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Five countries that broke new ground at ESC 2017

by | May 21, 2017

Five countries that broke new ground at ESC 2017

by | May 21, 2017 | Eurovision, Featured |

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We’ve had a week to digest the results of ESC 2017. Now it’s time to crunch the numbers and take a look at some of the countries that made statistical history at this year’s contest – one way or another!

Portugal joins the 2,000 club

There are lots of ways in which Salvador Sobral’s victory was a landmark, from the 758 points amassed by “Amar pelos dois” (the highest absolute score ever seen on an ESC scoreboard) and the 18 times it received douze points from one of the national juries, right through to the 53 years Portugal has had to wait for its first win in the competition. But how about this bit of numerical geekery? In its 40 previous appearances in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest before last Saturday, Portugal had received 1,256 points – in total. Now, thanks to Salvador Sobral, the country has leapt forward to an all-time total of 2,014 points. There have been vastly different voting systems over the years, of course – the current system is geared towards huge winning totals, whereas in the early days of the competition it was rare for more than a few entries to reach double figures in any given year – but it does serve to illustrate just how utterly exceptional “Amar pelos dois” is in the context of Portugal’s long and largely unsuccessful ESC history.

Not messing around

Bulgaria and Moldova hit new heights

The last time the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Kyiv, Bulgaria and Moldova made their debuts in the competition. Their fates could hardly have been more different: Zdob și Zdub’s drumming granny took Moldova all the way to 6th place in the final and remains a fixture of TV clip shows even now – while “Lorraine” by Kaffe made precious little impression with Europe’s voters, limping out of the semi-final in 19th place. The two countries do have some things in common, though. Both are still waiting for their first ESC victory – and both came closer than ever before when the contest returned to Kyiv this year. Taking the bronze medal, SunStroke Project from Moldova wisely put their Epic Sax Guy front and centre in order to attract a strong televote (as expected) and an awful lot of jury love (as definitely not expected!). Meanwhile, Kristian Kostov from Bulgaria charmed his way to second place with the slickest visual production of the night. It remains to be seen whether the parallels with the ESC career of his talent-show mentor, Dima Bilan, will continue with a victorious appearance at ESC 2019 – but we wouldn’t bet against it.


Valentina’s luck runs out

San Marino’s eternal participant had been on an upward trend. After she finished 14th in the semi-final in 2012, 11th in the semi-final in 2013 then finally squeezed into a qualification spot in 2014, the fansites who worship at the feet of Valentina Monetta were eager to see if she could continue the pattern of improvement on her fourth appearance in the competition. But it wasn’t to be. Indeed, it could barely have gone worse for Valentina and her duet partner Jimmie Wilson, as their “Spirit Of The Night” gathered a grand total of one point. One point! A whole 41 fewer than their nearest rival Lithuania. Not only that, the previously dependable juries abandoned the microstate altogether – their single point came from none other than the televoters of Germany, some of whom presumably wanted to bestow their countryman and veteran songwriter Ralph Siegel with at least some kind of reward for his effort.

And yet San Marino still didn’t finish last in the semi 2 televote. That fate befell Claudia Faniello from Malta, whose “Breathlessly” not only scored a big fat zero with the public, but failed to finish higher than 14th in any single country’s televote. We’ve seen zero scores in the semi-final before, of course – Piero Esteriore is and always will be the benchmark in that respect, but his was a multi-vehicle car crash of a performance. By contrast, Claudia delivered her entry perfectly professionally, give or take the looming boobs on the backdrop – which suggests that the televoters of Europe simply didn’t like the song at all. Ouch.


Armenia-Azerbaijan relations begin to thaw (sort of)

You can’t expect many signs of friendship between two countries in a permanent state of political conflict. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Armenia actually gave one point to Azerbaijan in 2009 – not least since this was understandably overshadowed by the fact that Azerbaijan got the police to interrogate the 43 people who had televoted for Armenia in return. Lovely. In any case, real-life tensions between the countries have escalated further in the meantime, and relations in the Eurovision world haven’t improved much either. Armenia withdrew from the Baku-hosted contest in 2012, before deciding to toy with disqualification by flying the Nagorno-Karabakh flag in the green room last year. Ever since the EBU started publishing the jury results in full, we’ve seen the Azerbaijani jurors consistently putting the Armenian entry in last place across the board, with Armenia always keen to return the favour. Fans are quick to cry foul, but really, what do they expect under the circumstances?

And then 2017 happened. OK, so the juries still did their usual trick of systematically downvoting the enemy in both the semi-final and the final – but take a closer look at the full results for the first semi-final and you’ll see a tiny miracle begin to emerge. “Skeletons” by DiHaj, the entry from Azerbaijan, finished 16th in the Armenian televote. Not 17th and last, like you might reasonably expect, but 16th – one whole place ahead of Triana Park from Latvia. Can we get a hallelujah? It turns out that the televoters of Armenia are not just an easily influenced mass of neighbour-haters; rather, some of them can recognise and acknowledge a well-performed, contemporary pop song even when it comes wrapped in the flag of their mortal enemy.

Either that or the Latvian entry was just really shit.

Still, thank you, Triana Park – yes, you finished last in the semi-final, but you might just have given a divided region a tiny glimmer of hope for the future.


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