Normally at this juncture I will be discussing and highlighting the Top Ten. But this year, I have decided to focus on a Top 12, because the two entries that officially bubbled under the Top 10 looks like would’ve made the cut if the 2013-2015 composite score system was used. Without further ado, let’s begin with…
12TH PLACE: FRANCE (Alma, “Requiem”). A few days after the contest, Alma was interviewed stating she was disappointed that she was not able to duplicate Amir’s Top 10 finish. There is frustration particularly since the entry is a well-regarded quality entry–it seemed to have been pulled down by the low jury scores it received (ending up a lowly 19th) as it ranked 10th with the televote. But if we examine the full ordinal rank and apply the composite score system, it turns out it endured the Edurne Paradox with the juries. The ordinals reveal it was actually 15th with the juries and overtook Croatia to be 9th with the televote, and its overall placement would’ve been 9th place. It got jury votes from 12 countries, more than what Greece (7), Hungary (8), Belarus (11), and Romania (11). Its disadvantage was the highest points it got from any one country is only six, courtesy of Italy and Israel.
11TH PLACE: NETHERLANDS (OG3NE, “Lights and Shadows”). There is no doubt this act was a major jury darling, placing 5th, and had a big disadvantage that it wasn’t as strong in the televote, languishing in 19th, shored up mainly by Belgium’s 10 points, and a few points from four other countries. The full ordinals reveal that overall it ranked 13th with the televote, which indicates that even if it received points from a mere five countries, it bubbled under below the Top 10 in many other countries–a demonstration of the Ryan Dolan Conundrum. If the composite scoring system was applied, it would’ve ranked 10th, but the fact that it exceeded many Eurovision fans’ expectations when they performed live and ended up equaling the result of similar underdog, Douwe Bob’s “
Tight Pants Slow Down”, it’s a feat still worth applauding.
10TH PLACE: NORWAY (JOWST featuring
Garth Brooks Alexander Walmann, “Grab the Moment”). It was 6th behind the Netherlands in juries but a relatively respectable 29 points with the televote (making it rank 15th) helped pip the Dutch sisterly trio to snag 10th place. I’m okay that this underdog did better than what most fans expected thanks to the jury love, though I know there are sentiments that felt that France, Netherlands, and perhaps even the United Kingdom deserve to belong in the Top 10 over this entry. Speaking of which…
9TH PLACE: AUSTRALIA (Isaiah Firebrace, “Don’t Come Easy”). Much has been said about the massive jury love for this entry despite a clearly flawed live performance in both the semifinal and final–for the final, Isaiah may have avoided squawking as he delivered the song’s climax, but he also obviously dodged the climactic high note by singing in a lower key. It was officially 2nd to last in the televote with a stunningly low two points, pipping past Austria’s nil points. To some observers, it deserved to rank this low, but I examimed the full ordinal and discovered the televote ordinals actually placed him at a slightly more respectable 18th place–yes it still shows that the public were not that into him, but it showed that the public actually preferred his act better than, say, Germany and Spain. Using the composite system, it would’ve ranked 12th and be out of the Top 10 to make way for France and Netherlands.
The Top Eight overall also happened to be the Top Eight in the televote, demonstrating the high concentration of televote points amongst these top finishers were crucial in bringing forth these entries’ overall placements.
8TH PLACE: HUNGARY (Joci Papai, “Origo”). He was the only one who changed wardrobe between semifinal and final–he was wearing a black leather jacket with blue shirt and beaded vest during the semifinal but he changed to a gold embroidered jacket and black collarless undershirt for the final. I personally preferred his semifinal outfit. It was a mere 17th with the juries, but the 152 points he amassed with the televote (ranking 7th) helped shore up his fortunes to finish 8th overall.
7TH PLACE: ROMANIA (Ilinca & Alex Florea, “Yodel It!”). The juries were not fond of this entry, with only 10 countries giving it points. It ranked 14th in the juries thanks to high marks from traditional ally Moldova (12 points) and Montenegro (10 points), but certain entries that ranked below this in points actually garnered top 10 placements from more countries, like 15th place Armenia (15), 16th place Belarus (11), and 19th place France (12). The full ordinals reveal it would’ve ranked 19th with the juries. Still, the massive love it received from the general public with a massive 224 points (5th place) helped give this entry a strong 7th place finish.
6TH PLACE: ITALY (Francesco Gabbani, “Occidentali’s Karma”). Sure a 6th place overall finish was nothing to sneeze at, but many prognosticators (including myself) thought it’s a given that this would be the winner. Little did we know that the juries decide to seriously mark it down, with 22 juries not placing this in their Top 10 (and Estonia, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, and the UK even ranking it 20th place or below). True, being forced to remove a couple of lines from the first verse and the entire, more biting second verse may have diluted the song’s power, but I also heard criticism that some people found the brightly lit presentation rather “frantic”. As a result, it finished 7th with the juries. The public also seemed to also tire of this entry’s hype a bit, but they still love it enough to give it 208 points, to make this finish 6th overall.
5TH PLACE: SWEDEN (Robin Bengtsson, “I Can’t Go On”). This is clearly a jury darling, and it finished 3rd there with 218 points. But it ranked 8th in the televote, which made its overall ranking drop a bit to 5th. On the surface, it could mean that backup singer/dancer Alvaro Estrella’s 3rd place streak is broken. But if you examine the ordinals and if the composite system was employed, it turns out Alvaro’s streak was preserved as it swaps places with the actual third placer in this scenario.
4TH PLACE: BELGIUM (Blanche, “City Lights”). To her credit she overcame most of her wobbling issues in the final but because she got her act together, instead of the jurors shutting her out of the Top 10, this finished 9th. But the public just simply adore her number and are more forgiving. Hence, with the whopping 255 points it received from the televote, those points help make this entry’s overall rank equal its televote rank. Anyway, at least it managed to hold on to the strong pre-contest hype and post-Eurovision managed to have a bit of impact in the European charts.
There are two characteristics about this year’s Top Three. First, all three are male actss. Second, all three are from countries who have a checkered history in this contest, with a host of weak prior finishes and never placing as high as they did this year.
3RD PLACE: MOLDOVA (Sunstroke Project, “Hey Mamma!”). The jury appreciated enough the unadulterated fun, polished presentation to rank it 8th. But the massive love from fans of “Epic Sax Guy” all over Europe help this band vindicate its 22nd place showing back in 2010 and bring forth Moldova’s best finish ever, finally overtaking overrated Zdob si Zdub’s 6th place finish in the country’s debut showing in 2005 with “Boonika Bate Toba“. Like Belgium, the massive 264 points it received from the public helped it finish overall at the same rank as its televote rank. Interestingly, if we employ the ordinal rank it would’ve been 4th and the composite system would’ve made it 4th or 5th–taking its place, as I earlier mentioned, would be Sweden.
2ND PLACE: BULGARIA (
Russian Bieber Kristian Kostov, “Beautiful Mess”). Well, it’s no surprise this entry would rank high and even if I still prefer Poli Genova‘s breakthrough entry last year over this one, I could see why this entry ended up beating Poli’s already remarkable 4th place showing. Many pundits thought this would have been stronger with the public, probably even win the televote. Well, that actually rang true as it garnered 337 points in the televote over 278 in the juries, but those massive scores were only enough for second in both categories. Still the points it amassed would’ve been enough to win in other years; using the composite system it would’ve gotten 350 points, which only the Scandinavian triumvirate of Alexander Rybak, Loreen, and Måns Zelmerlöw have previously exceeded. But in this contest, it turns out the juries and the public were way more enamored towards…
1ST PLACE: PORTUGAL (Salvador Sobral, “Amor pelos dois [Love for both]”). I appreciate this classy retro ballad, and am aware of the rising buzz it has been receiving as the competition was underway, though I didn’t expect that this entry will end up dominating the contest the way it did. But it’s refreshing that a quality, old-fashioned ballad can still be relevant and connect to the modern public. It’s so dominant, that if you employ the composite point system, it will beat the 389-points record set by Norway’s Alexander Rybak (“Fairytale”)–in fact it would hit above the 410 level using this system.
Turns out Salvador has a tendency to be a bit outspoken to the point that he ruffles other people the wrong way. For instance after being declared the victor, he made this now-controversial remark: “We live in a world of disposable music — fast-food music without any content, I think this could be a victory for music that actually means something. Music is not fireworks. Music is feeling.” Unlike the memorably gracious remarks delivered by Conchita Wurst in 2014 and Måns Zelmerlöw in 2015, both of which emphasized unity and compassion, Salvador’s speech threw shade at the state of modern pop music, and of course other contenders did not take that well, like Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson declaring his statment is not a statement of a true winner, and Romania’s Alex Florea outright denouncing him for using “cheap theatrics”. I do agree Salvador’s speech is not gracious at all, but well, he probably has his own convictions of what quality music should be, but well, we have to also realize that one person cannot be the sole arbiter of musical taste–there should be room for commercial pop and flashy spectacle as keeping things all slow and dignified would make a musical event like Eurovision boring.
It was a kinda stormy path on the way to this year’s contest, with all those controversies and recriminations. Portugal was a welcome winner, and we look forward to what Portugal would bring to the table as it hosts next year’s contest.