The right song won. Thatâs my overriding thought on last nightâs Eurovision.
Thatâs also the most telling reason why I donât feel wretched, bereft, or annoyed the day after the final.
Usually I feel battered and bruised. Regretful that Iâve poured all of my energies into something which didnât pay dividends for me, my country, or conclude with the result Iâd hoped for. Too many post-Contest experiences have been clouded by embarrassment or disappointment. Not so today. Iâm pleased about that.
Portugalâs song taps into the Eurovision I wish it could aspire to more. It helps, obviously, that the music has an air of nostalgia to it. But I donât hark back to a musical age when things were supposedly better. Rather, there was something about Salvador the artist which seemed rather appealing.
Sobral combines a magnetic self-assurance with a strategy which goes beyond the Eurovision itself. He hasnât played game of being a Eurovision artist, rather heâs been an artist visiting Eurovision. Thereâs a distinct difference. In that way heâs closely aligned to Benny and Bjorn from ABBA in Eurovision terms, using Eurovision as a platform for future hard-earned greatness.
Of course, I donât know that about Sobral yet. Thatâs an assumption. But the way he positioned himself shortly after taking possession of the Eurovision trophy demonstrated that he had vision and a plan. He consistently resisted playing the Eurovision game on-screen, preferring to be himself than fit the Eurovision artist stereotype, and in doing so secured a life beyond the competition.
By doing that Sobral helped redefine the Contest for what Iâd like it to be seen as: a valuable platform for song-writing talent.
The other aspect of the competition Iâve come to really appreciate is how the introduction of the separated contribution of jury and televote to the voting process means that more songs get recognition. Last nightâs voting reminded viewers that Bulgariaâs Beautiful Mess was also a winner, so too Moldovaâs Hey Mamma! and Belgiumâs City Lights.
I remain unconvinced about Swedenâs 5th place. But hey, itâs all over now.
The point is that those Top Five places satisfied a range of different audience demographics likes and dislikes, meaning that in some respects whilst the top slot is the best for a countryâs sense of pride, being in the top five could from now on, because of that split voting process, secure a future life for artists and their songs in a way that the previous voting process didnât.
Iâm sorry the UK didnât get more points. Sorry that more international juries didnât recognise the songâs emotional content and Lucie Jonesâ considerable performing talent.
The fact the tele-vote didnât garner much is, from my perspective, more to do with the fact that viewers probably only really commit to one or two songs at the most. When youâre presented with something as transformative as Italyâs or Portugalâs youâre bound to (rightly) focus on those.
I recognise how much the BBC and their music consultant have put into efforts for Eurovision this year. I was delighted to hear the cheer for Lucie Jones when she stepped onto the stage during the Jury Final on Friday night, and the anecdotal accounts I was party to in the press centre during the tail end of the week. The BBC worked hard. Nice work Guy Freeman, Helen Riddell, and Ellen Hughes. Your efforts are much appreciated.
What surprised me most this week was the way in which digital, and in particular social, has changed in relation to the Eurovision.
I remember a time (only 6 years ago) when it was relatively straightforward to make an impact on digital platforms. Eurovision has become re-energised in part down to the rise of social media â people are now able to participate in the ultimate social conversation during a live event. The only difference now is that so many more people are doing it.
The EBU has cottoned on to that this year, reinventing their digital proposition at Eurovision.tv to great effect, and developing a digital strategy around exactly the kind of content it knows fans of its greatest piece of IP demand: inclusion in the television process.
This year more than any other year theyâve succeeded in meeting my needs, so much so that Iâve come to realise that the only reason I wanted to go out to Kiev was to get to the Jury Final the night before the big night.
But something else has happened to Eurovision fortunes, demonstrated by the plug EurovisionFanHouse.com got during the live show last night. One product on sale on the site â a T-shirt with âest. 1956â emblazoned across the front â demonstrates how the EBU is repositioning Eurovision.
The Contest no longer needs its champions to defend it. The Contest is now capitalising on its fans devotion and consolidating its position in the hearts of the mainstream audience.
Finding a place to fit in with that redefined strategy is going to be a challenge for every Eurovision commentator like me who have, for the past fifteen years had it good.
Roll on 2018.