The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 was the 63rd edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Lisbon, Portugal, following Salvador Sobrals win at the 2017 contest in Kiev, Ukraine with the song "Amar pelos dois". It was the first time Portugal had hosted the contest - 54 years after the country made its debut. Organised by the European Broadcasting Union and host broadcaster Radio e Televisão de Portugal, the contest was held at the Altice Arena, and consisted of two semi-finals on 8 and 10 May, and the final on 12 May 2018. The three live shows were hosted by Filomena Cautela, Silvia Alberto, Daniela Ruah and Catarina Furtado. It was the first Eurovision Song Contest held on the Atlantic coast.
Forty-three countries participated in the contest, equalling the record of the 2008 and 2011 editions. Russia returned after their absence from the previous edition.
The winner was Israel with the song "Toy", performed by Netta and written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger. This was Israels fourth victory in the contest, following their wins in 1978, 1979, and 1998, and their first top five placing in more than a decade. Cyprus, Austria, Germany and Italy rounded out the top five. Cyprus achieved their best result in their Eurovision history. Further down the table, the Czech Republic also achieved their best result to date, finishing sixth. Portugal finished in the last place of the final, making it the third time that the host country ranked in the bottom five since 2015. For the first time since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, Azerbaijan, Romania, and Russia all failed to qualify for the final. Also, for the first time since 2005, no countries of the Caucasus region Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan participated in the final. The EBU reported that the contest had a worldwide audience of around 186 million viewers, surpassing the 2017 edition by over 4 million.
1.1. Location Venue
The Altice Arena in Lisbon is a multi-purpose indoor arena built for the Expo 98 and has a capacity of 20.000 attendees, making it the largest indoor venue in Portugal and among the largest in Europe. It is located in the Parque das Nações Park of Nations riverside district in the northeast of Lisbon, which was completely renovated to host the 1998 worlds fair. It is connected by metro to the nearby international airport and by train Oriente Station to the rest of the country and Europe.
1.2. Location Bidding phase
On the day of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 final, it was reported that Portuguese broadcaster Radio e Televisão de Portugal RTP would accept the challenge of organising the 2018 contest in case of a victory. Following Sobrals triumph, the European Broadcasting Union EBUs Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand, issued the hosting invitation to RTP during the winners press conference. The following day, the director-general of RTP, Nuno Artur Silva, confirmed that the broadcaster would organise the contest in 2018 and mentioned MEO Arena later renamed Altice Arena in Lisbon as a likely venue to host the contest. On 15 May 2017, RTP appeared to have confirmed Lisbon as the host city, but clarified the following day that no final decision had been taken regarding both the host city and venue.
The basic requirements to select a host city were set out in a document presented by the EBU to RTP following their win in Kiev:
A good distribution of hotel rooms, at different price categories, able to accommodate at least 2.000 delegates, accredited journalists and spectators.
An efficient transport infrastructure, including a nearby international airport with readily available connections with the city, venue, and hotels.
A suitable venue that can accommodate around 10.000 spectators.
An international press centre for 1.500 journalists with adequate facilities for all the delegates.
Besides Lisbon, other cities signalled their interest in bidding to host the 2018 contest: Braga, Espinho, Faro, Gondomar, Guimarães, and Santa Maria da Feira. The mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, declared he would not be interested in "spending millions of euros" to host the contest, but he would support a bid from the Metropolitan Area of Porto.
On 13 June 2017, RTP representatives met with the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group at the EBU headquarters in Geneva. During the meeting, RTP officials attended a workshop covering several topics related with hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and learned from the experience of the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC. They also had the opportunity to present their first plans for the 2018 contest, including multiple proposals for the host city and venue.
On 25 July 2017, the EBU and RTP announced that Lisbon had been selected as the host city, overcoming confirmed bids from Braga, Gondomar, Guimarães, and Santa Maria da Feira. In addition, RTP indicated the Parque das Nações, where Altice Arena is located, as the site for the shows.
Key: Host venue
1.3. Location Other sites
The Eurovision Village was the official Eurovision Song Contest fan and sponsors area during the event weeks, where it was possible to watch performances by contest participants and local artists, as well as the live shows broadcast from the main venue. It was located in Lisbons downtown Praça do Comercio also called Terreiro do Paço, a large central square open to the Tagus river.
The EuroClub was the venue for the official after-parties and private performances by contest participants. Unlike the Eurovision Village, access to the EuroClub was restricted to accredited fans, delegations, and press. It was located at the "Ministerium" club, next to the Eurovision Village.
The "Blue Carpet" event, where all the contestants and their delegations are presented before the accredited press and fans, took place on 6 May 2018 at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology MAAT in Lisbons Belem district. This preceded the official Opening Ceremony of the 2018 contest, which took place at the nearby Electricity Museum.
2.1. Format Visual design
The theme for the contest, All Aboard!, was unveiled on 7 November 2017 in a press conference held at the Lisbon Oceanarium. Its visual design features oceanic motifs that allude to Lisbon and Portugals location on the Atlantic coast and to the countrys seafaring history. Alongside the main emblem, which depicts a stylised seashell, twelve supplemental emblems were designed to symbolise different aspects of a marine ecosystem. The contests Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand remarked that the theme and logos "resonate with Lisbons history and underscore Eurovisions core values, including diversity, very well. The Ocean connects all of us and its variety can provide good inspiration for each of the participating broadcasters that we look forward to seeing in Lisbon next May."
2.2. Format Presenters
On 8 January 2018, RTP and EBU announced that the contest would be hosted for the first time by four female presenters, consisting of RTP hosts Silvia Alberto, Filomena Cautela, and Catarina Furtado, together with actress Daniela Ruah. It was the first time since 2015 that the contest did not feature a male presenter, and the second consecutive year that the presenters were all the same gender. It was confirmed on 4 May 2018 that Cautela would host the green room.
The Blue Carpet opening ceremony was hosted by actress Claudia Semedo, radio host Inês Lopes Gonçalves, actor/TV host Pedro Granger, and actor/director Pedro Penim. Granger and Penim moderated the press conferences, as well.
2.3. Format Semi-final allocation draw
The draw to determine the allocation of the participating countries into their respective semi-finals took place on 29 January 2018 at 13:00 CET, at Lisbons City Hall. The thirty-seven semi-finalists had been allocated into six pots, based on historical voting patterns as calculated by the contests official televoting partner Digame. Drawing from different pots helps to reduce the chance of so-called "bloc voting" and increase suspense in the semi-finals. The draw also determined which semi-final would be broadcast and voted by each of the six automatic finalist countries. The ceremony was hosted by contest presenters Silvia Alberto and Filomena Cautela, and included the passing of a Eurovision insignia from Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kiev host city of the previous contest, to Fernando Medina, the Mayor of Lisbon.
2.4. Format Opening and interval acts
RTP released the first details regarding the opening and interval acts for the final on 12 March 2018. The opening act featured Portuguese fado singers Ana Moura and Mariza performing "Fado Loucura" and "Barco Negro", respectively, which was followed by a parade of flags introducing the 26 finalist participants, with live music by Portuguese scratching duo Beatbombers. The interval acts included Salvador Sobral, who performed his new single "Mano a mano" which was also a smash hit in Portugal at the time and his Eurovision-winning song "Amar pelos dois" the latter in a duet with Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso, and electronic music performances by Branko featuring Sara Tavares, Mayra Andrade and Dino DSantiago.
3. Participating countries
The EBU initially announced on 7 November 2017 that forty-two countries would participate in the contest. Russia confirmed their return after their absence the previous edition, while Macedonias participation was provisionally blocked by the EBU due to unpaid debts by its national broadcaster. However, ten days later, the EBU announced that Macedonia would be allowed to enter the contest, raising the number of participating countries to forty-three, equaling the highest number of participants with the 2008 and 2011 editions.
3.1. Participating countries Returning artists
The contest featured two representatives who also previously performed as lead vocalists for the same countries. Alexander Rybak won for Norway in 2009 performing "Fairytale" and also sang entry No. 1500 and Waylon placed second for the Netherlands in 2014 as part of The Common Linnets performing "Calm After the Storm".
The contest also featured Jessica Mauboy, representing Australia, after taking part in 2014 as the interval act for the second semi-final, performing "Sea of Flags". In addition, the contest featured four lead singers previously participating as backing vocalists, two of them for the same countries. Lea Sirk backed for Slovenia in 2014 and off-stage in 2016, and Equinox member Vlado Mihailov backed for Bulgaria in 2017. Cesar Sampson, representing Austria, backed for Bulgaria in 2016 also as a dancer and off-stage in 2017. SuRie, representing the United Kingdom, backed for Belgium in 2015 also as a dancer and was the musical director again for Belgium in 2017. Sara Tavares, who performed in the interval act, was the representative from Portugal in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "Chamar a musica" reaching 8th place.
3.2. Participating countries Semi-final 1
The first semi-final took place on 8 May 2018 at 20:00 WEST 21:00 CEST. Nineteen countries participated in the first semi-final. Those countries, plus Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom voted in this semi-final. The highlighted countries qualified for the final.
3.3. Participating countries Semi-final 2
The second semi-final took place on 10 May 2018 at 20:00 WEST 21:00 CEST. Eighteen countries participated in the second semi-final. Those countries, plus France, Germany and Italy voted in this semi-final.
With the approval from the Reference Group, Italy broadcast and voted in the second semi-final following a request from the broadcaster RAI, as the date of the first semi-final coincided with the scheduled final of the fifth season of The Voice of Italy.
The highlighted countries qualified for the final.
3.4. Participating countries Final
The final took place on 12 May 2018 at 20:00 WEST 21:00 CEST. Twenty-six countries participated in the final, with all 43 participating countries eligible to vote. The running order for the final was revealed after the press conference of the second semi-final qualifiers on 10 May.
4. Scoreboard 12 points
Countries in bold gave the maximum 24 points 12 points apiece from professional jury and televoting to the specified entrant.
Below is a summary of the maximum 12 points awarded by each countrys professional jury in the first semi-final:
Below is a summary of the maximum 12 points awarded by each countrys televote in the first semi-final:
Countries in bold gave the maximum 24 points 12 points apiece from professional jury and televoting to the specified entrant.
Below is a summary of the maximum 12 points awarded by each countrys professional jury in the second semi-final:
Below is a summary of the maximum 12 points awarded by each countrys televote in the second semi-final:
Countries in bold gave the maximum 24 points 12 points apiece from professional jury and televoting to the specified entrant.
5. Other countries
Eligibility for participation in the Eurovision Song Contest requires a national broadcaster with active EBU membership, or a special invitation from the EBU as in the case of Australia.
5.1. Other countries Active EBU members
Luxembourg – Steve Schmit, the Director of Programming at the Luxembourgish broadcaster RTL, explained last year the reasons against participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. He also underlined that Luxembourgs chance for success in the contest is limited: "I believe that with the enlargement of Eurovision, the days of victory are gone. With the new voting system, it is very unlikely that Luxembourg is successful. Small countries are somewhat more troubled now". Luxembourg last participated in 1993.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – On 18 September 2017, BHRT confirmed that Bosnia and Herzegovina would not return to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018.
Turkey – On 12 July 2017, Sertab Erener, who won for Turkey in 2003, announced on an Instagram live chat that Turkey would return and wished luck to the next representative. maNga, the 2010 Turkish representatives, and Hadise, the 2009 Turkish representative, also expressed their interests for Turkey returning to the contest. Despite these statements, on 7 August 2017, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bekir Bozdağ, issued a statement saying that there were no plans for a return. The same day, TRT confirmed their non-participation in the 2018 contest.
Slovakia – Erika Rusnakova, press spokesperson of the Slovak broadcaster Radio and Television of Slovakia RTVS, confirmed on 11 September 2017 to Czech Eurovision website Eurocontest.cz that the country would not participate in the 2018 contest.
Andorra – The Director General of Ràdio i Televisio dAndorra RTVA announced on 14 May 2017 that Andorra would not participate in the contest, due to financial difficulties and the restructuring of the company.
Monaco – On 31 August 2017, Monegasque broadcaster TMC confirmed that Monaco would not participate in the 2018 contest.
5.2. Other countries Associate EBU members
Kazakhstan – Khabar Agency became an associate member of the EBU on 1 January 2016, opening up the possibility of future participation. They broadcast all the shows in 2017. Furthermore, the winner of the Turkvision Song Contest 2014, Zhanar Dugalova, said she would be interested in representing Kazakhstan in the contest. However, on 25 September, Khabar Agency told Esctoday that: "We have no information about Kazakshtan’s participation in Eurovision 2018 yet", maintaining the possibility of the country being invited by the EBU, as it is entirely at the EBU’s discretion to extend an invitation like in the case of Australia. The EBU however, chose not to invite Kazakhstan, as seen in the list of participants. On 22 December 2017, it was claimed that Channel 31 had finalised negotiations with the EBU, allowing Kazakhstan to debut in 2019, however, on 23 December 2017, the EBU told Esctoday that: "Channel 31 Kazakhstan has indeed expressed interest in becoming a Member of the EBU and hence participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. However, since Channel 31 is outside the European Broadcasting Area and is also not a member of the Council of Europe, it is not eligible to become an active Member of the EBU".
5.3. Other countries Non-EBU members
Kosovo – Kosovar media reported that RTK was hopeful that they would debut in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal. In an article published by RTK the Director of Television at the Kosovar broadcaster stated that he had received the support of national broadcasters across the Balkans to participate in the competition. However, both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia had opposed such participation. The EBU then sent a letter to RTK explaining that Kosovo cannot participate in the ESC, because it is not a UN member and it is not a fully recognised state.
Liechtenstein – On 1 September 2017, 1 FL TV, the national broadcaster of the Principality of Liechtenstein confirmed that the country would not debut in 2018. However, on 4 November 2017, 1 FL TV announced that they are planning a debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019.
6. Broadcasters, commentators and spokespersons
The European Broadcasting Union provided international live streams of both semi-finals and the grand final through their official YouTube channel with no commentary. The live streams were geo-blocked to viewers in Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela due to "rights limitations."
The spokespersons announced the 12-point score from their respective countrys national jury in the following order:
Broadcasters and commentators
Countries may add commentary from commentators working on-location or remotely at the broadcaster. Commentators can add insight to the participating entries and the provision of voting information.
7.1. Incidents Accusations of cultural appropriation
Following Israels Netta Barzilais performance of her song "Toy", critics of the song accused Netta of culturally appropriating Japanese culture, with several users taking to social media such as Twitter to call the performance "offensive". The accusations were made after she wore a kimono and buns, as well as Maneki-nekos being shown during the performance.
The topic was debated on British morning show Good Morning Britain on 14 May 2018 in response, with television presenters Trisha Goddard and Piers Morgan defending Netta by stating that she was simply implementing elements of Japanese culture due to her own appreciation of it. English journalist Rebecca Reid disagreed, arguing "Its not a beautiful, loving representation of real Japanese culture. Its a costume".
7.2. Incidents Belarusian song submission
On 10 January 2018, it had emerged on Russian networking site VK that Ukrainian singer Alekseev had performed a Russian-language version of his EuroFest entry "Forever" as Navsegda in May 2017 in Stavropol – before 1 September 2017, the submission deadline set by the EBU, potentially violating the rules of the contest. Six artists threatened to withdraw from the selection if it were allowed to compete, with Sofi Lapina actually doing so. Alekseev was ultimately allowed to compete by BTRC following a melodic revamp of the song, and went on to win the selection, thus representing Belarus in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. However, on 23 February 2018, it was reported that the EBU had given Alekseev permission to perform his original English-language version of the song at the contest, and he would opt to sing that version of the song in May. A few weeks after that announcement, on 28 March 2018 Alekseev premiered a new official version of his Eurovision entry with a lighter intro and additional choir at the end of the track. He also confirmed that this version would be the one performed in Lisbon.
7.3. Incidents Czech rehearsal injuries
On 29 April 2018, during the first rehearsal of the Czech Republics performance, singer Mikolas Josef reportedly sustained injuries to his back while rehearsing and was subsequently taken to hospital. The singer updated his fans on Instagram, stating "I can confirm that I got injured during the rehearsal and the situation got worse after several hours. I cant even walk now. Got back from the first hospital and I am now heading to another one". He stated that he would, however, "perform no matter what". Josef performed in the first semi-final on 8 May with a slightly altered performance, owing to his injuries, and ultimately finished 6th in the Grand Final on 12 May, achieving the Czech Republics best result to date. He was also the second Czech contestant to qualify for the Grand Final, the other being Gabriela Guncikova in 2016.
7.4. Incidents Mango TV censorship
During the Chinese broadcast of the first semi-final on Mango TV, both Albania and Ireland were edited out of the show, along with their snippets in the recap of all 19 entries. Albania was skipped due to a ban on television performers displaying tattoos that took effect in January 2018, while Ireland was censored due to its representation of a homosexual couple on-stage. In addition, the LGBT flag and tattoos on other performers were also blurred out from the broadcast. As a result, the EBU has terminated its partnership with Mango TV, citing that censorship "is not in line with the EBUs values of universality and inclusivity and its proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music," which led to a ban on televising the second semi-final and the grand final in the country. A spokesperson for the broadcasters owner Hunan TV said they "werent aware" of the edits made to the programme. Irelands representative, Ryan OShaughnessy told the BBC in an interview, "they havent taken this lightly and I think its a move in the right direction, so Im happy about it."
7.5. Incidents United Kingdom stage invasion
The performance of SuRie, representing the United Kingdom, in the final was disrupted by a man who rushed onto the stage and grabbed her 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, climbed into a camera run to get access to the stage. SuRie was able to complete her performance, and after the song the broadcast cut to an unscheduled interview in the green room. The EBU offered SuRie and her team the opportunity to perform again, but she declined. SuRie later revealed that she had suffered several bruises on her right hand. For official release on YouTube, Eurovision edited out the interrupted performance and substituted SuRies Jury Night performance from the previous evening. The official video retains the unscheduled green room interview with the Ukrainian delegation that followed the stage invasion. The official DVD release also replaces the grand final performance with the previous evening’s jury show performance.
8. Other awards
In addition to the main winners trophy, the Marcel Bezençon Awards and the Barbara Dex Award were contested during the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. Additionally, the OGAE voting poll took place before the final.
8.1. Other awards Marcel Bezençon Awards
The Marcel Bezençon Awards were first handed out during the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia, honouring the best competing songs in the final. Founded by Christer Bjorkman Swedens representative in the Eurovision Song Contest 1992 and the current Head of Delegation for Sweden and Richard Herrey a member of the Herreys and the Eurovision Song Contest 1984 winner from Sweden, the awards are named after the creator of the annual competition, Marcel Bezençon. The awards are divided into three categories: Press Award, Artistic Award, and Composer Award. The winners are revealed shortly before the Eurovision final.
8.2. Other awards OGAE
Organisation Generale des Amateurs de lEurovision more commonly known as OGAE is an international organisation that was founded in 1984 in Savonlinna, Finland by Jari-Pekka Koikkalainen. The organisation consists of a network of over 40 Eurovision Song Contest fan clubs across Europe and beyond, and is a non-governmental, non-political, and non-profit company. In what has become an annual tradition for the OGAE fan clubs, a voting poll took place before the main Eurovision Song Contest allowing members from over 40 clubs to vote for their favourite songs of the contest.
*Table reflects the 2018 voting results from all 44 OGAE clubs.
8.3. Other awards Barbara Dex Award
The Barbara Dex Award is a fan award originally awarded by House of Eurovision from 1997 to 2016, and since 2017 by songfestival.be. This is a humorous award given to the worst dressed artist each year in the contest, and was named after the Belgian artist, Barbara Dex, who came last in the 1993, in which she wore her own self-designed dress.
9. Official album
Eurovision Song Contest: Lisbon 2018 is the official compilation album of the contest, put together by the European Broadcasting Union and released by Universal Music Group digitally on 6 April 2018 and physically on 20 April 2018. The album features all 43 participating entries, including the semi-finalists that failed to qualify for the grand final.