This year’s Eurovision featured Madonna, legendary returning acts, and a… Grindr reference? Sounds about right.

Eurovision is typically a camp extravaganza, and although this year delivered plenty of moments, it did feel like a memo got lost somewhere along the line. Was everything just left on Netta’s plane, because a lot of the staging was just so… simplistic?

Australia and Spain certainly captured some madcap Eurovision campness, but most songs seemed to go with just camera visuals over other staging elements.

The theme for this year was Dare to Dream, and after hearing Michael Rice’s performance, we dared to dream that we could finish above last place. Spoiler alert: some dreams don’t come true.

The competition started off innocently enough. Michela with Chameleon was a fun number to start off with, she performed it well, if backing dancers left much to be desired, but overall in an ocean of great songs it was destined to get overshadowed.

Jonida Maliqi similarly passionately performed Ktheju tokës, but much like Chameleon, it was always going to be forgotten. Lake Malawi for the Czech Republic had really great visuals, and no I’m just on about the band, but Graham Norton was absolutely correct. Ignore the lyrics, enjoy the staging.

Germany’s S!sters, with their imaginatively named song, Sisters, was one of my highlights of the night, I really enjoyed it, disappointed it didn’t finish up higher. Then we had returning contestant Russia’s Sergey Lazarev with his song Scream. The visuals were amazing, with the mirrors and camerawork, but the song didn’t land with me, so it ended up being quite forgettable.

Danish singer (and figure skater) Leonora was up next. She gave us Love Is Forever, and it had a great message on how love should be just love, and it was a cute melody. Nothing spectacular, but sweet. But then came San Marino. Singer Serhat reportedly spent five minutes writing Say Na Na Na, I’m just glad the song didn’t last that long. Worst of the night, how it finished above us in the points is a mystery for the ages.

Thankfully, his performance was immediately washed away by North Macedonia’s Tamara Todveska. Her song Proud blew me away with its incredible message, her stunning voice and the impact it had. She might not have won, or had public backing, but her getting so many jury votes was absolutely right, and I wish she had more backing.

The only country that could follow-up that performance was Sweden, and John Lundvik certainly delivered a fun pop song. But he was a classic example of boring staging, with just one dingy light the performance aspect was a little lacking.

And then it was Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl for Slovenia, and they had… a song. Look, it was a song, there was music and words that went with it, but if ever there was a song that just screamed ‘take your bathroom break now’ it was this one. Cyprus followed with Tamta’s Replay, which went for a Fuego vibe, but as nice a moment Fuego was, it didn’t land for the second time. Best to come up with something more original.

Following this was Duncan Laurence – who came out as bisexual earlier this week – and he delivered Arcade. Staging was simple, but with the tone of the song it worked, and he delivered an incredible performance. Following this was Greece’s Katerine Duska’s Better Love, and this was a song that just failed to land, nothing stuck with me.

Israel’s Kobi Marimi really performed Home. He had an incredible voice, but the song suffered from just blah lyrics, so while he could perform it, there wasn’t much to properly listen to. Meanwhile there was everything to listen to with Norway’s KEiiNO. I loved hearing the Northern Sami language, and the way it was delivered was incredible, I just wish there was more. Norway topped the public vote, and deservedly so.

Following Norway was Michael Rice for the UK, and he really delivered the song. It was mentioned earlier, but he shouldn’t have been last, his performance was so much more than that. And Iceland’s Hatari was an experience. The self-proclaimed anti-capitalist BDSM band performed the usual metal song for the competition, and they weren’t horrible like other entrants.

Estonia’s Victor Crone was incredible. Storm was a really good song, and he really performed it well. ZENA for Belarus gave us a pretty catchy song, but overall it still failed to properly land with me. And Azerbaijan’s Chingiz was pretty good, and the laser visuals were pretty astonishing.

France’s Bilal Hassani had been inundated with homophobic abuse, but his powerful message in Roi was clear to see, and he owned that stage which was lovely to see. Was a lot better than Mahmood’s song. One of the bookies’ favourites, but honestly it was just blah, sorry.

Nevena Božović for Serbia delivered a beautifully stunning song, with the visuals to match. North Macedonia’s singer was compared to Elsa, but it was Serbia’s who was breaking the ice. Switzerland’s Luca Hänni was just like Mikolas Josef for me last year. I loved the dancing, I loved the performance, I love the visuals, especially Luca’s, the song… was terrible.

And then for the final two songs, Eurovision finally delivered with madcap entries. Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke’s Zero Gravity was a stunning spectacle with the singular stilts the performers stood on, and Spain’s Miki just encapsulated the competition. An upbeat song, with stunning visuals, and explosions of colour. What more could you ask? Well, apparently a lot seeing as that song bombed in the votes.

But after this it was typical Eurovision. They had a few filler sections to get us through the voting periods, some great interval acts with the likes of Conchita Wurst and Verka returning. And of course Madonna’s performance, even if her interview might’ve been a little awkward.

And then as the votes came in, a nation sighed as we were snubbed by both juries and the televote. Seriously, three points from the public is all we can manage? At least it was better than Germany’s zero. But as Labour MP Luke Pollard said: “Bottom. And not in the good way.”

Iceland also attracted a lot of attention, first with gay and trans flags, but then when their televote came in, they held ‘Free Palestine’ banners, referencing the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. The camera quickly cut away, and the hosts seemed to be flustered and rushed a few votes after that.

And as the final votes were revealed, it was Netherlands on top, with Sweden the only country that could beat them. Those with maths skills could figure out that Sweden needed more than 250 points to beat the Netherlands. And for people without those skills, worry not, as the hosts spent the next agonizingly long five minutes repeating that information over and over and over and over and over again. But finally we found out that the Netherlands had triumphed, as Sweden only picked up 94 points. Not the result they wanted.

Watch Duncan Laurence’s winning performance below.

And as Eurovision always spawns plenty of memes, here are some of the best from the night: