AUS-TRI-A! AUS-TRI-A! AUS-TRI-A!
Last Place: Germany
Last Place: Germany
Last Place: France
It was a pleasant surprise to us that Austria pulled off the win (although it wasn’t a surprise to Chinavision, who commented on our predictions post). We both thought that Conchita Wurst was going to be hurt by an early draw and homophobia. I can’t say she ended homophobia in Europe, but she did get points from all but four countries (Belarus, San Marino, Armenia, and Poland), and douze points from 13 countries. Notably, she got points from unexpected places: 10 from Georgia, 8 from Ukraine, 1 from Azerbaijan, even 5 from Russia. It was a fairly comprehensive win.
But Netherlands kept up the pace during the voting tally, finishing only 52 points behind Austria and racking up 8 douze points. The Common Linnets also won the Artistic Award (best artist per the commentators), the Composers Award (best artist per the fellow songwriters) and they probably wrested the title of “Best Song That Didn’t Win Eurovision” from Ani Lorak. This podium finish comes on the back of last year’s Top 10 finish. I really hope they can keep their current streak going.
As soon as we published our predictions, Jen regretted not picking Ukraine or Russia for top 10 finishes. I’m with her about Ukraine; the performance wasn’t very good, but I should have counted on some general support for them. But I honestly thought Russia would finish out of the top 10. They only got points from 14 out of 37 countries, but they got enough big points from those countries to finish 7th.
Watching the show, we had an inkling that a couple more of our picks were going to be off base. Specifically, the United Kingdom seemed overwhelmed by it all. We observed several similar cases of nerves in the Semis (e.g., Finland, Ukraine, Russia, Montenegro to name a few), but these folks were able to build off their first performances and were generally much stronger in the Final. The Big Five only get one chance at it, and the greener talent may be more likely to have a case of nerves when it matters.
Kudos to Germany in this respect. Elaiza was similarly inexperienced, but performed with poise. We both picked Germany for last, but as we watched the show, we grew more concerned for France. Twin Twin’s performance felt unfocused and full of aimless movement. When Latvia had similarly aimless movement on Tuesday, we criticized them for being amateurish. “Moustache” is still one of our favorite songs, but we were pretty certain on the evening that they would make few countries’ Top 10 lists.
There’s also a jury story that needs to be told this year. After the voting controversies in 2013, the EBU published detailed voting information. We’ll be taking a closer look at the numbers this summer and putting together our thoughts. Yes, we’ve even downloaded the Excel spreadsheet. That’s who we are, that’s who we’ll always be.
We’ve kind of embraced the fact that as closely as we’ve followed Eurovision for the past eight years, we still haven’t got much better at picking the winner. It’s overly simplistic to say, but the key to victory is broad-based appeal, such that most countries put you in their Top 5. The douze points are nice, but they are more likely to come from traditional allies: again, that’s how Russia finished as high as it did. But to win, you need to pick up those 10, 8, and 7 points from the rest of Europe.
It’s also a simple fact that some songs land an impact the first time you seem them performed and some don’t. Because we follow the national finals, we end up living with all the songs for a long time. By the time they hit the big stage, we have actually have no idea what’s going to have a visceral impact with viewers who are seeing them for the first time. Still, it’s a lot of fun to guess, and if by some dumb luck I happen to pick the exact placement of three entries, then I can pretend I know what the hell I’m doing!