Azerbaijan win Eurovision as Blue and Jedward finish mid-table

The rest of Europe were underwhelmed by the battle of the boy bands and voted in droves for a power pop duo

Ell/Nikki of Azerbaijan win Eurovision
Ell/Nikki of Azerbaijan won Eurovision as the hopes of Blue and Jedward were dashed. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

In Britain this year's Eurovision was billed as the battle of the boy bands – Blue, the has-been 00s boy band, performing for the UK, and Jedward, the never-even-really-was-a-boy-band-or-at-least-not-a-proper-one for Ireland.

And yet, as it transpired, the rest of Europe just really couldn't care any less. A duo, Ell/Nikki, who had apparently styled their stage outfits on David Brent's look in his video for Freelove Freeway, romped home for Azerbaijan. Or – as Graham Norton would have it – north London, where Nikki happens to live now.

Reasons to celebrate were thin on the ground – Blue finished a really quite poor 11th, and Jedward barely better at eighth – but there were some small crumbs of comfort for opponents of AV. Despite the voting blocs, and the age-old system in which one country votes for its neighbour (with the exception of Ireland who – traitorously, according to the hysterical reaction on Twitter – failed to back Blue) this is what happens when you have, as Eurovision does, an alternative voting system.

Because it wasn't just Blue (who started the contest at third favourites, at seven-to-one) who failed miserably, France, the favourites, finished 15th, while rank outsiders Italy, who hardly anyone even expected to score, came second. And this, despite, the BBC's best efforts to rig the system. For as long as the contest has existed, the UK has elected our singing representatives. This year, however, Blue were ushered through with all the decorum of, well, an Azerbaijani parliamentary election.

Yet even this was not enough. Not nearly enough, it turned out. As the votes started to come in, a note of embarrassment crept into Norton's voice when it became apparent that Moldova, a country many are not even sure exists, crept ahead of us. And this was a group called Zdob si Zdub whose USP involved wearing over-sized gnomes' hats and fielding a woman on a unicycle.

Will history look back and ask whether Blue's choice of lyrics was somehow prophetic? "I've never lost anything quite like this," they sang. No, well, there's always a first time, lads. Their ex-manager Daniel Glatman called the decision to enter Eurovision "reckless insanity". Given that the band had won two Brit awards and had three number one singles before splitting in 2005, in retrospect it's possible that perhaps he had a point.

Poor Lee "Blue" Ryan. "This competition brings Europe together and brings countries together," he said before the contest kicked off. "This is what I went into music for." Even more excitingly, his bandmate Simon Webbe told the Daily Mail he would emigrate if they failed to win.

The only consolation for the boys is likely to be that Jedward bombed almost as spectacularly. The X Factor rejects, John and Edward Grimes, always sounded as if they should have been characters in a Dickens novel rather than an ITV reality show, and after all the predictions of success their plight last night did have some of the pathos of Little Nell about it.

The identical twins from Dublin – of whom Simon Cowell once said: "They're vile little creatures who would step on their mother's head to have a hit" – failed on The X Factor and now they have failed at Eurovision too, inexplicably failing to win over the hearts and minds of the 120 million-strong TV audience. "Am I headed for a car crash?" they sang. Well, yes. Ireland may have won the contest more times than any other nation – seven – but since the winning nation is obliged to host it next year, this really is probably for the best, given the current state of Ireland's finances.

The New York Times claimed that "the contest may be engendering a way of identifying with this larger supra-nation, Europe". It's a nice thought but really it's still mostly about how rubbish the songs are. Or as Ell/Nikki put it so well in the first line of their hit song, Running Scared: "Oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh, oh."

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Comments in chronological order (Total 183 comments)

  • This symbol indicates that that person is The Guardian's staffStaff
  • This symbol indicates that that person is a contributorContributor
  • paddydun

    15 May 2011 2:03AM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • JaksonP

    15 May 2011 2:24AM

    Ah Eurovision. Where no-one votes for the one they want to win, but votes instead for the competition. How does that compare to AV and FPTP?

  • SuperClive

    15 May 2011 2:29AM

    "The Guardian and Observer 2011 music season"

    Seriously? You think Eurovision is about the music?

  • paddydun

    15 May 2011 2:37AM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • drapierfan

    15 May 2011 2:42AM

    Jedward won over the European media spectacularly. It didn't translate into votes, which is disappointing. The voting procedure remains tied to allegiances seemingly based on borders and as the night went on the voting became dull beyond belief. I thought Jedeward did BRILLIANTLY! Fair play to ye lads!

  • danesfort26

    15 May 2011 2:49AM

    from reading the above, does any1 think that slating 2 young guys (jedward) enjoying themselves, doing no harm to any1 is ok?.
    As Carole cadwalladr wrote above.. aslo saying that Jedward are a failed act, i dont think so... how many x factor acts do you know of that have sold out tours all over Ireland and the UK?.... 1 is Jedward, 1 of the most successful acts to ever come out of x factor...
    p.s and finishing 3 places ahead of Blue who are in this business for over 10 years compared to Jedwards 2 years is pretty impressive i think... do your homework Carole and leace the poor guys alone...

  • AilbheG

    15 May 2011 2:59AM

    they got all the votes they deserved

    ... Which is still more than Blue got!

  • AilbheG

    15 May 2011 3:06AM

    The reaction on Twitter to Ireland giving the UK 6 points is very funny for a number of reasons. People are always complaining about countries voting for their neighbours - except when it suits them! It's not as if the extra 6 points they would have got from a 12 would have made them win the competition. The only reason the UK gave Ireland 12 points is because there are so many Irish people living over here now, and many probably voted.

    Anyway, Blue are useless and sang out of tune. Someone should have told that guy that he can't hit those high notes, so they could have changed the song accordingly.

    As for the complaining about Jedward - they were spawned over here, the X Factor is a UK programme!

  • montezuema

    15 May 2011 3:07AM

    In the dying days of the Soviet Union, my wife and I went on a package tour of the three Transcaucasian republics.

    Half way up a mountain pass between Azerbaijan and Armenia, I asked Tamara, our convivial Intourist guide, whether the three republics were officially in Asia or Europe.

    Apparently, I was the first person to have ever asked her that question and she was stumped, as was I.

    When we hit subsequently hit Leningrad, Tamara spoke to some Intourist big wigs, none of whom was able to cast light on the subject either

    Eurovision may now have answered the question for us. I hope Tamara was watching.

  • lemonentry

    15 May 2011 3:09AM

    Pointless competition for pointless musical acts! Entertainment at its worst! Can`t we just all grow up and dismiss this ridiculous charade once & for all?

  • ange123

    15 May 2011 3:11AM

    What the f*** has Irelands ability to host the eurovision got to do with its finances??? surely the BIG 5 could take care of that.. Sick of hearing english twats going on about the 6 points we gave, seriously, did ye even hear blue??? they wer awful, out of tune and boring.. at least Jedward dance around even if they dont sound too well, and all the tweets going around about the bail out and how we repay ye by giving 6 points? seriously? no fing wonder we only gave that many with that attitude, consider that bail out repayment for the hundreds of years of hardship ye put my country through.. count yerselves lucky to even get 6 points..

  • PseudologiaFantastic

    15 May 2011 3:18AM

    @ montezuema

    Nice question!

    And with Azerbaijan being on the Iranian border, I was wondering if next year's contestants will be sent off hiking in the mountains for photo shoots?

  • obrian

    15 May 2011 3:19AM

    "but since the winning nation is obliged to host it next year, this really is probably for the best, given the current state of Ireland's finances."

    what a mean woman this Carole Cadwalladr is. Blue were dull dull dull, get over it.

  • uclrichard

    15 May 2011 3:49AM

    staying away from politics and chippy english or irish nationalism, i thought blue were very ordinary indeed. at least two of them were out of tune. jedward were carried along by the backing singers and the excellent g&g-ish visuals. their dancing was clumpy and silly. but it was entertaining, in a way. denmark's song sounded like someone else, but i can't think who. the singer looked like the bloke from e-17. the one who drove his mercedes over his own leg.

    call me weird, but i liked finland best. it had a good melody, was well-sung and the eco-message was ironic, if anything, not bossy or cloying. he seemed to be saying that only a child can seriously believe he can 'save the planet' and even then, he's probably wrong. someone compared him to james blunt - but that's unfair. he sounded more like nick drake or don mclean...

  • FarEasterner

    15 May 2011 3:50AM

    nice snobbish article

    indeed something was wrong in Blue and Jedward's lyrics.

    Where Katrina and the waves?

  • SuperRuss

    15 May 2011 4:10AM

    Lets be honest. Jedward's entry could only have been more "Father Ted" if they had sung "My lovely Horse".

    Fair play to them though. Their entry was pure Eurovision and far more interesting than our bland entry. The winning entry was as dull as dishwater too.

  • adamjld

    15 May 2011 4:20AM

    Meh, the writer tries so hard to identify with the audience by citing the X Factor but comes up short. If you don't know how to write about the Eurovision or songs and performances in generally then you really should steer clear and then you wouldn't look like such an idiot.

    As much as people love to piss all over Jedward, they put in a magnificent performance that in another year could have won the contest. I can never see myself listening to the Azerbaijan song and even just a few hours after it winning the contest, I struggle to remember it. Bloc voting wins again.

  • Mistinguette

    15 May 2011 5:13AM

    Moldova FTW!!!!
    Brilliant act. I don't understand why people only see them as a joke, the music was fantastic, great stage presence and the scenography and costumes were spot on. Loved it! I'd definitly go see them live if they come to the UK. I heard they were opening act for Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Emir Kusturica and Rage Against the Machine? There you have it!

    Azerbaijan's victory was quite predictable though, they had the biggest number of hits on youtube and their cheezy song is the kind most countries usually vote for. Although I can't for the life of me figure out what this country (+ Armenia, Georgia, Israel) are doing in a European contest. Some people need to take a look at a map...

  • Rahulhb

    15 May 2011 5:31AM

    Europe voting for a Muslim country , thats a first , i know some women from Azerbaijan , pretty girls , they definately do not consider themselves European.

  • Ridigolo

    15 May 2011 5:44AM

    Although I can't for the life of me figure out what this country (+ Armenia, Georgia, Israel) are doing in a European contest. Some people need to take a look at a map...

    Eurovision is for countries in the European Broadcasting Union, so not the same countries in Europe/EU.

  • danesfort26

    15 May 2011 5:47AM

    P.s... just heard Blue's performance now on youtube, christ they were all over the place, pure shite...

  • jela75

    15 May 2011 6:28AM

    last i heard blue was on d 1st plane out of germany to aus never to return to uk again...... fingers crossed. man bands don't work unless ur take that n lets face it they never were or never will be take that........ uk r lucky they don't have to go to semi finals like the other countries cause lets face they wouldn't b in d final most years. the only reason they won d last time "shine a light" not a bad song...... was they said if they didn't win they were pulling out eurovision!!!!!!!!! now all week ducan was takin d michael out of jedward............ who finished higher on d table ducan????????????

  • Icarusty

    15 May 2011 6:34AM

    Azerbaijan you say. Right next to Iran. Winning EUROvision. Well done.

    I can't wait to see next year's Chinese and Australian entries.

  • lileskimo

    15 May 2011 6:48AM


    The only reason the UK gave Ireland 12 points is because there are so many Irish people living over here now, and many probably voted.

    No, it's because once in a lifetime an event arises that makes sense of all events that have gone before. Jedward on stage at Eurovision was such an occasion. A moment's recognition please folks.

    Plus, ear-worm.

  • shimrod

    15 May 2011 7:02AM

    So all in all, another Euro classic.

    What about that French song though? Yikes!

    Lena, yes I though she was sexy, the Ukrainian sand painting was a first, Jedward and Blue make it to mid table respectability, and Ireland and the UK are arguing about the block voting.

    Yep, its Eurovision at its finest. I dunno about the winner, I really don't; It would have been good if Italy had won in the end I think, ah well.

  • davidabsalom

    15 May 2011 7:16AM

    The only consolation for the boys is likely to be that Jedward bombed almost as spectacularly.

    They were 8th.That's quite a respectable position. And Blue did okay too.

    The main problem was there were too many boy bands chasing the same votes on the night. And Sweden's lads were way prettier.

  • LawdMuck

    15 May 2011 7:30AM

    I can't believe the Guardian missed a trick, with the obvious sneering article that would follow, they have missed that there were no black artists!!!

    Oh, and I thought it was the highest standard competition I have seen, and that the Moldovan gnomes were a great Ska revivalist tribute, although I thought the Evernessence style mob that went on last were very good as well.

    Blue were unaffected by voting patterns. They scored from most judges, but with small points, which in a high standard competition, their song probably deserved.

  • KilkennyHead

    15 May 2011 7:33AM

    Well said Danesfort26 - this article is extremely harsh on Jedward - they gave it everything last night and I have to say I was bloody proud of them as I think most of Ireland was - they are just a couple of young kids having fun and making the most of their time in the spotlight and what's wrong with that - I thought they did brilliant to finish as high as they did - good luck to them..... and fair play to them for beating Blue....

  • bluenose2403

    15 May 2011 7:51AM

    It should be held every month. Wonderful nonsense.

    Oddly enough, a AV system of voting would probably knock the 'vote-for-my-neighbour-studpity' on the head. How else are we going to stop the plonkers who vote for their neighbours? The guilty plonkers last night were: Cyprus, all the Balkan states, all the former Soviet states, the UK (we for some insane reason voted for Jedward!), Portugal, and the Scandanavian countries. So about 75% of the voting was rigged.

    As it is unlikely the 'neighbour' will capture 51% of the local votes in the first round, the second choices may throw up a surpirse winner - with the exception of Cyprus (yawn, yawn....we may as well award Greece their 12 points bafore the contest).

    Oh, and BBC, can you please turn up Graham Norton so we don't have to listen to the music as much - you could hardly hear his wit last night.

  • ShallowDays

    15 May 2011 7:51AM

    I LOVE Zdob si Zdub. And love that my favorite gypsy-punk-ska band isn't too cool to turn on the cheese and do Eurovision. Mwah!

  • timtim

    15 May 2011 7:56AM

    I thought Moldova were really good .The music and performance were great.They seem to be a proper band with the costumes being genuinely part of their act rather than just being worn as a gimmick.

  • swdboy

    15 May 2011 7:59AM

    Hi! Sweden won!!!!

    Sitting her and reading European news magazines after Eurovision last night. And Sweden was the winner!!! Yeeees!!! What, no? Oh yes we did win! Azerbadjans song is a Swedish written song and the backsingers, the girls Swedish. And Swedish choreography, and the clothing as well! The two lead singers, they wher from Azerbadjan! So to Rahulb who wrote that we Europeans woted for muslims is not entirely true!

  • danroy

    15 May 2011 8:04AM

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

  • LizzyTawdry

    15 May 2011 8:08AM

    General consensus from Finland (well, me and three mates):
    1) Stunned that Sweden's euro pop pap poop nearly won (though the phrase "lowest common denominator" springs to mind), and not just that, it beat Finland's super lovely entry (roll on ice hockey world cup later today, then we'll show 'em!)
    3) Moldova rocked and should have won
    4) Jedward are sweet, and we would like to have them round for tea
    5) The singer of Blue sounded like a bleating lamb, and is the iCan a new Mac thing? In which case we think they just blew the launch.

  • shimrod

    15 May 2011 8:17AM

    After reading David Mitchell's article, and watching Serbia, Bosnia and the FYR Macedonia last night, it occurs to me that if the UK actually breaks up, then Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland will have an excellent chance in the 2015 Euro-vision.

    Silver linings David, silver linings. :-)

  • queenofnorwich

    15 May 2011 8:20AM

    Being no 8 in the Eurovision song contest isnt a bad result for Jedward. It was easily the best song. It was the most popular in the UK getting 12 points.

    There should be two Eurovision Song Contests, one for the West and one for the East. Then there should be a play off. Then everybody could enter. Or perhaps Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland could field entries, so too Jersey, Guernsey, The Isle of Man. Then we would have some chums to help us along. Political voting means the UK will never win under the present system.

    Unless this happens, I think we should withdraw any funding of the contest. We pay for it so I think we need to be more creative with the rules.

    The winning entry was awful. Im not surprised at Italy doing well though. Anybody with a pair of ears could hear it was a good song.

  • Suitcase12

    15 May 2011 8:20AM

    Overall, the quality of the music was consistently better than in recent years, presumably because the semi finals had more effectively weeded out the rubbish. The voting in the final also showed far less of the bloc-vote conformism than previously. Both Blue and Jedward scored very respectably.

    The Italian result was heartening. It was a good song, performed simply and well, which systematically gathered votes across the piece and clearly had wide European appeal across cultures and ages, And it showed that the bloc voting that has characterised the contest following the eastern and southern expansion is not inevitable (and yes, I know the Italians picked up 12 points from San Marino....).

    Azerbaijan's victory shows that a country stuck out on the extreme fringe of Europe geographically, politically and culturally can win the contest, so there is still some hope for the UK in the future.

  • Padme1981

    15 May 2011 8:26AM

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  • altwebid

    15 May 2011 8:28AM

    From accidentally seeing the "round up" of songs, Iceland clearly had the closest to a vaguely recognisable pop tune and they came nowhere. Reminiscent of Take That.

    What that says I don't know.

  • peterg22

    15 May 2011 8:33AM

    I got really almost excited when the presenters went into their "impromptu" number at the start, but once the show started for real I soon realised that it would be all downhill from then on. We watched Jedward with the sound off and watched Scandal on DVD as soon as Denmark had droned through their number.

    I wonder how much the BBC budget was for this evening of pap?

  • cognitator

    15 May 2011 8:37AM

    "In Britain this year's Eurovision was billed as the battle of the boy bands"

    And there's your problem. Please try to remember there are other countries in Europe too. And as far as boy bands went, Sweden trumped the lot. After about 10 seconds.

    So Blue failed in their cynical bid to resurrect their careers? Big deal While Jedward made lots of new friends by being Jedward. Goodness, who knew they sang too?

    Never mind Azerbaijan having lots of borders, tonight's lesson was just a reminder for next time: Must try harder.

    And what has PR. got to do with AV? Please explain.

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