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Stop blaming everyone else over your Eurovision loss… look in the mirror Written by on May 30, 2012 | 50 Comments

If I had more time, I would have gone into the comments section of every newspaper report outside of the Swedish press. It’s the same every year, the clichés come out, and nobody stands up to take responsibility for a Eurovision loss. Which means the public swallow the media line, and the reputation of the Song Contest takes an undeserved hit.

Let’s set a few myths straight before we go any further, because it’s important to understand why your country failed at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It wasn’t every other country ganging up on you, it wasn’t political voting, it wasn’t all the voting blocks making it predictable… there’s nowhere to hide. If you didn’t win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, there’s a simple answer.

Sweden’s song was better.


or this…

I think the answer is obvious, but with a huge amount of hysteria (admittedly focused on the UK, but hey, that’s a big part of our audience here on ESC Insight), let’s shoot down all those ‘reasons’ one more time.

Predictable Voting Blocks

Probably my favourite – everyone pointing out their commentator managed to ‘call’ the votes before being announced, which obviously means the whole damn Contest is fixed. Okay, list time. Let’s look back at the Top Ten of the last three years. If it’s all so predictable, then the Top Ten should be pretty static.

  • 2012: Sweden, Russia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Estonia, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Spain.
  • 2011: Azerbaijan, Italy, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Georgia, Germany.
  • 2010: Germany, Turkey, Romania, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Armenia, Greece, Ukraine, Russia.

Yep, predictable every year, along country lines, we could call the winner without hearing the songs. Or perhaps not. If you disagree, please list, in the comments, the top ten songs for next year.

It’s All Political

Half the battle here is defining what a political vote is. We’ve always preferred the term cultural voting, where countries with shared heritage and land borders have similar tastes in music. If you grew up listening to Balkan influenced music, there’s every chance you’ll vote for a Balkan song – not because of some misplaced loyalty, but because you like the music.

Perhaps I could accept the idea of countries voting for another country when it was all down to juries, and juries with only a handful of people who are very nationalistic, but are you seriously suggesting that an entire voting population of a country can bear a grudge? That an entire region has a chip on their shoulder?

Exactly. It’s Occam’s Razor again. People are voting for the performances they like.


Does Tooji has an international conspiracy against him? No.

Nobody Will Ever Vote For Us

Assuming ‘us’ is the United Kingdom.

There’s this fascination that for some reason a country, en masse, will not vote for the UK or any ‘western’ European county ever again at the Song Contest. Which naturally explains how Germany won the Contest in 2010, how three of the big five countries finished in the Top Ten this year, and how the UK managed 5th place in 2009.

There’s also the simple fact that voting at the Eurovision Song Contest is a vote for a winner. Unlike Big Brother, or other reality TV shows that need to remove a hate figure, you are asked to vote on the country you want to win the Contest. That means you vote for the songs you like, not the ones you don’t like. Even with twenty votes per phone number, most people will focus their voting on one of two songs. If your country’s song doesn’t make the grade, then nobody will vote for you. Simple.

Engelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck - beloved but not a vote-winner.

What Can You Do?

Funny you should ask that, we have a few ideas here in the ESC Insight office. We’ll bring you those next week. Before then, what’s the best Eurovision excuse you’ve heard this year?

Update: We’ve posted a strategy that we think would bring success to the United Kingdom:

Where’s the UK Stefan Raab? He’s hiding at BBC Scotland
The UK’s Eurovision strategy needs to change. Not when the BBC sit down in January 2013 to plan for Sweden, but right now. ESC Insight has come to a simple conclusion. There is one man who can save Eurovision, who can bring the UK respectability, and maybe even a victory. Who is that man?


About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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Have Your Say

50 responses to “Stop blaming everyone else over your Eurovision loss… look in the mirror”

  1. The Danish response has been interesting.

    The people behind Soluna’s song said that maybe Denmark needs to step up to the game and look at how song selection works out and how the song is visually presented. The songwriters said they backed their song and singer but acknowledged that Denmark tends to send the same type of songs with no stage show. They said flat out that a song like Loreen’s would never have made it past national finals and maybe it’s time to think on an international scale somehow.

    It’ll be interesting to see how much Danmarks Radio takes this line of thought on board.

  2. Rob says:

    “We could send Robbie/Adele/A.N.Other and we still wouldn’t win.”

    Because we have tried and KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. (And of course know that their song would be the best, obviously.)

    Every year with this one.

  3. Ewan Spence says:

    Love it, Rob. Yes the answer is to send a named person the UK media love, and the continent will vote for them simply because of the name. Yes, what we need for 2013 is to stand on stage for three minutes, do nothing, and we’ll get all the votes. Simples!

  4. Ben says:

    I’ve spread this around. Brits need to read this. You should’ve heard the women I spoke to at the bookies when I was mulling over a bet. Just the word Eurovision made the bile rise in their throats and they talked very firmly to me, going as far to suggest that the UK had not been out of the bottom 5 for the last 20 years and that we entered “that aeroplane one” last year.

    I argued politely that it was cultural voting using exactly the same reasons you’ve given here, but sadly it went in one ear and out the other, and they just tried to dodge a full on debate with me by saying “We believe what we believe and you believe what you believe, it’s how the world works.”

    It truly disappoints me that I have friends from many different walks of life, some are your general members of the public, others are gamers and geeks and others are musicians and creators (which is a nice way of saying they’re smarter,) but when it comes to Eurovision, all of these people just repeat the inaccurate tabloid bullshit and refuse to listen to any reasoning. The only thing that will change this is a British win, sadly.

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    Thanks Ben. Simple question I always ask is this… “why doesn’t Russia win every year then?” Which stumps a lot of people.

  6. Miss Purple says:

    I’ve heard the classic “Europe hates us and we should pull out” bs within minutes of the last points being given out, I promptly told this person to shut up and that we should send someone who could actually sing in tune, to which he said “wouldn’t make a difference”, grr…

    Tbh those kind of people are the reason why we do badly and it creates this vicious cycle of haters bitching -> BBC making a poor effort because of this attitude -> Crappy song with bad result -> Haters bitching, and over it goes again.

    Sorry for ranting, I’m just frustrated with my own country, sigh.

  7. Ben says:

    Having said that… second to last was too low for what we entered. It wasn’t THAT bad. Better than Malta and Cyprus at least!

  8. Miss Purple says:

    Ps – I actually touched on this debate on my latest vlog on my website

    Sorry for the shameless plug, but hey, wanted to get my two pence in 🙂

  9. Peter says:

    @ewan: “Yes the answer is to send a named person the UK media love, and the continent will vote for them simply because of the name. Yes, what we need for 2013 is to stand on stage for three minutes, do nothing, and we’ll get all the votes. Simples!”

    Well it worked when we tried it with Blue… 😉

  10. Ewan Spence says:

    Peter, did WordPress strip out the “irony” tag again? :-p

  11. Ciaran says:

    Obviously song quality has some effect, ie about 40% but the majority of places are determined by political voting, and then actual porper votes decide the other 40% or so. Televoters and Juries are equally biased.

    That’s why the top 10/winner is etc, political voting doesnt decide the whole thing, but its illogical to therefore try and ascert it has no impact.

    Azerbaijan has never been outside the top 8, are you seriously telling me they send one of the 8 best songs every single year???

    Or is it more likely that they benefit from so many blocks. EX USSR block, turkic/turkic diasporic vote, regular diasporic vote, islamic vote and for some odd reason Malta.

    Sure you need ordinary votes to win, you cant win on blocks alone, but political voting does effect the result.
    Just look to 2011, take out the USSR votes, islamic and turkic votes, and Azerbaijan would have barely scraped top 10, so still a good place, but then when you add all the political votes it pushes them up higher and onto a win

    Take a look at the semi finals maybe not so much this year but other years, sure 9 of those countries dont go on to win the actual thing, but political neighbour voting does decide who goes to the final. We cant predict a top 10, but we can predict every year

    Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Greece, Bosnia,

    Are you honestly going to argue that all of these countries really send the best songs every year???

  12. Roy van der Merwe says:

    This is such a difficult thing. Eurovision favours unknows – they have something to gain, big names mostly have something to lose

  13. Maaian says:

    To Ben – I completely agree. I have given up trying to explain to people that yes there’s neighbour voting but in the long run it does not pick the winner and there is honestly no fault in two nations who have good relations voting for each other… I hope that Loreen who won with a great song and actually has a hit on her hands might change this

  14. Matthew Langham says:

    Fully agree with you Ewan.

    I think Germany is actually quite a good example. After several years of doing really badly in the finals, Stefan Raab came up with the idea of doing a different kind of national selection to pick the song and the artist for Eurovision.

    TV viewers in Germany then had their say on who went to ESC and what they wanted them to sing. Lena won – and the rest is history. The second year Raab made sure Lena returned and the viewers “only” got to pick the song. She didn’t do too badly last year either.

    This year it was back to the viewers picking both artist and song. WIth the result that Roman Lob came in 8th.

    So in all – I think changing the way the German entrant was chosen was probably the best choice Germany made.

    That being said – it seems pretty certain that this will not be the way next year’s finalist is chosen. Ratings were considered too low during the qualification broadcasts. So we will see what happens next year…

  15. Emma says:

    Well, the worst part about Brits complaining no one votes for them is the fact that in 2011, they were top 5 with the televotes; it was the jury that brought them down to just outside the top 10. Because Blue blew (heh) the jury final. So it’s not like they can’t mobilize televotes no matter what, it’s that in some recent years, they’ve sent stuff televoters hate. Like Englebert–yes, he’s famous, but was singing a very slow, not very catchy or especially moving (hello, Estonia) song.

    Personally, I say a fair bit of it has to do with the draw. If Englebert sang 24th and Zeljiko sang 1st, for example, Zeljiko would have still beaten Englebert, but the margin would be narrower. It’s unfortunate, but if you select a slow song and you perform early on, you’re likely to be forgotten. Remember Paradise Oskar from last year? If not, he’s the sweet Finnish boy who sang a Tom Dice-esque ballad with his guitar. It was cute, charming…and very slow. He had a good draw in his semi and placed third, then he sang first in the final and placed 21st. The draw isn’t everything (the likes of Rybak and Loreen could have won singing for the slot of death, second) but if the song’s just not *that* brilliant, it can affected quite a bit by the running order. Think Azerbaijan could have won last year singing 7th if Sweden sang 19th? I doubt it.

    Looking at the other comments, I have to say, I don’t think DMGP needs to change too much. In recent years, Denmark has done quite well, top 5 in 2010-11, a pretty respectable 13th in 2009. It was just a bad, unlucky year for the Nordic countries (other than Sweden)–the songs were all, to me, very good. The stage shows weren’t brilliant (the static, melodramatic duet from Iceland, the Saade-rip-off from Norway, the charming, quirky, also rather static one from Denmark) but they weren’t bad, per se. Everybody was just so busy voting for Sweden that they kind of forget about Sweden’s neighbors (though why Sweden couldn’t drop more than 3 points Norway’s way is beyond me–it was a Saade-esque song and Sweden loves Saade!). It wasn’t personal. And (this is personal), I LIKE the songs DMGP makes. Denmark is one of the few countries that sends consistently likable ESC entries. This was just a bad year.

  16. Rob says:

    I think what sits badly is the sense of entitlement combined with perception of failure. The UK doesn’t have much of a relationship with its own entry these days; there hasn’t REALLY been a song that you felt the whole country was behind since Gina G, which was a genuine smash in its own right in the build up to the contest. That fared comparatively badly on the night (though we’d happily take an 8th placing now!) but went to number one the next day, went on to a Grammy nomination, provided a platform for a new artist to have a few hits, and is still remembered outside of fan circles 16 years on.  And isn’t THAT what really matters in the end?

    We got a better result in the final than Norway, and although I have no clue what the Norwegian press are saying about their 26th placing, I can’t imagine their people are calling for an exit from the contest or disowning a song which they backed and turned into a hit. They’ll more likely be thinking, “We made the final, which is an improvement on 2010; we’ve won the contest in a landslide quite recently, and we still like the song. The rest of Europe didn’t collectively rate it as much as us, but that doesn’t matter.  Well done Tooji, now bring on a trip to our neighbours in 2013.”

    I liked the UK’s song this year.  Was it in my Top 10?  No.  Did I remember the tune after hearing it for the first time?  No.  I imagine that was a thought replicated by many across Europe.

  17. Inca says:

    Best sore loser remark this year, from one of the commentary fields in one of the major English papers (can’t remember which one), went something like this:

    “We actually win this every year since without the English language Europe wouldn’t have any songs to sing.”

    Let me take this opportunity to thank the UK and Ireland for giving the rest of us the gift of music. We would never have thought about it ourselves. 🙂

    I’m personally sort of convinced that all of our ancestors were singing their hearts out in East Africa 200.000 years ago, probably about Euphoria, La La Love and urging the other members of the tribe to Come on and Dance…

  18. Henning says:

    I can remember those “dark” and “gloomy” days here in Germany 2009 when the discussion started if we should ever take part again in Eurovision, and if somebody else would ever vote for us (you know we’re not very well liked in Europe),
    Maybe there is something wrong with the approach of the UK entrys. Because I think that everybody else in Europe is expecting something very good from the UK. But that’s not what were getting, are we? So why should somebody vote for the Britan?

  19. Luke Fisher says:

    Quite simple we need a song that the UK public want to listen to- Engelburt charted at 67, so if we won’t listen to it, why should Europe vote for it?!

  20. Ewan Spence says:

    Luke nails it in one!

  21. Stephen P says:

    Firstly, I do think the UK placed a lot lower than the song deserved, very much so, but it’s no use crying over spilt milk and we should move on.

    I partly agree with Luke. It needs to be a song the UK public can get behind; however, as a Brit in the Netherlands, I can tell that the UK’s music industry seems far more influenced by American music than European. On Dutch radio, they play songs in all sorts of languages from all over the continent, which even chart. In the UK, this happens once every five years on average. What I’m saying is we need a song with UK and European appeal.

    As for the song selection, the BBC need to take it seriously. It’s quite obvious they’ve not given any thought to it the past three years. In 2009, there was a six-week selection show the public could really get behind and excited about. We came 5th (maybe ALW’s name and the draw also helped). This year, it was obvious to anyone who follows Eurovision that the Hump wasn’t the BBC’s first choice, hence the late announcement, and that they were more concerned on the name than the song.

    What we need is something more like a competition that focusses on the song and not on celebrity. The latter is why we chose a bland song in 2008. There were better songs in the national final that were shunned in favour of the two celebs: a dancing chicken and a former bin man (at least he could sing though).

    The selection should be: (1) select the singer over the period of a couple of weeks, make sure they can nail the vocals and cope with a huge audience, then (2) give them a selection of songs in the final week (that haven’t been released beforehand. The songs should be selected from well-established, British songwriters. On, and ban the Scooch-esque Europop.

  22. Steven says:

    It can be argued that the voting system at the ESC is flawed – it in involves humans and human emotions.

    I’ll give you one example – imagine your son or daughter is in the XFactor final. You know he/she does not have the best voice, you think there are others who have the edge. Who are you going to vote for?

    People vote for who they know, what they know about the act and how emotionally connected they are to them. To suggest that you’d vote for another act in XFactor other than your relative is ludicrous, obviously. But people do it all the time and never get accused of ‘politically/culturally/emotionally-charged’ voting.

    I remember a few years back in the XFactor final there was one act from Wales, England and Scotland each – the show tried to rally the people from each of those home nations to vote for their act. The UK is hypocritical in its approach here – it seems to be okay to ‘vote-for-your-own’ as long as it is not Eurovision. When it is – and we always fair badly generally – then the xenophobic rhetoric kicks in.

    People vote, as I said, for what they know. They vote Labour, or Conservative, or Monster-raving Loony Party because they or their family always have. Elections are won or lost based on a 10-20% overhead that actually votes for the policies not because of the area they are from or family history.

    Eurovision is no different. You need to remove the popular vote and have completely non-aligned ‘neutral’ voters to really make the voting stand-up as 100% fair and accurate. That would remove something special from the show, it would make it sterile and bland.

    It isn’t ‘political’ voting, cultural is the only way to describe it. Diaspora is one worrying trend, but, let’s face it, if you are a Lithuanian living in Ireland you have a right to vote for whomever, just not Ireland. They are the rules.

    As for Azerbaijan, is it really hard to see why they are finished top-8 every year? Yes, in some people’s eyes Azerbaijan have send extremely good songs to the contest EVERY year, lord knows how much money they have spent trying to win.

    In terms of the UK – I firmly blame the BBC. Even Engelbert believed the company line when he said to me “oh, it’s all political”. That’s the strap line the Beeb pull out of the bag every bad year. Engelbert said the BBC did loads of promos and interviews, he was happy with the level of exposure he got. This is true, but it was all BRITISH PRESS and BRITISH TV SHOWS, what is the bloody point in that?

    Did they realistically think that a 76-year-old man could go on a 2 or 3 month jaunt all over Europe promoting his song at every opportunity? The BBC should be ashamed, again, at their lacklustre efforts – we will never win again if the BBC do not change their ways and actually grow up like the Contest has in the last 10 years or so.

  23. Henning says:

    The show that Stephen P has described can be licensed by Brainpool. It is the exact format of “Unser Star für …”(Our star for ..). Maybe the BBC should cooperate with Stefan Raab, call it a “national task”, find somebody good, and maybe next year …, who knows?

  24. Daniel says:

    In order to do well at Eurovision, the UK does not need to send famous or well-known singers to Eurovision. All that is needed is a strong song with a performer who is competent enough to present it to Europe.

    In my opinion, the last time the BBC sent a strong song with a performer to match it was Jessica Garlick in 2002, and the UK finished in 3rd place.

  25. richard says:

    I agree with most above. One thing not discussed with Uk is that when it bombs it probably does disproptionally. My reason is that aside from Ireland we have no traditional culture votes and if song is not going to be at least mid table then we are getting votes from nowhere. Several other countries can usually rely on some sort of cultural vote to keep them out the bottom five. Thus Uks results aside blue in the ten years have been bottom five or top five….(I think). So the public does have a small point here.

  26. Rob says:

    Daniel; agree that was the UK’s best since the (in hindsight) glory years of the 1990s, and not only did it manage 3rd, but it did so from an early performance position and with a 100% televote. The “everyone hates us” line must have had a year off.

  27. togravus says:

    Just a short story from abroad: One of my mother’s friends at our party, a 70 year old lady, came out as an Engelbert Humperdinck fan before the final (which was pretty courageous btw considering that we were basically a bunch of leftist intellectuals …). She was so happy that The Hump participated and expected to vote for the UK. After all 26 songs had been performed, she didn’t even have ‘Love Will Set You Free’ in her top 10. I am convinced that the song simply wasn’t good enough … perhaps Engelbert Humperdinck doesn’t do it anymore, not even for his old fans or at least not with this song. Of course ‘Love Will Set You Free’ would probably have come 15th or sth if it had represented a country more favoured by televoting, but it was destined to be lost and forgotten irrespective of the flag it competed for.

  28. Anjeza Zahini says:

    i agree with your comments, But… the whole balkan state voting for each other and pushing other countries behind has got to stop. i know they share the same culture, tradition and language but ebu has to do something with their votes.. now they produced a new country (kosovo) which hopefully will not participate on this contest. San Marino didn’t vote for italy because they wanna show the views that they are not facist and commusist like the balkans..

  29. Ciaran says:

    Actually Steven, you say no one complains about voting in X factor/BGT but thats a lie.

    If you actually bothered to watch the show people complain about Scotland all voting for anyone with even a hint of a Scottish name, or has lived in Scotland for a few hours.

    Politcal voting doesnt decide the winner every year, but some years it does, ie 2011

    Also it has a big influence in which acts get to the final, even if they subsequently flop in the final

  30. Steven says:

    Ciaran, to use the word “lie” is a little strong – I do in fact live in Scotland and I am English – I have no first-hand knowledge of any complaints about the way the Scots vote – probably to do more with not reading trashy newspapers or websites that probably have a propensity to kick-off about this sort of thing. Perhaps it’s the English in London that are a little more sensitive to this issue.

    Also, to say ‘if you actually bothered to watch the show’ is also very assumptive – how do you know I don’t? As far as I am aware they don’t break down the votes by nation anyway so how would you be able to substantiate your point? I would be interested to know more than anecdotal evidence, happy to be proved wrong.

    Can you also qualify your argument that 2011’s result was political? From what I see many western (pre-1993) also voted for AZE – the votes were much more diluted, granted, AZE was not a run-away winner which probably helped shoe-horn All and Nikki into 1st place – but there is no denying AZE try very hard to win – and they have been proved the most successful nation so far (average position 4.2 in 5 entries). Perhaps there’s something for us all to learn from AZE, as distasteful as that may be.

    The fact of the matter is this is democracy at work – democracy is not always a good thing – you will not always agree with the result – obviously – culture and promotion will always affect the result to some degree – this is the best system we have – I would be very happy for you to outline some viable alternatives for all of our perusal.

  31. SamB says:

    I think this is my favourite conversation I had about the UK entry (before the contest):

    Colleague: “we’re entering Engelbert Humperdinck this year, right? He won’t do very well”
    Me: “why not?”
    Colleague: “it’s all political voting, Europe never votes for the UK”
    Me: “we came 5th four years ago, with the Andrew Lloyd Webber song”
    Colleague: “oh yes! But that song was *good*”


  32. Ciaran says:

    “Also, to say ‘if you actually bothered to watch the show’ is also very assumptive – how do you know I don’t? ”

    Because whether you believe the Scots vote unfairly or not, to deny all knowledge of it even being a concern proves you don’t watch it. You clearly live in fairyland and believe all countries vote fairly in ESC, but at least you KNOW OF peoples anger towards it. You didnt even know there was complaints about Scotland.

    It used to be Ireland and Scotland, who would always vote en masse for their acts. Cowell blocked Ireland for voting for I believe 3 years, because of it, as they were allowed to vote in a UK competition and held undue influence. I think they are allowed to vote again now though, and largely the problem has not re emerged.

    Scotland however still poses a problem. IN BGT 2011, they swung the result, because the English vote was split 9 ways and all the scots voted for a man called jai mcdowell who no one even predicted would win. A similar thing in X factor 2007 with Leon Jackson, no one predicted that, but again Scotland voted en masse.

    As for Eurovision 2011, if you take away Azerbaijans neighbour votes, diasporic votes turkic votes etc they would be very far from the winning post, so it did influecen the result.

    Sweden, however, even if you take out the northern country votes would still be the winner, so neighbour voting didnt decide

  33. Nadine says:

    Neighbour votes, dispora and many other reasons can be easily found when there is need to find someone to blame. But to reach top 10 you just need to send one of these:
    1. Breathtaking PERFORMANCE that makes you sit with open mouth and maybe even totally silenced for a few seconds after it is finished.
    2. Funny or romantic catchy song that you can imagine PLAYED ON AVERAGE RADIO somewhere between Robbie and Adele, song that you can sing along in your car on your way home after hard day.
    3. Song you can dance along with your friends when COMPLETELY DRUNK and laughing about this fact, saying “wtf was that” next morning.
    + good vocal
    + good filming of the whole entry
    P.S. Sorry for my low language skills )))

  34. Steven says:

    And your viable alternatives Ciaran?

  35. togravus says:

    Last night I watched the semi-finals with BBC commentary and was really shocked that the male commentator said that San Marino was his favourite because (attention! lamest point ever) “that song was so ESC”. With a commentator like this it is very hard for people in the UK to take ESC seriously. I suggest to sack that guy because he obviously does not have a clue what ESC is about these days.

  36. Ewan Spence says:

    To be fair this is how many in the UK Media do perceive ESC in the UK, and therein lies the problem. The reinforcement of this attitude means the many people watching will follow the lede handed to them by the press.

  37. togravus says:

    @ Ewen

    But isn’t that attitude sort of schizophrenic? You pick the trashy ones as your personal favourites but expect the rest of Europe to vote for a quality act like UK 2012. (Well, Engelbert is only in 22nd place on my personal list but I acknowledge that it was a serious effort. If only the song had been over at 2.10 minutes. ‘Love Will Set You Free’ would have been 20 places higher on my list then.)

  38. Ewan Spence says:

    Did I ever say the rest of Europe should vote for Humperdink? But yes, agreed on that viewpoint given Mills’ choice of San Marino as his personal favourite. The inertia of the UK press is the biggest challenge the BBC have every year, and I suspect this is why many artists will not step up for UK2013.

  39. togravus says:

    “Did I ever say the rest of Europe should vote for Humperdink?”

    I did not intend to imply that you said so but was referring to the BBC’s commentary and the reactions in the UK media after the final.

  40. Ewan Spence says:

    Yep I realised that about five minutes after posting :-p

  41. Ciaran says:

    San Marino was one of my favourites, I think I had it 4th.
    I am just as much a fan of the ESC as you guys, but I am a fan for different reasons.

    I tune into Eurovision every year, and follow it religiously, not to discover the next Abba or Celine Dione and discover a chart hit.

    I love it for the campness, the stereotypical ESCness.
    I always create 2 lists, my personal top 10, and what I think will be top 10.

    Incidentally, while many of my personal top 10 do flop, such as San Marino, Austria, Latvia etc

    Every year, one of my 10 gets into the top 4

    2003 Turkey 1st
    2004 Ukraine 1st
    2005 Romania 3rd
    2006 Finland 1st
    2007 Ukraine 2nd
    2008 Armenia 4th
    2009 Turkey 4th
    2010 Germany 1st
    2011 Sweden 3rd
    2012 Russia 2nd

  42. Jens Ole says:


    No Ewan it’s certanly not political but it says a lot about the people watching the show, and lesser about the performers and their ability to sing. If you check you will find that Sweden and Russia were the only two that got votes from every other country – but one, and the made me think…

    It’s very hard to take the contest serious after this result, ’cause it means that the majoirity of the public don’t give a s*** about the song or performer, but just want to see some old grannies make a fool of themselves. If it was the song or singer that counted then Spain or Norway would have been between the top 10 at least.

    The Eurovision Song Contest has become just as embarrassing to watch as the casting to X-factor, where you also see those old grannies or completely untalented people make a fool of themselves on television… and the viewers just loooove it! I find it hard to believe that the good artists – or the musiclovers amongst the viewers! – will continue to go to ESC if the lowest common denominator will decide who wins…

    I’m very sad that this fine contest has turned out to be of this poor quality, but I must acknowledge that this is what the “masses” want 🙁 But as I said one can’t accuse the voters for beeing political, just plain “middle of the road”

    I have listened to all your podcasts Ewan, and even you and your team held Norway for a winner along the way, and I’m impressed that you can keep your spirit up after this contest! But maybe I’m just to ambitious and expect too much from ESC… well it’s just television like a lot of the other contests with ordinary people without any talent…

  43. Polle says:

    Funny… How people seem to filter out results that disprove their point.

    It’s not the Eurovision Singer’s Competition. If you want that, there’s the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition for singers, held every four year in Brussels (The final is always held on the same final-day of the ESC, btw). It’s a songwriters competition. The way the songs are performed is important too, but by no means it was ever meant to be a competition to judge who’s the best singer.
    And even if it were, I think the top 5 has been well gifted with Sweden, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Albania sending talented performers. Add to that the nifty sixth place of Estonia, and I really don’t know what the bitterness is all about.
    “Oh no!1!!! The Grannies! They’re an old joke!” To us ESC-fans maybe, but a lot of people only saw their endearing act for the first time. And liked it.
    As long as people are allowed to vote for their FAVOURITE song/act, whatever comes out on top, is something which is liked by the majority. Nothing indicates that this has to be a top quality, high-cultured entry.

    The Eurovision Song Contest is there because it’s entertainment that can be enjoyed by all generations. The televoting aides in feeling a part of the show. So, people not only tune in to see the good songs and the bad songs, but also want to take part by voting. The result is of course the vote of the majority.

    The fact that Spain and Norway didn’t end up high enough in some people’s regard, doesn’t mean anything, really. It’s not an objective criterion. For me one of the best performances/songs that night were by Macedonia. But that’s just my OPINION.

    When I look back at the 2012 contest, all I will remember is how most of the best vocal performances and acts managed to qualify, how the big five stepped up big time and that authenticity (Russia’s grannies included) still has a place in Eurovision.

  44. Eric Graf says:

    “it’s certanly not political but it says a lot about the people watching the show”

    Like you, for instance? 😉

    It’s the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s 57 years old, and it’s watched by a bazillion people. You obviously know what sort of acts do well in it. They’re going to continue to do well in it, and nobody is going to change it for you.

    So frankly, it’s your move. Not theirs.

    If your move is to whine about it every year for the rest of your life, then fine. But don’t expect us to be impressed. Personally, I enjoyed the Grannies’ performance, key words here being “enjoyed” and “performance”. Sorry if I’m contributing to the downfall of civilization.

  45. Eric Graf says:


    Hey Polle … +1 on Macedonia. The more I listen to that song, the more I think that it was one of the most brilliant, challenging, artistically valid songs in the whole contest. On first listen, the lyrics sound like a random string of rhymes, but they most definitely aren’t.

    Terrific work, just the wrong venue for it.

  46. Jens Ole says:

    @ Polle + Eric Graf
    Well I’m glad you clarified this for me, ’cause I have apparently got it all wrong and was expecting too much from ESC… But if I take your view on it we might as well all go to and get entertained from all the funny and crazy videos there, and then shut the whole ESC down…
    And thats excatly my point here… do we really want to let the ESC become a second youtube/Xfactor/Voice, or do we want to see what the countries in Europe regard as quality performance?

  47. Eric Graf says:

    Eurovision is just fine the way it is. It’s in no danger of shutting down or becoming X Factor.

    You may go watch YouTube instead if that’s what you want to do. In fact I’d encourage it.

  48. Eurovision will always be Eurovision, it is a melting pot of cultures and styles. Every year there will be songs that we all wonder how it did not do better and there will be songs that no one knows how it did that well. Yes you may be annoyed by the Russian Grannies but Russia chose them and they stole the hearts of Europe, they were entertaining. If Eurovision did not have novelty acts in it that liven up the show in places then it would not be Eurovision.

  49. Thomas says:

    Jens Ole, you can´t be serious to compare Spain and Norway. Spain had the best singer of the night while Norway had the worst. Tooji was out of tune during the whole song and that´s why he came last. Based on your name you are from Norway and that´s why you don´t see clearly. I also really liked the norwegian song but based on the performance I did not wote for it. It´s the same reason UK came second from last.

  50. […] is something I talked about on ESC Insight after the 2012 Contest. I suspect that a lot of the negative coverage of the UK’s 2013 coverage was because the BBC […]

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