Eurovision 2010 – Some numbers and a rant

Well, that’s it for another year. I decided not to blog about the semis or the final in the end, leaving that to my tweets. However, with all the voting figures now available, I thought it’d be mildly interesting to have a look at how things panned out. Here are the full scores:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest_2010

There were some interesting variations in terms of scores between the semi-finals and the finals. Most striking was Iceland, who qualified comfortably on Tuesday night in 3rd place with 123 points, yet crashed to 19th place last night with a mere 41 points. Of course there are plenty of explanations for this. On Tuesday night, Iceland performed last (always a big advantage in any competition like this), whereas in the final they performed in the middle of the running order. Countries that voted for Iceland on Tuesday night may have switched their allegiance in the final to an act they weren’t able to vote for due to being in the other semi-final, and this may have been the case for juries as well as viewers. Furthermore, the public votes for Iceland on Tuesday may well have come from a very different, weeknight audience than the one that tuned in on Saturday. There are all sorts of variables at play that can really affect people’s chances – often, as has been demonstrated on shows like Strictly or X-Factor, from one week to the next. For instance, when the voting patterns for the latter were released at the end of the last series, they showed that, in the one week when Rachel Adedeji wasn’t in the bottom two, she came top in the vote. Of course it can work the other way in Eurovision: 2008 winners Russia only qualified 3rd in their semi-final, behind Greece and Armenia, but finished comfortably ahead of both in the final.

I also thought I’d have a look at how the final would have panned out if only the countries that made the final were allowed to vote. Here’s how the scoreboard would have looked, with actual positions and scores in brackets. The percentage figures after the scores indicate what percentage of each country’s actual score came from votes from fellow finalists.

1 (1) Germany – 122 (246) – 49.6%
2 (3) Romania – 119 (162) – 73.5%
3 (8) Greece – 112 (140) – 80%
4 (2) Turkey – 107 (170) – 62.9%
5 (5) Azerbaijan – 106 (145) – 73.1%
6 (7) Armenia – 106 (141) – 75.2%
7 (9) Georgia – 86 (136) – 63.2%
8 (6) Belgium – 78 (143) – 54.6%
9 (10) Ukraine – 78 (108) – 72.2%
10 (4) Denmark – 76 (149) – 51%
11 (12) France – 64 (82) – 78.1%
12 (11) Russia – 61 (90) – 67.8%
13 (15) Spain – 44 (68) – 64.7%
14 (14) Israel – 37 (71) – 52.1%
15 (16) Albania – 35 (62) – 56.5%
16 (13) Serbia – 31 (72) – 43.1%
17 (17) Bosnia & Herzegovina – 31 (51) – 60.8%
18 (18) Portugal – 31 (43) – 72.1%
19 (22) Moldova – 27 (27) – 100%
20 (19) Iceland – 26 (41) – 63.4%
21 (20) Norway – 18 (35) – 51.4%
22 (24) Belarus – 17 (18) – 94.4%
23 (23) Ireland – 15 (25) – 60%
24 (21) Cyprus – 13 (27) – 48.2%
25 (25) United Kingdom – 10 (10) – 100%

So, as you can see, Lena is no longer the runaway winner – in fact, she scrapes home by just three points in what would have been the closest finish since 2003 (coincidentally the last year before the semi-finals were introduced and non-finalists were able to vote in the final). Only Cyprus and Serbia got a lower proportion of their votes from other finalists. Likewise, without the support of non-finalists, Denmark slide from 4th to 10th place; conversely, things improve markedly for Greece, who move up from 8th to 3rd. However, the only other countries to get a bigger percentage of their votes from fellow finalists – Belarus, Moldova and the United Kingdom – had such low scores overall that they still end up in the drop zone.

As I mentioned earlier, it would also be interesting to see how voting allegiances changed between the semi-finals and the final, and that would be a good starting point for further analysis of the voting figures. However, no amount of analysis can obfuscate the fact that the UK entry came a resounding last, and I’m glad about that. Not because of Josh Dubovie, clearly a very nice, personable lad who behaved impeccably throughout (even when stood next to Pete Waterman, who had the nerve to accuse others of being a bit rubbish) – but because of the can’t-be-arsed attitude that installed him as our representative in the first place.

After the progress we made last year – having a proper competition, getting big industry names involved and heavily promoting the winning song all over Europe in order to guarantee exposure and, therefore, votes – this year felt like a total regression. A half-baked affair stuck on a random Friday night, with a bunch of stage school rejects and Butlins redcoats stumbling their way through old Stock, Aitken & Waterman hits, before the three least worst were handed a hackneyed, lifeless number written by two-thirds of the above, a song that might have done moderately well about 15 years ago, but which was only ever going to be in serious contention for last place in 2010. Josh was the best of a bad bunch on that night, but up against a girl who couldn’t sing to save her life, and forgot the words to boot, that’s not saying very much.

Or perhaps we were a bit scared by last year. We realised that, actually, if we start taking Eurovision seriously again, there’d be the danger that we might even win, and that we’d then have to cripple our economy even further by staging the whole shebang the following year (some other countries allegedly sent poor entries for the same reason, but even they managed to be better than us). You can’t help feeling that it suits our mentality, bolstered through years of Terry Wogan’s rants about political voting (granted it does exist, just not to the game-changing extent that he suggests), to be the perennial, bottom-feeding underdogs, pointing and laughing at other countries for taking it all so seriously and then muttering dark words about voting blocs when they vault ahead of us.

And they vault ahead of us because they hold big, Pop Idol-style selection events, use top songwriters, producers and choreographers, promote their representatives throughout the continent for weeks before the big night and generally establish a major presence. We did that last year and it worked wonders. This year the lazy, amateur hour approach, the one that begat Jemini, Daz Sampson, Scooch and Andy Abraham, meant we were back to square one. Shame on us, and shame for Josh, whose moment of glory turned into a moment of humiliation that had been inevitable from the Friday night in March that he was chosen as our musical ambassador. Here’s hoping next year we make an effort and send something to Berlin that sounds good to everybody.

Chris

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