But what of the contestants?
Finalists this year were:
Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, FYR Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Those who didn't make it to the final were:
Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Netherlands, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia
Note the complete absence of some countries -- Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg. What happened to them? Perhaps they've fallen out with the whole Eurovision Song Contest phenomenon?
For the uninitiated: the way it works is that each country collects telephone votes, then gives points to the top ten countries in their poll -- 12 points, 10 points, 8 points, 7 points ... 1 point. The winner is the one with the most points by the end. Obviously, a country cannot give itself points.
We decided to enter into the spirit of the thing by rating each song. They were either Turkeys, So-So, or Good. The terms are relative to the fact that we are talking about the Eurovision Song Contest, so the category "Good" can be interpreted to mean "my ears didn't start to bleed"; "So-So" means "my blood didn't curdle" and "Turkey" means "I'd rather listen to Vogon poetry". Bear in mind, as well, that after a few songs, one's critical faculties are eroded so that even the worst songs start sounding not too bad, or quite good. Either way, all discernment goes.
The Goodacre favourites were Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Ukraine.
The runaway winner was Finland, with 292 points, followed by Russia with 248 points and Bosnia & Hertzegovina with 229. There were no "nil points" this year, with Malta managing to scrape a lone point towards the end. The UK, despite delivering what was obviously the best song and the best performance (perhaps a bit of bias here?), managed to scrape a measly 25 points, eight of which came from Ireland and one from Poland (I guess they've almost forgotten WW2 by now).
When I was a child, the contest tended to be a bit more balanced. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia and the USSR, however, the contest has been mainly dominated by Eastern Europe. The increase in the number of countries in Europe has also meant that heats have had to be introduced to reduce the number of countries in the final. The other interesting thing is that neighbouring countries tend to vote for each other. Every year, all the former Yugoslavia countries vote for each other; Ukraine always gives 12 points to Russia, but Russia doesn't always reciprocate; and Cyprus and Greece always give each other 12 points.
As Finland won, next year there are likely to be lots of outlandish costumes and heavy metal entries. Looking forward to it.