There's something very satisfying about being right in a prediction at Eurovision, and finally it's actually happened! I quote from my blog entry after the final dress rehearsal:
"And I suppose I have to choose a winner from these ten... Hm... Azerbaijan. There. I've said it."I think that's the first time in a while I've predicted a winner, and certainly the first time I've had the courage of my convictions and put some money on it. So I now have £18! Hurrah! I'm also very pleased with my allegory of how Azerbaijan came across after Austria, and I stand by that now. It really came across as something real and as something already successful, as did all the Top 3 - a very important aspect to a Eurovision song these days.
Of course, it doesn't all go so right. Ever since New Year I've seen Romania as a bit of a dark horse. Engaging, poppy, not really my kind of thing, but he's charismatic and it reminded me a bit of Take That. Seeing the dress rehearsal with it in its draw position convinced me even further that it might have a chance, so I put £4 on it each way at 200/1. I was pretty convinced I might even be a bit rich after the final. As it turns out, not really. Hm.
So where else did I go right and wrong? Once Georgia got that draw in the final I was pretty sure it was ending up more or less as it did. By the final I was having similar feelings with Ukraine, though it still did better than I expected (and I still really don't get it - the whole thing just doesn't catch my interest at all). I thought Italy could do 'surprisingly well', but I can't claim that I thought they'd come second! But from how it came across in the draw and on the night, I fully understand it now. I'm glad Russia didn't really work, as I suspected, contrary to Denmark, which clearly did come across to the audience at home.
There's another aspect to 'being right' at Eurovision, and that's when you manage to ignore certain hysteria around the press centre and draw your own conclusions. One of those was around France. There was mega buzz, particularly in the last few days, though admittedly much of that was from the French media, but there were certainly those from the fan blogs and Eurovision sites who had already booked their hotels in Paris for next May. Some hurried cancellation going on now, I suspect!
Moreso than France, however, was the hysteria around Sweden. One dodgy first rehearsal, complete with technical tryouts and a tired Saade fresh from an early morning flight, followed by a surprisingly competent Cypriot one, and suddenly Sweden were going to fail to qualify and be totally overshadowed by Cyprus, there'd be complete meltdown in the Swedish tabloids and SVT would have to completely rethink the whole Melodifestivalen format. On the night of the semi-final... not so much. Cyprus scored a mere 16 points and Sweden? Well, they only won the semi. It was a case of the Sweden/Estonia 2006 syndrome which I wrote about on 4th May.
It was all the more satisfying having been present during the hype around Sweden's upcoming implosion, and seeing the inaccuracies, gossip and complete mistruths thrown around by people within the press centre solely in the name of adding weight to their point. From the talk around the reason for the delays to the press conference to the conspiracy theories on Twitter of how Sweden were getting a whole extra rehearsal (they got one technical run-through) and how they were cutting Ireland's time short for doing it (it wasn't even on the same day), it was both amusing and frustrating, especially knowing what the truth was, almost directly from the horse's mouth.
So, to put it mildly, I was pretty pleased to see Sweden coming third. I hadn't particularly liked it back when it won Melodifestivalen, and didn't predict good things for it at the time, but by the time we got to Düsseldorf I'd seen what a strong song it is, particularly given the rest of the line-up. They solved the problem of the backing vocals very cleanly, my main issue with it, and a strong pop song will always come through a slightly ropey vocal performance, as long as it isn't totally decimated. But most importantly, it emphasised the importance of recognising that a rehearsal is just that - a practice - and that a first Eurovision rehearsal is very often more a rehearsal for the production team and camera crew than it is for the acts themselves.
All in all, a successful Eurovision. I'm happy with the results and, as always, I got some predictions right and some very wrong! But that predicting is always part of the fun!