Grab a drink, slip into something shiny and get ready to slay! The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 is on. And as ever the team from wiwibloggs has been on-the-ground gathering intel ahead of the final. Below we walk you through some of the thrills and spills you can expect. Consider this our pre-recorded commentary. Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for interviews with every single act, along with predictions and more. Enjoy the show!
1. Ukraine: Mélovin – “Under the Ladder”
Mélovin’s name is a combination of Halloween and Alexander McQueen. So it was fitting that he’ll turn up the Eurovision 2018 grand final looking like a high fashion vampire.The “Under the Ladder” singer begins the performance resting inside what appears to be a coffin with cut-outs. The door soon opens and we realise he’s actually lying on the top layer of a two-tiered piano. Bathed in lights and rising high, it’s an eye-catching centrepiece that’s out there but also accessible. His make-up is striking, glam rather than ghoulish. His piano sits at a height, which is fortunate given the fact that it includes a furnace at the bottom.
Memorable lyrics: “Nothing but your will sets you on fire, Fire lasts forever”
2. Spain: Alfred & Amaia – “Tu canción”
Expectations have been rising ever since they won OT 2017 with their tender love song “Tu canción”. And today Alfred & Amaia — the lovebirds dubbed Almaia by the Spanish fandom — finally take to the Eurovision 2018 stage.The lovebirds keep it pure and simple. This starts with the costumes — Amaia in a black, floor-sweeping dress, Alfred in a crimson blazer with golden embellishments near the shoulders. They stare into each other’s eyes and stay close throughout the performance, with the camera spinning around the couple. Despite suggestions that they add fireworks or some form of pyro, the Spainiards opt for simplicity. The lighting scheme, adds a bronze to orange light that fits the romantic theme of their song. It creates a warmer environment and adds even more class to the elegant performance.
Memorable lyrics: “I would have never imagined that travelling to the Moon could be something real” (translated)
3. Slovenia: Lea Sirk – “Hvala, ne!”
Whip out that can of crazy and let’s dive in! Slovenia’s Lea Sirk delives a thoroughly off-kilter, totally urban performance in tonight’s grand final. This harks back to the Eurovision of yesteryear when people weren’t afraid to have a bit of fun. Her euro-dance number has major swagger, which comes through her swishing hips, facial expressions and non-stop popping and locking.Her posse of backing vocalists is fiery and fearsome. There’s great interaction between Lea and her girls, including a lovely shot where she walks down a staircase and they each throw their hands out at her. Talk to the hand? Take my hand? No matter. This is visually arresting and thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps the most talked-about moment of the performance comes when she stages a “fake blackout”. The lights and the music cut and she entreats the audience to help her out. As they do everything comes back to life on stage.
Memorable lyrics: “My name is Lea and I got a new look for you” (translated)
4. Lithuania: Ieva Zasimauskaite – “When We’re Old”
Romance has a name — and it’s Ieva Zasimauskaite! The simple stage works very well with Lithuania’s simple song. Soft but dramatic lighting, Ieva is in a world of her own, letting her mystical voice take centre stage. She starts the performance on the floor and gently guides us through her song. Towards the end of the song she walks on one of the stage bridges as the lighting grows more dramatic. It shows just how enormous the stage is as she appears to be walking toward heaven. And then a vision: her husband literally walks toward her and they rub noses. On-screen graphics which depict babies, a young couple and an elderly couple.
Memorable lyrics: “From your very first smile,I knew that I’d walk a mile”
5. Austria: Cesár Sampson – “Nobody But You”
There’s nobody like him. Cesár Sampson starts off his performance of “Nobody But You”, standing tall on top of a raised platform in the centre of the stage. Lights surround the outside of his platform and smoke billows below, giving this a very futuristic feel. The light cuts across Cesár’s face at the start, keeping half of him in darkness — giving a heightened sense of mystery that really works. As the platform descends, the performance veers more traditional, with the star letting loose as he moves across the stage. One of the highlights of the act is a large on-screen image of César that seems to rise out of his spaceship. THIS is how you do it!
Memorable lyrics: “Lord, I’m gonna get so high tonight”
6. Estonia: Elina Netsajeva – “La forza”
Elina Nechayeva delivers what may be the most memorable performance of the evening, stepping away from pop music to serve something authentic, classy and awe-inspiring. Her vocals never falter, even as she takes things higher, and this is visually arresting from start to finish.The projection dress swallows the entire circular stage. And it becomes the canvas for manifold colours and patterns — from a stunning flowerscape to a whirlpool of bright colours to abstract patterns that resemble art. The lights behind Elina play off of the patterns on the dress, resulting in something cohesive and wow.
Memorable lyrics: “The force of Destiny vaulting makes me the hour is near to happiness”
7. Norway: Alexander Rybak – “That’s How You Write a Song” (5.44)
8. Portugal: Cláudia Pascoal – “O jardim” (7.19)
Claudia Pascoal, with her beautiful easter-egg-pink locks, takes us on a florid journey to blooms of the past. She’s joined on stage by composer Isaura, who wrote the song about her grandmother’s garden. Laura While pared back like Salvador Sobral’s winning performance last year, this song is sneakily modern, and the electro-base gives it a bit of verve and subversive kick that makes it far more interesting than it might be otherwise.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “Now that you’re not here, I water your garden.”
9. United Kingdom: SuRie – “Storm”
SuRie, who won the BBC’s “You Decide” competition, has Eurovision chops from her work for the Belgian delegation, whom she helped achieve fourth place finishes in both 2015 and 2017 as a back-up vocalist for Loic Nottet and Blanche. Standing in front of a corridor of neon tubes, SuRie sings of the light at the end of that tunnel. Because, hey brother, storms don’t last forever, remember.
Memorable lyrics: “I still have faith. I still believe in chasing rainbows”
10. Serbia: Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – “Nova deca”
After a few forays into English-language pop, Serbia goes back to its Balkan bread-and-butter with “Nova Deca,” and they pile on plenty of tried-and-true ethnic elements to make it unmistakable: an old man playing a flute, women in flowing dresses, and drums. It’s not as tight a production as the Zeljko Joksimovic Balkan ballads of old, but it’s a turn toward a direction many fans of the genre will appreciate.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “The world is ours and time stops rushing when you are with me”
11. Germany: Michael Schulte – “You Let Me Walk Alone”
Germany’s Michael Schulte’s quiet song of personal loss–the death of his father at a young age–has gained more and more momentum this week, as it becomes clear just how effectively the song has been staged in a way to make the song’s narrative of perseverance pain both simple yet unmistakable. He stands in front of a pop-up projection screen which sets him apart from other acts on the sparse Lisbon stage, and you’ll certainly see those visuals reflected in the tears running down faces of fans in the front row.
Memorable lyrics: “I was born from one love of two hearts; we were three kids and a loving mum.”
12. Albania: Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
Eugent Bushpepa (who Emilie Satt of the subsequent French act Madame Monsieur called the best vocalist of the contest) had the pipes to carry Albania through the loaded first semifinal, and his tasteful rock performance feels effortlessly authentic and natural in a way few acts achieve. It’s patriotic, too: the stage looks red and black, like the Albanian flag, and he sings in his native language. When he takes us to his “Mall,” honey we’re buying everything.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “This yearning that burns doesn’t know boundaries nor distance.”
13. France: Madame Monsieur – “Mercy”
Husband-and-wife duo Madame Monsieur are making France optimistic for its best result in many years with the socially conscious song “Mercy,” inspired by the true story of a baby by that name who was born upon a rescue ship which was ferrying refugees to safety in the Mediterranean Sea. Singing in simple French, the staging is minimalist–with black outfits (albeit snazzily designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier) meant to disappear into the stage–so that the emotional impact, they hope, is maximized.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “I was born this morning, my name is Mercy. In the middle of the sea, between two countries, Mercy.”
14. Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef – “Lie to Me”
Mikolas Josef was an early favorite of oddsmakers and fans when his song “Lie to Me” was selected to represent the Czech Republic, giving the perennial non-contender its most appealing and contemporary submission ever in the contest. With his glasses, bowtie and signature backpack, Mikolas brings nerd chic to the contest with a modeling pedigree that includes Prada, to boot. His preparations in Lisbon were derailed last week by a back injury he suffered on the first day of rehearsals, which has made his performance somewhat more cautious, if still charismatic. Mikolas won’t have to excel, however, to get the Czech Republic its best-ever result: the only other time they made the final, in 2016, Gabriela Guncikova finished an unremarkable 25th
Memorable lyrics: “Then it got heavy, mom I’m feeling home already, but steady, plenty of these beauties wanna eat my spaghetti.”
15. Denmark: Rasmussen – “Higher Ground”
When Rasmussen won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, they brought one of the most ethnically Scandinavian entries in recent memory, serving viking realness with beards and grunting and various other displays of Nordic testosterone. These vikings, however, want no more to do with pillaging, instead trying to send a message of peace (albeit aggressively). There’s sails, there’s snow, there’s fog: it’s a storm on the good ship Eurovision, with Denmark taking this year’s nautical “All Aboard” theme more literally than any other entrant.
Memorble lyrics: “Raise the banner to the sky, face the fear and hold your head up high.”
16. Australia: Jessica Mauboy – “We Got Love”
Jessica Mauboy, who was sent as an ambassador for Australia when it dipped its toe into the Eurovision waters in Copenhagen during an interval act of the 2014 contest, has returned to the festival this year as Australia’s fourth competitor. She’s got a high standard to maintain: Australia has finished 5th, 2nd, and 9th in its three previous appearances.Mauboy is alone on stage in front of a chevron of lights, but works to fill the stage and arena with her energy and passion (and like Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira, she’s not afraid of a good hair flip).
Memorable lyrics: “I know what you must be thinking, that we are powerless to change things. But don’t, don’t give up: ’cause we got love.”
17. Finland: Saara Aalto – “Monsters”
Saara Aalto is no stranger to competition, and she seems to collect silver medals: she came in second place in the selection to represent Finland at Eurovision in 2011, second on The Voice of Finland in 2012, then again came second on The X-Factor UK in 2016. Her song “Monsters” is about rejecting demons, and her acrobatic and androgynous staging spins around, amps up to soaring fireworks and comes down with a splash.
Memorable lyrics: “So tonight I’m making friends with all the creatures that are hiding there under my bed.”
18. Bulgaria: Equinox – “Bones”
Created for the contest, the quintet Equinox features two Americans–Johnny Manuel and Trey Campbell–along with the three Americans. There was a lot of hype about the entry before it was revealed, and it was oddsmakers’ favorite before anyone heard it. Since it was revealed it has slipped some, but the ambient, entrancing, otherworldly aura is slick and takes you to another world, either far into outer space…or perhaps deep beyond the bones.
Memorable lyrics: “Wanna thrive in the dust of the universe, and way into unknown.”
19. Moldova: DoReDos – “My Lucky Day”
After getting its best-ever result last year with the fun “Hey Mamma” by SunStroke Project coming third, perennially creative underdog Moldova doubled-down on the goofiness with DoReDos, which features vaudevillian hijinks behind a panel of small nine doors (which also become three big doors). The song is by Russian pop star Philip Kirkorov, who has a strong pedigree in the contest, albeit normally with slicker pop songs than this brassy, campy number.
Memorable lyrics: “Well I guess it’s up to you. Do you feel the way I do, when bodytalk is magic?”
20. Sweden: Benjamin Ingrosso – “Dance You Off”
Benjamin Ingrosso won Melodifestivalen with the same slick stage show he’s brought to Lisbon: three panels of neon lights which he dances on top of and behind, disappearing into a futuristic, TRON-light landscape of light and energy. The song, sung in falsetto, is breathy, and manages to be teasingly seductive without veering into slutty.
Memorable lyrics: “‘Cause I just wanna feel the mood, girl with anyone but you.”
21. Hungary: AWS – “Viszlát nyár”
Perhaps no country has offered a more diverse range of genres at Eurovision this decade than Hungary, who stretches their palette even further with the heavy metal band AWS. The song brings explosive energy and raw emotion and powerfully projected vocals while still maintaining melody. Stretch out your neck before this one starts, because your head will start banging.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “Goodbye summer, you missed me, ’cause you lied that you’ll be mine but you didn’t come!”
22. Israel: Netta Barzilai – “Toy”
Netta, an Israeli singer, looper, and beatboxer, spent the last two months atop the odds to win Eurovision with her out-of-the-box “Toy,” a song inspired by the #MeToo movement which takes K-Pop and J-Pop influences along with iconic playthings and makes it into quite the bop. Netta has turned Japanese for her staging, wearing a kimono and beginning in front of cabinets of golden “maneki-neko” kittens. Will the lucky cats bring her the win tonight?
Memorable lyrics: “I’m taking my Pikachu home. You’re stupid just like your smartphone.”
23. The Netherlands: Waylon – “Outlaw in ‘Em”
Waylon entered the Eurovision 2014 as half of the duo The Common Linnets, and the sweet country duet brought the country to its best result in decades: second place. This year, on his own, Waylon has caused a different storm with his perplexing staging choice of an all-black dance troupe crumping to his country-western song. He’s done little to dispel the gathering tempest, lashing out angrily at journalists after qualifying for the final during his press conference. Considering that he is surrounded by the oddsmakers’ three favorites (Israel, Ireland, Cyprus), the downpour of votes may fall elsewhere in this section of the show.
Memorable lyrics: “When they knock you to the ground, you ain’t gonna let nobody keep you down.”
24. Ireland: Ryan O’Shaughnessy – “Together”
Ryan O’Shaughnessy of Ireland sings a simple, wistful break-up song “Together” that hadn’t gained much notice as an audio track, but it’s created lots of buzz for its staging, which shows two men in love on stage in a dance number which reflects the type of love so often underrepresented, even at a gay oasis like Eurovision. The song has soared from longshot-qualifier to third in the odds, in part propelled by a wave of attention after the Chinese broadcaster, Mango, had its rights stripped for censoring the performance during the semifinals.
Memorable lyrics: “We said ‘Until death do us part’ And then you chose to break my heart.”
25. Cyprus: Eleni Foureira – “Fuego”
Yeah, yeah, winner? Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira is burning up Eurovision 2018, and she’s not coming down. Since her first performance, the wildly charismatic Albanian-born singer has taken Eurovision fans higher, and her odds have climbed with every performance. On a simple stage with just pyrotechnics, Eleni and her dancers whip the audience into a frenzy with every flip of their glorious manes. This lioness is leading the pride.
Memorable lyrics: “You got me pelican fly-fly-flyin!”
26. Italy: Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – “Non mi avete fatto niente”
Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro won Sanremo with the song “Non mi avete fatto niente,” a defiant song of anger and perseverance in the face of terror attacks. They name drop the sites of several recent attacks–the Ramblas in Barcelona, a concert in France, cataloging the growing number of injuries the continent has suffered, but ending with a note of overcoming and rising above. To help the rapid-fire lyrics in Italian translate somewhat, the duo have elected to have large, varied subtitles appear in several languages during the performance.
Memorable lyrics [translated]: “And this enormous body that we call Earth is wounded to its core from Asia to England”