And then place in the main event as the votes. First the national juries and a deluge of twelve points for Ryder, whose playful charm operated all week (especially since he is obviously totally free).
Incredibly, he was in first place, ahead of Sweden in the public vote (this time last year poor James Newman was hanging his head with zero points). But then, as expected, the viewers’ vote saw Ukraine roar, leaving Ryder, Swede Cornelia Jakob and Spaniard Chanel – with a number originally written for Jennifer Lopez – to catch their breath.
To his credit, Ryder seemed pleased with his placement, and given that Kalush Orchestra had been tipped to claim the gong from the start, he couldn’t have been too devastated. He had just encountered an unwavering force in the form of public empathy for Ukraine. Given the UK’s recent unfortunate record at Eurovision, he will have understood that finishing second counts as his own type of victory.
Yet, in the end, the night belongs to Ukraine. They concluded their portrayal of Stefania with a plea: “Please help Ukraine…please help Mariupol…now.” And, as they received their trophy, they seemed more stoic than ecstatic: “Thank you very much. Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This win is for every Ukrainian.” Team Ryder or not, who would want to take that 15 minutes of fame away from them?