"They never rank highly, but they’re always happy", said one Italian commentator of the eager Spaniards who queued under the blazing heat in Lisbon's Praça do Commercio on Saturday ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest final.
As it was held relatively close to home, the Spanish turnout at this year’s event was particularly high, with over 400 fans arriving to watch the show in the Portuguese capital.
It had been 49 years since Spain won the European singing competition in 1969 with Salomé’s 'Vivo Cantando' ('I Live Singing'). Unfortunately, this year’s hopefuls did not manage to buck the trend. Couple Amaia and Alfred, from Pamplona and Barcelona, respectively, couldn’t convert their chemistry into votes, coming 23rd with their rendition of ‘Tu Canción’ (‘Your Song’).
Israel’s Netta Barzilai was crowned winner this year for her song ‘Toy’, an anti-bullying anthem. Speaking to the press, the singer explained that her song was about “empowerment” and was “for those who have to fight to be themselves”.
The UK entry, sung by SuRie, also caused a 'Storm'. The singer was interrupted mid-way through by a stage invader, who snatched her microphone and shouted about “Nazis of the UK media”, before he was promptly removed by security guards. This temporarily left 29-year-old SuRie with no other option than to clap along to the music.
TV presenter, Graham Norton, commentator on the UK coverage, was quick to praise the singer for her professional handling of the situation; the Brit quickly recovered, completing her song to rapturous applause and refusing the chance to perform again. This wasn’t enough to pull in the votes however, as the UK finished just behind Spain in 24th place.
The Israeli win was its fourth victory in the history of the competition and its first since 1998. Netta was presented the coveted crystal microphone by last year’s winner, Salvador Sobral, who had previously criticised her song, calling it “horrible”.