EUROVISION ’16

Note: contains spoilers

Australia was jolted awake this morning by the Eurovision grand finale; and after that vote count, there’s no way we’re going back to sleep.

For the first time ever, the contest crossed live to each country to present their jury votes from local industry experts (Myf Warhust, Shannon Noll) before tallying the public vote. Early on, Australia did what would have been unthinkable two years ago and topped the leader-board, securing over 300 points.

Australia lead the public vote for the better part of the contest, consistently securing high points and ultimately placing fourth in the public vote with a whopping 191 points. Only Ukraine and Russia (the favourite to win) remained competitive, the latter having placed a close second last year and the former not having competed at all in 2015 due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Tense until the very last, Ukraine placed second in the public vote with 323 points for a grand total of 534, only just overtaking Australia. Placing first in the public vote with 361 points, Russia’s popular support and jury total of 130 were still not enough to overtake Ukraine which topped this year’s pool in a close contest between the three countries.

Delivering an overtly political number and a win over its competitors that will widely be viewed as symbolic, Ukraine’s Jamala took to the stage, wishing “peace and love to everyone,” before performing her winning hit ‘1944.’

With France and Belgium among others rating highly, the jury tally was markedly different in many respects from the public vote; notably, finalist Poland only secured 7 points from Europe’s (and Australia’s) juries while placing third in the public vote with a massive 222 votes.

This is the second time Ukraine have won Eurovision following Ruslana’s ‘Wild Dances’ in 2004, which remains one of Eurovision’s best hits. Almost taking out first place, Dami Im has done us proud; winning the confidence of Europe’s juries and placing a close second with only 23 points separating Australia and Ukraine.

Not only focusing on the contestants this year, among which featured an obligatory violin solo, flowing capes, a vegan costume and more strobe lighting than would generally be considered necessary, you can rely on Eurovision for one thing: it will always, always manage to out-parody itself.

This year, the hosts, typically reserved for well-earned derision, almost stole the show. Mans Zelmerlow (last year’s winner) and Petra Mede helmed two songs themselves in the second semi-final and grand finale, the latter a step-by-step guide/greatest hits catalogue of Eurovision icons and how to make a winning hit.

A talent contest that revels in blinding costumes, ignominious key changes and what would otherwise be labelled crimes against fashion, Eurovision can’t parody itself without (thankfully) stepping up the whole competition a notch or two. The stiff competition this year and welcome antics from the host, who later outdid himself by performing a new number with a well-choreographed Segway routine, made for very good television.

With Asia-Pacific Eurovision coming up in the near-future Australia has much more to look forward to, but for now, congrats Dami – you did us proud.

Catch the Eurovision replay tonight on SBS at 7:30pm

On The Big Smoke

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