Weaver's Week 2015-05-31
No, it's still not Sunday. A brief word of explanation is in order. The Week is also running this week's DASH puzzle hunt in London, and we're determined to give everyone the best possible show. Rather than rush the Eurovision voting patterns for this week, we're going to defer them until next week, so we can consider them in depth.
Because we're effectively publishing half a Week, we're publishing it half a week early. Many of the points here will be made in the next edition of the Fifty 50 Show, which the Week recorded last Sunday and is scheduled to be published tomorrow. Regular hosts Mr. Howell and Mr. Miller will make better points.
The BBC held an online televote to determine the best ever winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. No surprise that it wasn't Dima Bilan, the shock was that he came fourth. Oh, it's got to be Waterloo, right? Wrong; second.
Would it be won by Bucks Fizz? No; they came fifth. Last year's winner from Conchita? Seventh. Euphoria? Fairytale? Third and sixth.
No, the winner was "My number one", Elena Paparizou's performance from 2005 for the late ERT. This may have been a statement by the listening audience, a shot across the bows of a government that wants to close the national broadcaster for specious reasons. But let's be realistic: Elena won because a dedicated voting public plus organic support can force a strange result.
Grand final: ORF for EBU, seen on BBC1, 23 May
Whatever happened to... YLE Finland scored precisely one point on the jury vote, making last in their heat. But were the contest decided purely through televote, punk group PKN would be performing on Saturday and MTV would be back in Hungary. A pure jury result qualified AVROTROS Netherlands and BR Belarus over AMPTV Armenia and RTS Serbia.
RTE Ireland lost it on Thursday, a good jury final was torpedoed by a rotten televote. Molly gave her worst performance on the night; a pure jury would have sent her through instead of RTCG Montenegro. A pure televote would also have changed the qualifiers, CT of Czechia replaced Ictimai Azerbaijan.
We had plenty of time to ponder about these things while re-watching the introduction. The orchestral break, the choir and hosts performing "Building bridges", the endless parade of competitors, and some video clips. Should we change this programme to the "Eurovision Faffing About Show Featuring A Few Singing Interludes"?
The first song didn't begin until 8.21, the Active Voting Window lasted a painful 25 minutes, with an interval act of drumming, and a chat with the winner of Junior Eurovision, and more Conchita Wurst. A few fluffs in the voting meant the programme finally came off air at 11.59. That's except for viewers in the UK, where the BBC crashed out of the closing credits so they didn't have to sully themselves with the sponsor's logos.
There are many things wrong with the extended final. Most of them are along the lines of "it goes on too long" and "how are we supposed to remember the merits of 27 songs over two hours" and "must the voting window be so long" and "the voting sequence began at 10.56; they finished in Birmingham at 10.58" and "it's only supposed to be breakfast television in Australia, not Armenia".
One minor point is that the voting system is strained. A Borda count of the top 10 entries ranks all entries best when there are about 20 entries. Below about 15, a triangle count works better – 1-3-6-10 and so on. Beyond 25, we get the right winner, but unrepresentative results lower down the order. Information below 10th place is discarded, the presentation throws away lots of facts.
ÖRF Austria The Makemakes "I Am Yours". (0 pts) Very professional, bearded bloke and acting as though there's nothing extraordinary about his piano being on fire. Scored 40 from the juries, half-way up the table, but crushed by the televote. No voters put it in the top ten, and nine ranked it rock bottom. There's no way to make this anything other than the least popular overall.
NDR Germany Ann Sophie "Black Smoke". (0 pts) The song lost its national final by a landslide – 79-21, but Andreas Kümmert withdrew after the declaration, so this went through. We can see there's a better alternative, and it doesn't help that Ann-Sophie has her back to the audience for a long time. It was very middling: the UK juror Pandora Christie was alone in putting this second, two said it was last, and an average of 15th place generates some points. The Albanian televote would also have rewarded the song, and if we were marking down to 12th place, this would finish 25th.
Less Than Twelve
France2 France Lisa Angell "N'oubliez pas" (4 pts) was doomed in position 2. It's a missing clip from Les Mis, an intense, solo woman singing about the pointlessness of the 1914-18 war. Didn't go over the top, but didn't impress the viewers – bottom of six televotes, including the UK. Three from their friends in Armenia, one from the San Marino jury.
BBC UK o'Stuff Electro Velvet "Still in Love with You". (5 pts) Let down by the staging. The singing was perhaps a little sharp, and the neon pack made Bianca look frumpy. On screen, there was far too much going on. The narrative was "Bianca and Alex come down some steps". That's it. The neon lights didn't add anything.
The performance looked under-rehearsed, and probably was – the BBC developed the staging without reference to the singers, and they hadn't encountered it until they arrived in Vienna last week. And let's be frank, a set of steps is not staging. A better idea we nicked from the Two Word Tango: Alex and Bianca doing the Charleston, perhaps swapping partners with backing dancers, and delivering their lines down the camera. BBC host Graham Norton went on about how good the staging was. He doth protest too much.
Here's the really irritating this: the song works. It's catchy and entertaining. With a decent presentation, this could have gone well. The Polish and Swiss juries liked it, but seven jurors ranked this dead last. Single points from Ireland and Malta, and three from the San Marino jury.
TVP Poland Monika Kuszyńska "In the Name of Love". (10 pts) Oh, it's talking about *bridges* not *breeze*, so the washing line makes even less sense. Blew it in the jury final, where it finished bottom and would have been pointless except Matthieu Gonet said it was best and that allowed France to send four. Expat televoting secured second place in Ireland (3 pts) and the UK (2 pts); Italy also sent marks.
CyBC Cyprus John Karayiannis "One Thing I Should Have Done". (11 pts) Sacrificed for the running order, appearing after Sweden. Lyric either cliched or filthy. Great traction from the juries, top half on their rankings, but eclipsed in the televoting. Even the Greek televoters could only put him third, behind Italy and Albania, donating a mere 10 points.
TOP BRIT ALERT – Mike Connaris wrote the song, he also did "Stronger Every Minute" in 2004, and pays the rent by writing advertising jingles. He's waffly versatile.
TVE Spain Edurne "Amanecer". (15 pts) More great staging, the backing dancer steals Edurme's cloak, a metaphor for something we won't discuss in a family column. Strong from start to finish, and wouldn't have minded this getting higher. We limited ourselves to five votes, and perhaps should have given this one. No juror put this in their top three, no juror put it last; second in the Portugese televote and next best sixth. France gave five points.
MTV Hungary Boggie "Wars for Nothing" (19 pts) felt like a Very Special Episode of some eighties cartoon. Blah blah gimmick of the gun tree, frankly tedious ballad, "war was stupid, and people are stupid". Went down a storm in the Estonian jury room, but thirteen jurors – including UK voter Pandora Christie – ranked it last. Second in the Romanian televote, and sixth from the Estonian public translated into 8 points. Would it have been a better show if replaced by the punks from Finland? Very possibly.
NERIT Greece Maria Elena Kyriakou "One Last Breath". (23 pts) A quality Bond theme, the closest we got to a Conchita carbon copy. Two jurors (in Albania and Cyprus) said this was best, four ranked it last. Won the televote in Cyprus, but two jurors put it low down and the Cypriot panel donated just eight points; the top was 10 from Albania.
LRT Lithuania Monika Linkyté & Vaidas Baumila "This Time" (30 pts) deserved better. As innocent as the viewer cares it to be, charming, bright and well staged. The performers were snogging so hard they miss the next line; annoying in most songs, here an endearing fluff. Full of the joys of spring, and with some similar-gender couples in the backdrop. Two votes from this column, which may have been the drink talking. Topped the televote in Ireland and Lithuania; sevens from Ireland and Latvia.
RTSH Albania Elhaida Dani "I'm Alive", (34 pts) another song sacrificed for the draw. Everyone was talking about the passion from Russia's entry. The performance was flimsy; no fewer than 55 jurors ranked this last of all, including UK jurors David Arch, Mark De Lisser, Thomas Charles Blaize and Yvie Burnett. Winning the televote in Switzerland and Italy was meaningless; winning the televote in Macedonia, and second in Montenegro, scored 22 points because both juries conferred and their votes were ignored.
AMPTV Armenia Genealogy "Face the Shadow". (34 pts) As political as the Reference Group allows it, talking about what's known locally as the "genocide" of 1915-18. We could have seen the Self-Playing Violin from Belarus here. We can see the Armenian diaspora: loved by juries in Belarus, Georgia, Greece, tolerated in Russia, sunk everywhere else – it finished dead last in the UK combined score. Topped the televote in Czechia and Georgia, second in France and Russia, third in Israel, fifth in the Netherlands. This is the argument against a pure televote: it would have shot up from 34 to 77 points just because it's Armenia. And an argument for extended voting: this slips from 13th to 16th ranking the top twelve.
TVR Romania Voltaj "De la capăt (All over Again)", (35 pts) a song we thought this had more crossover potential. Swept the jury in Moldova, and the televote in Moldova, and that now becomes the most reliable neighbourly vote of all. Second in the televotes for Italy and Spain, and fourth in France. UK politicians note: 11th in the televote here.
RTVSLO Slovenia Maraaya "Here for You". (39 pts) Thrown away at position 1 to wake us all up after that prolix opening. Six said it was worst, but lost in the televote – 8 from Macedonia the only good performance. Here's a quirk of the scoring: 36 from the juries, 27 from the televote, translates into a score of 39 points.
RTCG Montenegro sent this year's Big Balkan Ballad, Knez "Adio". (44 pts) It's a genre unique to itself, almost impossible to judge in comparison to western slow songs or uptempo numbers. The Serbian jury put it 1-1-1-1-2, one juror in Albania said this was best. Fourteen jurors put this dead last, which was dead wrong; there's vocal capacity and staging, if not hit quality. Won the televote in Serbia (so 12 points); scored well in Armenia and Slovenia, but fell away quickly. We could have had a forgettable song from Molly of RTE here.
Ictimai Azerbaijan Elnur Hüseynov "Hour of the Wolf" (49 pts) got another vote from this column. It was too beautiful for Eurovision – ace dancing, great singing, outstanding choreography, but went over the head of a Saturday night audience. Would the Czechs have been more accessible? Would a Saturday appearance keep the Czechs in competition? Best from three jurors, bottom from five impartial jurors and the entire Armenian panel. Top four in half-a-dozen televotes translated in 12 from the Czechs and 10 from Georgia.
GPB Georgia Nina Sublatti "Warrior" (51 pts) was really hurt by too much dry ice in the opening verse obscuring Nina. Otherwise, very good staging, a strong image that was going to be remembered, and pleasing to see Conchita's wings making a brief return. G:son wrote this, and Euphoria, and many other classics. One vote from this column, and five jurors said it was their best – including three from Armenia. Appealed much more to the Eastern bloc, tens from Armenia and Azerbaijan, but just three points from Old Eurovision.
RTS Serbia Bojana Stamenov "Beauty Never Lies". (53 pts) Benefited from a "vote for this" call by BBC television host Graham Norton. It's another one for the BBC3 clip shows, feeding into the BBC's jaundiced view that the Eurovision Song Contest is slightly beneath them. Topped the televote in Montenegro and Slovenia, and the rest of the voting roughly follows the Serbian diaspora – except for the UK, where Norton lifted it to 9th. With Montenegro's jury disqualified, their televote scored a 12. And remember, we could have had Trijntje Oosterhuis's Amazing Dresses here.
IBA Israel Nadav Guedj "Golden Boy". (97 pts) Eurodisco by numbers, one we thought was going straight to the BBC3 clip shows. "If that doesn't put a smile on your face, you are dead inside", quoth Norton. Down with this sort of thing! Graham says that anyone who thinks that entry was a pile of self-indulgent piffle is not human. Careful now. Five jurors said this was their fave song of all, including UK voter Yvie Burnet. Three jurors said this was the worst of all, two in Czechia. Top score of 8 from Italy.
NRK Norway Mørland & Debrah Scarlett "A Monster Like Me". (102 pts) Hurt by the running order, between a disco stomper from Serbia and before Sweden. They were hurt by their staging, and from the song making most sense on about the fifth listen. Twelve jurors put this as their favourite, but it was buried in the televote, only making the top ten in the Baltic and Switzerland. Ten from Iceland and Switzerland.
HONORARY TOP BRIT – Kjetil Mørland sings for UK-based band Absent Elk, who supported Girls Aloud and The Script circa 2009.
ERR Estonia Elina Born & Stig Rästa "Goodbye to Yesterday". (106 pts) Blew us away with staging to tell the story. A critic might care to compare and contrast with the BBC UK after it, in the style of "this is what ERR got right, here's what the BBC did". Spot-on singing, and was that a teardrop down Elena's face? A great song, well staged, and picked one vote from this column's five. Topped the televote in Finland, contributing the top score of 10. Two jurors in San Marino hated it, and the UK panel put it well down – we suspect the performance for the jury wasn't all that.
To correct a million errors: Elina and Stig were seen in their postcard on longboards, not skateboards. Here's the difference: Pyro can thwack us over the head with a longboard and our flailing arms won't hit her as we swoon to the ground unconscious.
LTV Latvia Aminata "Love Injected". (186 pts) An electro-ballad, technically ace. Like Ruth Lorenzo last year, Animato decided to belt her singing rather than dance. It's a logical choice and one that let them build staging to fit. This could fit onto contemporary hit radio in any sensible European market. Juries loved it – 32 jurors said is was their favourite, with a clean sweep of the German jury. It finished second in the jury final behind Sweden; the televoters were less impressed, it won only in Lithuania. Twelves from there, Ireland, and the San Marino jury.
SBS Australia Guy Sebastian "Tonight Again". (196 pts) Our second debutant broadcaster. It was a very middle-of-the-road staging, of a good, simple, international song, performed with panache. At times, it looked like Guy had recruited the first people who walked up with an Aussie passport. Maybe he had; the entry fee and performer costs were met by his record label Sony, SBS just sent a commentator and satellite link.
Guy has appeared on UK screens before, he won Pop Idle Australia and qualified for World Idle in 2003. Pandora Christie of the UK was amongst 17 jurors saying this was best in the contest. Televote winner in Austria and Sweden, both gave 12 points, and top half in the televote almost everywhere.
To correct a point we made in the Fifty 50 Show: SBS Australia scored 196. The total of the eleven least successful BBC UK entries since 2003 is 195. This excludes Blue (100) and Jade Ewen (173).
RTBF B*lg*um Loïc Nottet "Rhythm Inside". (217 pts) The antithesis to Serbia – Graham Norton absolutely hated this, lowering viewer expectations from the off. We don't think it hurt the UK televote performance. It's a contemporary song, well sung. We missed this at the time, it's grown on us in the days since – a bit like Lorde performed by half of Jedward. Loïc has recruited an army of teenage fans – this has been everywhere on Tumblr, an audience that televotes early and often. Thirteen jurors said Best Song Tonight, as many said One Of The Worst Three Tonight. Won the televote in Netherlands; also scored 12s from France and Hungary, and a 10 from Russia was one of many rewards from the Eastern bloc.
There were three other awards given out.
Press Award for the best entry as voted on by the accredited media. The winner was "Grande Amore".
Artistic Award for the best artist as voted on by the commentators. That went to Mâns Zelmerlöw for "Heroes".
Composer Award is to the best and most original composition as voted on by the participating composers. Kjetil Mørland took this prize for "A Monster Like Me", which he sung with Debrah Scarlett.
RAI Italy Il Volo "Grande amore". (292 pts) Three guys in line, with great attention to detail – the guy with the red specs has the red earpieces and the red microphone. The staging was static, simple shots of each vocalist in turn, but with a fluid middle bit to add some variety.
It's clear they lost it on Friday, when the jury voted. Seventeen jurors said it was best, but many said it was not great, so sixth place. Topped the televote by a mile, sweeping the Mediterranean basin and winning in Russia. Lots of seconds and thirds overall, but the jury dragged them off the win and into third place.
C1R Russia Polina Gagarina "A Million Voices". (303 pts) A strong song, a simple song, perhaps a bit cheesy for sophisticated Western tastes. After watching Ewan Spence's "Every Song a Story" series, we got where the direction was coming from. Note how Polina is at the centre of the frame, or moving towards the centre of the frame, or out of shot showing some other of the million voices. A group effort, led by Polina.
Twenty-four jurors said this was best, including four from Australia. Political voting from four jurors reckoning this was last – Zaza Shengelia in Georgia, Ralfs Eilands in Latvia, Lauras Luciunas and Jurga Cekatauskaite in Lithuania, convince us you voted honestly. Lithuania sent nothing: two jurors put it last, the others ranked it 19-13-10, and third in the televote wasn't enough. Won six televotes, and five 12 points.
The song finished second place in the televote, and third in jury final. We're glad that the broadcasters took action to dampen the booing, and chided the audience on air for being dickish. The clue's in the name: it's the Eurovision Song Contest, not the Eurovision Aggressive Government Contest.
SVT Sweden Mâns Zelmerlöw "Heroes" (365 pts) won the Eurovision Front-Projection Contest with their ace projection gimmick. "Heroes" bears a second listen; "Heroes" almost begs for a second listen. But not a 700th. It's very disposable pop, very similar to David Guetta.
The front projection took a minute to set up before the performance. And another minute to set up before the winner's reprise. The 276th minute of the show was, by far, the longest.
No less than 41 jurors put this as their fave, including UK jurors David Arch, Mark De Lisser, and Thomas Charles Blaize. Four ranked it outside their top ten. But it won the televote only in Australia, Denmark, and Norway; the Baltic preferred NRK's entry, the rest of the continent went for RAI and C1R. The final score includes twelve sets of 12 points, and nothing below 4 points.
The current jury-and-televote mix was introduced in 2009, and this year's the second time we've had a split result: Sweden won the jury final by miles, but finished third in the national televote rankings. The previous difference: the jury voted RAI Italy the winner in 2011, the televote and overall result preferred Ictimai of Azerbaijan.
Inevitably, there have been gripes from Il Volo's fans, a generation brought up on unmediated televotes. The EBU will need to monitor this, but we don't think that one different result warrants drastic action.
Buy! Buy! Bye!
Early sales reports from the UK showed Mans the biggest entry, ahead of Loic from Belgium, Polina from Russia, Guy from Australia, Aminata from Latvia, Il Volo from Italy, and Elina & Stig from Estonia. This pattern was repeated across the continent; Maariya from Slovenia and Nina from Georgia featured in many nations, but Electro Velvet were less popular than the opening act.
We'll look at the voting in more detail next week.
This Week and Next
Buzz off! The BBC has declined to renew Never Mind the Buzzcocks, an entertainment loosely based on popular music. Occasionally entertaining and witty when it was launched in 1996, NMTB became interesting when Simon Amstell took the host's chair. When he left a few years later, guest hosts came in, and quality took a nosedive.
Every Beat of the Heart. ITV has renewed 1000 Heartbeats, the moreish game show hosted by Vernon Kay, and featuring its very own house band. Paul Farrer may have to buy a new hat.
Scrappy! After successful repeats on Dave and Quest, Robert Llewellyn has addressed the question of new episodes of Scrapheap Challenge. He said, "I don't think I should front a new series of Scrapheap if it ever did make a return to the telly, someone younger and full of energy should do it, and if you really want to see more you should tell Channel 4."
Channel 4, consider yourself told.
What The Fac. Louis Walsh has a problem with singing show The X Factor: there's too much singing on it. He told Radio 1 that X Factor needs "a big shake-up" to remain interesting, and suggested that there might be less singing. Surely the whole point of a singing contest is – oh, we give up.
BARB ratings in the week to 17 May.
- Britain's Got Talent continued, with just under 9m seeing this week's episode.
- 5.15m for HIGNFY, 4.05m for the successful Ninja Warrior, but Play to the Whistle (2.1m) is barely ahed of The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge on BBC2 (1.95m)
- Big Brother had a mere 1.95m for its launch, was it hurt by giving away the contestants early? Catsdown brought 1.85m to Channel 4.
- Daytime television is rising up: weekday Pointless has 3.65m viewers, Tipping Point has 1.75m, and Beat the Brain just under 1m.
- Celebrity Juice was seen by 1.15m, Britain's Got More Talent 935,000, and A League of Their Own 675,000.
The grand finals of Ninja Warrior UK (ITV and UTV Ireland, Sat) and Britain's Got Talent (ITV and TV3, Sun). There's a new series of The Cube (ITV, Wed). June also brings us weekday quizzes Decimate (C4) and The Chase (ITV), and Rupaul's Drag Race (Tru TV, Mon and Tue).
Photo credits: ÖRF / EBU.
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