When hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, the host country is looked at very closely as this edition will be compared to previous editions. When hosting the contest for the first time the country will have to also deal with how to make a good first impression on the viewers as well as on the people coming to the country itself for the contest. The case of Portugal was no different when the contest took place there in 2018. Portugal turned from a weak country which hardly scored well to a host country in the matter of one year to the following one following its victory in 2017.
Five cities expressed their will to host the contest. Braga, Gondomar, Guimaraes, Santa Maria Da Feira and captial city Lisbon all offered one venue in order to host the contest. After all checks were done it was announced that Lisbon will be the host city with Altice Arena as the official venue of this edition.
For the first time since the first Eurovision in 1956, the contest had a full team of hosts consisting of four females. The last time something similar happened was in 2015 when the hosting was given to three females and a drag queen. The hosts were Sílvia Alberto, Filomena Cautela, and Catarina Furtado, as well as actress Daniela Ruah.
The theme of that contest was “All Aboard”. The visual design was inspired by Lisbon and Portugal’s location on the Atlantic ocean as well as by the country’s great seafaring history. In addition to the official logo consisting of a seashell, twelve other emblems were designed. All of them were inspired by the elements of the sea.
Forty three countries competed in Lisbon. With Russia making its return after an one-year absence and no countries withdrawing, this edition had the highest number of participating countries in Eurovision. This number of participating countries was recorded twice before. In Belgrade in 2008 and in Dusseldorf in 2011.
The contest saw the return of two artists who had already represented their country in previous editions. The winner of the 2009 edition, Alexader Rybak was sent once again to represent Norway. His song was the 1500th song to be applied to the contest. Runner up of 2014 Waylon came back carrying the Dutch flag once again. Additionally, four former backing vocalists came back as singers. Jessica Mauboy represented Australia after being the interval act in the second Semi-Final of 2014. Lea Sirk backed for Slovenia in 2014 and off-stage in 2016. Vlado Mihailov who participated as a part of Bulgarian band Equinox backed for Bulgaria in Kiev the year before. Austrian representative Cesar Sampson backed for Bulgaria as vocalist and dancer in 2016 and off stage in 2017. British contestant SuRie was a backing vocalist for Belgium in 2015 and acted as musical director for Belgium in 2017. Sara Tavares, who performed in the interval act, represented Portugal in 1994 with the song “Chamar a música” reaching 8th place.
The Semi-Finals were set for the 8th and 10th of May and the Grand Final was set for the 12th of May. Nineteen countries competed in the first Semi-Final and eighteen competed in the second one. The results of the first Semi-Final were shocking to some as Azerbaijan failed to qualify for the first time since its debut in 2008. It came 11th in the first Semi-Final with 94 points. Another shocking non-qualifier was Greece which came 14th. Greece came 10th in the televote but due to a low ranking in the jury who ranked her 16th, the country failed to qualify. Many blame technical issues on stage during the Greek performance during the jury rehearsal and a refusal on behalf of the EBU to let Greece perform again as the main reasons for the low ranking on the jury voting. another country which failed to qualify for the first time is Romania. It came 11th in the second Semi-Final. Russia also saw her first failure to qualify after coming 15th in the second Semi-Final. The Czech Republic qualified for the second time in its history ranking 6th in the Grand Final. Ireland qualified for the first time since 2013 and ranked 16th in the Grand Final. Finland qualified for the first time since 2014 yet ranked only 25th in the Grand Final.
Some scandalous moments occurred during the contest:
During the performance of the United Kingdom, a man who rushed onto the stage grabbed Surie’s microphone, reportedly shouting “Modern Nazis of the UK media, we demand freedom! War is not peace.”The man, later identified as ‘Dr ACactivism’, a political activist from London.
During the Finnish postcard, the Israeli commentators mentioned the fact the Finnish representative Saara Alto was a Lesbian as some kind of a fact. This saying grabbed a lot of critics from the local press the following day.
During the Czech rehearsal, singer Micolas Josef reportedly sustained injuries to his back while rehearsing and was subsequently taken to hospital. Yet, the singer performed on stage as planned.
Yet, with all the surrounding drama, all eyes were on the Cypriot and Israeli singers. Well known Albanian born diva Eleni Foureira represented the Mediterranean island while Israel was represented by Netta. Although Eleni was very well known in the Balkans before the contest, Netta didn’t have any large scale professional experience with her closest experience to Eurovision being her performances in the Israeli national final that year. Netta and her song “TOY” won the contest with 529 points. Cyprus came second with 436 points. The two singers continued their careers as singers with Netta releasing a few more singles and having a few appearances on television and with Eleni releasing numerous radio hits as well as starting a tour around Spain and the Balkans.
Watch the voting here:
Watch the Grand Final here: