Last night, the EBU released this year’s split vote via the Eurovision official website, Eurovision.tv. As a commentator, I expected a number of alarming results.
It is immediately apparent that the juries have deviated from their routine backing of ballads, big power-notes and national identity songs to bestowing their support on commercial entries and those with an innovative gimmick.
Until the EBU publishes the full jury/televote breakdown for each nation, these vague averages will continue to raise questions among fans and commentators.
There are few who could argue that Denmark didn’t deserve to win this semi-final. Nevertheless, looking at the jury result for Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, there seems to be some Eastern Bloc favouritism at work if you compare their results to those of Croatia, Cyprus and The Netherlands.
Going back to last year’s entry for Bosnia & Herzegovina, Maya Sar was well rewarded by the juries and achieved a 6th placed finished on their reckoning. Conversely, Cyprus’ Despina Olympiou was strangely forgotten this year with a performance that would traditionally enjoy a modicum of support; certainly more than the 12th place she earned from the juries.
Neither Austria or the Netherlands are known to perform strongly in the televote, but it comes as a great surprise to see Natália Kelly outscoring Anouk on the jury tally. Is this more evidence of the juries shifting their stance to a more commercial footing?
Montenegro has cause to be quite upset with their non-qualification having come 4th in the televote. Despite being commercial, it would appear that rap has cost another country qualification into the final. If the Balkan juries were smarter and more motivated to reward each other like those from the Eastern-Bloc, Montenegro would have rightly qualified to the final.
Semi Final 2
I’m sure Azerbaijan and Malta are the first thoughts on everyone’s mind. Same here! Azerbaijan was not in a position of strength in terms of regional support in this semi-final, yet maximum scores flowed in from Malta, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Georgia and Romania. Most of those countries exist beyond a Georgian and Armenian landmass, in addition to the Black Sea. In Malta’s case, add half of the Mediterranean Sea too.
In light of the recent revelations, and bearing in mind Azerbaijan’s distinct lack of diaspora, how has Azerbaijan amassed such enthusiastic support? How have they pipped Greece to maximum points in Romania and Bulgaria? What’s more, how does one explain the 4th consecutive 12 points from Malta? The accusations of vote trading and mass voting using paid students and sim cards are sounding more feasible!
Last year, the juries ranked quality ballads extremely high in their scoring. Albania, Serbia, Estonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia were all awarded decent points. In previous years too, strong ballads have been considered jury fodder. If in semi-final 1, Russia, Ukraine & Moldova can score well with the juries, how are Iceland and Israel forgotten? In 2010, Israel’s Milimwas 4th with the juries in semi-final 2, yet Rak Bishvilo was equally evocative and consummately performed.
Despite these anomalies, the top 6 or 7 in the jury rankings seem to follow the new commercial trend. That trend clearly doesn’t have room for songs with strong ethnic roots, or else Bulgaria’s Elitsa & Stoyan would have made the final. There was always a sense of trepidation in the press center concerning Bulgaria’s progression from the semi-final. However, Bulgaria has cause to be quite upset given their high televote haul. They join Montenegro as being another casualty of the new scoring system.
Malta’s high score with the juries doesn’t surprise. However, topping the jury score is somewhat ludicrous when compared to Norway or even Azerbaijan for that matter! Though the startling feature of this semi-final is the ascendance of Azerbaijan as a superpower in nations their influence should not reach, or assert such dominance.
The final witnessed the expected evaporation in support for the pink favourites, with Finland performing particularly badly.
Leaving Azerbaijan aside, the top 4 are about right, with Greece and maybe Romania feeling hard done by the juries. Under the new system, being distinctive and a little Marmite perhaps makes it easier for non-friendly jurors to position such a song low on their ranking. Greece were certainly worthy of a placed finish this year, especially considering that we tend to get at least one upbeat song in the top-4. Are we once again witnessing the Anti-Diaspora Vote?
My Melodifestivalen pick, Robin Stjernberg achieved an astonishing 3rd place with the juries. I always had You down as a jury favourite, though I didn’t anticipate such a high score. Admittedly, You is a well-produced pop song, and contrary to other’s views, I’ve never had a problem with Robin’s vocal. If SVT hadn’t employed such a blatant hatchet job on the staging, we may have witness three Scandinavian nations in the top-10 for the first time under the 50/50 regime.
Once again, the strong Icelandic ballad was strangely forgotten by jurors and one has to speculate whether or not the same fate would have been played out in previous years. I honestly believe Ég á líf would have made the jury top-10 during most of the last 5 contests.
Cascada’s failure is a mystery. Anti-austerity sentiment may play a part in explaining the poor televote, yet 20th place with the juries does not accurately represent the song’s credentials when compared to the other 25 entries. There were early plagiarism accusations that may have played on the minds of jurors, yet when both Glorious and Euphoria are played back to back, they are like black and white in terms of similarity. Natalie’s vocals were more than adequate and the visual impression for Germany had top-10 written all over it. Originality aside, I fail to see what juries could mark down.
Irish fans were also left gobsmacked by Ryan Dolan’s last place. Despite achieving 14th place in the televote, the jurors were clearly unimpressed. Even so, last place seemed harsh given that the Spanish entry was ranked last (on average) by both televoters and jurors.
These gremlins in the new scoring system are likely to be its undoing. Rather than a step forward – combined with the producer-decided running order – Eurovision has actually taken two giant leaps backward. The Eastern voting bloc has even more power than ever and the unscrupulous voting corruption undertaken by several nations now possesses greater impact. The right song won, but unfortunately, other results in this year’s contest were far from legitimate or were skewed by an unnecessary amendment to the scoring system. It can’t be acceptable that the jury or the public have the ability to cancel out the opposing side’s vote.
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