What a night! I spent the evening with (almost) all my Eurovision friends from last year when a whole bunch of former Delegation Hosts and Volunteers from 2016 joined together with the OGAE Fans for a ESC party at Hard Rock Café in Stockholm. It was amazingly fun to watch the musical highlight of the year in their company even though it meant I probably missed some of the details of the show due to various distractions. But thanks to the brilliance of Internet there’s always the possibility to go back and watch the interesting parts again so no major harm done.
When the rehearsals started two weeks ago, almost everyone were certain this was going to be one of the least exciting competition in years with Italy’s Francesco Gabbani’s Occidentiali’s Karma as the indisputable favourite to win the crystal microphone trophy and nobody else even close to challenge him for the crown. But, as these two weeks of rehearsals and Semi Finals went on, something happened and suddenly, just a couple of days ago, it felt like almost anything could happen.
I don’t know when it actually started, but after Tuesday’s first Semi Final Portugal and Belgium suddenly started to climb in the rankings, and after Thursday’s second Semi Final Romania, Croatia, Hungary and Norway did the same. Italy’s Francesco Gabbani was still in the lead up until Friday evening when he eventually was passed by Portugal’s Salvador Sobral who’d been chasing him from his second place for quite some time. Then it got even more exciting yesterday when Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov unexpectedly passed them both in the rankings just hours before the broadcast begun.
On to the show… I don’t feel like I need to talk too much about the competing acts again, I’ve done that already on several occasions here on the blog. Let’s just say almost all participants performed at their very best last night, most of them improving immensely from previous performances during the week. The hosts were still awful, just as expected – but as a Swede I obviously approved of the pre-recorded clip of them trying to get into Eurovision shape coached by our very own Eurovision superstar Måns Zelmerlöw. Expected was also the appearance of former Ukraine Eurovision winner Ruslana who performed the new single It’s Magical, and Jamala’s reappearance from Tuesday’s first Semi Final, this evening singing another new single, I Believe in U.
Not as expected though, was the streaker who crashed the stage during Jamala’s performance, running a lap around the artist on the small satellite stage and then mooning to the cameras before he was quickly escorted off the stage by security. Even though many initially pinned him an Aussie fan – he was wearing an Australian flag after all – he seems now to have been identified as the notorious Ukrainian prankster Vitalii Sediuk.
But let’s get back to the main topic of the evening, the competition. What did actually happen there during that last and most nerve-wrecking part of the show? With 26 acts to review and 42 juries to present their results, things happen so fast you’re likely to miss out of a lot of remarkable stuff. And, with the new voting and presenting system introduced by SVT in Stockholm last year the intense excitement is preserved until he very last points have been delivered. Whatever happens during the delivery of the jury votes, the scoreboard can change entirely in the end when the televoters’ points are presented. Let’s take a look shall we.
The Scoreboard Results after the delivery of the jury votes
The 42 juries put Portugal in pole position, with Bulgaria on second and Sweden in third. The pre-acclaimed favourite Italy only reached 7th place in the jury vote but none seemed to be alarmed by that since their act was always predicted to be a crowd pleaser rather than a jury favourite. At this point the UK was pleased with being in the top ten for the first time in nearly a decade and Australia, who were ranked 14th just before the broadcast begun, could hardly believe they received a rank 4 by the juries. But a lot is still about to happen during the next couple of minutes, notice for example the rankings of Belgium in 9th, Denmark in 13th, Romania in 15th, Hungary in 17th and Croatia in 22nd.
Thing is, at this point we still have all the televotes left in the bag ready for distribution, and to make it as nerve-wrecking as possible these are dealt in order from the lowest to the highest – a tactic that makes the outcome unpredictable up until the very last minute. (Remember last year’s televoting? I nearly collapsed by the tension, held up only by my beloved DH friends up in the delegation bubble…)
But before we proceed to the televotes, let me give you some insights of what’s really at stake here for some of the contestants. Portugal surely looks like a potential winner at this point, but has their special song attracted enough points from the viewers to bring it all the way home? Mind you, this country has never once reached the top five during their 48 previous participations, and they haven’t even qualified from a Semi Final since 2010. Additionally, their song is not sung in English, something most people nowadays say is a must to be able to do well in this competition. (No more than six out of 42 acts were sung in a native language this year, two of them mixing the native language – Spanish and French respectively – with English in the choruses.)
But it’s not only the battle at the top that’s interesting, take a look at the very bottom. Once again Germany is struggling, wishing desperately to miss out on their third last place in a row after finishing in 26th place both in Vienna in 2015 and in Stockholm in 2016. Will they achieve that unwanted hat-trick or will they be able to beat Spain?
The Final Scoreboard Results after the delivery of the televotes
Jury and viewers rarely agree, and sometimes it’s more obvious than usual. When Australia‘s Isaiah, who we just saw in 4th place in the jury vote, only got two points from the viewers, and thereby ranked only 25th in the televote after both Spain and Germany, I almost didn’t believe my eyes. Although this was the most extreme example of the evening, there were more remarkable disagreements worth noticing here. Austria‘s Nathan Trent, who was ranked 11th by the juries got zero points from the viewers, and Denmark, who was ranked 13th by the juries, only got eight points from the viewers pushing Anja down to 20th place. The OG3NE sisters from The Netherlands was ranked 5th by the jury and only 19th with the viewers while Norway’s JOWST, who was ranked 6th by the juries only reached 15th place in the televote.
Others were more appreciated by the viewers, e.g. Kasia Moś from Poland, who got ranked 23rd from the jury and a remarkably higher 12th from the viewers, and Croatia‘s Jacques Houdek, who got a modest rank 22 from the juries but ranked 9th in the televote. Hungary’s Joci Pápai were also loved by the viewers jumping from 17th place in the jury vote to an honourable 8th place in total after being ranked 7th by the viewers. Same goes for Romania’s yodel-rap which climbed from 14th in the jury vote to a 7th place in total after being ranked 5th by the viewers.
Some people mock the tendency of people, viewers and juries alike, voting for their neighbouring countries and call it political voting. I hardly think that’s the case, rather the fact that neighbouring countries often share similar cultures and tastes, in music as well as in other areas. I don’t think Swedes would vote for a really crappy song just because it was from Norway. When we do vote for our neighbours, it’s usually because we just like the song. Greece and Cyprus will always vote for each other, and so will Spain and Portugal. And we should never judge them since we’re just the same up here in the north. Sweden’s highest points, jury and televotes combined, came from Denmark, Finland and Iceland, and our fellow Scandinavian finalists Denmark and Norway also got a lot of their points from their nearest neighbours.
Looking at the total ranking the biggest surprise in comparison to the predicted odds must have been Italy’s drop to 6th place – even after Sweden, who ended up in 5th overall – something nobody would’ve believed if asked just a week ago. Other unpredicted results worth mentioning is, on the positive side of course Moldova’s 3rd place, Hungary’s 8th and Australia’s 9th, but also on the negative side Denmark’s 20th place and UK’s 15th.
And whatever happened to the battle at the bottom? Well, Germany got 3 points from the viewers, landing them on 6 points overall. Spain, who didn’t get any points from the jury, finally got 5 points from the viewers which wasn’t enough to beat Germany, thus saving them from that nightmarish hat-trick.
Myself, I’m proud to notice the Swedish viewers gave their 12 points to one of my personal early favourites, Belgian Blanche, who ended up 4th just 19 points before our own Robin Bengtsson.
If everybody had a reason to say that the wrong song won last year, not many can dispute the Portuguese victory this year. Salvador Sobral, and his sister Luísa who wrote the winning song Amar Pelos Dois, not only got the highest votes from both jury and viewers, but were also given no less than eighteen 12 points, recreating Loreen’s previous record from 2012. Additionally, they also brought home two out of three Marcel Bezençon Awards earlier in the day; the Artistic Award voted by the commentators and the Composer Award voted by the composers.
Portugal’s victory will hopefully encourage more songs performed in native languages in the future – something I’m really looking forward to – but it will also most certainly mean we’re likely to see just as much, if not even more, ballads in next year’s competition – something I’m not equally thrilled about.
Finally, I just have to mention the possibility that this may have actually been Israel’s last entry in Eurovision. This news was published just earlier this week and took us all with surprise. Being a part of the Eurovision family since 1973, the three times winner, who’s also become famous for always hosting the best party during Eurovision week, will surely be missed by all.
The winning song Amar Pelos Dois performed by Salvador and Luísa Sobral