It looks like our statistical analysis of the semi final draw last week has caused a lot of conversation online (especially on Facebook), with some people loving the idea, and others accusing us of spoiling the fun. But one of our Juke Box Jury judges, Elaine Dove, felt very strongly on the issues. So, over to Elaine…
Breaking News! The twenty qualifying countries for the final of Eurovision 2012 are Albania, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Israel, Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine.
What’s that you say? What do you mean how do I know who has qualified for the final? I know that only four semi-final songs have been chosen but have you not seen the semi- final draw? It’s so obvious.
This is the sort of comment that I, as a relative newcomer to the world of the Eurovision Song Contest, find so frustrating and quite depressing to be honest. Ask me why it frustrates me and it becomes a lot more difficult to answer.
Is it because I believe the statement may be true? Is it because I am admittedly politically naïve and my geography skills are few and far between? Both of these may be an aspect of my annoyance, but first and foremost I think it is because as fans we spend our time telling all the knockers of the Contest that the outcome is not just a result of political allies and that neighbourly voting does not determine the outcome of the contest.
We tell anyone who will listen that the Eurovision Song Contest is not a pointless Contest, yet in the next breath we are using statistics and political geography to determine who is going to qualify for the Grand Final five months in advance.
If the outcome is as simple as this then why do we bother travelling, at great expense, to the contest every year? If the outcome is as simple as this then why do the other seventeen participating nations bother entering at all? I believe it is because they, like me, still like to believe that if your song is good enough it can win. I am not naïve enough to think that friendly voting will not play its part. And let’s face it we complain about the eastern European countries doing it, or the Nordic countries, or the Balkan vote but just take a look at the UK vote for the last few years and we can be held to blame as much as anybody.
However, what stands out for me more than the neighbourly voting is that in most cases the song that wins gets votes from the majority of the participating countries and that it is the five, six and seven point allocations that can win countries the contest and not just the eights, tens and twelves from their neighbours. Let’s look at Norway to illustrate my point. In 2009 Alexander Rybak won with ‘Fairytale’ and it received votes from every participating country in that year’s contest. In 2011 Stella Mwangi never made it out of the semi-final with ‘Haba Haba‘. How can both of these results have happened if the result is all based on statistics and friendly voting?
Ewan’s computerised guess on the twenty qualifiers may well come true, the predictors and data analysers may be onto something, but I’m glad I am not one of them. As long as we continue to have our Latvia 2008s and our Lithuania 2011s, then I will be happy in my blissful political ignorance, making up a list of my favourite songs in the contest and faithfully believing, until I am proven differently on the night, that my favourite song can go all the way no matter what semi- final it is in, what position it is drawn in and what other countries may be voting for it.