Eurovision wouldn’t be the same without the eccentric and outlandish novelty acts. They have that irreversible jaw-dropping first impression that grows and becomes ever more infectious. Resistance is futile against these viral jokers, no matter what defenses you employ, you’ll be humming that song way before any potential winner.
The last novelty song to get anywhere near winning were the Russian grannies in 2011, and before that, way back in 2007, when Verka Serduchka scored a well-deserved 2nd place with Lasha Tumbai. As with many successful novelty acts, Verka’s song arrived for rehearsals and became a viral hit. Much the same happened with Lordi in 2006, who eventually went on to win. Those last two songs won at a time when Eurovision was 100% decided by the public vote, so since the reintroduction of the juries in 2009, novelty songs are now mostly disposed of at the semi-final stage of the contest.
The Russian grannies were something of an enigma, and even though they were discounted by many a fan and punter, their global popularity was hard to ignore. Predictably, the grannies amassed huge televote support; reminiscent of the new pre-jury era. It was the juries that prevented the novelty win, even so the amount of votes awarded by the so called music professionals were somewhat generous. Those of you thinking that a new era of novelty could descend on the contest and make a mockery of this article will be disappointed. Firstly, the grannies were boosted by their nationality. Had they been from Slovakia or the Netherlands, I doubt they would have threatened the top-5. Secondly, their was something rather unique about ‘Party for Everybody’ that drove its viral charge – again this was potentially assisted by nationality, but also the hit-or-miss social media support.
Another example is that of Zdob şi Zdub (2011) who qualified from the semis and finished a moderately impressive 12th for Moldova, with the mildly novelty, So Lucky. We believe this song appealed to more voters due to its ‘drinking song’ potential and in-your-face impact. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to raise a glass and get into the party mood, rather than being totally crazy to the point of being meaningless.
Our rather short lesson is to lay novelty rather than back it, unless it fits the ‘drinking song’ mold. Eurovision polls usually overstate the popularity of novelty or camp songs, so there are tasty odds to be exploited once they go viral.
Here are just a few recent novelty failures: