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Recap / Eurovision Song Contest 2018

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The 2018 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 8 May 2018 to 12 May 2018. The slogan for this year was "All Aboard!", not only reflecting the contest's vision of bringing nations together through music, but also alluding to host Portugal's long, proud history of maritime exploration.

Notable events include Azerbaijan, Russia and Romania not qualifying for their very first time, a heckler invading the stage during the UK performance and wrestling the microphone from SuRie - leaving her to stand idle for a moment before taking the microphone back and confidently bringing the song to a close -, and a bigger example of Critical Dissonance than the earlier years.

Netta won the competition, representing Israel with the song "Toy". This was Israel's fourth win overall, the first since Dana International back in 1998 and the first with a song in English.

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Tropes seen during this year's contest include:

  • The Ace: With the elimination of Azerbaijan, Romania and Russia from the race, Ukraine stands as one of the only two remaining participating countries with a perfect qualification run. The other country is Australia, who qualified for the final in all of the four editions that they had taken part in.
  • Adam Westing: Suzy, the Portuguese entrant who crashed out in the semi-finals in 2014, appears in the "53 Long Years" skit as one of the many acts who fail to win over Madame Europe.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The United Kingdom's SuRie previously sang as a backup vocalist for Belgium in 2015 (onstage) and 2017 (offstage), and she also served as a musical director for them in the latter year.
    • Vlado Mihailov (of Bulgaria's Equinox) sang backup for his country's previous act, runner-up Kristian Kostov, in 2017.
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    • Austria's Cesár Sampson previously sang backup for the Bulgarians in 2016 (onstage) and 2017 (offstage). His 2018 entry shared their composer.
    • Slovenia's Lea Sirk previously sang backup for the country in 2014 (onstage) and 2016 (offstage).
  • Ascended Fanboy: Salvador Sobral, the previous year's winner, reprised his winning song in the intervals as a duet with Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, one of his idols.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Israel's Netta.
  • Bowdlerise: The Czech song ("Lie to Me" by Mikolas Josef) had some lyrics removed or changed for the competition due to their explicit nature.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Switzerland's ZiBBZ (a play on the word "siblings") are a brother-sister duo.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Alexander Rybak, who previously won for Norway in 2009, returns to represent the country for a second time.
    • The Netherland's Waylon previously competed in 2014 as a member of The Common Linnets, who finished second in the final.
    • After skipping the 2017 edition, Russia (with that year's intended representative, Julia Samoylova) returns to the contest.
  • Creator Couple: Alfred García and Amaia from Spain, and Madame Monsieur from France.
  • Critical Dissonance: Even more pronounced than in 2016: the overall and televote winner, Netta from Israel, comes third with the juries. Austria, the jury winner, only comes thirteenth in the popular vote, and runner-up Sweden twenty-third. A couple of countries, but especially Denmark (twentieth in the jury vote), essentially pull a Poland 2016 and manage to get in the top ten by televote points alone.note 
  • Delayed Reaction: When the hosts announce Hungary's qualification to the grand final, the cameras cut to AWS who are sitting idly in the green room, like they couldn't care less... until someone points out that it was them to have been announced, at which point they (awesomely) rejoicenote 
  • Determinator: It was rumored that Czech Republic's Mikolas Josef would have to drop out of the contest entirely after getting badly injured in the rehearsals while trying to do a backflip. He vowed to perform no matter what, qualified for the finals, gave his country its best result ever (6th place)... and capped off the performance landing a perfect frontflip.
  • Discretion Shot: This year's "postcards"note  feature the participants travelling to Portugal (including the Madeira and Azores archipelagos) via Portal Doors and engaging in local activities, ending with them taking a selfie.
  • Disguised in Drag: Wonder how Moldova's act at two points involves what appear to be three female performers, despite there being only two in the six-person stage team? Look closely at the red backup dancer's legs here.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Australia's Jessica Mauboy served as an interval act for the 2014 edition, which also happened to be the year before her country's official Eurovision debut.
  • Eliminated from the Race: Azerbaijan, Iceland, Belgium, Belarus, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Armenia, and Switzerland fail to qualify from the first semi, while Romania, San Marino, Russia, Georgia, Poland, Malta, Latvia, and Montenegro fail to cut it in the second.
  • Face of the Band: Subverted with Equinox: Zhana was presented as such in promotional material for Equinox and by virtue of The Smurfette Principle, but she is the only one without a solo part in "Bones".
  • Fake Nationality: As is normally the case at Eurovision, several countries are represented by acts that aren't from them:
    • Cyprus is represented by Eleni Foureira, who is Greek-Albanian.
    • San Marino is represented by Jessika Muscat, a Maltese, and Jenifer Brening, a German.
    • Belarus is represented by Alexseev, a Ukranian.
    • Two members of Bulgaria's Equinox are American.
    • Poland's Lukas Meijer is Swedish.
    • Downplayed with Latvia's Laura Rizzotto. She does have Latvian heritage, but was born in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: During the second semi-final performance, Slovenia's music cuts off and a convincingly shocked Lea asks the audience to sing with her before the track restarts. In the final performance the skit is kept, only this time it's Lea herself who stops the music.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Downplayed overall. While most of the songs are still performed in English, which had been the norm for nearly two decades by this point, 2018 has the most amount of songs in a language other than English (13) since the 2011 edition — Albania, Estonia, Greece, Armenia, Serbia, Georgia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and France all compete with songs not containing a word of English. Lithuania, meanwhile, performs its song mostly in English, with partial Lithuanian.
    • The title of Georgia's song is English ("For You") but the song itself is entirely in Georgian.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Estonia's "La Forza" by Elina Nechayeva is performed entirely in Italian, perhaps justified by it being an opera song.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The title of Cyprus' "Fuego" is Spanish for "fire." It's otherwise sung entirely in English.
  • Hurricane of Puns: During the introduction to the shows, the hosts wasted no time in milking the nautical theme of the contest across the Ocean and back.
  • Mr. Fanservice: During the voting procedure in the grand final, host Daniela Ruah calls onstage a naked man in order to bring her a phone to televote. The graphic with the televote information covers everything from his navel down. Ruah then tells him to leave the stage before said graphic is removed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Eleni Foureira from Cyprus and Coco Gfeller from Switzerland, respectively in a sparkling catsuit and a form-fitting top-and-pants combo.
  • Multinational Team:
    • San Marino's singers are Maltese Jessika Muscat and German Jenifer Brening (with another German, Basti Schmidt, confirmed as backup vocalist as well).
    • Bulgaria's Equinox is a group composed of three Bulgarians and two Americans.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: This will also be remembered as the year Austria almost scored a huge Dark Horse Victory. Cesár Sampson admitted that even he was surprised after it was revealed he had been the jury's favorite entrant... then was bogged down by the televoting results and had to settle for a still-better-than-expected third place.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: From this year onwards, the conversion from jury rankings to actual scores follows an exponential weight, instead of linear weight, model. This is to prevent one juror from single-handedly sinking a contestant's ranking in the whole five-piece jury. Go here for an in-depth explanation.
  • Rearrange the Song: Spain, Switzerland, and Azerbaijan had their songs tweaked after they were chosen, while France and the Czech Republic made minor changes to lyrical content and length. Albania and Italy meanwhile, had to cut off lots more of their songs. Albania's was originally over 4 minutes in the Festivali I Kenges.
  • Scenery Porn: The introduction video for the three shows and the postcards.
  • Self-Deprecation: The "53 Long Years" skit aired during the finals is basically Portugal poking fun at itself over the 53 long years it took them to win Eurovision.
  • Shocking Elimination:
    • This edition saw three of five perennial qualifiers miss the Grand Final for the first time in their participation stints: Azerbaijan, Romania and Russia (the latter two's non-qualification from 1996 doesn't count due to the audio-only pre-qualifying round, which was thus not televised). This left Ukraine and Australia as the only remaining participating countries with a perfect qualifying record. To add insult to injury for Russia, not only did they try to field anew Julia Samoylova, their prospective act last year, but its semifinal also saw neighbouring bitter rival Ukraine qualify.
    • Belgium, widely considered a frontrunner by pundits, stalls in the first semi.
    • For the second time in their thirty-seven-year history of participation (and the second in three years), Greece doesn't qualify for the final. For added humiliation, co-semifinalist and Eurovision minnow Cyprus not only did make the cut, but finished second in the final, with the song "Fuego" by Greek-Albanian singer Eleni Foureira, who had attempted to represent Greece and been rejected before.
    • Armenia racks their second-ever non-qualifier since debuting in 2006.
    • After a streak of qualifications since their 2014 return, including a ninth-place finish in 2016, Poland misses out on the final for the first time since 2011.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Zhana Bergendorff is the only female vocalist in the five-piece Equinox supergroup.
  • Supergroup: Bulgaria's Equinox has been billed as this (although they prefer "common framework"), comprised of five separate vocalists competing together.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: While all of the Shocking Eliminations detailed above happened, some countries with spotty qualifying records such as Albania, Ireland or the Czech Republic made the finals (with the Czechs even getting their best ever result courtesy of Mikolas Josef).
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?:
    • While neither are overtly about the subject matter, France and Italy both compete with songs that can be seen as defensive of refugees and immigration, in an era where right-wing nationalism and xenophobia are major global issues.
    • After some past close-calls, the Eurovision Broadcasting this year revoked the broadcast rights in China after they censored some parts of the semi-finals, first apparently randomly and later defended as for good reasons: the Irish performance for showing homosexuality and close-ups of the Albanian performance for showing tattoos. Given that one of the Portuguese presenters had visible tattoos and made a few gay jokes, revoking it was probably a good move.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Jenifer Brening's contribution to the Sammarinese performance, though lessened somewhat (she sticks around to provide vocal harmonies and sing part of the last chorus).
  • Youngest Child Wins: This year is notable for several larger countries faring worse than their smaller, younger sibling nations (e.g. Greece and Cyprus, Romania and Moldova, Russia and many former Soviet states).

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