I knew that the sight of Australia racking up a huge Eurovision lead on jury votes, but losing it all on the public vote, reminded me of something. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but of course it was the SNP totally dominating the constituency vote in the Holyrood election, before the list vote didn't work out quite so well thanks to flippin' tactical...well, you get the picture. But at least Nicola Sturgeon still won the election by a country mile - there's no such solace for the Aussies tonight.
Normally when one country is 100 points ahead, and the host says "but everything can still change", it provokes little more than a weary and hollow laugh. In fact that was probably the case tonight, because I don't think anyone really thought Australia could be caught, but the new points system worked its magic better than we could have dreamed. It won't always be like this - often in the Melodifestivalen (where the system is borrowed from) the juries and public are in agreement. But a split decision is probably more likely to occur at the Eurovision, simply because the public vote is always heavily distorted by neighbourly bloc voting.
From the point of view of my own prediction, it was a slightly irritating final outcome, because I got so many things right, and yet I still somehow contrived to get the overall winner wrong. I correctly predicted that Australia would win the jury vote and would do reasonably well on the public vote. I was also correct that Russia would be hammered by the juries but would win the public vote. But what I didn't foresee was that a third country would come through the middle by finishing second on both the jury and public votes, and in particular I didn't foresee that the country that would do that was Ukraine. They were doing pretty well in the betting, and some Eurovision bloggers predicted they would win, but no matter how many times I listened to the song, I just couldn't see it happening. I thought it was too dark and complex to do well on the public vote (even allowing for Ukraine's in-built advantage courtesy of the ex-Soviet bloc vote), and I wasn't even 100% convinced that the juries would like it. I suppose part of the explanation is the emotion in the performance, although even that didn't come across as fully as it might have done if the song had been entirely in English.
But I can't say I'm disappointed - I would have preferred Australia, but the most important thing is that a credible, non-formulaic song won out over Russia's derivative effort. (And of course if Australia had won, the contest would have faced credibility problems of an entirely different sort.)
Graham Norton is a great commentator, but I do think he got a bit of deserved comeuppance tonight after repeatedly slating the Georgian song and saying it was baffling that it had made it through to the final when Ireland hadn't. (It really, really wasn't baffling at all.) He clearly wasn't sure quite how to react when the UK jury, comprised entirely of music professionals who presumably know their stuff, gave Georgia the maximum twelve points! Norton also isn't quite as sharp as Terry Wogan used to be in his observations on the voting. In this case, he was reading far too much into the lack of political voting among the juries, which actually isn't a great surprise if you look at the voting patterns prior to telephone voting being introduced in the late 1990s. Greece and Cyprus used to swap twelve points as a matter of routine, but that was pretty much it - there was no reliable Nordic bloc vote, or anything like that. There also shouldn't have been any surprise tonight that the UK did much less well on the public vote than with the juries - that's been a fairly consistent pattern in recent years, although until now it hasn't been quite so visible.
There used to be a tradition at the Olympics that the IOC president would finish his remarks in the closing ceremony by declaring the latest edition of the Games "the best ever". I think the EBU could be forgiven for making an equivalent boast tonight. I don't think the contest has ever been as well hosted, the jokes were actually funny rather than cringe-inducing (which is almost unheard of), the climax of the voting was a thriller (which has been rare of late), and the quality of the music was pretty high (by Eurovision standards, I mean, which is the only test that can be meaningfully applied). It really was the complete package - no complaints at all.