Switzerland wins and UK flops as chaos engulfs Eurovision

Switzerland wins and UK flops as chaos engulfs Eurovision
By: Entertainment Posted On: May 11, 2024 View: 29

Switzerland has won Eurovision, topping the leaderboard in a competition fraught with last-minute changes and backstage incidents.

The first non-binary performer to take the trophy, Nemo used their childhood opera experience to pull together an impressive performance mixing rap, rock, drum 'n bass and classical opera, as well as balancing on a revolving disc spinning at speed as they sang.

The song - which took an early lead in the race - shares a message of self-acceptance and the freedom for each one of us to live our lives openly and without fear of judgment.

When accepting their prize, Nemo said: "I hope this contest can live up to its promise, and continue to stand up for peace." They then performed their song to wrap up the show.

Eurovision as it happened
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Nemo is the first Swiss act to win the contest since Celine Dion took the prize in 1988.

Croatian act Baby Lasagne (whose real name is Marko Purisic) took second place with the anarchic rock track Rim Tim Tagi Dim.

The UK's act, Dizzy, sung by Olly Alexander came 18th out of 25, with 46 points. He performed 13th in the running order - a number considered unlucky for some, and received a crushing "nul points" in the public vote.

The Years And Years star gave an energetic performance surrounded by his four dancers dressed in boxing shorts, writhing around a brightly lit cube decked out like a boxing ring.

Analysis: Is Eurovision broken? And can it be fixed?

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Fifty years ago Abba brought Waterloo to Eurovision and emerged triumphant. Today, very different battles were being fought within the competition, as it attempted – with limited success – to remain apolitical in the face of geo-politics too loud to ignore.

Critics of the war in Gaza wanted Israel to be pulled from the show, with thousands of pro-Palestine protesters taking to the streets for organised marches throughout competition week. Fans called on acts to boycott the event, with some screenings of the show cancelled in recognition of the contentious nature of the ongoing debate.

Calls of "art washing" rang out loud and clear, but as far as the show's bosses – the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) - were concerned, it was a case of "the show must go on".

A supplementary drama was thrown into the mix just eight hours before the show was due to start, when Dutch act Joost Klein was axed over allegations he made verbal threats to a female member of Eurovision staff. It was an unprecedented move.

Fans of his song – the painfully catchy happy hardcore number Europapa – were not impressed, venting their displeasure through boos directed at EBU boss Martin Osterdahl as he delivered the Netherlands' scores during the show.

Following their history-making win, Switzerland's Nemo admitted they'd broken the coveted Eurovision glass trophy within moments of being handed it. They also admitted to breaking EBU rules by bringing a non-binary flag into the venue, before calling out the "double standards" of the organisers who were reported to have forced some fans to throw away their non-binary flags before being allowed in.

Perhaps summing up the take home message of the night, the 26-year-old singer said: "I broke the code and I broke the trophy, maybe the trophy can be fixed - maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing now and then too."

With organisers clearly struggling to cope with performers who refuse to be gagged, this was certainly a difficult year for the competition. Can it weather the storm? Or will the hurricane instigated by brutal world conflict raze it to the ground?

Either way, the contest's motto – "united by music" – must surely now be retired, as the Eurovision community steps away from the stage more divided than ever.

Ireland's act Bambie Thug came sixth, with their self-named "Ouija pop" track Doomsday Blue.

Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, opened the show, speaking in a short, pre-recorded video, and wishing all the contestants luck, before Sweden's identical twins Marcus and Martinus performed the first song.

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UK receives 'nul points' at Eurovision

Performers made some tentative moves towards bringing politics to the stage, with Lithuania signing off their song with the command, "Spread love to the world", while Portugal's act said, "Peace will prevail".

At the end of France's performance by Slimane, he said: "United by music, for love and peace, thank you so much."

During an earlier performance he had cut his act short, saying: "Every artist here wants to sing about love and sing about peace. We need to be united by music yes but with love for peace. United by music yes but with love for peace".

Meanwhile, Ireland's act Bambie Thug rounded off their performance by saying: "Love will always triumph hate."

Pic: Reuters
Image: Ireland's Bambie Thug performing Doomsday Blue. Pic: Reuters

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The country's participation in the Eurovision song contest in Malmo, Sweden left the event struggling to maintain its apolitical stance.

Boos and toy fruit

During a cutaway of their team, which was played after all the songs had been performed in a round-up of the acts sitting in the 'green room' area onstage, there was a large soft-toy watermelon clearly in the background behind Bambie.

The fruit is widely used as a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old, who is non-binary, said the EBU prevented them from displaying a pro-Palestinian message during their performance during the first semi-final.

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Israel receives mixed reaction at Eurovision

There was some audible booing when Israel's Eden Golan performed, and more audible booing when Israel handed out their scores.

Ms Golan told Sky News after the contest she had ignored all the controversy.

She said: "I've been sending good vibes, I've been focusing on spreading love and spreading good energy and getting to know everyone."

Asked if she was happy with the result, she said she was "over the moon" about it.

The loudest booing of the night was reserved for the man in charge of the Eurovision Song Contest, Martin Osterdahl, who was almost drowned out by jeering from the crowd when he first spoke, and then again when he handed out the points for Netherlands.

This year's Eurovision contest has been embroiled in controversy over the last few months, with demonstrations and calls for Israel to be banned due to their actions in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Protests have bene held in Malmo this week. Pic: TT News Agency via Reuters
Image: Protests in Malmo this week. Pic: TT News Agency via Reuters

On Thursday, between 10,000 and 12,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian march through Malmo, the host city.

An unprecedented axing

But on Friday, drama unfolded closer to home when Dutch act Joost - who had been among the favourites to win - was axed over allegations he made verbal threats to a female Eurovision production worker after coming off stage following the second semi-final on Thursday.

It is the first time in Eurovision history that an act has been disqualified after reaching the grand final.

Joost Klein. Pic: AP
Image: Joost Klein. Pic: AP

Then on Saturday, Irish contender Bambie Thug did not take part in the final rehearsal for the show, due to "a situation" they said needed "urgent attention" from organisers.

Several presenters scheduled to award the points of their country during the programme, withdrew from the show just hours before it was due to begin, including Finnish singer Kaarij (whose song Cha Cha Cha came second in last year's show) and Norwegian singer Alessandra Mele.

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Eurovision act suffers wardrobe malfunction

Away from the political overtones the EBU was trying so hard to avoid, Swedish supergroup Abba - the most famous band ever to come out of the contest - were shown in hologram form and performed on stage in London.

The four "Abbatars" as they've been dubbed sang Waterloo, accompanied from the Malmo stage by fellow former winners Conchita Wurst, Charlotte Perrelli and Carola Haggkvist.

'Maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing'

Switzerland's Nemo with The Code. Pic: Alma Bengtsson/EBU
Image: Switzerland's Nemo with The Code. Pic: Alma Bengtsson/EBU

Speaking to reporters after their win, Nemo admitted they had accidentally broken the glass microphone shortly after being presented with it on stage.

Nemo hit out at the EBU's "double standards" when asked about fans reportedly not being allowed to bring non-binary flags into the auditorium, admitting: "I had to smuggle my flag in because Eurovision said no and I did it anyway. I hope some other people did that too... This is clearly like a double standard... I broke the code and I broke the trophy, maybe the trophy can be fixed - maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing too".

They said the experience of performing in Eurovision had been "intense, and not just pleasant all the way," adding that the fact had not been "all about love and unity made them "really sad".

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Loud boos for Eurovision boss

When pressed on how they felt about Dutch act Joost not being in the final, Nemo refused to be drawn, saying, "I don't really know any specifics" so would "refrain from "saying that if I don't have anything smart to say".

However, on their fellow Eurovision finalists, Nemo said they had made "friends for life," adding that they hope to collaborate with some of their fellow acts, and would "love to do a song with Bambie [Thug]".

Next year's contest will be held in Switzerland.

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