Joy, Pain and Ambiguity: an Overview of the 2017 #eurovision Grand Final

In many respects 2017 has been a noteworthy one. In this first article we take a look at some of the Grand Final results. This is the first in a series: subsequently we will drill down into particular elements of this year’s results, including detailed looks at the two semi-finals.

Joy

More than fifty years after their début, Portugal’s RTP finally won the Eurovision Song Contest! Amar Pelos Dois topped both the jury and televote score components for an unambiguously massive victory for Salvador Sobral.

Amar Pelos Dois is the first champion sung entirely in a language other than English to win since Molitva in 2007. Remarkably, there isn’t a substantive lusosphere or a statisticaly significant Portuguese diaspora across the various Eurovision voting markets–unlike the Yugosphere that gave Serbia a 72 point “head start” in Helsinki.

In fact this was also Portugal’s first ever top five result. It is also the first time a sibling songwriter/artist team—artist Salvador Sobral and his sister Luisa—created a Eurovision winning entry. As well, Salvador Sobral won his semi-final by a wide (80 point) margin: 370 points in total (197 televotes; 173 juries).

Love enough for…four? (Source: YouTube/Orange Flesh)

A stonking 143 points separated Portugal from the the Grand Final runner-up entry, Beautiful Mess by Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov. His too is a best-ever Grand Final result for his delegation. Kristian’s semi-final victory was even more commanding that Portugal’s: 403 points, including 204 televote and 199 jury points. That was 172 points clear of semi-final runner-up Hungary.

Next up we have Moldova, whose third place is also their delegation’s best ever result. Sun Stroke Project’s Hey Mamma garnered 374 total points, more from the public (264 points; 3rd place) than juries (110 points; 9th place). In their previous appearance in the 2010 Grand Final Sun Stroke Project were 22nd with a mere 27 points.

2017 is the first time the Grand Final top three were all first-time medalists since 1966, when Austria, Sweden and Norway were gold, silver and bronze. However, the 1966 cohort’s wait times—10 years for Austria, 9 for Sweden, 7 for Norway, or 26 years aggregate—were much shorter than Portugal’s (53 years) orBulgaria’s or Moldova’s (13 years).–79 years aggregate!

Put another way: this year’s Grand Final laureates were each record setters. However if there is joy in life there is also…

Pain

For most delegations in most years finishing 6th overall would be viewed as a success…unless your entry was one of the most heavily favoured ones in recent years.

Many fancied Francesco Gabbani’s chances to be only the second person ever to complete the Sanremo-Eurovision double with Occidentali’s Karma: Gigliola Cinquetti’s 1964 Non Ho L’Eta remains the only song to do so. Perhaps it was having to chop nearly a minute out of the original track to meet the 3 minute rule. Or maybe it was the intimacy of the Sanremo venue versus the big stage in Kyiv: it seemed Gabbani got swept up by the crowd and channeled his energies to the cheap seats in the arena rather than to the viewers at home. It could have been a combination of these (or other) elements?

In context, however, Italy should not feel too disappointed, particularly compared to two of our other Big Five broadcasters: both Spain and Germany continue to struggle at the Eurovision, languishing in 25th and 26th again. Do It For Your Lover was an entry Eurobubble pundits had long picked for last place, but null points from the juries and Manel Navarro’s epic gallo in the the Saturday night show sealed Spain’s fate.

 If only the surfers had wiped out too (Source: Youtube/Dani elmasdivo)

Levina’s Perfect Life is perhaps easier to explain. Perfect Life is a decent, serviceable pop song. Levina almost always delivered her vocal note-perfect (but not so on Saturday when it mattered most). But the rather bland staging of the German entry in greyscale did not make it stand out. Lavina herself being dressed in grey cemented the overall blandness.

This should serve as a warning to all heads of delegation: there is a difference between safe and bland, in terms of the Eurovision. Bland is never a good idea.

From joy to pain

Twenty songs earned their slots in this year’s Grand Final thanks to a top 10 finish in their semi-final. Alas there are only 10 top ten place in a Grand Final: if there are any strong entries from the six pre-qualified entries (this year there were two: Italy and France), that potentially leaves even fewer slots at the top of the leader board for the qualifiers. There are also twice as many countries voting on Saturday night–which could mean improving your ranking or seeing it tumble. In other words there are a certain 20 decent or better entries. Inevitable, some will stumble.

But 2017’s biggest stumble is Israel’s. Imri’s. I Feel Alive qualified Israel third from the second semi-final after performing in the final slot on Thursday night. We knew that either Israel or Moldova would be the Grand Final opener—and whichever one was ranked lower in its semi-final (or, if identically ranked, whichever had a lower televote score) would sing first on Saturday night. When Israel was given that slot we should have know that Moldova was first or second in its semi-final, as it was given a much better draw. Hey Mamma had a lot more points and momentum going into the Grand Final as well.

Having no days of vocal rest also took its toll on Imri’s voice—whom already wasn’t always pitch perfect prior to its semi-final. Missing the big notes—both of them—on Saturday night must be one of the reasons the Israeli televote score collapsed from 132 points to just 5 points. Harsh.

There’s a ton of other fascinating stuff in the semi-final data—stay tuned to the site.

Polish Diaspora: Nie

Kasiá Moś’s Flashlight qualified in 9th place in semi-final one. Her score was almost exactly evenly split: 69 points (58%) from televoters versus 50 points (42%) from juries. In the Grand Final Poland finished 22nd with 64 points: 41 points from the public (64%) and 23 points from juries (36%_. But let’s look from where Moś’s public points came:

Country Semi-final Points to Poland Grand Final Points to Poland
Sweden 6 5
Georgia 3  –
Albania 2  –
Belgium 8 4
Azerbaijan 1  –
Greece 2  –
Moldova 3  –
Iceland 5 3
Czechia 8  –
Cyprus 3  –
Armenia 2  –
Latvia 3  –
Italy 8 3
Spain 3  –
UK 12 10
Austria X 2
France X 1
Germany X 2
Ireland X 7
Netherlands X 1
Norway X 3

X –denotes voted in other semi-final

In its semi-final Poland earned televote points from 15 out of a possible 20 countries, which is rather comprehensive.Kasia Moś’s lone douze points in the semi-final televote came from the UK—there is a massive ex-pat Polish community there. This score dropped slightly to 10 points for the Grand Final (Bulgaria scored top marks from the British public on Saturday). In the Grand Final Poland’s points came from 11 out of a possible 41 countries. Ireland, which also has a large Polish diaspora community gave Flashlight 7 points. Saturday night.

National Final Performance (Source: YouTube/Eurovision)

But comparing year to year , Grand Final to Grand Final, the 2017 result shows demonstrably that The Color of Your Life was third in the 2016 televote because it was a compelling entry that showcased Szpak’s amazing voice. And that Kasia Moś, who described her qualifying for the Grand Final as “perhaps the first time in my life I’ve felt really proud”, achieving her place largely on merit.

FYI after Poland’s 69 semi-final televote points, Armenia (qualified 7th) was next on 65 points, followed by Azerbaijan (8th place; 61 televote points) and Greece (10th place; 54 points). Finland was 11th in the televote (but only 12th overall, behind Georgia), but with only 51 televote points. So the Polish diaspora was not the deciding factor in terms of who earned the 10th qualifier slot.

Diaspora? Yes. Game Changing diaspora vote? Not even close–otherwise Lithuania (whose Polish minority is larger than its russophone one) would have given Moś a lot of points (rather than none).

Ambiguity and skew: another year of jury and televote divergence

Norway’s 10th place on Saturday night is significantly due to jury love: Grab the Moment grabbed 129 jury points (6th place) versus 29 televote points (15th). Even more strikingly, Australia finished in 9th place overall, despite being ranked 25th by televoters: a mere two points from the public. Their 4th place jury ranking (171 points) kept Isaiah afloat. Australia 2017 is ostensibly the antithesis of Poland 2016: Michał Spzak’s 8th place overall in 2016 from 3 jury and 222 televote points.

Coming Up

We’ve got a range of articles planned over the next several weeks, looking at:

  • Each semi-final analyzed in detail
  • The Pre-Qualified entries
  • Blocs and diasporas
  • Other marvellous things

Questions? Concerns? Complaints? Please use the comments section below!

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