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Eurovision 2014: Split Result Analysis

This is the first of two articles analysing the Eurovision 2014 result. In this article, I will discuss some of the split result trends for each of the live shows while highlighting the songs where the juries’ and televoters’ opinions clearly differed. The second article will focus on this year’s jury discrepancies with recommendations going forward to next year’s contest.

Firstly, I would like to thank our contributors and growing readership for their involvement this year. The comments section was overflowing with opinion and the chat room was the busiest it has ever been. A big thank you to all involved.

I found covering this year’s Eurovision thoroughly exhausting. The two weeks in Copenhagen were far from easy with the hour-long shuttle bus trips (when they actually arrived) to and from the arena particularly frustrating. The catering was also limited, so my love of Lasagne was seriously tested – Sweden’s 4pm fika was sorely missed!  I would like to thank Daniel Gould, Rob Furber and esckaz’s Michael Duncan & Daniel Fahy for the many laughs enjoyed during what was a gruelling schedule.

On the plus side, the arena and stage were breathtaking and it felt like Eurovision took another step forward in terms of technology. Having said that, I still believe in keeping things simple and I rate Eurovision 2013 as the stronger package, both from a televisual experience and from the perspective of the accredited press. Malmö was better organised and much less stressful, which is why I had considerably more energy when it came to the 2013 grand final. For example, last year I remember having time to sit in the sun, savouring the barbeque with Rob from EntertainmentmentOdds joined by the likes of Eric Saade, Robin Stjernberg, Dorians and Andrius Pojavis – it was a more relaxing experience.

Anyway, having taken a week or so off to recharge the batteries and cleanse my mind of the meagre amount of Eurovision stats it can hold, I’m now ready to look through the numbers to make sense of the WTF moments.

WTF moments can be expected when you have a rather substandard collection of songs competing in an open contest. There were a couple of decent entries, but the majority were well below par and in my opinion, this year’s contest lacked diversity, interesting characters and great chart-worthy pop tunes.

Well done to Conchita for winning, even though it’s somewhat galling to see an old-fashioned song performed by a bearded drag act triumph over more commercially viable acts. The narrative probably suits the contest going forward, but from a cold-hearted betting perspective, one expected a more rational response from the juries in neutering a televote-fanwank. Having a huge Netherlands green in the various markets also made the result somewhat infuriating. Even so, I was wary of Austria and made sure I kept Conchita green.

Semi-final 1

Netherlands deserved their win here and I hope many of you seized the high-odds semi-final win bets recommended on day four of my coverage.

It’s no surprise to see the most polished and commercial songs make up the top-5 in semi-final 1. The final five qualifiers were made up of entries that were visually engaging and contained that extra bit of quality in the staging department.

As for the non-qualifiers: I was always sceptical of Estonia’s chances once I saw their stage backdrop. The last thing one does when performing from an early running order slot is employ a dull and drab stage backdrop. The concept was there, it was just poorly executed and cost the final a great song. Finishing last in the televote sums up how far from Amazing Estonia’s package was.

Portugal’s latin party missed out on qualification by a single point, but as I said in the second podcast, Suzy’s Quero Ser Tua always stood out at this point in the semi-final and was beaten by the third-time-lucky Valentina Monetta and her dubious haul of points from Albania. Coincidentally, Hersi kicked off her pre-Eurovision tour in San Marino, which is strange considering San Marino is incapable of meeting the EBU’s televote threshold. Just saying.

My radar was significantly off course when it came to Belgium. Unfortunately, the staging was dark, and with Axel’s ghostly mother gesturing in the background, the package looked creepy and weird. Axel’s vocal also went off course when it mattered, so in the end, I wasn’t surprised to see Belgium miss the cut.

semi 1 split

Semi-final 2

The second semi-final split makes for interesting reading, especially when it comes to Malta. I’ll go into more detail in the next article, but once again, I think Malta has some very serious questions to answer and I’d be very surprised if the EBU haven’t already demanded answers.

I liked Firelight’s song, but it was always going to struggle from first slot. The Maltese delegation were nervous on the night of the jury rehearsal, as they rightly sensed that Firelight’s staging looked painfully bland and cheesy compared to Switzerland’s. I even switched Malta to a non-qualifier on my chart, but that was mostly based on whispers I’d heard about other countries getting extra help. The disparity between the juries and televoters is telling and I think 9th place was deserved for this plodding song.

Poland mirrored Malta’s position on the split vote, albeit in opposite positions. The Polish diaspora elevated Donatan & Cleo up the televote, but they were harshly treated by the national juries who clearly found the risqué content and niche genre too much for Eurovision. In my opinion, Poland upped their game for the jury rehearsals and I think Donatan & Cleo should feel hard done by.

Romania finishing second in this semi-final was an insult to music. Other than Paula’s money shot note, Miracle was dire and no better than the entries from Macedonia and Israel. At least both of those entries had convincing stage shows.

Our big shouts were Israel and Ireland not to qualify. I had been backing Israel not to qualify since the markets opened, but continued to invest in the 9/2 available on the day of the live show. Despite a well-choreographed stage show, Mei Finegold appeared too fierce and the Hebrew elements nudged it down the pecking order with Macedonia and Romania following in the running order. Having said that, Israel didn’t deserve last place on the jury tally, but it just goes to show how unpopular Israel are at Eurovision and meant it was easy to call Same Heart this year’s major fanwank.

Ireland deserved everything they got this year; Heatbeat was just a female version of Only Love Survives and the juries rightly ranked it low. Televoters were more forgiving to Kasey, but her fate was sealed on day three of rehearsals.

So onto my useful bit of information from a very reliable source…

I was informed that Poland, San Marino and Slovenia were given extra help by DR and the information mirrored a marked improvement from Poland (different camera angles and choreography) and Slovenia (different camera angles and altered vocals & enhanced mix).

OK, I hear you all shouting that these things can change from one rehearsal to the next! I agree, but all of these acts were consistent during all of their rehearsals right up until the jury performance, when the subtle, but vital alterations were added.  This information led me to change my qualifiers: adding Poland from the first half and making the last four countries in semi-2 qualifiers.

Just a final note on the semi-finals, it seems anything remotely divisive will struggle to qualify under the new ranking system, so Lithuania and Moldova falling short didn’t surprise given their unusual songs and strange visual packages. Clearly, diaspora can be overturned with some nations.

semi 2 split

The Final

In terms of the top-4, we can be in no doubt that the national juries and televoters delivered a fair and valid result. In fact, most years it’s the top-4 that tends to be the most indisputable part of the result, though I’m slightly surprised not to see a strong-hooked pop song in the form of Denmark and Ukraine make the top-4 . The sympathy vote for Ukraine failed to materialise and despite a strong stage package, I believe Tick Tock’s mediocrity cost Ukraine a placed finish. Denmark’s poor result is more interesting, as it was considered a genuine contender by many. Despite a poor showing during rehearsals, Basim delivered when it mattered, and from slot 23, I’m staggered Cliché Love Song failed to attract a 3-figure points total. I think the host nation voter apathy theory needs revisiting.

The most remarkable feature of the final was the incredibly low top-10 threshold with Spain taking 10th place with just 74 points. One has to go back to 2003 to witness the top-10 threshold reaching as low as 73. Even more remarkable was seeing Greece bomb in the televote and finish a lowly 20th – that’s their worst result since 1997, and having been rather heavy on the Greece Top Balkan bet, describing my mood as annoyed would be something of an understatement. I should have stuck to my original assertion that Greece would struggle to finish in the top-10. Rap is always a hard sell. Remember!

Poland were once again done over by the jurors in the final. In terms of performance quality, there was barely a cigarette paper between Greece and Poland, but the jurors were way off public opinion when it came to Donatan & Cleo’s hit. This really does need looking at by the EBU, as it seems the music professionals are miles away from public opinion and maybe the marking criteria needs amending.

Malta was third last on the televote, but sixth on the jury tally. I’ll go into this in more detail in the next article, but having tipped Switzerland to do well, it’s vexing to see the juries rank Sebater’s musically superior song so low when compared against Firelight’s Mumford & Son’s tribute act. Though it’s reassuring Malta’s dubious jury scores made no difference to their eventual finishing position.

As predicted, Hungary’s song was bit too dark for the people at home and duly struggled in the televote, yet fifth place was higher than I expected.

As I said at the beginning of this article, this year’s songs were mostly average and I believe that was responsible for the low top-10 threshold. So rather than having 10 quality songs with 100+ points, there were just six or seven songs that were ahead of the rest in terms of song and production quality – the rest were derivative or too niche and struggled to muster any significant support.

Unfortunately, faith in the UK lasted right up until the market lost confidence in Molly during the first 30-seconds of her song. Even though I was in the Eurovision bubble, I had high hopes for the UK this year and even shared my confidence in Molly with the UK’s head of press.  The founder of the #TeamSanna movement, Aftonbladet’s Tobbe Ek disagreed and affectionately described me as a UK fanboy. Tobbe predicted Molly would finish around 15th and he was correct. What did Daniel Gould, Rob Furber and I miss?

We all thought the first 30 seconds lacked punch, but once the song got going, it was miles ahead of at least 70% of the competition. The song was modern, the vocals were great and the stage was eye-catching; again, what were we missing?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but watching Molly during the live final, I couldn’t help feel a certain amount of fatigue. In my opinion, 26th slot might have been too late in the running order, with many people mentally switching off during Valentina Monetta’s pedestrian three minutes having watched the much extolled Dutch entry.

There was also the look of panic or intense concentration etched on Molly’s face at various points during live final. This wasn’t present during the jury rehearsal, but in my opinion, the apparent aloofness distanced Molly from the TV viewers.  It was only during the bridge that Molly connected with public and even that ended with a cold stare down the camera.

Again, it’s easy to highlight these points with hindsight, but I think the UK suffered an overdose of long-shots. The camera interaction with Molly was far too brief and the whole sequence was calling out for some close-up steady-cam moments aka Portugal 2010.  Also, I’m not sure Molly was sufficiently drilled about the importance of smiling. Having said that, the jury submitted their marks the night before and witnessed a more relaxed performance, so I think the BBC should feel aggrieved at their average 16th place finish on the jury tally.

As Executive Producer of the UK’s Eurovision project, Guy Freeman’s approach in looking for unsigned talent is encouraging, and even though we didn’t get the result we hoped for, it’s reassuring the BBC is taking Eurovision seriously again. Let’s hope BBC Introducing turns up another young gem for 2015.

final split result

If you think I’ve missed something out, please feel free to share your comments below. Don’t forget, I’ll be discussing points in the next article.

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About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

20 comments

  1. “Romania finishing second in this semi-final was an insult to music.” Ugh, too bloody right!

    Oh well, most of my favourites that were in the semis made the final, so this was a pretty good year for me. Not to mention my favourite finishing 8th, I was running around Copenhagen with a smile like the Cheshire Cat that night, I can tell you!

  2. The continuous denigration of Sweden’s entry and the lambasting of Hungary I thought was a real blind spot of the coverage. There were people on the podcast who even said Sanna might not make it through the semis. 218 points was a VERY respectable haul. Once you sense that people are SO wide of the mark, it is so hard to take what might be astute judgements on other songs seriously. Once again, an appeal for people next year to be aware of the dangers of being swayed by overly subjective forces.

    • It always pays to be open-minded, Mark. Given Sweden’s early draw in an Eastern dominated semi, the obvious journalistic viewpoint was to compare Sanna to Bergendahl. I only suggested the possibility, but I was more vehement in my assertion Sweden wouldn’t win, which eventually played out. Visually though, Sweden was up there, but my own dislike of the song may been evident in my opinions.

      Hungary wasn’t lambasted. I didn’t like the song, but like many others, I took the viewpoint that András’ song would be difficult for televoters to engage with. We appreciated it was modern, but I always said that Running failed to land a killer blow. 10th place in the televote justifies this.

      We’re not always right, Mark, but we are at least brave enough to share our opinions very publicly without any staging or live performance concepts. We could all choose to be bland and guarded when expressing our views and let you do the hard work, but at least we’re willing to get off the fence and share our opinions.

  3. Fair point about not being on the fence etc . But Hungary always looked a strong song from the juries’ point of view and a very serious contender for a top five finish (if you recall it was actually top after five rounds of voting!)….and so it proved. There were consistently good odds available for such an outcome…….I think going too much on the “dark” theme obscured its clear musical appeal to many…..having said that, I do NOT see any more songs ahead in 2015 on domestic child abuse!! On a more serious note, its relative “success” was a serious kick in the teeth to the zillions who still dismiss ESC as all “La la la” material……as was the outcome itself….a triumph for a country that had not won since 1966 and 2nd to a country with poor modern form. That is an outcome that all those who moan about “politics of ESC” need to explain.

    Hope your batteries are recovering!!

  4. Thanks Gav for working so hard to keep the site going for everyone to enjoy during a crazy few weeks.

    This year proved to be a great year for punters prepared to back quality early and not be put off by price.Betfair was the best year iv ever seen for trading as well.The semis also delivered some amazing value in the end.Ireland,Israel ,Belgium out,Slovenia in.

    One part of me had my drunken head in my hands when The Netherlands were booked for 2nd.Id had to watch Ace Wilder robbed and take 2nd at 100/1 in MF only to see the Dutch do the same at 200/1.However 50s a place made up for it and the wonderfull news they had landed the semi at 67s.My days at bet365 will be surely numbered.The top 4 misses from Ukraine and Hungary were a slight let down as was laying Sweden top 3,but thats what ESC betting is all about.If some of the bets you had missed ,then one or both of those would of landed sitting in 5th and 6th.

    The top 10 market was almost a none event for me this year with only Russia and Ukraine landing, but due to price and trading UK.Italy,Poland free,profitable,

    I had Austria only slightly green on the win market until before the semi.However pimp was very hot on the chances and urged me to get more cover.With Archi and shell the same i took that advice just before the price crashed.I would not of had a decent green on it without listening to the guys.

    Going forward Austrias win changes nothing though.Once again this year well produced and delivered contemporary songs were what did well if we ignore Austria.

    The voting system is destroying ESC of course.Making it a boring middle of the road borefest is terrible.For punters though this year has really shown that marmite songs will fail.

    I must add though its 100% obvious the juries were a big failure this year.They simply werent doing their jobs and werent marking on what they are told to mark on.The EBU have a serious problem in regards the juries.The scandi block and Eastern block are also huge problems.They are more polarised than ever.The reference group meeting will be interesting.

    The UK?.The staging was terrible and if id seen it before hand properly id of been a layer.

    I had a great year betting wise, but with a few unlucky massive price misses.The only worry for me was the Netherlands made 67% of the profit.That says my books werent balanced enough.

  5. Well I certainly learned some things this year, but I feel like I have to be really careful about what I look for in a winner next year.

    I can admit to being prejudiced myself. I couldn’t see past Conchitas beard until my Twitter feed and people on Facebook were telling me how good the performance was during the final. I took a lack of support for an act like Conchita in Eastern Europe as a done deal. I don’t know if at some point, anybody actually asked “what if they do vote for her?” – and if that question had been posed directly to me, it would have been some serious food for thought. The visual clues were all there. Golden staging, golden dress, phoenix wings bursting from Conchita’s shoulders… I should be banging my head on the desk for not seeing the obvious threat there.

    I’m in full and whole-hearted agreement with Rob Furber when he says on his own post-mortem article; “The adulation surrounding Conchita felt like a very fan-centric phenomenon, as she had been treated like the new messiah by fans at the Amsterdam and London concerts too. That Conchita-mania spread to the wider voting public, and many jury members, was completely unforeseen.”

    The fact that she performed a Shirley Bassey style show stopper and looked the way she did was the overriding “NOPE” scribbled over every other box ticked, (in the end at least.) I didn’t ‘get’ Conchita in 2012, I still find her an unpleasant image to look at, and I thought everyone would react the same. I thought she would confuse the audience. I liked what Dawn French said on the Graham Norton show. Conchita raises so many questions, but at the same time, she represents all the answers. What else can I say? I just have to accept that it was a major blind spot for me.

    On the flipside, I had been championing Molly to win this year. It took me a few nudges from other people to get me there in the first place. I was reluctant to pick a song as my predicted winner based in part on scepticism, but since the only other threat I saw was Armenia, which ultimately had far less going for it, I picked a winner based on a flippant identification of a recent trend. In hindsight, I suppose Molly’s completed package was simply too formulaic. We basically tried to do our own version of Only Teardrops and failed. One serious problem was, I believe, the lack of reverb on the backing singers. It really did lack punch compared to the initial reveal. I even remember seeing photos of Molly’s staging for the first time, comparing it to photos of all the others I’d seen and having this niggle of doubt in thinking “this does seem a bit lacking for a winner’s stage show” – and I ignored that doubt because of all the praise coming from the press centre. Figured everyone out there must know better than me having seen the performance for real. Having said that, I do believe the UK entered a textbook winning song this year and if it had come together a bit more effectively, it was capable of winning. I can see why it didn’t win, but I do find 17th a bit hard to swallow. I’m not sure what logic justifies a result quite that low, there was nothing crap about Children of the Universe.

    I got to see in-stadium videos of the jury final, a rehearsal with camera angles video on the Friday before the show, and at that point I had to actively reassure myself this was the winner (mostly against Netherlands hype!) on the basis that Molly was in 3rd gear, pyro curtains were being reserved, maybe the sound crew were just laying down the basics and they might add reverb later. All those niggles of doubt and I silenced them because I was in too deep and massively reluctant to lay. I also believed that allowing the rehearsals to completely overturn everything I’d done up until then would be “surrendering to the bubble” which is understandably dangerous.

    To be fair, if I had laid Molly off at that point and then she would’ve won, I would be feeling far far worse than I do now for simply breaking even on Conchita. A real anti-climax to all the months of analysis and hard work, but oh well, onwards and upwards.

    I’m sure the UK will win within the next few years as long as Guy Freeman is behind our entry. There’s absolutely no reason we won’t be a country on people’s lips again next year and I won’t be refusing to back the UK again. I just would really love it if next year, my choice of winner isn’t a fucking big-5 country because it drives me crazy not being able to see them until it’s too late.

    Let’s just hope Guy is able to leave a legacy to his successor when his job is done, and actually re-define what we do with the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK, institutionalise at as a massive platform for genuine young British talent that doesn’t want to be manufactured. We need a steady pathway as an alternative to X Factor in this country – it’s the only place people without the necessary resources to sell themselves to a label can go.

    Next year, I will largely be using the same ways to look for a winner, the textbook radio-friendly uplifting song, but I’ll then be looking to combine that analysis with things like narrative and personality. Performers like Conchita don’t come along every year so I’ll be putting that one in the history books as an extreme case, (again, how dumb of me for not seeing it that way.) I will also be remembering to allow the rehearsals to change my mind about certain things – if they don’t really look and feel like winners (or qualifiers) at that point, no matter what I have written about them before, then they probably aren’t. I won’t be letting rehearsals render all my previous analysis completely useless though, they change things but not that much.

    I will also be paying more attention to popular opinion and factoring it into my notes without succumbing to a group think. If we strip away the trump cards that the Netherlands and Austria played, it turns out the market was correct on the top 2 (albeit in reverse order) all along. My Mum seems to be able to watch the performances in a sequence and pick out a winner just like that. She’s done it 2 years in a row, as if once she has seen the winner, she doesn’t need to see the rest. She even picked out the entire top 6 (in no particular order) this year. Remarkable. I’ll be showing her the rehearsals next year without a doubt.

    • “Also, I’m not sure Molly was sufficiently drilled about the importance of smiling.”

      LOL, bearing in mind that I actually told her myself in person how important it was.

  6. Ben, I find myself in agreement with your points on the UK winning again. Austria have now proven that a country without bloc support can do it. I suppose Lena had already demonstrated this and she couldn’t even sing.

    However I see the automatic qualification to the final as a MAJOR drawback for every Big 5 country. I feel that an entrant can prosper from a good semi final performance and gain a momentum. Again Lena overcame this obstacle but I still stand over the point.

    • That’s a useful point I thought about during rehearsals. When Austria and Netherlands were storming i-tunes, the automatic qualifiers were nowhere. In this new digital age, the apparent benefits of automatic qualifier status might actually be costing the nations valuable exposure.

      • But isn’t that only fair with an automatic by into the final?

        The change I would make would be to show a clip from a rehearsal, (in full costume.) At least that way we can see a bit of it for real and not a preview video.

        • Yes indeed, since the big 5 literally pay the piper they should be able to call the tune!
          Regarding Greg’s point about an average song I think thats fair to say most commentators pre-show viewed Austrias entry as an average song. Yet on the final night all my friends (who dislike Eurovision) knew about the bearded lady.
          The exposure was in my opinion a significant factor in Conchita winning.

      • You seem to forget that Germany got 3 top 10s from 2010-12, Italy got 3 top 10s from 2011-13 and spain got 2 10th in 2012 and 2014. Being a big five is only as big a disadvantage as people say it is when the song is a middle of the road average song but if the song is a contender/brilliant song than the big 5 status should make a huge difference.

  7. Some great points Gav, but I feel you were too kind to Poland. The juries did what the public were never going to do, and buried it. The juries are there to be different, otherwise there would be no point. Poland and Greece were equally terrible from a musical perspective, and I think Poland are lucky to get as high as they did. I’m actually appalled that Poland won the UK televote.

    Overall I think the juries got it right this year, with the one big exception being more dubious high scoring for Azerbaijan.

  8. Is it just that I have a shite ear that makes me think that France was really hard done by? It was well staged, attempted a bit of humour, the guys were energetic, and it has a decent chorus line. Was it just because it was by France in French that fucked it over?

  9. Joolz Abba Twin

    You can also look at the split-result statistically. Sad git that I am, I did a quick correlation analysis on the jury voting points and the televoting. Overall, using Pearson’s correlation coefficient, the points given by the two variables gave a significant result of r = 0683, two-tailed, significant at 0.01. So, we can say there is a reasonably strong correlation which might suggest keeping the two-tier voting system. However, a little while back I did the same statistical analysis on the United Kingdom voting…oh dear. The inter-voter reliability was weak to middling (with one jury member being so much of an outlier they should not be asked again) and the correlation between the jury and the televote gave no significant results at all.

  10. “What did Daniel Gould, Rob Furber and I miss?”

    Well, foremost you were in an “UK-bubble” (and so are the UK-biased betting odds). I told you many times Gavin that I didn’t believe in the chances for the UK. Several reasons for the bad results, which I saw coming:
    –> A OK-song, but that’s the problem. The melody lacks a good start, which is not friendly for singers who have problems with low notes. Molly had that problem. On the whole it isn’t as “straight in your face” as that other anthem some people compared it with: “Love Shine A Light”.
    –> Ask yourself which song is easier to whistle: Netherlands or UK. I know the answer. The melody is rather complicated.
    –> Molly isn’t the best singer, as I just mentioned. The melody of the song basically shows how unsuitable Molly’s vocals were for the song. Her low notes I didn’t hear.
    –> The staging was nice, but way too static. I didn’t understand the hype about her “nice 1920’s look” and her bodypainted hands. The stage act never came together.
    –> Molly herself lacks charm and charisma. Be honest, be objective and ask yourself if Molly really charmed Europe. She didn’t. I said it way before the contest, I found her a bit of an “ice queen”. During her performance I missed some cute warm smiles (vital).
    –> On the whole the total package was as appealing as UK’s previous two entries (2012 and 2013): Static, forgettable, lacklustre vocals and a lack of charm.

    I told you many times before: UK needs to be more daring. They need to choose something that has charm and uniqueness written all over it. I recall the commentary of Scott Mills (BBC 3) after the performance of Netherlands. Such a response says it all. Pure heartfelt emotional commentary. Molly didn’t convey that.

    I said it many times, UK needs an artists that is experienced and that is STILL experienced. They need to send something that is a-typical. Like Italy in 2011 or Netherlands this year.

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