Redefining Eurovision: Who could shine in televote-only semifinals?

Eurovision 2021 scoreboard in action

As the Eurovision Song Contest’s popularity has skyrocketed over the years, so has the curiosity around the factors that influence the all-important televote. This year, for the first time in ages, the semi-final scores won’t include jury votes. In something organisers first decided to spin as ‘people have the power’, viewer votes alone will decide countries qualifying from the two Semi-Finals.

To consider the potential impact of removing the jury element from recent contests, we can examine how the qualifiers for the final might have changed in a hypothetical jury-free scenario. While it is impossible to predict the precise outcomes, we can identify some general trends that might emerge if the contest relied solely on the televote. And for fun, let’s include examples – you’re welcome to add to the list if your Saturday isn’t going to plan.

Shifts in Qualifiers

In a televote-only scenario, some entries that were favored by the jury but didn’t resonate as strongly with the public may not have qualified for the final. Conversely, acts that were popular among viewers but did not impress the jury could potentially secure a spot in the final.

Ryan

In 2018, Ireland ranked sixth in the jury vote for the first semifinal, but only 18th in the televote. In a contest without the jury element, Ryan O’Shaughnessy might not have advanced to the grand final.

In 2021, Romania’s entry – Roxen with “Amnesia” ranked ninth in the jury vote but only 16th in the televote. In a jury-free contest, Romania would likely not almost have qualified for the grand final, as the televote ranking fell short of the top ten.

During the 2017 second semifinal, Estonia ranked sixth in the televote when Koit Toome & Laura performed “Verona”, but only 17th in the jury vote. Their overall combined ranking was 14th, causing them to miss out on a spot in the grand final. In a televote-only scenario, Estonia would have likely qualified.

Emphasis on Visual Impact and Novelty

The televote tends to favour entries with eye-catching staging, memorable gimmicks, or visually striking performances. If the jury element were removed, the contest might see an increase in the number of visually oriented acts, as countries aim to capture the public’s attention and secure votes.

Donatan & CleoIn 2011, Moldovan group Zdob și Zdub with “So Lucky” featured a memorable performance with the band members wearing large cone-shaped hats. The combination of an energetic song and quirky visual presentation helped secure their place in the grand final, despite receiving less favorable scores from the jury.

Poland’s 2014 entry – Donatan & Cleo with “My Słowianie – We Are Slavic” combined a catchy melody with a provocative and memorable stage show. The song’s visual impact and novelty elements resonated with televoters, enabling the act to qualify for the grand final despite receiving lower rankings from the jury.

Diverse Musical Styles

The professional jury often favours technically complex or innovative songs, while the televote may lean more towards catchy, mainstream, or easily accessible tunes. Eliminating the jury vote could lead to a more diverse range of musical styles in the final, as the contest would focus solely on the public’s preferences.

Ira Losco at a Meet & Greet during the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 in Stockholm.In 2016 Ira Losco showcased powerful vocals and a visually captivating performance of “Walk on Water”. The professional jury recognized what it saw as technical skill and innovation behind the song, helping it qualify for the grand final despite ranking 12th with televoters.

Tamara Todevska with “Proud” – North Macedonia’s 2019 entry was a powerful, emotional ballad with a strong message. The song’s technical complexity and vocal prowess resonated with the professional jury, securing its place in the grand final even though televoters ranked it just outside their top ten.

Regional Voting Patterns

The televote is known to exhibit regional voting patterns, with neighbouring countries often supporting each other and heavy diaspora influence. In a jury-free scenario, these regional biases could become more pronounced, potentially influencing the overall results.

Poland’s 2016 entry – Michał Szpak with “Color of Your Life” – featured a dramatic ballad and an emotive performance. The song received strong support from regional televoters and countries with a larger Polish expat population, which helped it qualify for the grand final, despite ranking much lower with the jury. A televote-only system could potentially increase Poland’s chances of qualifying for the grand final.

In 2015 – Bojana Stamenov with “Beauty Never Lies” for Serbia, would almost surely have just missed out on a place for an empowering anthem with a visually engaging performance. The song resonated with regional televoters, allowing it to qualify for the grand final even though the jury ranked it borderline. Balkan countries often benefit from regional support in the televote, which could help them qualify for the grand final in a televote-only semifinal. However, this advantage might be offset by the absence of the jury’s evaluation, which can also recognize the quality of their entries.

There will be many more examples where acts benefited from or lost out after one half of the vote went differently to the other. How do you feel about the return of televote only to the 2023 semifinals?

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Shai
Shai
1 year ago

Romania never qualified in 2021 and wouldn’t have qualified on televote only,so her place in this article is misplaced