Sunday, May 15, 2016

Thunder and lightning, it's getting exciting

I knew that the sight of Australia racking up a huge Eurovision lead on jury votes, but losing it all on the public vote, reminded me of something.  It took me a while to put my finger on it, but of course it was the SNP totally dominating the constituency vote in the Holyrood election, before the list vote didn't work out quite so well thanks to flippin' tactical...well, you get the picture.  But at least Nicola Sturgeon still won the election by a country mile - there's no such solace for the Aussies tonight.

Normally when one country is 100 points ahead, and the host says "but everything can still change", it provokes little more than a weary and hollow laugh.  In fact that was probably the case tonight, because I don't think anyone really thought Australia could be caught, but the new points system worked its magic better than we could have dreamed.  It won't always be like this - often in the Melodifestivalen (where the system is borrowed from) the juries and public are in agreement.  But a split decision is probably more likely to occur at the Eurovision, simply because the public vote is always heavily distorted by neighbourly bloc voting.

From the point of view of my own prediction, it was a slightly irritating final outcome, because I got so many things right, and yet I still somehow contrived to get the overall winner wrong.  I correctly predicted that Australia would win the jury vote and would do reasonably well on the public vote.  I was also correct that Russia would be hammered by the juries but would win the public vote.  But what I didn't foresee was that a third country would come through the middle by finishing second on both the jury and public votes, and in particular I didn't foresee that the country that would do that was Ukraine.  They were doing pretty well in the betting, and some Eurovision bloggers predicted they would win, but no matter how many times I listened to the song, I just couldn't see it happening.  I thought it was too dark and complex to do well on the public vote (even allowing for Ukraine's in-built advantage courtesy of the ex-Soviet bloc vote), and I wasn't even 100% convinced that the juries would like it.  I suppose part of the explanation is the emotion in the performance, although even that didn't come across as fully as it might have done if the song had been entirely in English.

But I can't say I'm disappointed - I would have preferred Australia, but the most important thing is that a credible, non-formulaic song won out over Russia's derivative effort.  (And of course if Australia had won, the contest would have faced credibility problems of an entirely different sort.)

Graham Norton is a great commentator, but I do think he got a bit of deserved comeuppance tonight after repeatedly slating the Georgian song and saying it was baffling that it had made it through to the final when Ireland hadn't.  (It really, really wasn't baffling at all.)  He clearly wasn't sure quite how to react when the UK jury, comprised entirely of music professionals who presumably know their stuff, gave Georgia the maximum twelve points!  Norton also isn't quite as sharp as Terry Wogan used to be in his observations on the voting.  In this case, he was reading far too much into the lack of political voting among the juries, which actually isn't a great surprise if you look at the voting patterns prior to telephone voting being introduced in the late 1990s.  Greece and Cyprus used to swap twelve points as a matter of routine, but that was pretty much it  - there was no reliable Nordic bloc vote, or anything like that.  There also shouldn't have been any surprise tonight that the UK did much less well on the public vote than with the juries - that's been a fairly consistent pattern in recent years, although until now it hasn't been quite so visible.

There used to be a tradition at the Olympics that the IOC president would finish his remarks in the closing ceremony by declaring the latest edition of the Games "the best ever".  I think the EBU could be forgiven for making an equivalent boast tonight.  I don't think the contest has ever been as well hosted, the jokes were actually funny rather than cringe-inducing (which is almost unheard of), the climax of the voting was a thriller (which has been rare of late), and the quality of the music was pretty high (by Eurovision standards, I mean, which is the only test that can be meaningfully applied).  It really was the complete package - no complaints at all.

11 comments:

  1. Wtf, Ukraine? A dreadful dirge which I suspect picked up a lot of votes because Putin is unpopular.

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  2. It looked like, a bit like, Olympic judging from the 70's. The countries judges who used to have to vote for Russians stiffed them. My first time watching. By the end, my whole house was. I don't get the "Australian had nothing for the dad" to watch . maybe generational/ racial thing? I think as James said the Ukrainian girl snuck thru the pack while everyone else wasn't looking. Lot of votes for eastern Europe contestants! Undertanding the point of the song_ that her grandmother and others were forcibly taken from their homeland by Stalin's Russians while the grandad was fighting in the Russian army in 1944 and losing a daughter who couldntvbe buried in their home and do lost forever was a lot closer to home in a lot of countries than in others. Thanks James and all for bringing this to us. Our broadcast sucked. Main one seemed good overall. The five of us figured out the scoring during the final five. Did the sweden woman say what we thought about hearts and ...

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2May 15, 2016 at 7:25 PM

      What do you exactly mean by closer to home. Please do explain.

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  3. Australia in Eurovision eh?
    This is great news for the remain camp, they can now lobby other commonwealth countries to join Europe which might persuade brexiters that Britain's influence in Europe can be increased to such an extent that Europe can be annexed as part of the second coming of the Great British Empire.
    Right, I'm just off to do some more work on the old Routemaster to get ready for a summer roadtrip.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2May 15, 2016 at 7:15 PM

      Are you a GVVT man?

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  4. Aye, Australia struggling for the "neighbours" vote. Loved Georgia. Glad Poland picked up a bit in the second half. Thought Jamala's "peace and love" at the end had a bit of poignancy about it. Big song - not your normal Eurovision topper. Best presentation since Riverdance. I'm sure Vlad was watching. Hope he doesn't take the phrase "next year in Kiev" too seriously.

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  5. To the Anon whose comment I have just deleted : I don't know who you are and I don't know what your problem is, but for the millionth time, that sort of comment is no longer welcome here and will always be deleted. You're wasting your own time. Pack it in.

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  6. I thought the presenters were good, but solidly behind the Danish ones two years ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN8vIcJfM9A).

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  7. Jury votes for the UK :- Australia 4pts, Ireland 3pts, Malta 1pt.

    The average rank for the UK entry on the Televote was 19.9 out of 25 which is actually slightly better than they ended up. It seems that most of Europe agree that the UK is an outmoded concept and needs to be dissolved.

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  8. As I commented on in the previous article (should have looked here first), I found the whole event very bland. Georgia was the only one for me that stood out enough from the pack of blandness to be worth of a vote from me.

    Eurovision was always fun to watch for the novelty factor, without that it's just another TV talent contest of sorts. It'll never have the 'best music' either, so what's the point trying to pretend that it's 100% serious. If every act is pumping out the same bland, formulaic, euro pop ballad sung in English then count me out from now on.

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  9. I thought that the voting system was very poor and was unnecessary. Ukraine won on neither the televote or jury vote, but won overall. Incidentally, they would've come second if the voting system from previous years had been in place.

    I think that the Ukrainian song is the worst winner of Eurovision that I can remember, tbh.

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