Eurovision just doesn't get The Hump

UK's veteran crooner comes second-to-last (way behind Jedward)

So, even enlisting the help of a singer who has sold more than 150 million records wasn't enough. Not even Engelbert Humperdinck, not even The Hump, could do it for us. Europe once again looked the other way last night as the United Kingdom's soul searching quest for a Eurovision Song Contest winner threatened to go on and on and on. Humperdinck, with the song "Love Will Set You Free", mustered just 12 points at the Crystal Hall in Baku – a solitary chip from Belgium, two from Latvia, four thrown our way from Ireland and a welcome five from Estonia.

Even the Jedward twins, singing for Ireland for a second year in a row, trampled on that lowly score. It's been 15 years now since the UK captured the Eurovision crown, but it's not as if the formula of sending into battle a 76-year-old crooner was necessarily misguided. Age, it turns out, is no barrier to a more respectable score in Eurovision. Humperdinck is the same age as the lead singer of the Buranova Babushkas, a circle of grandmothers from a remote Russian village, dancing in traditional lime bark shoes, who came second.

In his final years as the BBC's commentator/cutting remark generator, Terry Wogan would grumble about the Eastern European bloc's voting, but even those theories could not explain what happened in Azerbaijan last night, with Sweden surging away to an emphatic victory.

The Scandinavians have a proud Eurovision pedigree of their own to defend. This was their fifth win, matching the UK's number of winners; a last laugh on all of those who mocked their entrant on Twitter as "Claudia Winkleman dancing like a crab". The Claudia Winkleman lookalike they were referring to was the thick-fringed Loreen, who sang a clubby song called "Euphoria". She said she "freaking loved" everybody who had voted for her.

Away from the dance floor, she was one of the few participants who did not put their fingers in their ears, as debates raged about Azerbaijan's human rights record in the run-up to the contest.

It was reported that she had even met activists opposed to government clampdowns on freedom of expression in the days before performing. Local authorities had insisted in response that this kitschest of annual events should not be politicised. Loreen was asked later for her thoughts, to which she said: "There are two parts of me. One that is private and one that is my work that I'm doing here. Just today. I want to keep the focus on this energy that we created right now."

Eurovision is never short of that energy and there was no difference in Baku, with the customary sights of gymnast dancers, performers blowing kisses into cameras at every turn and pyrotechnic brass instruments. But while Eurovision's elements have stayed broadly the same, the days when the United Kingdom – Remember Lulu? Remember Bucks Fizz? – stood a chance of winning seemed to be gone. Humperdinck did have to sing first, a bad draw – nobody has won from there – but his final score meant only Norway fared worse on the night. This second-from-last finish follows three occasions in the past 10 years when the UK has finished bottom of the heap altogether. You have to go back to 1997 to find a UK win with Katrina and the Waves, a time when Tony Blair had only just got his feet under the table at No 10 and Princess Diana was still with us. On that score, it is fortunate for fans that the United Kingdom's status in the competition means it cannot be relegated. The upside, too, is that there will be no extra expense in staging next year's event as winners.

The joke too close to comfort backstage was that Greece finance ministers were desperate for their act not to win and face a bill of anything up to £30m to play hosts next year. The Swedes will now have to bail us all out of that one.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering