Which National Finals Sent The Right Songs To Tel Aviv 2019?

Which National Finals Sent The Right Songs To Tel Aviv 2019?

Netherlands Were Right To Choose Duncan Laurence

It won. Simple.

But looking beyond that, the internal selection of Duncan Laurence and the move away from Americana into something that feels ‘of the moment’ was a great move. Having spoken to Laurence, it looks like the initial push to submit ‘Arcade’ came from his Voice mentor Ilse DeLange, who was sure it would do well at the Eurovision Song Contest even though Laurence was sure it was a song better suited to Spotify.

Arcade’ has topped the Spotify charts as well as the Eurovision scoreboard.

Iceland Was Right To Choose Hatari

With no qualification to the Grand Final since Pollaponk in 2014, RUV came into the season needing to break a run of four non-qualifications. Although Söngvakeppnin featured a number of familiar names and songs that were built from the same mould as ’Unbroken’ and ‘Our Choice’, there was an alternative that could break the dead-lock.

Step forward Hatari.

In addition to the light they were able to shine on the darker areas of both Israel’s hosting and the limits of the ‘non-political’ Song Contest rule; Klemens, Matthias, and Einar created a passionate international fan-base and brought an under-represented genre to the Contest.

You can be sure that Hatari’s impact on the Contest will be remembered across the community in the same way as Iceland will remember its return to the Top Ten.

Norway Was Right To Choose KEiiNO

Because sometimes you just need three minutes of happiness.

Last year’s MGP was a wonderful TV show, but in Eurovision terms Norway was essentially coronating Alexander Rybak. But a bit further down the playbill you found Tom Hugo singing ‘I Like I Like I Like’ and Alexandra Rotan duetting with Stella Mwangi (Norway 2011) on ‘You Got Me’. Looking back, those appearances felt like a try-out for the main event – and it was noticeable that Stella and Alexandra too to the 2018 preview circuit ‘You Got Me’ as a warm up act for the various concerts.

They both knew how the circus worked. All it needed was a song that matched their infectious energy… at which point our musical Aragorn of the North comes into focus. Fred-René Buljo brings his mix of Sami and rap to the pop and schlager of Tom and Alexandra.

Schlagerjoik is born (please let it live long enough for at least one album) and Norway go on to (a) beat Sweden (err…  maybe not) and (b) top the televote with Spirit In The Sky.

Albania Was Right To Choose Jonida Maliqi

Given that Festivali i Këngës chooses a song for Albania (the ticket to Eurovision is a bonus, not a mission), the decisions isn’t necessarily about choosing Jonida Maliqi, it’s about the decision to not fiddle with the song (beyond the three-minute rule and sorting out a backing track) and trust Maliqi to bring all of her talent and power to the stage in the Tel Aviv Expo.

Authenticity is a word that gets thrown around a lot when discussing Eurovision performance, but this is a classic example of just that. In hindsight it was always qualifying.

Malta Was Right To Choose Michaela Pace

Much like Iceland, Malta’s PBS has been on a run of poor results, with Ira Losco’s ‘Walk On Water’ the only highlight in the last few years. The National Final system under MESC continued to sport the same faces with younger singers building up skills and experiences, but when you can call the winner of MESC by working out ‘who’s turn it is’ when the entry list is released, then something needs to change.

That change was The X-Factor. The long-running franchise debuted on PBS during the 2018/19 season, with the winner getting the Eurovision ticket. The rules of X-Factor also pushed out many familiar faces from MESC, clearing the way for Michaela Pace to break the cycle with a youthful sound and a ‘Post-Margaret’ Eurovision banger in Chameleon.

As for a training ground for future singers, having Destiny Chukunyere (the winner of Junior Eurovision 2015 with ‘Not My Soul’) on backing vocals in Tel Aviv points to a prosperous future.

Spain Was Right To Choose Miki

Of all the contestants at Operación Triunfo’s Eurovision Gala, Miki was the one who looked hungry for the win. There may well have been a buzz around María’s ‘Muérdeme’, but on the night when the scores were being kept, María looked like she wanted to be anywhere else and Miki wanted to be in Tel Aviv.

Let’s put aside the staging choices made by TVE for May (a giant-sized Ikea Billy bookcase knocked over by a Wickerman?) and remember how effortless Miki became one of the party songs of the season.

Portugal Was Right To Choose Conan Osiris

While Conan Osiris did not qualify for Saturday night’s Grand Final, I still think that RTP’s Festival da Canção made the correct decision. Telemóveis’ is a challenging song, mixing art and statement through three minutes of music. It’s not as accessible as a slice of schlager, it takes time to understand the nature of Osiris’ composition and that, along with the stylistic choreography on stage, made qualification a difficult task.

But I would rather see challenging songs at Eurovision than a raft of formulaic three minutes with little to differentiate them.

Those are some of our choices for the National Finals that got it right. Who else caught your eye as being in the right place at the right time? As for the National Finals that got it wrong. that’s coming soon, keep your powder dry for that debate!

Categories: ESC Insight


5 years ago – what has become of Eurovision’s Top 10 from 2014?

5 years ago – what has become of Eurovision’s Top 10 from 2014?

Ruth Lorenzo Receiving her Guinness World Record

Guinness World Records, travelling the world and headlining fashion shows. These are just some of the things that the class of 2014 have been up to since their time at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The year was 2014 and it was Copenhagen’s turn to host the contest as the year before Emmelie De Forest won the contest by a landslide with her Only Teardrops. 37 countries participated in the contest and saw the return of Poland and Portugal after short absences. A whopping 112 Danish Kroner was spent on the contest which was three times more than the expected cost.

Here we look at what the top 10 contestants of that year have been up to since then:

10. Ruth LorenzoDancing In The Rain (Spain)

Ruth has continued with her music career in Spain since competing at the Eurovision Song Contest, rather successfully. Releasing a couple of albums and several singles. In 2016 she achieved a Guinness World Record performing in 8 different cities in Spain within a 12 hour period.

Ruth Lorenzo receiving her Guinness World Record

During this achievement she raised a lot of money for Breast Cancer Awareness.

In 2017 Lorenzo created her own record label Raspberry Records and released her latest album Loveaholic the following year.

9. BasimCliché Love Song (Denmark)

In 2016 Basim’s mother passed away, after already losing his father in 2012 the passing of his mother hit the singer quite hard. The following year he released the single Comme ci comme ça which peaked at number 2 in the Danish singles chart. Basim said that he felt that his parents were speaking to him through the lyrics of the song.

Basim has excelled in song writing and has penned tracks for Japanese Band GENERATIONS and co-wrote Boomerang for Emin.

8. Carl EspenSilent Storm (Norway)

One of Carl’s quirky tattoos

Carl released a couple of singles following his time in Eurovision but seems to have taken a step out of the limelight and developed a love of quirky tattoos which he has been proudly showing off on his Instagram page, clearly showing he has a sense of humour. Recently he has travelled to Poland and visited Auschwitz Birkenau camp as well as the Salt Mines.

7. Tolmachevy SistersShine (Russia)

Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy were booed by the crowd in Copenhagen due to political tensions between their home nation Russia and neighbor Ukraine. This year the twins were part of the expert Russian jury.

In 2018 the girls expressed an interest in representing their country at Eurovision for a third time (they had already won the Junior ESC), however, it wasn’t to be as Julia Samoylova was selected instead to represent the nation, after Russia withdrew from the 2017 contest in Kyiv.

6. Mariya YaremchukTick Tock (Ukraine)

Mariya released a couple of songs after her time in Eurovision, but decided to take a sabbatical in 2018 expressing her desire to travel. Since then she has been absent from most social medias.

5. András Kállay-SaundersRunning (Hungary)

Since 2014 András switched from being a solo artist to starting a band, The self named Kállay-Saunders Band. In 2015 he performed at the Hungarian selection show A Dal as part of the interval act where he performed his own version of the competing songs. He returned to A Dal in 2016 with his band as competitors but only made it down to the last 4. In 2017 he competed in A Dal again with the band where they progressed to the final. András made yet another attempt at A Dal this year but as part of The Middletonz collaborating with rapper Farshad Alebatool. They made it to the final once again but were defeated by Joci Pápai.

Kallay Saunders Band

4. Aram Mp3Not Alone (Armenia)

Aram Mp3, real name Aram Sargsyan, has continued to release music following his time at the contest. In 2016 he participated in a special project to give support to Armenian children suffering with cancer. In 2016, he was the speaking and singing voice of Adult Simba and also the lead singer of Circle of Life. in the Armenian version of The Lion King.

3. Sanna NielsonUndo (Sweden)

Sanna has continued to be involved in Eurovision since her successful third place result at the 2014 contest. The following year she was one of the hosts of Melodifestivalen and was the Swedish commentator for the 2015 and 2018 contests.  In February of this year she released her first album in 5 years Mitt Sanna Jag.

2. The Common LinnetsCalm After The Storm (The Netherlands)

Fronted by Ilse DeLange and Waylon, The Common Linnets gave The Netherlands their best result since 1975. Later on that year Waylon left the band and was replaced by American Jake Etheridge. The Common Linnets, consisting of Ilse, Jake, JB Meyers and Matthew Crosby went on to release an album entitled II which charted in Belgium, Austria and Germany as well as topping the Dutch album chart.

Waylon continued his career as a solo artist releasing 3 studio albums. The Dutch singer entered Eurovision for a second time in 2018 where he finished in a less successful 18th place with his track Outlaw In Em.

Ilse DeLange was a mentor to this year’s winner Duncan Laurence

Outside of the band, Ilse has dabbled in acting and had a reccurring role in American show Nashville as well as being a mentor on The Voice Holland. DeLange was also part of this year’s Dutch delegation and was a mentor of Duncan Laurence who won the Eurovision Song Contest this year in Israel.

1. Conchita WurstRise Like A Phoenix (Austria)

2014 was a huge year for Conchita Wurst, real name Tom Neuwirth which saw her headlining and opening a number of pride festival around europe. That same year she took part in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Couture fashion show in Paris, being given the coveted final spot which is usually reserved for Gaultier’s favourite model.

Last year Tom Neuwirth admitted that he was HIV Positive and had been receiving treatment for a number of years. Earlier this year Tom announced that he would be splitting the name Conchita Wurst into two different characters. Conchita showing the same feminine style of performance while WURST would be more masculine. In March of this year WURST released his first single Trash All The Glam from the album Trust Over Magnitude.

At this year’s contest Conchita joined Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira and Verka Serduchka to perform in the interval. Conchita sang her own version of Heroes. 

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Categories: Eurovisionary


The Netherlands 2020: Host cities that match requirements can apply in a month

The Netherlands 2020: Host cities that match requirements can apply in a month


What does it require to host the Eurovision Song Contest? In about three or four weeks, the cities interested in hosting the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest can start to prepare their bids. Several cities have publicly expressed their interest, but they haven’t yet received the list of requirements.

Selecting the right city for the Eurovision Song Contest is a complicated process. The cities need to submit an official bid which includes a detailed plan for how they can meet the requirements needed to host such a big event. A lot of Dutch cities have already spoken out about their wish to host – but in reality, many of them aren’t aware of just how much it requires. It has been mentioned that the location would need to be available for six weeks – this is a bit shorter time than the 7-8 weeks we previously have written.

The prospect with the requirements is about to be made, and it is expected that potential host cities can receive it from mid June. It will include a date for when an official bid will need to be submitted. Once the official bids have been received they will be reviewed, and the broadcaster will together with EBU make an official decision. It is not uncommon either that the broadcaster asks a team from EBU to visit the country to look at two or three potential arenas before a decision is made.

While we have seen examples of EBU being able to compromise a bit on the requirements, we can get an idea about what is needed based on what the Danish cities in 2014 had to live to up to. These requirements were published in detail following budget-related scandals, and are likely to be very similar to what Eurovision needs next year.

See alsoDuncan Laurence returned home a hero


  • 1 Artists, commentators and sponsors
  • 2 Press center
  • 3 Food, drinks and snacks
  • 4 Eurovision Village and EuroClub
  • 5 Accommodation

Artists, commentators and sponsors

To service the participating artists, a minimum of 30 wardrobes with space for ten people, separate bathing facilities for men and women, 20 make-up tables and 15 hairdresser places were required, plus an overnight laundry with dry clean and a tailor.

For the commentators minimum 50 boxes were needed, just as a lounge for 100 commentators had to be nearby. The boxes had to have space for two people working, air condition, electricity, internet and a good TV signal.

Without sponsors there wouldn’t be any Eurovision Song Contest so of course they have to be taken good care of. Besides sponsor seats in the arena a separate sponsor hospitality area for 700 people including catering had to be available close to where the sponsors would be seated in the arena itself.

After their rehearsals delegations go to see a video recording of it in the so-called viewing room, a recording they can use to request changes. It is mentioned that this needs to be of a size so that it fits 20 people.

It was also specified that green room should be near the stage and able to host 250 people with space for TV light and air condition as well.

Press center

In order to gain good exposure of the contest a press center with good working facilities are needed. This was mentioned to be in the size between 6.000 and 10.000 square metres with phone and broadband connection for 1500 people, with minimum 900 at once. The press conference area should have space for 500 seating journalists plus a podium for TV cameras and a photoshoot area and three sound boxes.

There should also be individual interview rooms, up to eight equipped radio studios and a fan meet & greet room. The press centre should also include a helpdesk with 3.000 pigeon holes (this was dropped for the contest in Tel Aviv), fax opportunities and minimum 100 boxes for storage of photo equipment and a fan desk.

A first-aid room with medical staff has to be available as well just as a smaller press office with working spaces for EBU website team.

Food, drinks and snacks

A total of three canteens operating on a daily basis are required: One for the journalists, one for the working delegations and one for the TV crew.

In the final contract between the host city and broadcaster it was further mentioned that coffee, tea, water and snacks should be provided free of charge in the press center.

See alsoPossible host cities for Eurovision 2020 in the Netherlands

Eurovision Village and EuroClub

A Eurovision Song Contest is more than just a TV show for the involved parts. It is also a party for the local population and the foreign visitors. Eurovision Village should be between 600 and 1.000 square metres and include sponsor exposure and performers for the visiting audience to enjoy.

For nighttime enjoyment EuroClub is open for accredited fans, journalists, delegations etc. and should be open to at least 03.00, be minimum 1.000 squaremetres and have six bars and two stages.


With a total of 10.000 accreditated people for a Eurovision Song Contest naturally good accommodation facilities are needed in the host city. DR wrote in their material sent out to the interested cities that it required a minimum of 10.000 hotel rooms divided with 40% in the lower category (usually 3 stars), 40% medium (4 stars) and 20% high priced (5 stars).

DR also wrote that the hotel rooms must be located in an acceptable distance from the centre of the city and/or the venue.

From an EBU report, DR got their numbers from, we can read that EBU says that the following is needed:

  • Delegations: 1.000 hotel rooms spread over 3, 4 and 5 stars
  • EBU crew, partners and guests: 130 – 190 hotel rooms spread over 3,4 and 5 stars
  • Sponsors: 330 hotel rooms spread over 4 and 5 stars
  • Journalists: 1.000 rooms spread over 3,4 and 5 stars, but can also be hostels, camping cottages and apartments.
  • Fans: 500 rooms suggested spread over 3 and 4 stars, and can also be hostels, camping cottages and apartments. It is clearly mentioned that this number is suggested and not required as it never will be the host city’s task to provide hotel capacity for fans.
See alsoIf another country had suddenly won, the Netherlands would keep trophy and right to host

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Categories: Eurovisionary


Ziggo Dome in or out as Eurovision arena? Duncan Laurence show makes it a close call

Ziggo Dome in or out as Eurovision arena? Duncan Laurence show makes it a close call

Duncan Laurence (The Netherlands 2019)

On the 26th of March 2020, the newly crowned Eurovision winner will give a big show in the Amsterdam arena Ziggo Dome. The date of the show could indicate that this arena is no longer in play for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest – or that the contest will be held quite late.

Update: It has later been mentioned that they “only” need the arena for six weeks. Ziggo Dome is therefore still a possibility if the contest won’t be early May.

It takes a long time to prepare an arena for the Eurovision Song Contest. So long that the arena usually have to be available for crew to move in 7-8 weeks before the final. In the past we have seen big arenas pull out of a Eurovision host race as they simply couldn’t make it available for that duration.

Today, Duncan Laurence announced a show in Ziggo Dome arena in Amsterdam on the 26th of March. The 2019 winner is naturally happy to perform at such a big arena in his home country.

I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe that I am actually announcing my own show on the stage where many of my heroes have performed. One of the biggest stages The Netherlands has: Ziggo Dome!
The 26th of March 2020 will probably be the greatest day of my life. I have no words to describe how I feel right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Duncan Laurence on Facebook

While this will be a great experience for Duncan, question is now whether not Ziggo Dome is out as potential arena for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest? If they are to match the typical 7-8 weeks preparation time, the show will either be very late in May next year, or even early June if EBU would allow it – or somewhere else in the Netherlands.

Ziggo Dome with a capacity of 17.000 is most obvious choice if Amsterdam is to host the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest. Another possibility would be the football stadium Johan Cruijff ArenA, but this is by many considered too large – and also here you would get most in conflict with other arrangements as it is used as homefield for AJAX Amsterdam and later with the arena used for Euro 2020 (June 2020).

See alsoTop favourite Duncan Laurence presents cities for European and Dutch tours

The Duncan show on the 26th of March 2020 makes it a close call with Ziggo Dome. If the Eurovision Song Contest is to be held here, it seems most likely that it will be held very late – and then the crew would stand ready to move in basically as soon as he left the stage. While it might be possible, this however makes it more likely that Amsterdam will not host the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.

Other cities are still in play, but at the moment Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam seems the most likely option – if Ziggo Dome indeed is out. You can check up on this and other possible arenas in our article from the 19th of May.

In the video below, you can see a clip from one of Duncan Laurence’s rehearsals in Tel Aviv, Israel. The ones that finally led to this year’s Dutch victory:

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Categories: Eurovisionary


Questions And Answers About The Voting At Eurovision 2019

Questions And Answers About The Voting At Eurovision 2019

What Happened On Friday And Saturday Night?

Belarus’ jury vote reveal during the Eurovision Song Contest’s 2019 Grand Final was going to be one to keep an eye on. Earlier in the week it had been revealed that the EBU had disqualified the Belarussian jury from voting on the Grand Final. This was because members of the jury had revealed publicly the songs they preferred during the first Semi Final. Jury members should keep how they voted secret until after the Grand Final.

In confirming this to Eurovoix, the EBU also confirmed that for the Grand Final the Belarussian jury vote would be calculated by an ‘aggregated result approved by the auditors’:

The Belarussian jury voting has been revealed in an interview contravening Eurovision Song Contest rules. In order to be compliant with the ESC voting regulations, the EBU has taken action and has dismissed the Belarussian jury from the Grand Final on Saturday. An aggregated result approved by the auditors will be used in order to determine to whom the Belarussian votes will be allocated.

It was therefore a shock for many to see Belarus award twelve points during the jury voting on Saturday night to Israel. Not only was this Israel’s only twelve points, they were Israel’s only points of the jury voting. For this to be an aggregated result means somewhere else Israel must have placed high with the juries…which was visibly not the case.

Something clearly went wrong.

The Belarussian 'Jury' vote as broadcast on May 18 2019 (YouTube/Eurovision.tv)

The Belarussian ‘Jury’ vote as broadcast on May 18 2019 (YouTube/Eurovision.tv)

Members of the Eurovision community were quick to suggest what the problem was. Taking countries in the same pot as Belarus used to split up similar voting countries for the Semi Finals (namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Georgia) and averaging their jury rankings resulted in a jury score that was a perfect match for how Belarus voted.

…if you took their combined last place and flipped it around to be their first place.

Israel was ranked 15th, 21st, 24th and 25th by those four respective countries. This average placment of 21.25 was the lowest scored by any country, but somehow rewarded Israel with 12 points on Saturday night.

A ‘human error’ can be inferred from these numbers; the calculated average was ranked from highest to lowest rather than lowest to highest. The lowest average ranking song (which would have been ‘Chameleon’ from Malta) should have received the 12 points, not Israel.

The EBU have now acknowledged that this is the mistake, and on Wednesday May 22nd revealed a corrected ranking for the Grand Final before updating the Grand Final scoreboard.

How The Results Have Changed

The Belarussian jury vote is only 1/92nd of the total vote in the Eurovision Song Contest, and thankfully there is no controversy over our winner… it’s still The Netherlands, although ‘Arcade’ is now a slightly more impressive winner with a total score of 498 points compared to the 492 points that were revealed on Saturday night.

The changes that exist are further down the table. Sweden becoming the top Scandinavian country – leapfrogging the televote winner Norway into fifth – is the most notable swap. The biggest alteration is in the mid-table. Cyprus and Malta improve two places to 13th and 14th respectively, forcing Slovenia and France down by the same amount.

From a production perspective, the most significant change is that North Macedonia win the jury vote. With 10 points from the Belarussian aggregated score, Sweden’s last minute steal of first place on Saturday night would not have happened. Tamara Todevska would have held the limelight and be leading the Song Contest at the half way mark, and the final head-to-head in the new voting announcement procedure would have been Todevska vs Lawrence.

A Need To Catch Human Error In The Future

That takes care of the facts from Eurovision 2019, but what lessons need to be learned?

The wrong scores were announced on the night, and these could have had a much larger impact. Imagine for a moment a closer result where The Netherlands was awarded the Eurovision Song Contest victory on screen, but the true winner was Italy…

The most troubling aspect has to be the number of checks that missed the error. As the EBU press release takes time to explain, it is Digame who produced the aggregated result; then voting monitor Ernst & Young approved the final results; and at the final level it goes to Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand and the EBU team who give the final all clear live on the Saturday night broadcast. Nobody in this chain spotted spotted the upside-down mistake… although when it was announced Eurovision fans online raised digital eyebrows on social media.

Credit must be given to @Euro_Bruno for his analysis of the jury scores which raised the issue in the community which was subsequently picked up by the world’s media.

@Euro_Bruno investigates the Belarus vote (Twitter)

@Euro_Bruno investigates the Belarus vote (Twitter)

This is the first time an entire jury score has been replicated in this way since 2016, when jury scores and tele votes were split in the Saturday night presentation, but it is not the first mistake in process that has happened.

From individual jurors we have seen evidence of incorrect ranking orders numerous times. Arguably the most notable example is Hilde Heick, a Danish juror from 2016, who intended to place eventual winner Ukraine second last, but instead voted ‘upside down’ and placed Ukraine second. 14 of the 23 point advantage ‘1944’ had over ‘Sound of Silence’ that year was due to that mistake. Other individual jurors, including a number from this year’s Song Contest, have voting patterns that suggest they have voted the wrong way around. Ranking ‘upside down’ has been a problem for years and it remains a possibility that there has been a material impact in this year’s Contest in terms of countries who qualified for the Grand Final:

While the process to determine the Belarussian ‘jury’ vote is different to the ranking from an individual juror, the same mistake has occurred… Eurovision voting rewards those who get the highest points, but jury rankings start from the smallest number. It is easy to see how human error can result in these mistakes. This must be the catalyst to ensure there is increase clarity to the process.

One immediate quick fix would be for each juror and jury chairperson to write down which song is their favourite and input it into the computerised voting form to ensure the ordering has been completed correctly as a ‘check’ on the ranking order

Ensuring Integrity to The Eurovision Song Contest Voting

The Eurovision Song Contest voting is now a battle of two halves, with both jury and televote having equal value. After the EBU’s corrections to the vote, this year we have an unusual situation where neither televote nor jury winner are in the final top 5… and there is nothing wrong with that.

What a split outcome requires though is the need for a demonstrably clean, transparent and fair voting system for the Song Contest. This year we didn’t get that until four days after the live show. The Belarussian jury vote was an embarrassment for the EBU, for the artists involved, and also for the Belarussian broadcaster.

There are also ethics which need to be openly discussed.

Is it ethically correct to use other juries in different countries to ‘simulate’ a Belarussian jury? The countries used to assemble the points may be in a group of similar countries, but their results showcase huge differences. Russia for example received a 1st, 6th and 26th place ranking from those used to construct the vote. Azerbaijan scored a 1st, 2nd and 26th place ranking. Even politically detached Sweden received a 1st place and 9th place…combined with a 15th and 18th place. By accepting that you should take replacement jury points from countries that have a similar voting history, does that mean the result you calculate just perpetuates the perceived issues of political voting?

Certainly one argument to make that would have been to not include a Belarussian jury at all. This has issues for the TV broadcast – as we would therefore not see a Belarussian spokesperson on screen. However making Maria Vasilevich read out a jury score that was quite obviously made up has its own moral dilemma.

The Black Box Of Exponential Weighting

This is not an abstract question for the 2019 presentation. There are a number of issues around voting and point calculations that need to be exposed to public scrutiny to ensure the long term integrity and confidence in the Eurovision Song Contest results.

Firstly, in 2018 the EBU revealed an ‘exponential weight model’ to calculate the points from the 5 jurors. While good in that it mimimises the ability of one juror to destroy the voting power of one song, no set formula for this exponential curve has been formally revealed by the EBU.

ESC Insight’s Ellie Chalkly took a closer look at the system when it was announced last year:

This change to the jury scoring system is a welcome step forwards to a more competitive Contest. It rewards positivity, it diminishes the power of a single juror to negatively impact a song, and it allows strong but divisive songs the opportunity to achieve a respectable jury score ahead of the televote the following night.

Eurovision 2018 scoring chart, Ellie Chalkley

Eurovision 2018 scoring chart, Ellie Chalkley

While these changes are welcome, the formula requires a number of constants that have not been revealed. Without these numbers it is impossible for a third party to confirm the model is working as advertised. Essentially there is a ‘black box’  between the juror scores and the jury points awarded. If the Belarussian jury vote can be incorrect, can we have confidence in the rest of the jury voting process?

Returning to the suggestion that a juror has ranked incorrectly during Semi Final One, we cannot be certain of the impact on the qualifiers because we do not know the exact workings of the black box that calculates the jury points.

It is impossible for a broadcaster and member of the public to themselves calculate and ratify that the result is valid alone. We can model what the exponential curve acts like, but this is not the same as a clear and transparent system. One key model of integrity is ensuring that the model is replicable by others.

The San Marino Televote

As noted, it was a simple average of the juries in the same pot as Belarus that resulted in a correct calculation of the Belarussian jury vote. Each year since 2016 we have had to use a similar aggregate method to calculate not a jury, but a televote. Because San Marino uses the Italian telephone system, it is not possible to guarantee a televote is only made up of San Marinese voters. Instead San Marino’s televote system is “an average result of a representative group of televote results of other countries.”

San Marino’s televote construction sounds eerily similar to how Belarus’ jury result has been constructed.

JESC 2013 singer Michele Perniola reading out the points from the San Marino jury in the Eurovision Grand Final of 2014.

JESC 2013 singer Michele Perniola reading out the points from the San Marino jury in the Eurovision Grand Final of 2014.

Yet whereas the Belarussian jury score appears to have been mathematically simple to construct, it has not been possible to re-construct a San Marinese televote model since 2016. Even their Head of Delegation does not understand how the vote is constructed. Poland’s Tulia were two points away from reaching the Grand Final, and received five points from this constructed San Marino televote. It is easy to imagine if a different group of countries were selected Poland could have scored two more points and qualified for Saturday.

Hiding the process does not protect the integrity of the televote, it simply creates more mystery and raises more questions around the validity of the vote.

Improve The Design By Expecting Mistakes

Mistakes and human error happen, we all accept that. The key is to expect them and design systems that can allow them to be discovered and corrected. Having to change the results after the live show has embarrassed the EBU, Digame and Ernst & Young. Improvements to the design of the jury vote are needed to make sure it delivers the robust result that is expected by the millions of viewers and listeners to the Eurovision Song Contest every year.

However the EBU can not and should not stop now the Belarussian jury vote has been addressed.Clarity and integrity throughout the Song Contest’s voting systems are needed. This year’s incidents can be the catalyst for much needed improvements both behind the scenes and in the package that is presented to the public.

Categories: ESC Insight


If another country had suddenly won, the Netherlands would keep trophy and right to host

If another country had suddenly won, the Netherlands would keep trophy and right to host

Duncan Laurence with the 2019 Eurovision Trophy

Had EBU’s change of points yesterday affected the actual winner of the contest, the rules would have stopped the new winner from getting the honor that follows with winning the Eurovision Song Contest.

North Macedonia had suddenly won the jury voting, and Norway’s top five result no longer existed. Slovenia and France each dropped two places, while countries like Spain, Malta and San Marino gained a few – and United Kingdom got even fewer points than we thought. A total of 15 of the 26 countries in the 2019 Eurovision final saw their position changed yesterday. Another 8 lost or gained points but kept their positions, while only three countries were unaffected by this mess.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) were in the lucky situation that it didn’t change the actual winner outcome. Both the Netherlands in first and Italy in second place kept their positions. Had it been so close between them that this issue, which was due to a calculation error from EBU and partners, suddenly would have put Italy or another country at the top of the scoreboard, things would get really complicated.

It could be as easy as Duncan just handing over this trophy to Mahmood, and RAI then taking over hosting of next year’s contest. The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest however prevent it from being that simple. They clearly write that the winner is the one who, with all the information available had the most points – at the time of the announcement. That announcement is later described as being made on stage by the hosts in the live show.

The respective winners of the Semi-Finals and of the Final shall be the song(s) which, according to all information made available to the EBU Permanent Services by the pan-European voting partner, has/have obtained the highest combined number of points once the results of the National Audiences and of the National Juries have been added at the time of announcement of the results.

Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest section 2.3.3

If the results afterwards change so much that someone else gets more points – that rule makes sure that the winner announced in the live show keeps the trophy and the right to host the country in the following year. One can only imagine the pressure that would have put on EBU (and the Netherlands too) if this rule would have stopped a rightful winner – from actually becoming the winner.

We are glad that it didn’t happen yesterday. Glad that no one can protest against Duncan’s victory and we look forward to the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, somewhere in the Netherlands.

See alsoPossible host cities for Eurovision 2020 in the Netherlands

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