So two weeks of rehearsals and partying and drinking a bit too much in a strange foreign town are almost over, and tonight we’ll get to discover where we’ll be doing it all again this time next year. Oh yes, and there’s be 26 songs of varying quality involved somewhere too. But who are the real winners? The winners of this year’s Popbitch Eurovision Awards…
It’s been a pretty exciting year in Eurovision circles this time around. Kyiv have hosted this thing gloriously, and it really is one of Europe’s most underrated cities, with its glorious leafy boulevards, unhinged street life and enormous slabs of public art. But talk to the locals and they’ll tell you that not only did they get an influx of foreign money and opinion makers for a fortnight, but that the city council finally smoothed out many of its notoriously potholed roads and generally spruced the pace up a bit, so fair play to them for that. And after a few years of astronomical prices it’s been a treat not to have to mortgage your nan if you want to have a somewhat lubricated night out.
There have been many heroes of our Eurovision time this year, but who were the nicest people? And did anyone leave a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth?
Far and away the best party of the year – and indeed the last three or four years – was the Montenegrin bash. In a year where Euroclub has been a bit of a letdown, this was a good old fashioned hotel shindig, with tables groaning with food and many flavours of booze, chances to chat to and harass the singers, and loads of informal performances from the televisual talent. It was so good that we’re not sure how it finished – let alone got home. Also mentioned in dispatches must be the UK do at the British Embassy, where were were treated to wines and canapes and got to hobnob with the local dignitaries while our lass serenaded us from a stage in the corner. Always makes us feel like proper grown ups being invited to something that posh.
The Israeli do is famous for being either a fevered bacchanal with bagfuls of free stuff, or a slightly embarrassing shitshow. Sadly this year’s event was the latter, with strange booze rules that meant you couldn’t take drinks onto the dancefloor – where you’d clearly need them the most, roped off areas to stop you getting access to the stars, and a serious paucity of food until a ridiculously late hour. The entertainment wasn’t much better, with a shrieky, unfunny host, and a sound operative who kept playing the wrong songs, or when he did get it right, stopping them in the wrong places. All kinds of knuckle gnawling. Still, at least it probably means that we’ll be up for a blinder next year!
Best Promotional Tat
It’s been a quiet year for freebies, with little more than a few branded pens, some stickers and a cardboard gorilla mask, So what joy we had when we discovered the Hungarians had provided us with their national object – a Rubik’s Cube – especially customised with lovely Joci Pápai’s beardy face on it. Work of promotional genius.
Best Free Trip
It’s been a bit quiet of the organised outing front this year. With little outside a boat trip and a couple of opportunities to sightsee, we were beginning to get a little disappointed. But it all perked up when the singer of Ukraine’s Muse-alike host act, Yevhen Halych, took us on a walking tour of his favourite haunts in town, played a small gig in a cracking little cellar bar, plied us with free alcohol, then took us to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in town to show us the view. That’s the kind of care an attention we need here!
It’s actually been a good year for lovely people. Our own Lucie Jones has proved an absolute delight on the rare occasions that she’s been let out of the BBC compound, Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov frequently showed a kind maturity beyond his tender years, and even the Croatian opera lad Jacques Houdek turned out to be a decent sort, much to our surprise. But the all round nice guy of the year will be universally proclaimed as Austria’s Nathan Trent – the sort of happy smiley young pup who held open doors for people, happy chatted to anyone who approached him, and danced like a schoolkid with him mum. What an absolute sweetheart he was.
Diva Of The Year
We’re sorry to have to tell you that there hasn’t been one. Yes, we know, but as unlikely as it sounds, this year’s lot have either been thorough lovely, or kept themselves to themselves and out of everybody’s way. It almost feels like a personal failure to have to report this, but it’s been a good year for good sorts, curse them.
Party Animal Of The Year
It’s always a hotly contested category this one, but there have been some notable contenders. Moldova’s Sunstroke Project carried on where they left off in Oslo with an almost supernatural ability to be at at least three parties at the same time, Czech singer Martina Bárta, was also a frequent party attender, or no one ever really knew who she was until she started singing, and little Kristian from Bulgaria and his crew worked a fair few events too. But the undisputed winner was Montenegro’s Slavko. Not content with hosting the party of the year, he schlepped himself around the town, giving everybody a little portion of his time and recounting some gloriously bawdy tales about his showbiz life. Slavko sir, we applaud you.
Well that will all be decided later tonight, but we’ve especially enjoyed Romania’s yodelling hip hop cannon fest, Croatia’s dual personality opera romp, Italy’s smart, funny and intellectual monkey business, and the cool and dark pop tones from Belgium. But our biggest love of the year just has to be the absolutely adorable Salvador Sobral and his delicate jazzy pop tune. It may not be anything like you expect from a Eurovision entry, but his honest charm and unexpected moves will have you cooing in your armchairs. We love him, we really do.
But the biggest winner tonight will be Eurovision itself. We can’t remember a more varied and interesting year, and there’s so little filler that you’ll be revising your top ten lists on a minute-by-minute basis. Thanks for sticking with us throughout the last two weeks, it’s been an absolute pleasure guiding you through all the fun and nonsense. Now eyes down for a full house, who’s going to actually win this thing…?
And don’t forget, if you want a thorough musicological assessment of every song’s chances, plus all the backstage news and gossip from Kyiv, download yourself this year’s Popbitch Eurovision guide and keep it at your side throughout the remaining televisual delights. It’ll make your viewing pleasure all that more pleasurable. You’ll find more details by clicking here…