With the 2012 contest consigned to the Eurovision history books, our attention shifts to translating the split result and its familiar peculiarities. This can be the moment we all click into smug mode, or launch a number of four-letter tirades in the direction of the juries for being so momentously out-of-touch with public opinion.
I apologise that esctip’s analysis has been somewhat delayed. This is due to the planned site upgrades, and having being comprehensively outsmarted by the complex new design, I have decided revert to the original format and stick with what worked. There will still be some small upgrades though, but they will remain within this current design, which is much easier to use and manage.
Following a quick glance at the split result table, one could assume that there were no major contrasts of opinion or surprises, and that generally; certain songs of particular genres followed each other in either preforming well, or nose diving into oblivion. That is not necessarily the case and this year, the juries have thrown up some conflicting results that surely raise questions concerning their judgement and the brief they follow.
The Conflicting Results
I should rightly start with Russia’s grannies. It was no surprise that they came second in the televote and I expected just such a strong performance prior to the contest. Nevertheless, on the flipside, I predicted that the juries would punish the Babushki due to their far from perfect vocal performance and lack of commercial appeal. Surprisingly, the juries awarded the grannies 11th place, which is curious if one considers that Azerbaijan were awarded only 24 points more and Germany a mere four points more. If the vocal performance is so important for the juries, why were the relentlessly out of tune geriatrics ranked so highly? Of the songs from a similar genre, it could be argued that the grannies were more out of tune than Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Norway. Moreover, at least three of those songs were more contemporary and radio friendly than Russia’s simplistic composition.
It could be argued that the Babushki’s erratic vocal worked better in a group than the tragically exposed Tooji. On the contrary, a further conflict emerges if one considers the French entry. Anggun was widely reported as singing off key during her jury performance and Sofabet’s Daniel Gould tweeted the following comment:
I’m afraid France’s Anggun is going to really struggle on the scoreboard based on that performance.
— Daniel Gould (@sofabet) May 25, 2012
What’s more, France’s entry failed to register a single vote from the public and was a total mess on stage, which again questions the jury’s interpretation of events when stronger entries were awarded considerably fewer points. It pains me to admit it, but even Ireland were treated harshly in comparison to the grannies and Anggun.
The Ukraine’s failure to score a top-10 finish was a further shock to the system. ‘Be My Guest’ was a Eurovision party song in its truest unadulterated form and remarkably, enjoyed copious support from the juries. Strangely though, Gaitana finished a disappointing 20th with the voting public. There could be a number of factors that conspired against The Ukraine, one of which could be the quantity of upbeat house entries all vying for the same vote share. Secondly, the strong entries from Russia and Azerbaijan may have drained a significant proportion of the Eastern Bloc vote share. Thirdly, the party song vote was fiercely contested this year, with genuine foot-tapping, drinking-song credentials from the likes of Ireland, Moldova, Romania and once again, Russia. Lastly, and shamefully, Gaitana’s race may have affected The Ukraine’s support. I would suggest all four these factors played a part, but I believe the race issue was the more significant influence.
2012 witnessed a return to form for Turkey, but ‘Love Me Back’ was only rewarded by the voting public. During rehearsals, I did point out that Can Bonomo’s vocal produces a sound similar to a goat being molested by a group of passing drunks – that can be the only explanation for the jury’s lack of support, as Turkey’s stage presentation was unsurpassed and was the most unique and engaging of the contest. Turkey’s televote support is continually overinflated every year and I refuse to believe that ‘Love Me Back’ was a top-4 challenger, but once again, I dispute the jury’s apparent dislike of what was a strong current sounding song.
I believe I’m right in suggesting that 99% of Eurovision viewers were shocked by Albania missing out on 4th place by just five points. From a betting perspective, it was always an entry best left alone. As a Eurovision entry, it was painful, but emotional nonetheless and the vocal, whilst a tad leftfield, was extremely powerful. I’m not surprised that the juries scored Rona Nishliu highly, but what amazes me is the universal support from across the various regions of Europe, given that the Albanian entry was about as appealing as Klingon opera.
Norway struggling to qualify was hardly astounding, but finishing last was certainly a bombshell, even though we highlighted the long odds available for just such an outcome. Tooji and the rest of the Scandinavian bloc were comprehensively outshined by Loreen in the final. Brilliant choreography aside however, it was always a worry that ‘Stay’ would fail to replicate the playback enhanced performance from the Norwegian national final. What was witnessed on stage during both the semi-final and final, sounded very loose. Nevertheless, Norway were no worse than France.
After the Icelandic national final, many people, including myself, all thought Iceland would perform reasonably well. Even in the event of Greta and Jonsi failing to score a placed finish, it seemed inevitable that both the juries and televoters would reward the live instrumentation and dramatic folk arrangement with a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, the Icelandic duo were compromised by the running order, so that rightly affected the televote, but ‘Never Forget’ also failed to resonate with the juries. Did they find it too old fashioned? Clearly not, as Serbia were handsomely rewarded by the juries. [pullquote]‘Never Forget’ was no worse a package than France, Italy, Bosnia or even France 2011 for that matter.[/pullquote]As a Eurovision composition, ‘Never Forget’ was destined to tick typical jury boxes, especially in a year where the competition was diluted with dance songs. In the semi-final, both Greece and Cyprus were awarded 3rd & 4th place compared to Iceland’s 11th place with the juries. Even Denmark finished in 6th, and they were forgotten in the final, finishing two places lower than Iceland in the jury tally.
We all have our own opinions, but once again I am left scratching my head as to why Iceland failed to achieve a higher placing with the juries. The staging was pompous and it undoubtedly lacked warmth. Jonsi’s vocal was marginally off key during the opening verse, but the combination of these issues meant that ‘Never Forget’ was no worse a package than France, Italy, Bosnia or even France 2011 for that matter.
Some readers may be aware than Loreen missed a line during the jury rehearsal, due to her choking on a piece of fake snow. The juries clearly ignored this mishap. Romania missed a word during their jury rehearsal too, albeit because Elena hit a wall with her breathing. I can understand why Mandinga were punished, but I fail to understand why they were punished so harshly when Elena’s lyric was on a par with Loreen and Gaitana. Zaleilah was a demanding song too with an extremely effective stage show. Once again I return to France: how on Earth does Romania finish 7 places below France in the jury points tally? Cyprus’ Ivi Adamou was hardly convincing during the jury rehearsal either. This is yet another example of inconsistency from the juries.
With a series of desperate vocal flips and somersaults added to his song, ‘Kuula,’ Ott Lepland’s 6th place finish for Estonia was something of a shock. It was only when watching the final that a potential top-10 finish seemed likely. This highlights the advantage of being at the arena during rehearsals.
The Predictable Outcomes
Once Englebert Humperdinck’s song was unveiled, there was the predictable overhyping of the song from the press, which in turn affected the betting markets. The United Kingdom were never going to perform strongly in the final, not because the rest of Europe hate us, but because the song was inappropriate and poorly performed (during jury rehearsal) from a terrible slot in the running order. That said, there was far more action in ‘Love Will Set you Free,’ than in Bosnia’s ‘Korake ti Znam,’ and on that basis, being awarded last place by the juries was rather harsh.
‘Should’ve Known Better’ should never have been selected. At an early stage, Denmark’s Soluna Samay’s song was performing strongly in the markets. However, a number of Eurovision commentators, including myself, always felt it was a bit… meh! There was nothing remarkable about the song that would ensure it stood out from a crowd of 26 other entries. Quite rightly, it predictably faded into obscurity.
Spain’s inability to attract televote support is something of a regular occurrence. The same could be said of Italy to a certain extent. Spain were hampered by being drawn immediately before Germany, and even though the juries rewarded the power of Pastora’s voice, the sexiness of Italy enjoyed a marginally bigger reward. Italy were let down by the draw, but it was their lazy stage presentation that cost them dearly.
Strangely, Serbia’s potential success failed to register with United Kingdom commentator, Graham Norton. That demonstrates both his lack of preparation and interest in Eurovision, but also highlights the BBC’s appalling attitude to the contest in hiring him. Even after the running order draw, the fact that one could get odds of 15.0 each way on Serbia was astonishing.
What to Learn
Prior to and during rehearsals, I made a series of predictions based on past history that were challenged not just this site, but on other sites where I sometimes throw my tuppence worth into the seemingly low-quality debate. Two of the more pertinent predictions were:
• No more than two dance songs would finish inside the top 10.
• Two Scandinavian countries were likely to finish outside of the top 10.
As it turned out, Romania, Cyprus, Ukraine, Norway and France all finished outside of the top-10. Furthermore, Sweden were the only Scandinavian bloc country inside the top-10, confirming the worries that Loreen would mop up a large proportion of the votes, leaving their local rivals to fight for leftovers.
Politics played its part too, with Greece’s vote taking a battering from many EU members. Greece hasn’t failed to finish outside of the top-10 since 2003, when they matched this year’s 17th place finish. Since the split vote publication, Greece hasn’t received lower than 150 points from the televote. This year they were awarded just 89 points, so next year, bare these statistics in mind if the dire situation in Greece continues to stutter on.
One major factor to take away from this year’s contest is that an outstanding vocal will always be rewarded; no matter how painful it is to listen to. That rule only applies to slow dramatic songs though, with Estonia and Albania being this year’s benefactors. In 2010, The Ukraine were well rewarded for Aloysha’s vocal performance, despite a poorly written song.
We can all draw our own conclusions from the results, and whilst I am a staunch supporter of the juries and the 50/50 split vote, this year I am somewhat dismayed at the lack of consistency shown by the jury points tally. The juries provide the vital balance in preventing those countries with huge diaspora advantages continually dictating and distorting the result. Yet this year, the juries seem way out of kilter with some of their calls, especially when considering previous contests. Inevitably, people will say the best song won, and they would be right. Read between the lines however, and remarkable inconsistencies scream out from the page.
There will be more articles published over the coming months investigating some of the factors mentioned above. If you have any additional theories or opinions, please feel free share them below.