Eurovision Song Contest

This section contains reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest over the past six decades. On this page we look at 2022. You can also click here for a look at how the contest was presented in 2022.


2022

Host country: Italy
Won by: Ukraine - Stefania by Kalush Orchestra
UK entry: Space Man by Sam Ryder
Full results: eurovision.tv
Videos: Official YouTube channel

The Eurovision Song Contest was originally set up to promote peace and unity throughout the continent following World War II, and has always aimed to be entirely apolitical - despite ongoing complaints for many years that it is anything but. Indeed, even co-presenter Mika pointedly reminded viewers in the second semi-final to "vote for your favourite song - this is a song contest, after all."

However, sometimes it truly is impossible to extricate the contest from world events, and never was that more apparent in 2022. In February, Russia was thrown out of the contest as a result of its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the EBU's explanation being that the inclusion of a Russian entry would 'bring the contest into disrepute'. With the outpouring of support for Ukraine, the country quickly become the pre-contest favourite.

And so it came to pass the Ukrainian entry 'Stefania' scored a total of 439 points in the televote - a hefty 94 per cent of the maximum possible score of 468. It is, of course, impossible to take this as anything other as a sign from the viewing public of solidarity with Ukraine, rather than an overwhelming endorsement of the Kalush Orchestra's folk and hip-hop mash-up. Whether this is right or wrong in a 'song contest' was the subject of heated debate both before and after the contest, and not something we will be getting into here!

Added to the jury score of 192, where Ukraine finished in fourth place, their overall score was 631 - the second-highest ever winning score in the contest's history after Salvador Sobral's 758 points in 2017 - and Ukraine's third victory in as many decades.

Following several years of abysmal results for the UK, culminating in an excruciating zero points from both jury and televote in the 2021 contest, the BBC's Eurovision producer Lee Smithurst made a pact with his Spanish counterpart, vowing to do better next year. In autumn 2021 the BBC announced that they had teamed up with TaP Management, who have represented the likes of Dua Lipa and Ellie Goulding, to search for a song and artist for Eurovision.

The artist they chose was a TikTok star from Essex, Sam Ryder, who had amassed 12 million followers on the platform during the 2020 lockdowns. For once, there was a pre-contest buzz around his song 'Space Man' - which was not even written with Eurovision in mind, and had already received airplay on Radio 1 by the time it had been announced as the UK entry.

At last, it worked - incredibly, the UK came top of the jury vote, and a still-impressive fifth place in the public vote, leaving Sam Ryder in second place overall. This was the UK's best result since 1998, and first top five placing since 2009, with our final score of 466 being greater than our previous eleven entries put together!

We can only hope that this finally lays to rest the nonsense we hear from the British public year after year, blaming Brexit, that 'Europe hates us', that 'we'll always come last whatever we enter'. The truth is now undeniable - that for a considerable number of years, the songs the UK have been entering have been poor, and the staging unimaginative and forgettable.

The question now is, can the BBC continue to capitalise on the momentum they have built up, or will they drop the ball again? The French result, for example, was a reminder how easy it is to go from (almost) hero to (almost) zero, with last year's second place being followed by a second bottom place this year. (Their song this year was performed in the Breton language). Meanwhile, it was Germany that found itself propping up the scoreboard, for the third time in ten years - surely now it's their turn to have a rethink.

Even if the Ukrainian situation had not arisen, the UK would not necessarily have had it all their own way, however. Finishing only seven points behind Sam Ryder was Spain, the country whose producer had made that pact with the UK. Their entry was Chanel, with a racy upbeat number 'SloMo', whose dance routine was anything but slo-mo.

The Spanish entry proved to be more popular than the UK's with the public, finishing in third place in the televote - as did two of the more off-the-wall entries, an explosion of folk-punk from Moldovan Eurovision regulars Zdob și Zdub that clearly woke viewers up after a run of ballads, and perhaps most curiously, from Serbia, a critique of the country's healthcare system from Konstrakta, which seemed to involve rather a lot of hand-washing.

With his lengthy blonde hair, Sam Ryder perhaps may have fooled some viewers into thinking he was the Swedish or Norwegian entry. The actual Swedish entry was, as nearly always, was one of the most highly regarded entries, coming from Cornelia Jakobs, who finished fourth. Norway entered Subwoolfer - a duo whose identities have been kept secret, and were only seen wearing yellow wolf head masks. Their novelty entry, urging us to 'Give That Wolf a Banana', came tenth.

Finland, meanwhile, entered The Rasmus, a rock band whose single 'In the Shadows' reached number 3 in the UK charts in 2003. Their Eurovision song, 'Jezebel', was not so successful, finishing in 21st place. This was the only rock song to make it to the final - though there had been several in the contest, unsurprising following Måneskin's victory last year, these were nearly all filtered out in the semi-finals.

The contest overall had a few more rough edges than we have been used to in recent years, though nothing to the level of Italy's last hosting 31 years earlier - we are delighted to confirm that Toto Cotugno's participation was limited to a brief archive clip in one of the semi-finals! His 1991 co-presenter, Gigliola Cinquetti, however, was present during the interval to perform her 1964 winning song, 'Non ho l'età'.

With the staging getting more elaborate, and not always being able to be set up within the duration of the postcards, this required the hosts to fill time more than usual, and many agreed the scripted humour didn't come across that well - and at one point in the first semi-final, co-host Mika was even reduced to begin reading out the Eurovision rulebook to kill some time. Yes, that Mika, he of 'Grace Kelly' fame, who had seemingly acquired the same outfit in every colour it was available in.

It seems barely a contest goes by without some voting controversy. This year, it appeared during the voting sequence that connections could not be made with Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia, with their points being announced by executive supervisor Martin Österdahl. However, it soon emerged that these were three of six countries, the others being Montenegro, Poland and San Marino, whose jury votes had been thrown out due to their semi-final scores having found to have irregularities. Their jury points were instead calculated using an algorithm based on countries with similar voting patterns - which may have the effect of helping to give the UK a slight nudge up the scoreboard...

With the contest over, attention of course turned to the 2023 contest. Despite the Ukrainian broadcaster stating that they would be able to host the contest, many agree that it would in practice be impossible to hold it Ukraine in its current war-torn situation. Several other countries' broadcasters have put forward offers to host the contest if Ukraine is unable to. So where Eurovision will go next remains to be seen...


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