The dignity of Eden Golan

Two questions dominated last night’s Eurovision Song Contest final in Malmo, Sweden. First, whether 20-year-old Eden Golan, Israel’s entrant, would defy the odds and actually win. And secondly, whether some kind of security breach involving pro-Palestinian protesters would result in the final being disrupted. In the end, proceedings passed off relatively peacefully. The eventual winner was Switzerland’s Nemo with ‘The Code’, a song mixing rap, pop and opera. A huge public vote helped lift Golan’s entry ‘Hurricane’ into fifth place. The winning song will be forgotten soon enough, suffering the same fate as the vast majority of entries into the Eurovision Song Contest – a competition that has always been

Movies to get you in the Eurovision mood

We might never have taken the Eurovision Song Contest terribly seriously in the UK – but with British Ted Neeley lookalike Sam Ryder winning second place last year and the staging of this year’s event in Liverpool, some are singing to a different tune. This year’s UK entry comes from Mae Muller – ‘I Wrote a Song’ is a serviceable enough generic toe-tapper, but no ‘Puppet on a String’ (Sandie Shaw, 1967 winner) if you ask me. Or even ‘Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit’, Gina G’s 1996 banger that claimed eighth place in the contest. Ahead of tomorrow night’s final, here are ten movies to get you in the

My verdict on Eurovision

I had the sudden suspicion, at about ten o’clock on Saturday night, that I was the only straight male in the United Kingdom watching the Eurovision Song Contest. Or perhaps the only one watching it voluntarily. A little later a Dutch presenter, when reporting her country’s scores, said: ‘Hello girls and gays.’ It wasn’t a slip of the tongue but an accurate summation of the audience – the one in Liverpool and the rest of us, sitting in front of our televisions. There was a merciful absence of all faux-seriousness and any song which got political didn’t do well Eurovision, like Crufts, has been a gay domain for the best

Why the UK does so badly at Eurovision

Some 160 million will have watched Britain staging a successful Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool: the world’s most-watched non-sporting TV event. But our own act, Mae Muller, finished second-last. Had it not been for a generous vote from Ukraine’s jury, we’d have been last. It’s a familiar trend. With the spectacular exception of Sam Ryder last year, our entries have tended to flop badly – leading to questions like ‘Why did the BBC pick another dud act?’ and ‘Why does everyone hate Britain?’ But we struggle at Eurovision for a number of systemic reasons, all of which come down to the way we lazily pick an act and give them

Melanie McDonagh

Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations ignore an inescapable fact

Was it, do you reckon, a felicitous birthday present from the Eurovision judges for Israel, with Netta standing in, a bit incongruously, for a 70-year old state? If so, it’s a tribute to the way that a Middle Eastern country actually counts as European to at least the same extent as Turkey just across the Bosphorus – actually probably more so. Israel seems like an intelligible outpost of our kind of culture and values in what now is the Muslim world. If Netta is Israel, she’s a terrifically attractive embodiment of its most appealing aspect; way more than the country’s embarrassing president. She’s its avant garde side: an Orthodox Jew

The Eurovision effect: how Liverpool is changing its tune

Few British cities can rival the musical heritage of Liverpool – and as the Eurovision Song Contest arrives back in the UK after 25 years, Merseyside is getting ready for its moment in the spotlight. An extra 150,000 visitors are expected to descend on the city for the sell-out event this weekend. While the world’s eyes will be on the M&S Bank Arena for Saturday’s final, the Liverpool area will enjoy a whole week of club nights, raves, live screenings, concerts and after-parties. But it’s not just Eurovision that’s bringing a buzz to the UK’s fifth largest city: hot on the heels of that will be the relaunch of the

Which country has hosted Eurovision the most?

The longest heatwave How did the recent heatwave compare with that of 1976? That year, the temperature peaked at 35.9˚C at Cheltenham on 3 July. This did not even break the UK temperature record at the time – 36.7˚C recorded in Northamptonshire on 9 August 1911. No recording from 1976 currently features on the list of Britain’s ten hottest recorded days. By contrast, in 2022 temperatures peaked at 40.3˚C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. – However, the 1976 heatwave was far more prolonged. Temperatures surpassed 90˚F (32.2˚C) somewhere in England on 15 consecutive days – a record which has never even nearly been surpassed. In 2022, temperatures exceeded 90˚F on just three

What we learnt from Eurovision

Twice during the Eurovision Song Contest our television lost the signal and the set went blank – once, mercifully, during the performance of a hirsute, gurning, cod-operatic bellend from that patently European country Azerbaijan. ‘Putin’, my wife and I both reckoned, seeing as Russian hacker groups favourably disposed towards their country’s leader had promised that they would do what they could to disrupt the broadcast and indeed the voting. If this really is the third world war, then I suppose it is a suitably banal and modernist take on universal annihilation – this yearly celebration of joyous gayness and very bad music suddenly part of the same war as the

Lviv diary: ballet, bomb shelters – and everyone loves Boris

It is a glorious spring evening in Lviv and what could be better than a ballet gala at one of Europe’s grandest opera houses? The performance starts with an unusual announcement. In the event of an air raid siren, all spectators must go to the bomb shelter. The red-velvet seats are less than a third full – not for fear of going to a ballet in a war in which Russians have bombed a theatre, but because they can sell only 300 tickets since that is the bunker’s capacity. There is an emotional rendering of the national anthem for which the audience stand, hand on heart, and it is hard

Fraser Nelson

You can’t blame politics (or Brexit) for Britain’s Eurovision woe

Yes, Eurovision is political – but for 20 years now, this fact has been used as an excuse to explain why Britain bombs. Everyone hates us, runs the complaint, the system is rigged, there’s nothing we can do. But as we digest the latest embarrassment (we just finished last – again) it’s hard to escape a simple point. The UK entry does badly because it tends not to be as good as the others. If the English-singing Duncan Laurence (pictured, above) had been singing for the UK instead of The Netherlands, he’d still have won. We are guaranteed a place straight into the final, as the UK pays so much

Portrait of the week | 19 May 2016

Home In the Queen’s Speech, the government made provision for bills against extremism and in favour of driverless cars, drones, commercial space travel and adoption. It proposed turning all prisons into academies or something similar and consolidating British rights while reducing the power of the House of Lords. The watchword was ‘life chances’. Boris Johnson MP said that the EU was an attempt to recover the continent’s lost ‘golden age’, under the Romans: ‘Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.’ For his part, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that in the event of Britain leaving the EU, ‘Putin would be happy. I suspect al-Baghdadi [leader

Oh dear, Abba’s new album is a bit of a dog: Voyage reviewed

I assume that somewhere on the guided ‘Piers and Queers’ walking tour of Brighton, the participants are enjoined to regard, in awe, the Dome — the venue at which Abba, on 6 April 1974, won the Eurovision Song Contest, thus both launching themselves as a wildly successful band and establishing the town (as it was then) as a mecca (probably the wrong choice of word there) for the UK’s swiftly growing gay community. Hitherto it had been a rather frowsy, Tory-voting seaside resort, best known for dirty weekends and petty villains. The Swedes won with ‘Waterloo’, of course, which may have provided our nation with some much-needed succour. A remembrance

Eurovision is too important to let the SNP play politics with it

The SNP never passes up an opportunity to make the case for separatism. Now, its campaign for independence has moved away from politics and into the world of the Eurovision song contest. The party has responded to the United Kingdom’s dire showing at the competition with a predictable demand: that Scotland should be allowed to compete separately next time around.  Alyn Smith, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, believes we should ‘talk seriously about entering UK nations separately into the contest’. ‘Scotland is rich in talent and culture, and I want the world to see it. By entering independently, we could one day bring Eurovision back to Scotland,’ Smith added.  It’s true that Eurovision is an

Politics or neglect? Why the UK came last at Eurovision

Yet again, Britain’s Eurovision entry has come last getting nul points from tout le monde. Yet again, politics is being blamed – but wrongly. The UK was simply outsung and outclassed by smaller countries who made more effort. Eurovision has always been a collision between politics, music and culture. Winners game that system, coming up with an act that crosses dozens of linguistic and national boundaries. It’s tricky. But Britain stopped trying some time ago. The BBC chooses our entry and doesn’t bother with a contest. It also struggles to pick (and prep) Eurovision winners. As a result, every year, Britain sends some unprepared soul to perish on the world

Who gave Abba ‘nul points’ in 1974?

Falling from grace Six Premier League football clubs had announced their intention to join a European Super League, from which it would be impossible to be relegated, before changing their minds. When were they last relegated from anything? — Manchester United were relegated from the top tier of English football in 1974, and promoted back the following season. — Manchester City were relegated to the third tier in 1998, climbed back to the second in 1999 and the Premiership in 2000. They were relegated again in 2001, and promoted again the following year. — Liverpool were relegated to the old Second Division in 1954, and promoted to the First in

Not nul points but it’s no Spinal Tap: Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga reviewed

This comedy stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as an Icelandic duo whose biggest dream is to represent their country at Eurovision and win. An open target, you would think. Spoof heaven, you would think. But while this is sporadically funny and features some wonderfully good bad songs with those hooks that you can’t shake off — like kicks to the shin, they linger for ages — it is also over-long, drifts, and is ultimately too familiar, predictable and gooey. It’s not nul points. It’s not the Norway of cinema. Particularly as it also stars Pierce Brosnan attired in Icelandic knits and Dan Stevens as the super-camp, super-vain, leather-trousered Russian

The shame of those boycotting Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest

Kobi Marimi, the 27-year-old Tel Avivian singer, picked to represent Israel at this month’s Eurovision Song Contest, can’t stop smiling: ‘I love my country. I love Tel Aviv. To know that I’m achieving a dream of mine, to be a part of Eurovision, it’s amazing in itself’, he tells me, with an earnestness that could crack the biggest Eurovision cynic. ‘But to know that I’m doing it in my country, my own city, it’s even greater than that.’ But not everyone is quite so enthusiastic about Eurovision being held in the Holy Land. While politics can’t help but creep into the contest each year, this time around feels different as the Jewish State

Tunnel vision

The Guardian last week published a ‘we, the undersigned’ letter from 50 ‘artists of conscience’ urging the BBC to boycott this year’s Eurovision Song Contest because it’s taking place in Israel. ‘Eurovision may be light entertainment,’ they wrote, ‘but it is not exempt from human rights considerations — and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.’ The signatories included such luminaries as Julie Christie, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Vivienne Westwood and Ken Loach. Ken’s inclusion will have come as a surprise to those Israelis who saw his film I, Daniel Blake in Tel Aviv a couple of years ago. Ken’s hypocrisy was pointed out when he chastised

Spectator competition winners: a song for Europe

This week you were invited to fill a gap by providing lyrics for the European anthem. The powers that be behind the anthem, which has as its melody the final movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, chose to dispense with Friedrich von Schiller’s words. ‘There are no words to the anthem; it consists of music only,’ says the EU website, in bold type. My request for suitable words elicited an absorbing, inventive postbag. I wondered if anyone might revisit Schiller’s 1785 ‘Ode to Joy’ and repurpose the following lines: ‘Yea, if any hold in keeping/ Only one heart all his own/ Let him join us, or else weeping/ Steal from

No, Britain’s Eurovision flop can’t be blamed on Brexit

I see that the UK’s Lucie Jones has blamed her Eurovision Song Contest failure upon Brexit. Lucie actually came fifteenth, which was substantially higher than either she or the song deserved. Her song, ‘Never Gonna Give Up On You’, or some such egregious, banal, tripe, was a hugely boring ballad without even the redemption of an interesting chorus. That’s why it came fifteenth – that and the fact that we chose a failure from that anti-musical jamboree, X Factor, to sing it. Lucie is just the latest in a long line of people to blame Brexit for being utterly useless. I might use the Brexit get-out next time I can’t