Just like last year, I knew all the songs and some of the presentations before the show. Same reason for my interest, of course, trying (and failing) to keep my mind busy…
As usual, I watched the show and tried to rank the songs, trying to judge solely based on the current performance and not on how I knew that song could sound like. I’ve been using the same ranking system for some ten years now and even though I’m usually way off I don’t plan to change it. After all, “political” votes have a major role in determining the classification, but I’m not going to take them into account because I’m trying to rank according to overall quality, not to predict the outcome. Of course my system is subjective, but how else can you judge such things?
That system involves giving each country a song mark, a show mark and a “personal impression” rating. The marks are theoretically between 1 and 10, but they have always been between 4 and 9, with the vast majority being 6 or 7. A 9 is very rare, there have only been two or three in all these years, and it’s basically the same with the 4, thankfully. As for 5 and 8, if I have two or three of each during a show I’m satisfied that I have “calibrated” things properly. The rating can be “good”, “neutral” or “bad” and there are some fixed rules regarding that too, for example taking the language it’s in into account. Then I average the two marks and rank songs according to that. When the average is equal, I rank according to song mark. When two or more countries get exactly the same marks, I take the rating into account. Finally, if everything is equal (and this happens quite a lot) I just try to rank based on whatever differences I can notice, which stuck better in my mind and so on.
Still, even though I came up with this system and have been using it for so long, sometimes I happen not to agree with some of the results I get. That’s partly because I’m factoring in the “personal impression” rating so late and partly because sometimes there’s a very good song that has no show value at all (or the other way around, but that’s rather rare) and I see myself forced to put it lower than I’d have liked. But that’s how it is and I think I’ll stick to it.
Russia, as usual, has a high position assured regardless of the song. That means their performance must only give them that extra edge to put them on top and it would appear that this time it was enough.
Ukraine seems to continue the run of good results and I can’t blame it on the “political” votes. The performance was quite good overall, I’m not complaining about this one.
But I think I’ll have to get back to “political” votes when it comes to Greece, because otherwise I don’t see why it was third. Then again, it’s a matter of taste, songs of that kind drive me away.
Same goes for Armenia, because I thought it was one of the worst performances in the contest. It shouldn’t have even made it to the final if you ask me.
Norway had a very good song, but without a good enough show to back it up. I’m actually happy that it ended up on a better place in the contest than in my ranking.
And since I mentioned my list, here it is (actual place between parenthesis):
1 Azerbaijan (8)
2 Finland (22)
3 Georgia (11)
4 Ukraine (2)
5 Russia (1)
6 France (19)
7 Latvia (12)
8 Sweden (18)
9 Norway (5)
10 Poland (24)
11 Iceland (14)
12 Turkey (7)
13 Denmark (15)
14 Romania (20)
15 Portugal (13)
16 Greece (3)
17 Croatia (21)
18 Bosnia (10)
19 Serbia (6)
20 Spain (16)
22 United Kingdom (25)
21 Germany (23)
23 Armenia (4)
24 Albania (17)
25 Israel (9)
Didn’t get any place right and wasn’t ever even only one place off. Two places off for Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Ukraine. Three off for Iceland and United Kingdom.
On the other end, at least ten places off for Armenia, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Poland, Serbia and Sweden.
Let me briefly explain my top ten picks now.
Azerbaijan were the only ones who stood out by show value, what they did actually expressed something and connected with the lyrics of the song. And the song wasn’t bad either.
Finland… What can I say, I liked the sound…
Georgia and Ukraine were both good, though very different, songs that were backed by a decent show. I’m going to plead guilty of putting Georgia above Ukraine partly because the singer’s blind.
Russia is one of those cases where I disagree with my own ranking. There were several songs I liked better, but Plushenko’s show of skill while trying to skate on that very small area meant this one had some show value to back it up.
France had something going for it, it simply was interesting. It’d have probably been way better if the singer would have managed the trick with the helium, since that’s what I think it was, properly.
Latvia put up a good show and their voices actually didn’t sound as bad as they had previously. The song’s catchy.
Finally, Sweden, Norway and Poland had good songs, but not much show to back them up with.
A word about the countries that made it to the final… I used the same system to rank the semi-finals and seven out of my top ten from each did go through. In the first one I put Andorra, Belgium and Slovenia instead of Armenia, Bosnia and Israel (special note here, Israel ranked last out of all 43 participants for me). In the second I put Bulgaria, Hungary (which ranked last according to votes) and Malta instead of Albania, Croatia and Portugal.
As a side note, the country that benefitted from the new rule that states that juries choose one of the qualifiers from each semi-final was Sweden, at the expense of Macedonia. Poland was the country the juries picked in the first semi-final, but they were tenth according to votes anyway. At least this time I agreed with the juries both times, seeing as both Sweden and Poland were in my top ten even in the final. (And speaking of Sweden, I happened to bump into the song the viewers chose in their national selection. It’d probably have been the best ballad in the contest, but the jury chose otherwise and by a wide enough margin to make the difference.)