Eurovision 2012: Split results analysis

The announcement of the split results between the juries and televotes is an opportunity for endless analysis. Our readers have made an excellent start on it in reaction to yesterday’s initial quick post highlighting the publication of these results.

The bigger picture for me is that, in general, the jury vote continues to be far less predictable than the televote. Which is not to say there were no surprises in the televote. Most notably, Ukraine’s poor performance among the viewing public could have been very painful for the likes of Panos and myself, had the juries not come to its rescue.

Nonetheless, in the main it’s still easier to predict which songs will fly with the public than with the juries. Here are my reactions to the split results in greater detail.

1. The unusually skewed televote helped the big hitters… mostly

The enormous popularity of Sweden and Russia, leaving the rest in their wake, was the main feature of the televote. It meant that a mere 89 points was enough to see Greece and Ireland respectively take 9th and 10th spots in the public poll, which is comparatively lower than you would expect with 42 participants – only Lordi’s year comes close.

This largely played into the hands of other big hitters with their guaranteed points. Four of them – Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Azerbaijan – were in the televote top five. It was no surprise to see Romania, who also have their fair share of friends, score as high as 7th.

It was a surprise, however, that Greece only just sneaked into the televote top ten. On the day of the final, I’d expected Greece to get a split result much like the one Turkey ended up with: 176 points and fourth in the televote; 50 points and fifth from bottom with the juries.

However, while Eleftheria Eleftheriou did marginally better than Can Bonomo with the juries, the Greek diaspora refused to put its weight behind her. 89 points was a far cry from recent televote scores of, from 2011 backwards: 176, 152, 151, 218, 139 and so on.

You could wonder if this has something to do with the Greek diaspora patriotically wanting to spare their mother nation the expense of hosting 2013. But I think the simpler conclusion is the correct one: cheap Greek ethnopop has had its day… even with the Greeks.

2. So what was the fanwank?!

Fanwank is a term to describe the fan favourite before the contest that fails to connect with the wider voting pubic. Each year it happens, and 2012 was no exception. There were a few likely-looking contenders this year, with some suggesting beforehand that Sweden would win the undistinguished accolade.

I had suggested before the contest that it would be Cyprus. Ivi’s televote score was a point less than 2011’s fanwank ‘What About My Dreams?’ managed, admittedly with one less participant. Nonetheless it seems unfair to give her the accolade after she sailed through to the final, proving me wrong.

Other fan favourites performed much worse with the voting public. Spain needed its jury 5th to lift it from its televote 18th. Iceland, in the top five of pre-contest fan polls, scored 19th with both constituencies. But perhaps we need look no further than Norway, easily in the top ten of those fan polls but bottom of the pack on the night.

3. The juries still like well-sung ballads

And the Pope’s still giving Mass. The skewed televotes of 2012 allowed for an even more significant boost for the well-sung ballads we already knew the juries tend to favour. It was enough to get Estonia and Spain into the top ten – though, to be fair to Ott, he wasn’t far off it in the televote.

Albania’s victory with juries in the semi and strong performance on the final scoreboard (8th in the televote, 3rd in the jury vote) was another example, and we can reasonably add Italy’s mid-tempo number (17th and 4th).

Apart from Sweden the only upbeat numbers in the jury top ten were Ukraine and Moldova. Who would’ve guessed that? Which brings me to my next point.

4. Juries punish uptempo stuff… sometimes

It remains tricky to work out which upbeat numbers will find jury favour and which they will punish. Plenty did very well with this constituency in Baku. First and foremost, we have a Swedish dance track running away with the jury vote, though eurovicious has some wise words on their positive response to the way ‘Euphoria’ was presented.

Arguably more surprising was that other upbeat entries I had put in a file marked ‘not jury friendly’, such as Cyprus, France, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Malta, actually did rather better here than with televoters. (Actually, as Nick D reminds us, you should scratch Malta from that list.)

Emma usefully compares Ivi Adamou to Getter Jaani from 2011, and it’s worth reiterating that Ireland’s Jedward, like Estonia, out-performed in the jury vote last year too. But then, the twins’ failure with juries this year, and that of Norway’s Tooji as well as Turkey’s Can, shows that it’s more difficult to know which upbeat songs the juries will decide to tolerate.

This leads me on to a discussion of Russia’s respectable eleventh position with juries with the execrable song that was ‘Party for Everybody’. It seemed safe to assume that this would not get much love here, especially as last year seemed to indicate that juries among the Soviet bloc were happy to ignore the former motherland.

So how do we explain a respectable eleventh? I suggest that certain juries are not so different from televoters after all. They voted for what they saw as the most memorable act, just as plenty of juries are perfectly happy with something upbeat, disposable, contemporary and relatively well performed.

Predicting what they will think fits into the final category remains, however, a bit of a puzzle. I’m inclined to agree with one of several excellent points made by sonovox that Gaitana and Pasha were rewarded for elevating their songs beyond its bare bones with two really strong performances. However, having watched Anggun’s ropey performance in the relevant rehearsal, her 85 jury points are a complete mystery to me.

5. They can also punish middle-of-the-road entries

The heartland of MOR Eurovision entries, Denmark, surprisingly came sixth-last with juries this time around. Germany, with a song that was so middle-of-the-road it might as well have been representing Denmark, did better with televoters than juries. Iceland would not have been in the final at all had it been down to the juries alone. What was going on here?

Perhaps it’s best to take these on a case-by-case basis. It’s worth bearing in mind that Soluna Samay had been initially off-key for the semi jury rehearsal, and so jurors may have been less minded to be generous in the much stronger final (the same could be said of Turkey’s Can Bonomo).

Meanwhile, the telegenic Roman Lob was nicely drawn for televoters and still managed something respectable with the juries. Iceland’s ‘Never Forget’ never allowed the vocalists to shine: Jonsi’s switch to a lower key didn’t do much for harmonising with a nervous-looking Greta.

Nonetheless, one might reasonably have expected all three of these MOR entries to have been more jury-friendly than they proved to be. Just as with the upbeat numbers, it’s harder to extrapolate in more general terms what the juries are up to. Ultimately, every entry has to be considered on an individual basis, and even then you can never be sure.

This philosophy goes for a general conclusion as well. The results are predictable and shocking in equal measure, which is part of the challenge and charm of Eurovision – and gives us plenty to chew over in anticipation of 2013. Your further thoughts and theories? Please keep the debate going below.

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21 comments to Eurovision 2012: Split results analysis

  • Nick D

    But I think the simpler conclusion is the correct one: cheap Greek ethnopop has had its day… even with the Greeks.

    I think this may be correct, but emphasis should be placed on cheap. Greece’s easy pop in past years has come accompanied with spectacularly good staging, be it Kalomoira’s “open book” or Sakis’s giant stapler. This year’s really seemed a gimmick short of a performance to lift it – also, it was an unusual year in that Cyprus were fishing the same waters with an arguably better package.

    Certainly if Greece roll up in Gothmaholm next year with (H)elena Paparizou singing ‘My Number One v15.0’ aloft a giant LED-covered block of feta that opens up into a full Greek salad on the final chorus, I’d not want to discount it.

  • Nick D

    As for the French conundrum… hmm, we helpfully know that every scoreboard point they got came via juries, and can surmise that Bosnia, Iceland, Sweden, Latvia, Switzerland and Austria probably awarded at least 7 jury points each for about half their total.

    I suspect that in several cases, one or two jurors absolutely adored the song and piled in so heavily that it registered with the complete jury. Two 12s go a long way when the maximum score is only 60…

  • Emma

    Great article. You make a good point about the juries not being so different than the televoters. I keep imagining them as a secret music government, old men with powdered hair and dated taste in music but then I have to remember that Eric Saade and the like are on juries and the Babushkis’ success makes a lot more sense. And the safe entries being punished makes sense too–perhaps juries, like televoters are wont to do on occasion, forget about the MOR stuff. I suggested on another site (or this one and I’m just repeating myself) that the likes of the UK and Ireland were punished for trying too hard/sending a repeat performance. The UK sending a world-famous singer in a blatant attempt (like last year) to collect familiar votes is a cheap strategy and in its own way, playing it safe. BBC or whoever picked EH probably figured they didn’t need a stand-out song, a stand-out name was enough and that’s really not in the spirit of the contest. Ireland sent a less well-performed more desperate version of last year’s top 10 entry–and come to think of it, Norway did the same thing (though they tried to duplicate Sweden’s entry)–another playing it safe strategy. Greece too tried to repeat a successful formula and flopped. Perhaps the new jury criteria is well-performed AND original recipe? All the past jury winners have stood out as such, particularly the likes of Rybak, Lena, and Loreen.

    Another comment that gives us something to think about next year: I was recently visiting with my mother and aunt and my mother and I were (badly) singing along to one of the few ESC entries she likes, Drip Drop. My mother explained to my aunt that “it didn’t win but it did really well and they won next year, so this song got Azerbaijan’s foot in the door.” Which got me thinking. Last year, Eric Saade got Sweden’s foot in the door with his third place after a string of bad results. Danny Saucedo commented that “it was Sweden’s year” which I agree that it was, though Loreen certainly helped with a great song. Safura did the same for Az, getting them on the radar, and while Germany had no such manouver, one can say the same RE Maria Haukaas Strong getting fifth for Norway in 2008 after, again, some bad results (DNQ in 2007, for example). So my question is: will the same thing happen this year? Will any country, prompted by a good result, up their game and win next year? Or maybe they don’t up their game, maybe they’re just on the radar after being only a blip in recent year? Just a thought. Might not happen, of course, but who knows? Sweden certainly got their joie de Eurovision back thanks to Saade, maybe next year Albania/Estonia/Italy/whoever will send us the new Euphoria/Fairytale. Pity we have to wait another eight months to see!

    • Daniel

      Some great ideas here Emma. In the post I should also have linked to my article before the 2011 contest on ‘What do the national juries vote for?’. This post serves as an update to that one.

      I will also reiterate what the EBU told me in 2011 when I emailed them asking for the criteria they gave to national juries: ‘They have been asked to judge the vocals, the quality and originality of the songs, the acts and the overall impression of the performance.’

      • Well, here is my analysis on the matter: http://www.esfmagazine.nl/?p=11856

        I would like to say that Gaitana and Anggun where not that different from other performers with great voices and oozing charisma, like Pastora Soler, Nina Zilli, Rona Nisliu and Ott Lepland. I think that’s why also Anggun and especially Gaitana did very well with juries.

        Actually, beforehand I wasn’t surprised that juries would rate Gaitana high. It was a very charming, professional, up-tempo ‘anthem’, performed very well. And televoters? I do think some racism got in the way in Eastern Europe, sadly to say :-(.

        Look to the events at Euro 2012. Racism is still among us…

  • tpfkar

    Great articles & comments. Most of the detail has been covered so a couple of general thoughts:

    1) I asked after the contest what went wrong with Norway, this was painful given my exposure to UK coming last. I received several answers but it’s only on this thread I’ve seen a convincing one: we took the juries for granted. Just because Eric Saade took 3rd last year we figured that a carbon copy song would get the same result. Well think again – jury tastes change, don’t fit neatly into the patterns we’d like them to (may just be the far smaller sample size) and many of our core assumptions about the jury votes need to be challenged based on what we’ve seen.

    2) If I had to put a label on what did well for juries this year, it would be ‘was it good for genre?’ So they slated Greece / Norway as there were many better examples, but Georgia / Malta / Spain got respect for doing something well, even if it wasn’t much good. Ukraine / Moldova outperformed their songs as discussed. Ireland / UK / Iceland / Denmark got forgotten as there are better examples of the same thing elsewhere, Iceland mostly in the West End. We’ve often thought about whether the song is the best example of its type in the contest, this might work for the televote, but juries seem to punish a song where there are better commercial competition.

    3) Turkey stands out as the exception to (2.) I like the song so hard to be objective but I can’t quite see what the juries had against it. Goes back to (1) that the juries are far less the objective homogeous blob of predictability that we’d like.

    • eurovicious

      Spain not much good? Bloomin’ eck tpfkar! Other than that I agree a lot with your second point.

      • tpfkar

        Spain was 18th in the televote, ’nuff said!

        I liked Slovenia and Latvia so I wouldn’t worry about my own tastes predicting much…

        • eurovicious

          Slovenia had its merits, it didn’t deserve to do so badly… unlike Latvia 😉 don’t worry, my music tastes are all over the place too…

  • Donald

    Wow lots of catching up to do here on Sofabet. Intriguing stuff, juries like a good radio intro,saved the day with Ukraine.
    nite! it is a bet after all..

  • Panos

    In an updated attempt to decipher, as far as possible, the juries’ way of voting re upbeat songs, after the release of the 2012 split results, I came up with the following:

    Juries will have a positive effect compared to the televote on songs that have:
    1. The retro factor (‘L’amore è femmina’, ‘Caroban’, ‘Satellite’, ‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang’).
    2. The catchy-and-respectably-ethnic-riff factor (‘Be My Guest’, ‘Lautar’, ‘Hora Din Moldova’).
    3. The pure-and-simple-pop factor (‘This Is The Night (2012)’, ‘Playing With Fire’, ‘Lipstick’, ‘Rockefeller Street’, ‘La La Love’, ‘Believe Again’).
    4. THE GOOD-SONG-WITHIN-ITS-GENRE FACTOR: LETS NOT DROWN IN FAN ANALYSIS AND FORGET ABOUT THIS! (‘Euphoria’, ‘Satellite’, ‘Fairytale’).

    All the above are of course aided by being well-staged and being led by amazing vocals.

    Juries will have a negative effect compared to the televote on songs that have:
    1. The novelty/party factor (‘Party For Everybody’, ‘Zaleilah’, ‘Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao’, ‘Allez Ola Olé’, ‘The Balkan Girls’).
    2. The quirky-and-ethnicly-rough factor (‘Love Me Back’, ‘Love In Rewind’, ‘So Lucky’, ‘Opa’, ‘Ovo Je Balkan’, ‘Jan Jan’).
    3. The not-so-pure/not-so-simple/cheap/sleazy-pop factor (‘Stay’, ‘Popular’, ‘What About My Dreams?’, ‘Get You’, ‘This Is The Night (2009)’, ‘Run Away’, ‘Dum Tek Tek’, ‘Always’, ‘Be My Valentine’, ‘Carry Me In Your Dreams’, ‘Lose Control’, ‘La Noche Es Para Mi’). This category is flooding with members and is usually prone to bad vocals and messy/OTT performance!
    4. THE BAD-SONG-WITHIN-ITS-GENRE FACTOR: LETS NOT DROWN IN FAN ANALYSIS AND FORGET ABOUT THIS! (‘Aphrodisiac’, ‘Waterline’, ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’, ‘That Sounds Good To Me’).

    Most hurt in terms of overall placing:
    Aphrodisiac
    Allez Ola Olé
    Ovo Je Balkan
    Carry Me In Your Dreams
    Zaleilah
    Waterline
    Love Me Back
    Get You

    Most benefited in terms of overall placing (surprise – small list!):
    L’amore è femmina
    Be My Guest
    Believe Again

    As Eurovicious mentioned in one of his posts, juries seem to be rewarding earnestness, art and gravitas. And as I can see from the list above (and this has been mentioned before), the song needs to really fit the singer to the point of the viewer not being able to imagine anyone else singing it, i.e. they have to make it ‘theirs’. Every element has to be right. Generic and unoriginal upbeat does not work with the juries. It’s already bad enough that an upbeat song is trying to impress the juries. Make it generic and unoriginal and you might as well stay at home!

    Finally, nicely filed in my unexplained x-files drawer are:
    1. Be My Guest: That 7th place is still unexplainably high!
    2. Party For Everybody: That 11th place with the juries is higher than I expected!
    3. Echo: 13th place with the juries? Really??
    4. Popular being 9th with the juries, Stay 24th and Get You 25th.

  • eurovicious

    Nice, Panos. I broadly agree, especially on the negative factors.

    Regarding your final point, “Get You” did poorly in the jury vote cos it’s bobbins, I’m sure. “Popular” did comparatively well because of the staging and “overall impression”, it looked and sounded like an impressive professional package. Tooji bombed because of his vocal and because it looked a mess and essentially had no staging except a bunch of people grinding and leaping around.

    Regarding Ukraine and Moldova’s unexpectedly high jury scores, do we think running order is a factor? (ie. Gaitana and Pasha’s reportedly excellent vocals being fresh in the minds of the juries when they came to vote… however, Kaliopi’s lower jury score would seem to go against this…)

    I’m still waiting for Milan Stankovic’s follow-up, Ovo je Kidderminster. (Seriously though, as much as I dislike Ovo je Balkan, he has a few other good songs like Solo and Face, worth checking out on Spotify/Youtube if you’re into That Kind Of Thing.)

  • Emma

    Agree with this analysis too. As for Popular v. Get You–I think it’s the earnest thing again. Get You felt like a lame concert (“DO YOU FEEL MY HEART BEAT EUROPE?”) and as you said, cheap and sleazy (and badly performed with tacky gimmicks like those jackets). Popular OTOH took itself very, very seriously. It wanted to do well. It was a plea to Europe and the juries no doubt appreciated Sweden’s efforts.

    Maybe Echo got pity points from the juries, who felt bad after they heard it get booed. LOL. As distracting as the staging was, however, Anggun’s vocals were fine (truth be told, I don’t remember them much which I think indicates they were fine) and maybe they thought the song was marketable.

    Ukraine is still a mystery to me. I’m sure the vocals played a part but there must be some other factor in there. It was a bit of a change from Ukraine’s usually forgettable female pop/tacky gimmicks, maybe the juries like it when countries shake it up a little. Greece, after all, seemed to be punished for reverting to a bad example of its favorite genre, though their mediocre jury score last year probably disproves this theory.

    As for Russia, who knows. Could be that the juries are ordinary people like the rest of us and aren’t immune to charm. Then again, it wasn’t taking the contest especially seriously (or at all) and that’s usually punishable by death. Maybe they got points for singing in Udmurt?

  • justin

    Some really good points. For what its worth my key conclusions for next year are:

    1. Keep at the forefront of our minds what Daniel gleaned from the EBU as to what juries are instructed (assuming the same instructions are given next year – something for us to check?)

    2. The first if the instructions (presumably there is a reason why it is first) is ‘vocals’. Its no real surprise that, perhaps with the exception of Italy, the top 7 in the jury vote were generally received as vocally excellent. While the bottom 4 – Hungary, Norway, Ireland and UK were amongst the worst vocally.

    3. A vocally poor act can be saved by strength in other of the criterea – for example Russia was vocally poor but was rescued by its ‘originality’ and ‘overall impression’. Whereas e.g. Norway and Ireland were further punished for their lack of originality.

    Its already been stated that the juries are just a panel of people who happen to be regarded as ‘experts’ but this is not to assume that their ‘overall impression’ of the grannies was not positive.

    4. Originality and strong vocals are an awesome combination e.g. Sweden and Albania this year, Italy last year.

    5. Could juries be similarly influenced by the running order as are televoters? Just a thought this one and requires further analysis. What do we know about how much pre-listening to the songs juries carry out prior to hearing them in running order?

    5. Its easier to impress juries with a ballad. 6 of top 10 were ballads, only 1 of bottom 10 (UK).

    Of course this still leaves lots of questions unanswered and various anomalies, but its a start.

  • justin

    Just read that the UK jury gave Malta 12 in the semi and 8 in the final. For this I cannot give explanation, yet.

    The remainder kind of make sense however:

    http://eurovisiontimes.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/uk-bbc-reveals-jurys-votes/

    • eurovicious

      Yeah, the results make sense from the perspective of UK tastes. Re: Malta jury love, there’s always the bribery theory, but UK/Malta also have a lot of cultural links… however, 12 in a semi with that many belters and 8 in the final is a leetle bit much. Do we know who was on the UK jury? Please someone say Fearne Cotton.

  • Boki

    Today I went to buy some screws, there was music in the shop (not the radio but their own I believe) and suddenly I heard Euphoria. That was a trigger for something I forgot – to type a few comments on the split vote results. It’s a little late I admit but better late than never 🙂
    In overall some shocking results from the juries but that’s what we actually expect from them isn’t it. We don’t call them unpredictable without the reason so each year they give us a lesson in unpredicability (Russia, Ukraine etc.).

    So I’m going through my notes from that time but there are many things already mentioned in the comments, I will keep it short with few conclusions:

    – Vocal mistakes/insecurities are still punishable by the juries in case of a slower/mid tempo song (Iceland, Denmark), up-tempo can survive without hard punishment (Greece, Cyprus).

    – Good vocal performance doesn’t always mean jury votes if the total package is not right (Latvia, Belgium)

    – Eurofans must have some more influence in the semis due to the low total voting numbers (Iceland, Cyprus, Norway). I’m dying to see the voting numbers in the semis comparing to the final.

    – Donny continued the pattern “of last two spots in the semi at least one finishes in top3”, I actually expected Pasha to do it

    – Malta is for some reason pushed again by the juries, shameless they are. Some “dirty” countries just exchange 12’s (Albania – Montenegro) so the juries go along without problems but there is also totally inverse behaviour by some. We know for example the Slovenian jury votes, they did like they want to show us how independent they are so didn’t give the neighbours points they deserve but choosing rubish instead.

    What to do now with all the conslusions from all the commentators, lot of nice stuff there. Before the Sofabet I used to put my own lessons learned in a text file not to repeat the previous errors but things are not so repeatable, it’s more of a periodic function with unknown period.

    So my most important conclusion of this year is: do not trust the conclusions at all! I can already see the next year with even more ballads and twice as good voices (all certanties for top10) and punters cries about Mona finishing only 14th while Rona did so good last year 🙂

  • BTW.

    Loreen has a great new song out. FIrst single from her end-of-October upcoming album.

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