by Kevin Sherwin
The Netherlands win the 64th Eurovision Song Contest here in Tel Aviv, Duncan Laurence with his song “Arcade”, means we’re heading to The Netherlands and probably Amsterdam next May. Italy was placed second and Russia finished third. It wasn’t great for the host country Israel who finished near the bottom but what is now becoming a regular occurrence, The United Kingdom finished last.
Over 9000 excited fans attended the event at the Expo Convention Centre with over 200 million tuning in across Europe and Australia and were captivated by what I thought was one of the best staged contests I’d ever been to.
It seemed to have it all, 26 artists, 6 previous Eurovision legends, 4 amazing hosts plus a world superstar in Madonna. It all started with last year’s winner Netta flying the plane that would bring in the artists. The opening sequence featured them coming down the steps of the aeroplane along with 1998 winner and Israeli icon Dana International.
After all that excitement we were introduced to the hosts who then said those famous words.
“Let the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin”. Malta started things off and Spain had the honour of closing the contest. After spending 11 days watching rehearsal after rehearsal I thought I knew all the songs off by heart.
During the performances we can usually gauge who will do well and who won’t. The Netherlands were the favourite weeks before the contest and went down well in the hall along with Australia, but one of the biggest surprises on the night were North Macedonia who did very well with the Jury vote but seemed to fall away on the public tele vote. For a minute there we all thought we were going to Skopje next year. So all 26 artists performed and we all waited for the interval act.
Now interval acts can be amazing, remember 1994 Riverdance? or they can be different like back in the sixties when a man with a crossbow tried and succeeded to shoot an apple from a poor girls head. Israeli TV company KAN spared no expense inviting previous Eurovision personalities to perform other Eurovision stars songs on stage.
2014 winner Conchita sang 2015 song “Heroes” watching over him was Mans Zelmerlo who then took to the stage to sing the Cypriot song from last year “Fuego”.
Then that very same Cypriot girl Eleni Foureria appeared to sing the 2007 classic by Verka Serduchka “Dancing Lasha”, & finally Verka took centre stage to sing last year’s winning song “Toy”. Now for those of us that are Eurovision fanatics with long memory’s, Israel won the contest in 1979 with the song “Hallelujah” sung by Gali Atari. Suddenly as if by magic she appeared to sing her song and was joined on stage by the 4 Eurovision legends.
Now the moment the world was waiting for, super star Madonna took centre stage to an audience who all seemed to grasp their mobile phones and save it for prosperity.
I could tell instantly that the mood dropped from excitement to “what”?! Madonna had lost it as it was a very lacklustre performance and at the end of her set there was a very muted round of applause in the hall, and I was told even on TV it came across that there was a lack of enthusiasm towards her performance by the audience.
But now the moment we all had been waiting for, “The Voting”! Firstly we receive the Jury votes from 41 spokespersons with the usual “It’s really been a wonderful show”, plus the usual boo’s as Cyprus and Greece exchange 12 points. Israeli TV know how to keep us in suspense right to the last minute. The Netherlands had the lead and could only be caught by Sweden, doing the maths they needed 253 points to win, unfortunately for Sweden and singer John Lundvik he fell dramatically short of that total and we had a winner. 44 years after The Netherlands last won the contest in 1975 with the band Teach-In, they now start to organise the 65th Eurovision Song Contest.
Various cities in The Netherlands will bid to stage the contest, already the fans favourite is the Ziggo Dome arena in Amsterdam with a capacity of 15,000 and direct rail links from Schipol airport and Amsterdam central station makes it the perfect choice.
Already a lot of hotels in Amsterdam are fully booked and the prices are high. So Eurovision 2019 comes to an end and the fans now start to speculate dates, venues and who will represent their country at the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. I leave Tel Aviv with my memories of it being a lovely city with nice friendly people, a bit on the expensive side but with lots of sunshine and amazing beaches.
See you next year in The Netherlands!
- Romania failed to qualify for Eurovision Grand Final.