Happy Eurovision day everyone! For those of us here in Tel Aviv, the contest is coming to an end, but for most people at home, it’s just beginning and there is an absolutely brilliant show in store with 26 songs competing to be the winner.
Most of these will be familiar to those who watched the semi-finals, with 20 having qualified during the week, and the remaining six from the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and hosts Israel getting their first outings tonight.
The dress rehearsals have taken place (featuring some amusingly lacklustre showings from artists who qualified the previous night!) and here are a few things to look out for…
Running order making a difference?
In the early hours of Friday morning, the production team huddled together to decide the starting order for tonight’s show, and we have Malta opening and Spain closing. It’s hard to say for sure whether performance order has a real impact on the result (the organisers frequently insist it doesn’t), but general wisdom is that later is better.
Therefore, has Kate Miller-Heidke’s (Australia) position of second-to-last given her an edge over other favourites Sweden and The Netherlands in the middle of the show (9th and 12th respectively)?
Other entries that seem to have benefited are France performing 21st and the very poppy Switzerland coming after the Serbian ballad.
A star-studded show
This week has been a treat for Eurovision fans in Israel, with former winners, Israeli competitors and fan favourites absolutely everywhere in the city. The show tonight is no exception and they have made every effort to cram it full of familiar faces.
The opening features last year’s winner Netta, Israel’s first ever entrant, Ilanit, Golden Boy from 2015, Nadav Guedj, and of course, the ubiquitous Dana International.
There is also a treat of an interval act featuring Conchita Wurst, Mans Zelmerlow, Eleni Foureira, Verka Serduchka and 1979 Israeli winner Gali Atari – hardcore Eurovision fans will love it. Speaking of interval acts…
While Madonna’s representatives announced she would be performing weeks ago, with press around the world reporting on her appearance, no contract had actually been signed, meaning the Eurovision organisers themselves couldn’t confirm anything.
On Thursday however something seemed to be in the air when Madonna billboards started popping up all over the city, and sure enough on Thursday night’s semi-final the hosts finally confirmed the Queen of Pop’s presence in the final.
At the time of writing, Madonna herself hadn’t been present in any dress rehearsals, so we can’t give any clues about what to expect from the performance, but we do know that she will be performing classic track ‘Like A Prayer’ along with her new song ‘Future’, featuring Quavo.
A “proper song contest?”
Possibly a strange one to mention considering Eurovision is a song contest at its core, and there will be many, many, larger-than-life staging concepts and eye-catching performances tonight.
However, a story has been doing the rounds suggesting that juries have been given last-minute instructions to disregard the staging and visual elements when marking the entries and to focus on song alone. This is due to some countries being unhappy with how their stage shows have been realised by the Israeli production team.
The story originated in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet and our well-placed sources have confirmed it to be true, which could have a massive impact on some of the entries that have put a lot of work into their stage shows. Of course telling the juries to ignore the staging and them actually doing it are two different things, so it will be interesting to see how the results are impacted.
You can catch the grand final of Eurovision 2019 tonight at 8pm on BBC1 or streamed live on the official Eurovision YouTube channel.