Well that was an exciting finish, wasn’t it?
Perhaps fans who follow Melodifestivalen, the Swedish national selection for the Eurovision, were less surprised by the new voting format. But certainly here in the Auckland jury, everyone agreed that the new method was a massive improvement for the viewers at home. First, we got to see the jury votes. As well, revealing the aggregate pan-viewing televote scores on a per entry basis was both efficient and gripping. Having such masterful hosts also helped (best ever? We’re inclined to say ja).
While it is only mid-afternoon here in New Zealand, we did start our day from the crack o’ Eurovision (06h). We promise more analyses later.
Russia landed the top score four from juries (if you were curious, Ukraine blanked them—and the feeling was mutual), but 21 juries gave Russia zero points, including most of Western Europe. That left Sergey with a measly 130 points after the jury scores was complete. Ukraine’s 211 points included ten 12s; similarly 15 juries blanked Jamala, though they were from across Europe.
Jury queen Dami earned Australia a seemingly insurmountable 320 points. That included eight 12s and points from all but three juries, Czechia, Ireland and San Marino. Adding in nine 10s and six 8s, and Dami Im’s jury score accumulated quickly and consistently. Jurors from every corner of Europe appreciated her.
In fact, the jurors spread their joy quite a bit–though a few entries hoovered up a rather glutinous score (more on that shortly). There was a surprising amount of jury love for Belgium. They scored 130 jury points, including douze points from Australia and Ireland. Well done Laura! Their total of 181 earned them their second top 10 result in a row. The Netherlands, Italy, Israel, France, Lithuania, Spain, Malta, and the UK all scored one 12.
The televote story of the night was Poland. Michał Szpak received a pittance from jurors, a mere seven points: two from Austria, three from Lithuania, and one each from Montenegro and Norway. The support from Lithuania makes cultural sense: Vilnius has been both a Polish and Lithuanian majority city over the last century and still has a significant Polish minority. But Michał scored a massive 222 televote points—the third highest. Added to the paltry support from jurors he earned 229 points; good enough for 8th place overall—Poland third top 10 result ever and best result since 2003.
With Australia ahead by over 100 points after the jury vote, few though Dami Im could be caught; most also realized that Russia’s 130 points from juries made it almost impossible for Sergey to catch Dami. The more pressing question was how plausible was it for Ukraine to score more than 100 points higher than Australia to offset their jury advantage? Many gasped when Dami’s fourth place televote score of 191 points was announced.
After Poland’s we waited to see who had finished second in the televote—and how many votes had they scored? And waited…and waited (damn you SVT, but well done all the same), to hear 323 points for…UKRAINE! That put Jamala 23 points ahead of Dami.
We knew Russia’s televote was the highest, but it would have had to be 404 points to beat Jamala. 361 points was around 40 points short. Victory for 1944.
Happy and Sad
Aside from the obvious joy across Ukraine tonight, several other delegations are doubtless chuffed. Poli Genova proved that taking a second crack at the Eurovision can work, if you make sure you elevate your game. If Love Was a Crime ended up in fourth place—Bulgaria’s best ever result and only their second ever appearance in a Grand Final. Their 127 jury points and 180 televotes show how successful entries can be are both entertaining and musically sound. In 2011 Poli languished in the semi-finals.
Another comeback kid improved on a second attempt: Donny Montell from Lithuania. He took I’ve Been Waiting for This Night (104 juries, 96 televotes) to ninth place in the Grand Final, only the second time team LT has earned a top 10 result. In 2012 he finished 14th with Love is Blind.
France (248 juries, 109 televotes) and Frans Sweden (122 juries, 239 televotes) demonstrated again that pre-qualified entries can still do well in a Grand Final. When Michał defeated two higher profile acts in the Polish national final, few expected him to qualify for the Grand Final. The public got this right.
The joy associated with Czechia’s first Grand Final appearance was short lived. I Stand earned the dreaded null points from televoters and 41 jury points for 25th place. Germany’s Ghost earned a single jury vote and ten televotes for last place. And the UK, whom many thought would break the pattern of finishing in the bottom five earned a decent level of jury support (62 points), only for the voting public to shrug (eight points). You’re Not Alone ended up in 24th place.
Interestingly the Netherlands and Malta, both earned 153 total points. However Slow Down’s 39 televote points eclipsed Walking on Water’s 16, so Douwe Bob ends up 11th and Ira Losco 12th. She joins an extensive list of Eurovision comebacks who performed worse on a subsequent appearance, a list featuring several Maltese, it must be said.
There’s a mountain of data to analyse from this year’s Grand Final; there’s two smaller mountains from each semi-final too. Expect one more article later today focusing on this year’s winner. At which it will be nap time…
Congratulations to Jamala, Ukraine and the Eurovision community. This proves that sending something unique, complex and exceedingly polished can do well at the Eurovision. Even win it!