks on tonight’s show (see: favourite The Netherlands). And even countries that aren’t serving up the best Europop (see: Denmark) will still offer some truly memorable moments.

Here’s the full running order of tonight’s 26 performances:

  1. Malta: Michela – Chameleon
  2. Albania: Jonida Maliqi – Ktheju tokës
  3. Czech Republic: Lake Malawi – Friend of a Friend
  4. Germany: S!sters – Sister
  5. Russia: Sergey Lazarev – Scream
  6. Denmark: Leonora – Love Is Forever
  7. San Marino: Serhat – Say Na Na Na
  8. North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – Proud
  9. Sweden: John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
  10. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi
  11. Cyprus: Tamta – Replay
  12. The Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – Arcade
  13. Greece: Katerine Duska – Better Love
  14. Israel: Kobi Marimi – Home
  15. Norway: KEiiNO – Spirit in the Sky
  16. United Kingdom: Michael Rice – Bigger than Us
  17. Iceland: Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
  18. Estonia: Victor Crone – Storm
  19. Belarus: ZENA – Like It
  20. Azerbaijan: Chingiz – Truth
  21. France: Bilal Hassani – Roi
  22. Italy: Mahmood – Soldi
  23. Serbia: Nevena Božović – Kruna
  24. Switzerland: Luca Hänni – She Got Me
  25. Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
  26. Spain: Miki – La Venda


5pm Bonsoir, hello, ciao and dobry wieczór – welcome to the RadioTimes.com Eurovision live blog! My name’s Thomas Ling and I’ll be your guide through all 26 countries’ performances from Tel Aviv tonight and, most importantly, the best tweets, FUN stats and memes of the evening.

And boy, are there some treats in store waiting in the Eurovision wings. And when I say treats, I of course mean a few Australian dementors swinging from pole-vaults, a Russian singer shouting at seven versions of himself, and an Icelandic BDSM trio screaming about how society is destined to crumble into an apocalyptic mess.

Oh yeah, there’s also Michael Rice, who’ll be attempting to clinch a sixth Eurovision title for the UK. (Spoiler: he won’t).

We’ll laugh. We’ll learn. We’ll try and work out if the Norwegian rapper’s performance is just a bet that’s got out of hand.

And, who knows, with a bit of luck, we might even discover the true meaning of Eurovision on the way.

So stay tuned – I’ll be online from 6pm. Or, my advice, get out while you still can.


Meet the acts competing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019