11 March 2018
At Melodi Grand Prix in Norway it was a return Eurovision winner beating off other previous Eurovision contestants, while at Sweden’s Melodifestivalen it was the fourth year running a pretty boy won with a plastic song. The joke was bigger than that, because Alexander Rybak won with a song that, while has a super infectious melody, is all a bit childish and silly, while nothing much else deserved to win in Sweden. Although, at least Norway had some options, like Who We Are by Rebecca, which finished second and was my favourite of the night. Whereas Sweden was a cesspool of derivative crap due to the persistent use of international juries.
Let’s credit Rybak for winning Melodi Grand Prix. He waited nine years to try again so nostalgia could take effect, brought a winnable song, and executed it superbly. He succeeded where many other Eurovision contestants, and even winners, failed. Loreen in Sweden was a notable loser only last year when she couldn’t even reach the Melodifestivalen final. It’s not Rybak’s fault for the poor opposition either. The joke is, that outside of Rebecca, the quality was low, with my personal favourite from the song release, Stop The Music by Charla K, a particularly flat performance. Aleksander Walmann (of JOWST fame in 2017) reached the gold final with a notably weaker song than last year’s winner, while Stella (ESC 2011) and Alexandra presented a lively and entertaining rendition of their dance song You Got Me. Although, in a direct contest between former Eurovision contestants, it’s easy to see Norwegians lumping for Rybak. He had the pedigree. Also note that Rebecca’s song was written by Morland, who, with Debrah Scarlett, represented Norway at Eurovision in 2015.
Norway broke from their traditional format too, by splitting the Gold Final into two rounds of voting. Previous years the top 4 performed again, whereas this year two were eliminated to leave only two to perform again. I’m not sure the point of that other than short-change the viewers and favour the instantly appealing songs. In a one-night affair, you often need that extra hit from some songs to confirm a decision, and Stella & Alexandra’s chances might have suffered because of the early cut. So it was Rebecca vs Rybak, moving the crowd vs energising them, and the energiser won. It’s so unfortunate for Rebecca, and maybe one reason is viewers are still recovering from the ballad overload of Kyiv 2017. Or perhaps Norwegians simply love Rybak that much?
It’s an entirely different joke in Sweden. Their problems began to manifest several years ago when they replaced their domestic jury with an international one, and all that has done has seen a degradation of once outstanding national final to one of a derivative and formulaic mess. The problem is these international juries are basically an extension of the televote, except they’re even more debased, and with a narrower range in taste. Swedish language and culture would be almost alien to them, so that lends further to the same generic, mainstream gibberish now being dished up over the years. It’s a pattern repeated all over Europe where similar systems are in place. Finland is a recent example where the impressive Domino lost to Monsters.
In contrast, Estonia has a jury panel mostly of locals, where indie bands Sibyl Vane and Frankie Animal finished second and third for the jury. You can’t tell me no such bands exist in Sweden; that the entire country is wreaked by plastic pop? It’s not that you want to see this sort of music to win either. After all, you can’t argue against the results provided by Sweden’s current system. The actual purpose is about encouraging and nurturing your entire music industry, and ultimately providing a more diverse, interesting and higher quality Melodifestivalen.
Then there’s the joke of the scoring system. While it didn’t matter to the outcome this year, Sweden likes to get the jury to vote one way and the televote another way. The jury awards 12 to 1 points whereas the televote is converted to a percentage of points. In most years there’s quite a narrow range in the televote, as it was this year, meaning a very narrow points spread. The winner only scored 10.5% of the televote, which converted to 67 points. Winning the jury got 114 points. Last place on televote was 5.8% for 37 points, whereas the jury’s bottom song got 2 points. So one is providing a scoring spread of 114 to 2, while the other is 67 to 37. That’s fundamentally not right.
Below is a list of percentages for first place, second place and last place on televote for the last four years, then the Jury Points vs the Televote Points. Only in 2015 when Mans Zelmerlow dominated a dreadful field has their been a significant televote percentage for the winner and therefore more points than from the jury.
Year 1st% – 2nd% – Last% – Jury Pts vs Televote Pts
2015 35.1% – 18.5% – 0.9% – 122 vs 166
2016 14.4% – 9.5% – 5.8% – 88 vs 68
2017 11.9% – 10.9% – 6.2% – 96 vs 57
2018 10.5% – 10.0% – 5.8% – 114 vs 67
It would be remiss not to mention the winner of Melodifestivalen. Here goes: Benjamin Ingrosso, Dance You Off. There, I mentioned it. I don’t care about it. It’s a cheap song that only stood out because of the lighting effects. As for Melodifestivalen itself, its plight sickens me, and I can only see it get worse. Dra åt helvete.