Green room chaos, creepy singing and Madonna falling flat: Eurovision according to Twitter

Australia: adored online, but not in the televote - AFP
Australia: adored online, but not in the televote - AFP

To read people’s tweets during the Eurovision Song Contest the morning after is to find that few of them make much sense. So many require so much context, so much alcohol, they barely make sense for minutes, let alone hours in the wake of the contest.

But that’s what makes Twitter on Eurovision so good in the first place. Twitter on Eurovision night is like lightning; it moves swiftly. Jokes, memes and reactions are instantly thrown up and churned out, twisted and then mostly forgotten in the social media algorithmic washing machine. The best ones, though, sum up the most dramatic and interesting parts of the night. Let’s try to make sense of it:

One of the biggest talking points was Madonna’s interval performance. It had been speculated over for days, endlessly hyped by the hosts and at a time when other musicians and activists had been calling for Tel Aviv to be boycotted, divisive too.

The first time we saw Madonna was during an excessively weird green room chat 30 minutes before she took to the stage. She was wearing an eyepatch and nobody really knew why. Norton joked that she was experiencing a “nasty case of conjunctivitis”. Pilou Asbæk, Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones joked that her outfit “went with the look I should have gone with.”

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When it came to the performance, a lot of the reaction said that it felt remarkably flat. Many people claimed that her performance had been auto-tuned. Even the reaction in the hall was commented as being “muted” by Graham Norton.

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It wasn’t until later, when eagle-eyed viewers had noticed and tweeted proof that two of Madonna’s dancers were wearing the flags of Israel and Palestine on their backs, locked in arms, that people started to sense that what was happening was actually riskier than we witnessed. The organisers of the ceremony and the EBU, who televise the contest, then issued a statement that they did not know this moment was going to happen.

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If casual viewers missed this political message, they wouldn’t have missed the next. Towards the end of the show, BDSM techno performers Hatari (remember, this is Eurovision) from Iceland unveiled a flag for Palestine in the green room. The camera immediately cut away as soon as it could, but it only takes one screengrab for Twitter to light up.

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Hatari’s performance, in case you were wondering, consisted of screaming, leather and a man opening his eye sockets so wide you started to wonder whether he would actually be able to close them again afterwards. Viewers on Twitter certainly warmed to them, but it was questionable whether anybody else did, given that Hatari came 10th overall.

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Then there was Sergey Lazarev from Russia. It was commented by many that it had a “Joey Tribbiani staring out of the window whilst it is raining” vibe, dramatic to the state of verging on ridicule. Standing in numerous boxes dotted around the stage, it was noted that it looked like the worst episode of Naked Attraction ever seen.

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Slovenia meanwhile, was the complete opposite, deeply unemotional and consisting of two musicians staring into each other’s eyes whilst one of them sung entirely in monotone. “Romantic or creepy, you decide” commented Graham Norton at the start of their performance. It took him less than three minutes to reach a conclusion: “Creepy, I’ve decided, it’s creepy.”

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Albania’s entry, Norton decreed, looked like Kirstie Allsopp, which didn’t escape Allsopp’s notice. “Did I just imagine that?” she replied.

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Australia, meanwhile was pure unadulterated joy. Three people on the tallest pole swinging round in circles talking about zero gravity (“wow, if window-screen wipers could sing” joked Norton). They frankly did not deserve to come ninth, nor continue to still be recipients of tired “why are Australia in the European Song Contest” jokes. They not only deserve to be in this competition, they deserve to win it, and they will in future years.

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Then there was Keiino from Norway, who performed in the Northern Sami language. They also at the epicentre of one of the biggest problems of the night, winning the public vote overall, but came lagging in the jury vote directly beforehand. The winner of the jury vote was North Macedonia, who ended up becoming eighth.

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And the point-scoring part of the contest absolutely dragged this year. I didn’t know it was possible to watch television at such a horizontal angle - 30 minutes were added to the programme’s length as it overran, meaning those in the arena in Tel Aviv were still up at 2am.

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And just when everyone lost the will to live, we saw the Russian televoting announcer playing the piano for absolutely no reason, while a clock from Moscow behind him told us that it was 1.30am.

It wasn’t 1.30am in the UK, but my word it certainly felt like it was.

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The green room, where all the performers were waiting to find out the winner, was disorganised chaos. Constant shouting and full of utterly baffling questions that viewers who were watching on commercial channels in Europe were spared from. The furniture everyone was sitting on was particularly memorable, as Norton surmised: “If you want a badly made grey sofa, they are available tomorrow morning.”

A particular highlight was when a random woman walked into the shot, thought she did something wrong, then turned round and walked out. I would have done the same.

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The Netherlands won, with a strong performance and a song already well-established throughout Europe.That didn’t stop many jokes about whether he was singing at an IKEA lampshade.

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And before we get to the UK, I want to point out that it was even far worse for Germany. They beat us, yes, but they got a big fat zero in the public vote. Even worse, they had to have their zero score announced to the room during the public vote. Usually this embarrassment is something we notice but is never alluded to. This incident resulted in Europe’s stomach caving into itself.

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And the United Kingdom’s Michael Rice came last. Many people didn’t think that the song deserved to win, but didn’t deserve to come last either. I mean, did you watch San Marino? It felt like a man chatting you up in a nightclub after chewing on gravel.

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