Eurovision by the numbers

by John Egan 143 views

Since �75, the Eurovision Song Contest has used the current �douze points� system of scoring. As we count down to this year�s 51st Contest, we�ve done a bit of number crunching; having analyzed 31 years of results, we have identified the following trends�or non-trends, as it were�in terms of �winning conditions�. Without further adieu�

Believe it or not, the draw slot that�s won the most is first! Or last! ! In �75, �76 and �84 the very first song performed ended up on top. On the other hand, three winners � �77, �82, and �83 – were performed last. Around 2/3rds of the winners were from the second half of the draw, with1/3rd from the last five slots. Only 20% of the winners came in from the first five songs of the night, including the three openers. We wouldn�t argue that draw alone determines a winner; however, on a night with several good songs vying to win, a late draw clearly has advantages.

Douze points
Getting lots of douze points (or 12s) is very, very good, and usually means winning. But in �77, �81, �89, �90, �98 and 2003 the winner got the most points, but not the most 12s . In fact, in 2003 Russia�s t.A.t.u. (singing Ne ver', ne bojsia) has the most 12s (five), but finished third, behind Turkey�s Sertab Erener (Every way that I can, four 12s) and Belgium�s Urban Trad (Sanomi, three 12s). More surprising is that only one winner � �82�s Ein bißchen Frieden by Germany�s Nicole � managed to get 12 points from half of Europe. And in �81, the UK�s Bucks Fizz won with Making your mind up–with only 10% of the 12s on offer. Most winners received 12s from around 1/3 of Europe.

Across the board
Douze points are great, but perhaps more important is getting points from across Europe. When the Contest was smaller, scoring points across the board wasn�t unusual; in fact that�s exactly what happened in �75, �76, �77, �81, �84, �86, �93 and �97. Switzerland�s Céline Dion won in �88 with Ne partez pas sans moi�and votes from only 81% (17 of 21) countries As you might imagine, getting points from every country, with nearly 40 countries participating in a televote, isn�t likely. Ukraine�s Ruslana came very close in 2004; her Wild dances scored from every country except Switzerland.. But generally winners scored points from at least 92% of the voting countries.

Boys and girls, groups and solos
Many fans think having a female solo (or at least lead) singer is an advantage�and it seems to be. Around 70% of the winners since �75 have been sung either by a female solo act or a group with a female lead singer. In fact, about half the winners since �75 have been solo female singers. Of solo male acts, Ireland�s Johnny Logan (�80 What�s another year and �87 Hold me now), and Italy�s Toto Cotugno (Insieme: �92) are the only male solo winners.

This year
Since �98 televoting has gradually replaced juries – excepting technical glitches when a televote fails. Looking at these last eight Contests, the patterns are even more striking: only 3 winners from the early draw (�98, 2003 & 2004), only two that weren�t sung by women solo artists (2000 and 2001, both male duos), with strong support from across Europe. In the days of the jury, several handfuls of people across Europe needed to be convinced to vote for your entry. Today it�s those who convince thousands to vote for them that win the Contest. A much taller order.

This year we don�t yet know the 10 qualifiers from the semi-final. Seven of the 14 already in the final have female lead singers or soloists. 14 of 23 in the semi-final feature women. The last five songs in the final will be filled by qualifiers. So until the semi-final is complete it�s difficult to discern if any of the final five will be well-positioned, in historical terms. Last year Greece�s Helena Paparizou sang 19th and won with My number one�but France�s Ortal sang 24th (and last) with Chacun pense à soi–and finished 23rd.

But we do know that, numbers aside, to win the Eurovision Song Contest you need to have a good song, performed well and memorably. Whose performance will put it together and conquer Europe? Will it be another fusion of ethnic and pop styling, or perhaps the first ballad in nearly a decade? Will it once again be �ladies� night�, or �boys night out�? It will be interesting to see how it unfolds on 20 May.

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