In the 11 years that I have followed this contest, this is probably the one with the lowest dreck-to-quality ratio. The “weak links” in terms of quality have redeeming qualities to them that they are not out-and-out undeserving duds. As such, I would be commenting on all the finalists as I review their performances and analyze their scores and placements.
There was a lot of clamor to change the system again after the announcement of the final results, mostly coming from supporters of the odds-on favorite. If you ask me I think this current system, as flawed as it may be, is the best system implemented thus far. At least the credits garnered from one portion wouldn’t be nullified by being dragged down by a possibly very low ranking in the other portion. My main complaint about the current system is that I would prefer to see all entries’ ranking reflected so we get a fuller picture on how they are really regarded. As evidenced by the situations encountered by Ireland’s Ryan Dolan in 2013 and Spain’s Edurne last year, their weak placements do not reflect how they were actually regarded by the juries and televote as scoring was limited to the Top 10 and those who missed the Top 10 are ranked equally when in reality that is not the case. Their frustrating showings made me bestow particular scenarios in their honor. So I have done a full ordinal analysis of the finalists (and semifinalists–I have an “epilogue” section about that after I review all the finalists), which is reflected on the Excel spreadsheet attached in this article (we’ll also feature the tables of the televote and jury split results below, along with the ranking differences between the two).
Just like last year, Germany (Jamie-Lee Kriewitz) ended up in last place. It was last with the juries and 24th with the public. But unlike Ann-Sophie last year, it at least got some points, and Jamie-Lee’s vocal ability are undoubtedly strong (and the song a bit more melodic and catchier). The staging and the disconnect with the song’s themes and the Harajuku girl wardrobe contributed to this placement.
The act I would’ve wanted to rank last is Georgia (Nika Kocharov and Young Georgia Lolitaz). But I have to say the psychedelically trippy presentation fits the abrasive music very well, and the effects actually enhanced the listening experience of this entry that I started tolerating this better. So instead of taking the rear, they were 20th overall. Still, I wonder if the British jury were ingesting some hallucinogens to give this act their douze points. That high British score (along with high marks from Armenia, Lithuania and Poland) helped them rank 14th officially with the jury, but when I examined the full ordinal rankings, this number actually ranked much lower at 19th–revealing that other juries ranked this entry very low.
Czech Republic (Gabriela Gunčíková) officially ranked 21st with the juries and dead last with the televote. I can confirm there is no Ryan Dolan Conundrum that took place in the televote–she was indeed unfortunately dead last (many people would blame the fact that she performed 2nd for that dismal showing). If the 2015 system was in place, the dismal televote placement would drag whatever credits she garnered from the juries and based on points would end up in the rear instead of Germany. In terms of jury votes, it actually got points from more countries than Cyprus, and based on ordinals, she would’ve ranked 16th, so in a small extent, she was hit by the Edurne Paradox that dragged her score downwards from what is reflected on the ordinals. This quality entry is one reason why I seriously object to diluting the weighting of the jury–without them this country would probably be permanently shut out of the finals, and may result with this country never seeing action in this contest if that system would prevail. Despite the weak 25th place overall, the presence of this country in this year’s final was refreshingly welcome.
The two big jury darlings in this year’s contest are Malta (Ira Losco) and Israel (Hovi Star). Ira ranked 4th with the jury and Hovi ranked 7th. I do say their high placements with the juries was well deserved as they delivered quality performances. However, they ranked very low with the televote, placing 21st and 22nd respectively. If the 2015 system were in place, a significant chunk of points they earned with the juries would be nullified and both entries will fall down at least 10 notches below their eventual 12th and 14th place rankings. In analyzing the average ordinal jury score, I found out Malta would’ve ranked significantly lower than 4th (9th place, in fact), as it’s dragged down by bottom-ten rankings by the juries of 10 countries–so in a certain extent, Malta polarized the juries a bit.
Generating significant points from the televote were Austria (Zoë) and Serbia (Sanja Vučić ZAA), the former ranking 8th and the latter 11th. In the juries, they ranked a weak 24th and 23rd respectively, resulting in overall placements of 13th and 18th. There are many that feel that these two deserve a better ranking that the jury scores may reflect–I especially agree in the case of Serbia, as I found no fault at all with her presentation or performance and felt it was actually moving and riveting. It’s interesting to note that Serbia’s televote points came from only seven countries–Balkan bloc voting was in play as it received the maximum douze points from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia, plus another douze points from Switzerland and Italy tossing quatre points her way. If we use ordinal averages, Sanja’s televote rank would dropped ten notches to 21st, reflecting that it ranked low in televotes from the other countries. I disagree with the results for Serbia as I believe it deserved better than what it got.
Officially based on televote points, Azerbaijan (Samra) ranked 12th and Croatia (Nina Kraljić) 18th. However, it turns out they have their bloc allies to thank for those placements as the average ordinals would indicate they would only rank 18th and 25th respectively. Croatia was potentially a Top Ten contender, but everyone can agree the presentation was ruined by the wardrobe that it was the clear winner of the notorious Barbara Dex award. Shame on the Croatian broadcaster for not giving Nina the support she needs.
Based on points garnered, Hungary (Freddie) and Cyprus (Minus One) are 14th and 15th in the televote. But when we averaged their ordinal rankings, they actually would be 10th and 12th. Hungary demonstrated the Edurne Paradox in the televote as it garnered points from 14 countries, more than the number of countries that gave points for Serbia (7), Azerbaijan and Latvia (13 each) that ranked above it. I guess having Freddie dress down very casually in a plain T-shirt and jeans was great eye-candy to the general public, but the juries must’ve felt the presentation felt unpolished as a result. With Minus One, meanwhile, the abrupt closeups made the lead singer look kinda creepy to my eyes, but well, I can understand why the public dug the song as some might be in the mood to rock and this delivered for those with a rock fix.
My worst fear happened when Spain (Barei) was cursed with the Edurne Paradox in both juries and televotes that it ended up 22nd overall (one notch below Edurne last year). Based on points, it ranked 16th and 23rd with the juries and televotes respectively, but if we average the ordinal rankings, it’s actually higher at 13th and 16th, and it would’ve been a more respectable 15th overall. In the televote, despite getting the same measly 10 points as Germany it actually collected points from five countries (same as Croatia, who ranked five notches higher) compared to Germany’s two, and its low point collection despite a stronger ordinal ranking shows that it frustratingly was bubbling under the Top 10 in televote rankings in most countries. Unlike what happened to Edurne, we can pin some blame on the presentation–not on Barei herself as she sang terrifically live and the song remained awesome, but on her backup singers, who didn’t seem to vocally jell well so they failed to bring power to the chorus and for a danceable song like this one, them being set up like static Motown backup singers felt flat–the delegation head should’ve hired those funky backup singers/dancers that accompanied Belgium (Laura Tesoro). Admittedly the general public also didn’t like the “accidental” fall gimmick mid-song, and it inspired some memes like the picture below. If it weren’t for those issues with presentation this song should’ve been the one that broke through the notorious “10th place ceiling” experienced by this country in recent years.
In some ways the 17th place jury rank for the United Kingdom (Joe & Jake) serves as a respectable consolation to last year’s debacle, but as expected it didn’t connect that much with the general public, ranking 25th in the televote based on points.
Two entries that ended up in the middle of the pack that I predicted would be in the Top 10 were Latvia (Justs) and Italy (Francesca Michielin), ranking 15th and 16th overall respectively. They gave solid and simple presentations, but were simply overshadowed by the Jury Darlings like Malta or Israel, or the Televote Bait like Poland (Michał Szpak), Austria, or Serbia, or the sleeper hits like Netherlands and Belgium. If the 2015 system was in place, both these entries would’ve ranked higher and be on the left side of the leaderboard at 11th and 13th respectively.
Ranking 11th overall was Netherlands (Douwe Bob), with an 11th place ranking with the juries and 17th place with the televote. If the 2015 system was used, it could’ve been in the Top 10 as Poland’s ultra-low jury rank would’ve offset many of the points it garnered in the televote (more on that in the next section). If we average the ordinals, its jury rank would actually be 7th, outranking Russia (Sergey Lazarev), Malta, Armenia (Iveta Mukuchyan), and Sweden (Frans). In certain ways, it also exhibited the Edurne Paradox with the juries as it got votes from 21 countries, equal that of Armenia and more than the countries that gave points to Russia (20) and Sweden (17).
COMING UP: ANALYSIS OF THE TOP TEN