Eurovision's more exotic second cousin made a comeback yesterday afternoon, and what a beauteous bounty it was. After a break of a few years, its return was in a slightly more bargain basement form to the lavish affair we've seen in previous iterations, but we're still so very glad that it was there.
This year saw an entirely studio-based form, with mostly static camera plonking the performers into an identical background (which looked a little like the Tine Tunnel, ancient TV fans). Some performers made the best of their technical limitations, but many looked just a little bit awkward, like Sarmad here.
Representing the Turkmen population in Iraq, he looked ill at ease from the start, but it got to almost painful levels of awks from the 1:21 mark when a massive instrumental break made him stand there like a lemon for just shy of a minute. And for Sarmad it must have been a long, never-ending minute. At first he made an attempt to interact with the music - even pulling off a little air oud for a couple of seconds. But then he just stood there, staring.
At first it looked like he was wondering what he should have for his tea, but then his eyes retreated into themselves and for a moment it seemed as though you could peer into his very soul. You'll feel bad for the lad, but like a car accident or a bad wig you won't be able to tear your eyes away. We were absolutely devastated to find out that this came last, as it's a smashing little tune, and one that's so incredibly evocative of his people and his region. But we'll always have that ever so special 58 difficult seconds. You are out new hero, Sarmad Mahmood, and we applaud you!