So Sweden have overtaken Luxembourg, the UK and France to become the outright second most successful country in Eurovision history, and the way things have been going in recent years, there must be a very good chance that they'll eventually overhaul Ireland to become the most successful. Ever since I first saw Heroes at Melodifestivalen, I've been wondering what percentage of its popularity can be put down to the ingenuity of the staging. If you strip all that away, would the song have defeated Russia tonight on its own merits? The result probably would have been closer, although the flip-side of that argument is that Russia only got as close as they did with the help of the usual neighbourly voting. (Sweden benefitted from that as well, of course, but the Nordic bloc vote is much smaller.)
This year's contest wasn't one of the harder ones to predict, but allow me to blow my own trumpet anyway - my prediction was pretty close to the nail. I was spot-on about the winner, the runner-up and 5th place. I was just one place out with Italy, who finished third rather than fourth. My only real error was Serbia. I've gone from one extreme to the other with them - I massively underestimated them in the semi-final, but significantly overestimated them tonight.
Apologies to anyone who took my semi-advice about the 8/1 bet on Montenegro finishing in the top ten, but hopefully you can see what I meant about it being a value bet. They finished 13th out of 27 entries, so self-evidently they had a much better than one-in-nine chance of making the top ten (which is what the odds implied). Actually, their biggest piece of misfortune was that Croatia no longer participate in the contest - that made the Balkan bloc vote smaller, and arguably cost Montenegro the chance to finish as high as 11th.
I bristled when Graham Norton said that Montenegro had done "much better than it deserved". The complete reverse is true - in the absence of Ireland, it was my own personal favourite. But for some reason, UK commentators seem to have long-standing "issues" with Balkan songs penned by Željko Joksimović - you might remember Terry Wogan's bewilderment when Lane Moje came within a whisker of winning in 2004.
Even though the bookies favoured Belgium, I'm still slightly baffled by the success of Rhythm Inside. I have a feeling that may have been down to the juries more than the voting public, because it was a somewhat 'challenging' entry, to say the least.
By my reckoning, the contest finished at two minutes to midnight, which is surely the latest finish ever - it was 12.58am in central Europe, and 1.58am in Russia and Finland. The EBU have really got to get that sorted - it would have been so easy to trim down some of the preliminaries at the start of the show, or of course they could have read the riot act to the national spokespeople, and told them to dispense with all the "thankyou for a wonderful show" malarkey. But I'm not complaining - I think this year's Eurovision will go down as something of a classic, and it was so nice to have genuine tension and uncertainty in the voting, rather than the procession for one country that we've been used to in recent years.