Poor Mae Muller. The British entry in the Eurovision Song Contest came second on Saturday night, which sounds good until you realize she finished second last. Out of 26 entries.
Mae was even beaten by the outstanding entry from Moldova, featuring the manbun-wearing Pasha, alongside a short-statured person in bunny ears playing the Moldavian flute and two backing singers who had horns instead of hair; they all performed a pagan anthem about Pasha meeting his wife.
“Dense leaf forest, I think I’ve found my bride,” they chanted. Totally fantastic of course. It certainly came out of Mae and her Lily Allen-lite song I Wrote A Song – about getting revenge on an ex-boyfriend who left her to work on his mental health issues.
Dear God, what does it matter? Not when Croatia in their baggy underpants made a ‘dense anti-war rock opera’ called Mama ŠČ! and Austria sang in leather chaps about Edgar Allen Poe. As always, it’s the sincere, the authentic and the eccentric in this musical army of mercy that is Euro’s true glory.
Leading up to the final, 25-year-old Mae certainly did a good job and her dynamic acrylic manicure spoke for itself. But on that night, on the big stage in Liverpool, she really made as much of an impression as a broken cuticle.
Devastated: UK entrant Mae Muller (pictured) came second last in the Eurovision final last night
Disbelief: Mae looked disappointed last night as she sat at the bottom of the standings
All the fireworks had come beforehand, when Mae ungratefully used her national platform to tell the world that she “hated” Britain and planned to move to Germany as soon as possible and get a German passport. Auf Wiedersehen, pet! Once there, she may learn the meaning of the word gloating, and not a moment too soon.
Yet Mae’s sweet dud was only a small part of this damn glorious Eurovision Song Contest: The Grand Final (BBC1); a technically complex, totally terrifying 254-minute live broadcast that dominated Saturday night’s programming. A thousand things could have gone wrong, a hundred calamities could have befallen the show and its performers, but what a triumph for the BBC that it went almost flawlessly.
Yes, there were a few sound issues between the cavalcade of bombast, disco-smashers and curiously overdeveloped Cyprus guys singing about breaking hearts again, but the flow was impeccable, the staging supreme, the atmosphere electric. Although some may have their doubts about rap-tastic presenter Alesha Dixon, who brought a lot of energy but not much clarity. “Time flies when there are so many firecrackers,” she said at one point, and I remember feeling the exact same way about my brownie sausage in 1975.
Again, Graham Norton was the somewhat overbearing main host. I love Graham, but I wish he wouldn’t indulge his opinions on the Eurovision entries when he introduced them, because viewers at home like to decide for themselves, thanks anyway.
Defeat: Mae was even defeated by the outstanding entry from Moldova, with the manbun-wearing Pasha
Winner: Loreen for Sweden looked thrilled as she took home the trophy for Eurovision 2023
And it’s not like the old fool knows what he’s talking about.
“France is going to have a good night,” he confidently predicted, before a woman in sequins named La Zarra stood atop a pillar and placed 16th with an overwrought song about a “hell garden” where “the plants are watered with dreams” . and tears’. We’ve all been there, honey. Begonias can be a bitch. Graham was also excited about the Swiss entry, a song called Watergun by a young man named Remo Forrer. “What a tone and depth, I hope it comes across on screen,” he purred. Can I be honest, Graham? It didn’t.
In his see-through gauze blazer, moaning that he didn’t want to be a soldier, soldier, Remo sounded like a third-rate garter. It wasn’t long before he depth charges to 20th place.
Host: Hannah Waddingham (second from right) was glamorously confident last night as she stood with Alesha Dixon, Julia Sanina and Graham Norton
Still, there was much to enjoy. Mel Giedroyc’s arch commentary was a delight, while the ferociously professional performance of Sweden’s Loreen – the eventual winner – was as accurate as a Volvo. Hats off to Blanca Paloma for Spain who performs in a giant fringed lampshade to a flamenco beat, and of course to the prodigious Finnish rapper Käärijä, whose bowl shape, lizard tongue, green nails and neon bolero made his Cha Cha Cha more memorable perhaps not always in a good way.
Despite all this showbiz drama, the absolute star of the show was not a singer or performer, but host Hannah Waddingham; so funny, so charming, so glamorous self-possessed among the chaos.
The actress was such a hit in this new role that not only did her celebs just soar into the stratosphere, but if she had carried a sword, she’d be a shoo-in for the next prime minister.
The last word goes to the German band Lord Of The Lost, who finished last with their song Blood & Glitter. “Two things that are very hard to get off the carpet,” Graham Norton joked. I forgive him everything for that.