Didn’t have high hopes after the first semifinal, but the level of the second was noticeably higher, and despite some good acts, including my top pick from the entire competition, not making it through, the final was quite nice overall, and at least two of the countries that automatically qualified definitely added to its value. There were a few good songs, a few great voices, a few acts with good show value, including one truly standing out from this point of view, and I’d say a single song I particularly disliked… Yet it ended up second. Do continue to dislike using camera tricks and overlaid images instead of actually doing something on stage for show value, yet after first making a note of the practice last year, I saw it happening again this time around.
Did check out the songs on the official channel after they were all selected, but that just means I went through them a couple of times quite some time ago, after that only listening to a couple of them some more. Again didn’t follow news or updates or look for other videos, have no idea what other songs were in the national finals and since I didn’t look at anything from rehearsals I didn’t know the potential show value of the entries. Happened to check the background story for Hatari, since they definitely stood out, and in so doing learned that they should stand out even more, but that was about it.
NOTE: This post reflects the situation right after the competition, before the scores were revised.
Netherlands winning reminds me of 2009, when I also didn’t even want the winner to make it into the final. Not that it was any different in 2016 or 2017, but 2009 was what I thought of first. Yes, I can recognize the quality of the song, but in terms of the overall impression, it wasn’t one that really stood out for me even from that point of view, and the entirely static performance caused me to drop it so low in my classification, and as I already mentioned, in fact not even include it among those I selected to qualify into the final, whether according to my classification or purely subjectively. I’d also note that it didn’t win either the televote or the jury vote, in either the final or its semifinal.
I guess Italy obtained such a good result thanks to the message and what the singer represents, but for me that didn’t mean much and the song itself was the one I actually disliked out of those in the final, and without a show value to make it stand out either, it ended up last in my classification and I stand by that assessment.
Russia had a solid performance, scoring well in every aspect, be it the song itself, the singer’s voice or the show value, yet somehow not being among the entries that stood out the most. So probably not truly suitable to win, but definitely a performance that belongs among the top few, and a whole lot better than the two above it, or the one below, if you ask me.
Switzerland being fourth is something I really have no explanations for. I considered the song to be one of the poorer ones of the final, the show value was fair but no more than that, and there was no message or some other particular reason for it to do so well, or at least none that I’m aware of.
When it comes to Norway, on the other hand, I’m pleased it ended up higher than in my classification, and that it actually won the public vote in both the final and its semifinal, each time obtaining exactly 30 points more than Netherlands. Could have been performed somewhat better and it definitely deserved a much better show value, having a great potential for this, but even so it definitely is a good and interesting song and performance and I have no idea why the juries had such a poor opinion of it. Was actually looking at the Romanian jury and how three of the five ranked Norway last during the semifinal. In the final, four ranked it between 16th and 20th, one who had ranked it higher in the semifinal changing her mind and placing it below all four others which had qualified from that semifinal and which she had placed below it then. I’m really baffled… Or, now that I looked it up, maybe not quite so much anymore, but that sort of technical problem shouldn’t have had such an impact and, either way, it still won’t explain the semifinal.
I keep thinking of changing my ranking system, giving more weight to the song, possibly even separating the song itself, in terms of composition, from how it is performed, or perhaps having one mark and modifiers for other aspects, such as show value, personal impression and maybe even voice, that can raise or lower it by up to a certain amount and are weighted in a certain way. But for now it remains the same, giving one mark for song and another for show value, plus a positive, neutral or negative modifier, and ranking first according to the overall mark that is the result of averaging the song and show ones, then according to the song mark and then, if both marks are equal, according to the modifier. In case all three are equal, the ranking is the result of me trying to quickly compare the performances in question at the end.
Once again, still largely for my own use, I’ll list all the information here, with the first number being the position in my classification, the one between parentheses that follows it being the actual position, the first number that follows the country name being the overall mark, the second being the song mark and the modifier, if not neutral, being listed at the end. All links are from the official channel, so they shouldn’t vanish.
1. (9.) Australia (7.25, 6.5, minus)
2. (3.) Russia (7, 7)
3. (23.) Israel (6.75, 7)
4. (10.) Iceland (6.75, 6.5, plus)
5. (14.) France (6.75, 6.5, plus)
6. (21.) Greece (6.75, 6.5)
7. (7.) Azerbaijan (6.75, 6.5, minus)
8. (6.) Sweden (6.5, 7)
9. (8.) North Macedonia (6.5, 7, minus)
10. (5.) Norway (6.5, 6.5, plus)
11. (19.) Estonia (6.5, 6.5)
12. (12.) Denmark (6.5, 6, minus)
13. (22.) Spain (6.5, 6, minus)
14. (17.) Serbia (6.25, 7)
15. (24.) Germany (6.25, 6.5, plus)
16. (26.) United Kingdom (6.25, 6.5, plus)
17. (13.) Slovenia (6.25, 6.5, minus)
18. (20.) San Marino (6.25, 6.5, minus)
19. (15.) Cyprus (6.25, 6)
20. (4.) Switzerland (6.25, 6)
21. (16.) Malta (6.25, 6)
22. (25.) Belarus (6.25, 6, minus)
23. (1.) The Netherlands (6, 6.5, plus)
24. (11.) Czech Republic (6, 6, minus)
25. (18.) Albania (5.75, 6)
26. (2.) Italy (5.75, 5.5)
My ranking matched the actual results for Azerbaijan and Denmark, was one place off for North Macedonia and Russia, two places off for San Marino and Sweden, and three places off for Belarus and Serbia. On the other hand, it was at least ten places off for Czech Republic, Greece, Netherlands, Switzerland and United Kingdom, and even 20 or more places off for Israel, Italy and Netherlands.
Australia truly stood out thanks to the show value. That was outstanding, and the singer’s voice was great as well, and would have been even if she wouldn’t have been singing while “flying” around like that! The problem is that the song itself didn’t impress me, and in fact in the semifinal I gave it half a point less than I eventually did in the final. Still, should have ended up higher than it did.
I already stated my opinion of Russia’s entry above, but I will add that I was actually thinking before ending up scoring Australia a bit higher than I had in the semifinal that, with Moldova out, I was likely to rank Russia first and that didn’t feel quite right, seeing as there are a few acts that stand out in some way and this isn’t really one of them. But, yes, I’d say it was the one act that made it into the final that did well from all points of view.
While I’m actually surprised that the calls for a boycott and the protests were so successful, the most notable result being that Israel received zero points from the juries, the 12 received from Belarus actually being the result of the actual votes of that jury being dismissed, I understand why this entry ended up so low. However, I just judged what I saw and heard during the competition, and this was a good song performed by a singer with an outstanding voice. I’m not saying it should have been higher, because I can definitely agree with the reasons why it was penalized so harshly, but I will say that it should have been among the top few if it’d have been any other country’s entry.
Doubt anyone can argue that Iceland didn’t truly stand out, and it’s nice to see that it at least won the televote for its semifinal. It’s too harsh to be something I’d normally listen to, but it was nevertheless the song I ended up listening to a fair bit before the competition. It’s a particularly bold entry and quite a breath of fresh air, including a fair amount of show, and definitely also shock, value. And that was my opinion even before checking out the information about them and finding that they’re anticapitalists and having another important reason to vote for them.
France was interesting, both in terms of the song itself and that of the message, and I really expected it to do much better. Admittedly, it seemed performed better the first time around, not in the final, but even so, I’m particularly surprised it wasn’t at the very least in the top ten.
Greece had a good performance overall, not particularly standing out in any way but having a good enough song, quite an interesting voice and a pretty good show value as well. I guess its problem was that, despite the singer’s somewhat unusual yet definitely very good voice, the entry doesn’t really have something to make you remember it when many others follow, and maybe it did end up a bit too high in my classification, since now I see that it’s one of the two out of my top ten that I don’t exactly care to listen to again, but it definitely should have been way higher than it was in the actual competition.
Azerbaijan had that interesting first part in terms of show value, while most of the song itself didn’t impress me, but there is a part that improved my impression. It remains one of the two songs in my top ten that I don’t exactly care to listen to again, but in terms of the overall package, I’m content with it being seventh. Interestingly, this makes it one of the two entries for which my classification matched the actual results.
Sweden had one of the better songs of the competition, but was hindered by not doing anything in particular for show value. It remains a pretty good package overall thanks to the song, and perhaps the sixth place it ended up on is fairer than the eighth it obtained in my classification, but that’s pretty much where it should be.
Despite neither sounding nor looking actually alike, North Macedonia is very similar to Sweden in the sense that it’s a nice song, with a good voice, but again not much show value, the displayed images barely making up for nothing actually happening on stage. That negative modifier is due to the fact that it, to put it mildly, reminds me of an older Romanian song, even when it comes to the words of the chorus, “spune-mi” meaning “tell me”. Interestingly, Monica Anghel was in the Romanian jury, and she ranked it first, in both the semifinal and the final.
As for Norway, I already stated that I’m pleased it ended up higher than in my classification. Maybe one of the guys didn’t quite have the voice for it, but the other made up for that, and it was a pretty good song, with an interesting sound. It’s just unfortunate that it had a great potential for a good show as well and they didn’t care too much for that, not when it comes to what actually happened on stage at least. Even considering those technical problems in the “jury final”, I definitely can’t explain why the juries had such a poor opinion of it.
To mention the semifinals as well, I did make one change in my notes, since despite still giving the usual marks I actually selected the acts I’d have wanted to go through completely subjectively, so I’ll list the differences compared to those that did actually go through from both lists here. In the first semifinal, my classification had Belgium, Georgia and Montenegro instead of Slovenia, Cyprus and Czech Republic, but while I didn’t want Cyprus and Czech Republic to qualify subjectively either, Slovenia was on that list, alongside Hungary, with Belarus, Belgium and San Marino having question marks and fighting for the last spot in that scenario, Belarus probably grabbing it, with San Marino just missing out because of Serhat’s poor performance and Belgium thrown out. As for the second, my classification had Moldova clearly on the first spot, in the entire competition in fact, and then also Croatia, Latvia and Romania instead of Albania, Malta, Netherlands and Switzerland, and the top ten in my classification also include all the eight I subjectively wanted to qualify, but when it comes to the question marks, I’d have likely ended up making one more replacement, removing Denmark and adding Lithuania, with Netherlands likely just losing that battle with Azerbaijan for the last spot because of that entirely static performance.