Eurovision Song Contest

This section contains reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest over the past six decades. On this page we look at 2018; the other pages in this section cover 1956-1966, 1967-1975, 1976-1982, 1983-1989, 1990-1996, 1997-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-2009, 2010-2013 and 2014-2017.


Host country: Portugal
Won by: Israel - Toy by Netta
UK entry: Storm by SuRie
Full results:
Videos: Official YouTube channel

Eurovision arrived in Portugal for the very first time in 2018, and as the show began it seemed that the show was somewhat overstaffed, when no fewer than four presenters - all female - walked out onto the stage. The stage itself was backed by what looked like a giant radiator, but was actually intended to reflect the history of the Portuguese as a maritime nation and was inspired by the hull of a ship.

This replaced the usual LED screens which, for the past few years, have allowed entrants to display ever more sophisticated graphics as a backdrop to their performances. The intention was to 'focus all the attention on performers and their songs', according to the show's producers. However some entries brought their own screens instead, while many used on-screen graphics. And, as ever, there was the usual array of bizarre props and gimmicks.

Finland's Saara Aalto began her performance being spun round on a rotating wheel, becoming possibly the first Eurovision entrant to sing upside down. Estonia's Elina Nechayeva brought us some 'popera', resplendent in the world's largest dress. Slovenia's semi-final performance by Lea Sirk contained the first ever staged technical breakdown, while Belarus's Alekseev was revealed to have roses growing out of his back.

Serial non-qualifiers San Marino had four little robots to dance along to their song, but they weren't enough to take them to the final - likewise Romania's The Humans, who were accompanied by some rather less animated humans, as they filled out the stage with an array of mannequins. More successful were Moldova, who brought us their tribute to the Carry On films.

Any fears of Israel's withdrawal following the demise of their host broadcaster last year were to be unfounded, as the country returned with one of the more memorable entries of the contest - Netta Barzilai's performance included chicken impressions and was backed by a job lot of Japanese waving cats. Meanwhile several acts made use of fire and pyrotechnics, notably Ukraine's Melovin who, after emerging from a piano coffin, performed on his piano at the top of a flaming staircase.

The surprise hit of the 2014 contest had been the Netherlands' Common Linnets, singing a low-key country song, and this year one half of that duo, Waylon, returned as a solo artist, performing a somewhat more upbeat country rock track. He was not so successful this time, however, finishing in 18th place. The obligatory annual heavy rock entry this year came from Hungary's AWS, which featured Eurovision's first ever crowd surf. Denmark went for a somewhat stereotypical Scandinavian viking-themed entry, complete with snow and singers with long hair and beards.

Following their withdrawal last year, Russia's Yulia Samoylov finally got the chance to take part in the contest, but she still didn't get the chance to perform in the Grand Final as the country failed to qualify from the semi-finals for the first time ever - as did Azerbaijan, who up to now had appeared in every final since their debut appearance in 2008. On the other hand, Ireland made it to the Grand Final for the first time since 2013, thanks to former Britain's Got Talent finalist Ryan O'Shaughnessy. His performance featured a gay-themed dance which proved too much for Chinese television who refused to broadcast it, and as such were banned by the EBU from showing the second semi-final and Grand Final.

The UK's entry Susanna Marie Cork, aka SuRie, was unfortunate enough to be the victim of a stage invasion, when some moron ran onto the stage and briefly grabbed her microphone. SuRie was visibly shaken by the experience, and with the music fading down, it looked uncertain whether the performance would continue. However she recovered remarkably well, quickly getting back on track and continuing to sing to the end. Despite being offered the chance to perform again, she chose not to. The juries, who had voted on the previous night's dress rehearsal, awarded 23 points to the UK, with the public vote only adding another 25, leaving the UK 24th out of 26 entries.

Norway brought back Alexander Rybak, who won the 2009 contest with his 'Fairytale', but his bid to become the next Johnny Logan was not to be. 'That's How You Write a Song' he sung - however Europe disagreed, and he finished in 15th place. Neighbouring Sweden were as slick as ever, with Benjamin Ingrosso's entry looking more like a music video than a live performance. It proved a hit with the juries, finishing the jury voting sequence in second place with 253 points. But despite its obvious commercial appeal, it bombed in the public vote which added just 21 more points.

Similarly, Australia found themselves in 12th place with 90 points following the jury vote, but proved to be the least popular song of all with the voters at home, adding only 9 more points. They had entered Jessica Mauboy, who this year got the chance to compete for real, four years after performing a mock 'Australian entry' as part of the semi-final interval act. In contrast, Ukraine, who finished bottom in the jury vote with 11 points, was the seventh most popular song with the viewing public, who added 119 more points.

The jury voting sequence was one of the most exciting seen for years, with no obvious frontrunner and the leading country regularly changing, with Austria, Sweden, Israel and bookies' favourite Cyprus all finding themselves in contention, but it was Austria's Cesar Sampson that finished the jury vote on top with 271 points. But the public didn't agree with the professionals' choice - the televote added only 71 points to Austria, pushing them down to third place overall.

And it was just as well that the new Israeli broadcaster chose to continue participating in Eurovision, for it was Netta's 'Toy', dismissed by many as a novelty song, that proved to be most popular with the public, and topped the overall vote with 529 points. Ironically, it was exactly this kind of entry that Salvador Sobral had ranted about in his victory speech last year - indeed, he had already branded her song 'horrible', which could have led to an awkward moment when it came for him to present her with the trophy!

2019 will see Eurovision head back to Israel for the first time in two decades - no doubt security will be somewhat tighter than in 2018...

Previous page: 2014-2017


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Text copyright © Robert Williams, images copyright © the respective broadcasters