The announcement of today’s Eurovision winner was a huge moment – so how did Australia’s entry Sheldon Riley fare? WARNING: Spoilers.
WARNING: Spoilers for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest ahead. Don’t read on if you’re planning to watch in prime-time tonight on SBS and don’t want to know what happens.
Banana-eating wolves, hand-washing anthems, last year’s winners making pointed reference to their “drug” controversy and a surprise upset for Australia’s entry – Eurovision 2022 had plenty of shocks.
Winners and losers
Pre-final favourites Ukraine scored a respectable 192 votes from the jury – which was then combined with an incredible 439 points from the public to put them in an unbeatable lead of 631 points.
There’s no doubt the Russian invasion of Ukraine played into that enormous public show of support, but thankfully, Ukraine also had a great song to back it up – the rap group Kalush Orchestra’s Stefania was one of the catchiest tunes of the night.
It does raise questions though about how and where next year’s Eurovision will take place, as the winning country usually plays host to the next event, and it’s hard to imagine wartorn Ukraine playing host to Eurovision 2023.
The UK’s Sam Ryder won the jury votes with his anthemic tune Space Man, which ended up finishing second. It’s an incredible turnaround for a country that has been a Eurovision laughing stock in recent years – the UK haven’t placed in the top 10 since 2009, and regularly come dead last (including the past two years in a row). From dead last with zero points last year, to second place today – how’s that for a Eurovision success story.
While nobody suffered the humiliation of scoring zero points this year, poor Germany came last with just six points – France and Iceland rounding out the bottom three.
How Australia fared
Former The Voice contestant Sheldon Riley certainly had one of the night’s most dramatic performances, complementing his soaring ballad with costume and staging that were tailor-made for Eurovision audiences: Feathers, dry ice and a glittery mask that he finally removed for the song’s big key change.
And the longtime Eurovision fan seemed genuinely overwhelmed as he finished: “Thank you so much Eurovision – anything is possible!”
In the end, it was a very mixed result: Sheldon scored 123 votes from the jury, but got a brutal score of just 2 points from the public vote. That combined score of 125 saw him place 15th out of 25 – better than last year when Australia didn’t make it past the semi-finals, but still only the second time we haven’t placed in the top 10 when we’ve been in the finals.
The best moments…
Spain sent a sultry pop diva named Chanel with a song – Slo Mo – that was originally penned for Jennifer Lopez. She earned some of the night’s biggest cheers with a performance that was oh so Eurovision: dance breaks, hair flips, costume reveals. And all with the sort of song you can imagine hearing on radio for months to come – it placed a very deserving third.
France – historically fond of sending a chanteuse with a big ballad and an even bigger dress – this year sent Alvan and Ahez with the pulsating electro number Feltonn, sung in Breton, a Celtic language spoken in the Brittany region. Pounding synths, Xena yodels – it went off. Bizarrely, it came second last.
Shout out again to the UK, who broke from recent tradition by submitting a good song, sung well – Sam Ryder’s Space Man had a soaring chorus (and he should get extra points for rocking that stars-and-moons jumpsuit).
Sorry, Switzerland, your entrant Marius Bear has a lovely voice, but his simple, schmaltzy ballad Boys Don’t Cry was so schmaltzy it was in danger of giving everyone in Europe a toothache. “Mountains they do crumble – and rivers they run dry. And boys? Boys … do cry,” he sang, over and over again, in what felt like the longest three minutes of the night.
“He spent a year living in Australia and has an Australian passport, so I’ll just leave it at … that was Switzerland,” quipped Aussie commentator Joel Creasey – while co-host Myf Warhurst wisely stayed silent.
It seems the public agreed: he got a respectable 78 points from the jury, but was the only artist to receive exactly zero points from the public.
…and the weirdest
Norway really tried it with their consciously zany entry Subwoolfer and the nonsensical song Give That Wolf A Banana, performed by an anonymous troop disguised in lurid yellow masks.
And Serbia’s entrant, singer Konstrakta, performed her entire song with a wide-eyed stare at the cameras while washing her hands in a bowl of water. Apparently it was a commentary on self-care and the pandemic? “Cleanest hands at Eurovision,” Joel Creasey noted. And the public loved it – after modest scoring from the judges, her massive score from viewers at home briefly put her at the top of the leaderboard. She eventually finished in fifth place.
But maybe we should just give thanks that Latvia never made it past the semi-finals: Their song Eat Your Salad opened with the memorable line, “I don’t eat meat, I eat veggies and p***y.” This is a family show, Latvia.
Last year’s winners rock out
One of Eurovision’s biggest modern success stories, Italian glam rock band Maneskin returned to the stage to perform their new Max Martin-penned single Supermodel at half-time.
Their win was momentarily shrouded in controversy last year amid claims their frontman was caught by the cameras snorting something off a table as they celebrated after their performance. The band vehemently denied the allegations, passed drug tests – and other angles of the incident showed he was in fact reacting to a broken glass.
Maneskin had the last laugh, though, parlaying their Eurovision win into a massive global career, with a string of hit singles including Begging and I Wanna Be Your Slave.
And they were at least able to laugh at last year’s storm in a teacup controversy, with with frontman Damiano offering two pieces of advice to whoever wins this year: “Have fun… and don’t get too close to the table.”
Originally published as Eurovision Song Contest: All the 2022 grand final highlights