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Newsletter | Is Russia falling out of love with Eurovision? Written by on April 18, 2017 | 3 Comments

This week, the biggest news from Eurovision land is all about who’s not going to be in Kyiv. From a Russian withdrawal to a late arrival from Portugal, John Lucas breaks it all down in the latest edition of the ESC Insight Newsletter.

Ask the ESC Insight team…

As preview party season draws to a close, we asked the ESC Insight editorial team to pick out the performers who most significantly rose… and fell… in their estimations after seeing the entries in a live setting. 

Ellie Chalkley
I hadn’t really given Austria’s Nathan Trent a second thought until London Eurovision Party, but his ready charm and sheer professionalism & hard work made me give Running On Air another listen. 

Ben Robertson
This year one can pick out Anja from Denmark as the singer who, live, blasts everybody else out the park, and I think most fans forgot about the power behind her pipes. Italy does it’s job as we always knew it would, yet the three minute version still is a step backward. Bizarrely, it’s stay-at-home Portugal that rises up in contention, with Salvador becoming the anti-story of the competition, and his three-minute profile video on the official YouTube channel smooth, sublime and so Salvador.

Lisa-Jayne Lewis
You know I’m going to say it… Montenegro! I always quite liked it, but since meeting Slavko in London, fixing his hair extension, skin-frosting the heck out of his perfect cheekbones and generally hanging out with him backstage, I am completely in love! Seeing him perform Space live a few times, it’s now one I really look forward to rolling round on the CD (and one I usually hit repeat on when it’s finished…)

Ewan Spence
Sweden gets a downgrade for me.

SVT’s entries usually mean business, but this year Robin Bengtsson is flying premium economy. He knows the words, he has the moves (or at least the balance on the treadmills), and he can find a red light inside a busy arena. But I don’t believe he has made an emotional connection to the lyrics, and if he can’t do that himself how can he get the audience to connect? I was hoping I’d see some theatricality to his stagecraft from the preview stages, instead I saw the same identikit performance that was technically on point but lacked star power.

Sharleen Wright
Up in my estimations – Bulgaria.

He’s so young and it was always a case of ‘can this kid sell this rather tough song?’. Yes, yes he can. He has charm in spades – wooing everyone in the press at the previews, comes across extremely experienced and settled on stage, and I find him captivating to listen to live.

The song is far better suited to him than that of Australia’s Isaiah, and come the final, I expect him to now steal a lot of points away from the other young male contenders.

Going down – Belgium.

As I always suspected from the small amount of clips available prior to the song announcement, Blanche has a great song for radio – however replicating it live on a massive stage requires her to hold the attention of millions of viewers. She couldn’t even hold the attention of those hundreds at a preview party. She lacks the determination, confidence and charisma; and struggles with the lower register of the song.

John Egan
Georgia is worse than I first thought. The more I hear it the more it annoys me. The niqabi in the preview video is just tacky (Abkhazia anyone?). Austria should be sailing into the top 10. And I want him to duet with Marco on L’Essenziale.

You can read the rest of this week’s newsletter online here. For weekly updates direct to your inbox, subscribe here. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About The Author: John Lucas

A writer and content marketing professional with a passion for getting lost in strange cities and a strange fascination with micro states, John has been with ESC Insight since 2015 and has also had his writing featured in publications including The Guardian, Popjustice and So So Gay. Tweetable @JLucas86.

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3 responses to “Newsletter | Is Russia falling out of love with Eurovision?”

  1. I think it’s fair to draw some comparisons with the Turkey-withdrawal at the contest.

    I don’t necessarily think that the actual delegations and participants fell out of love with Eurovision. But I do think that in countries were the national state broadcasters are tightly run by the state government, which now goes for Turkish TRT as well as Channel 1 Russia, ‘one’ has to communicate clearly to such broadcasters and inform them that the EBU laws are ‘the law of the land’ and not vice-versa.

    On too many occasions Turkey and Russia have actually politicised the contest, by letting members of their political arena blast the contest in almost vulgar and unprecedented ways. If it is for the jury system (TRT) or the fact that Conchita won (Kremlin).

    I think enough is enough. So therefore the EBU needs to communicate much better during meetings of reference groups and heads of delegations. THEY need to show that Russia and Turkey need to adhere to the Eurovision rules and that unjust criticism of whatever sort, that also damages the contest, should not be tolerated. By doing so the EBU also needs to become way more assertive.

    What about communication/expertise workshops in which every head of delegation needs to take part, to address things like:
    –> The differences between political lyrics and historical lyrics, and how decisions by the EBU are made based on these rules.
    –> The necessity of having juries since Eurovision by default is a ‘jury sport’, which needs to be corrected by demographic outlying errors.
    –> Signing documents by all delegations in which every participating country shows respect to participants from all colors, sexes and sexual preferences.

    I know money is involved here as well, and obviously the entrance fees of Mother Russia are very very welcome. But the long-term reputation is at stake here, and with it also lower influxes of money at the long-term. The EBU, and I wrote this last year in this article , needs to get some….ehh….balls.

    If Russia continues to participate as of next year, then this needs to be adressed properly together with Ukraine. And the fingerpointing needs to stop. Both Ukraine and Russia are aware of their own shit mess they made, and they need to show responsibility for that. If not? Threaten with a one-year withdrawal of the contest, similar to Romania last year.

  2. And what I was afraid for, seems to be happening now. Russia seems to be getting in the driver’s seat now and wants to force the EBU to change the current rules in such a way that the televoting gets more influence than the juries. I’m absolutely disgusted by this news :-(.

    This could all have been prevented if the EBU was ‘governing’ the contest in a more transparent, more assertive, and especially stricter way! Now Russia takes over that role. But to be honest….I just hope the EBU now says enough is enough, will seriously improve the jury system (especially transparency-wise, and concerning the nr of jurors per country, 11 instead of 5), and starts some heavy fingerpointing to Russia saying: “The jury system stays, 50%. If you disagree with it, then please get out of Eurovision and follow Turkey’s footsteps!”

  3. Ewan Spence says:

    Gert, You realise that [the first part of] Kirkorov’s argument, about negative voting down all 26 countries, is something we’ve been highlighting as a misstep for years, yes?

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