Entertainment

Eurovision: The perfect balance of sequins, loo roll and kindness

From the moment the show opened with a moving rendition of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance, Eurovision 2022 proved to be exactly the glittering, glossy antidote Europe needed.

The night’s message was unity.

And the result, secured by an overwhelming public text and phone-in, showed that had been received loud and clear.

Almost every artist expressed solidarity with Ukraine, waving flags and making brief statements on the stage. “Peace for Ukraine! We love you!” announced Iceland’s Systur after their performance.

“Don’t lose your hope for a better tomorrow,” added Estonian singer Stefan, as he finished playing his country-tinged ballad, Hope.

Many entrants sported Ukrainian flags as well as their own.

Ukrainian service members watch the performance of Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at their position in Kyiv region, Ukraine May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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Ukrainian service members watch the performance of Kalush Orchestra, as Russia’s attack on their position in Kyiv continues

And in one corner of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where weary but determined soldiers had long been holding back a Russian onslaught, soldiers found time to huddle around a small TV to tune into the contest and cheer on their fellow countrymen.

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Graham Norton, commenting live on BBC One, said: “I find the idea of fans and families coming together during dark times to celebrate music across the continent extremely moving.”

Norton’s Ukrainian counterpart Timur Miroshnychenko was forced to swap his usual comfortable TV studio in Kyiv, providing a live voiceover for Ukraine’s State TV from an undisclosed basement.

Miroshnychenko explained his team were forced to move underground “for security reasons” after the TV tower in Kyiv, where he worked for the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Ukraine, was hit by Russian forces.

He said: “You know, the war is about life. And our soldiers are fighting for our lives. And not only ours, but for the lives of all the civilised world.

“So, they told us before Eurovision – just do it, just celebrate, just give us that victory.”

The winner of the contest traditionally hosts the following year’s final but with fierce fighting still ongoing in Ukraine, it is unclear where 2023’s will be held.

When it was suggested on Twitter that if Ukraine cannot host it, the UK – which came in second place – should offer to, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace replied: “One way or the other it will be in Ukraine!”

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrates after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Kalush Orchestra celebrates its historic victory. Pic: Associated Press

Its winning act Kalush Orchestra was actually borne out of a cultural project led by folklore experts and mixes traditional folk melodies and contemporary hip-hop to promote Ukrainian culture.

And that has become an even more salient point as Russia, through its invasion, has sought falsely to assert Ukraine does not have its own unique culture.

Former winner Cheryl Baker, of Bucks Fizz, tweeted: “Wasn’t this the best @Eurovision for years?….It was a show of love, joy, inclusivity and no animosity.”

Rest assured, the competition was also its usual mix of camp, kitsch pop and angst-ridden ballads.

The grand final opened with an energetic performance featuring strobe lighting and projections of the sculpture of David by Michelangelo from Czech Republic’s We Are Domi singing Lights Off.

Finland’s rock group The Rasmus kicked off the first few performances with a powerful version of Jezebel, ripping their shirts off mid-show.

Armenia’s representative, Rosa Linn, gave an emotional performance with her song Snap on a stage with a bed, lamp and chair all seemingly wrapped in white toilet roll.

Rosa Linn from Armenia performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
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Rosa Linn with her toilet roll-wrapped bed and chair

Marius Bear from Switzerland delivered a raw rendition of his track Boys Do Cry backdropped with simple lighting while France’s Alvan and Ahez had fire on stage to perform their track Fulenn.

Meanwhile Norway’s Subwoolfer dressed in their now-infamous yellow wolf costumes while performing a synchronised dance number and singing Give That Wolf A Banana.

After the contest, which saw the UK placed second, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Congratulations to Ukraine for winning the @Eurovision Song Contest 2022.

“It is a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom.

“Incredibly proud of @SamRyderMusic and how he brilliantly represented the UK tonight.”

Sam Ryder from United Kingdom reacts during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Sam Ryder narrowly missed giving the UK its sixth win since 1957. Pic: Associated Press

Sam Ryder narrowly missed joining the likes of Katrina And The Waves and Bucks Fizz to give the UK its sixth win since 1957.

But he was ecstatic about the result: “There is so much gratitude, what an experience,” he said.

Reigning Eurovision Song Contest champions, Italian rock band Maneskin, also performed during the live show, alongside singer-songwriter Mika who sang a medley which included Grace Kelly and Happy Ending.

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