Does the selection date of Eurovision songs predict winners?

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Each country’s entry for Eurovision can be revealed at any point between 1 September and the mid-March deadline. But does the song’s selection date affect its eventual placing at Eurovision? Is there a best time for a country to reveal their song? Let’s take a look.

Denmark, Emmelie de Forest, 3

Emmelie de Forest won DMGP in January 2013

In the last ten years, winners have tended to be released later, with seven out of the previous ten winners being released in March. Only the winning countries from 2009, 2013 and 2016 released their songs earlier, with “Only Teardrops” being the earliest. Emmelie DeForest’s song was the seventh song of 2013 to be selected when it won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix on January 26th, while Jamala’s and Alexander Rybak’s songs were both selected in February.

And of the recent winners, the latest song to be released was Austria’s “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Conchita’s winning song was the 36th to be selected out of 37 songs in the contest that year, announced on March 18th. Azerbaijan’s “Running Scared” was another late reveal, making its debut on March 13th.

So if we average out the release dates of the winning songs from the past ten years, we can predict the winning song next year will be released on March 1st 2017, and will be the 32nd song to be released.

However, being released early is no guarantee that the song will do badly. Eleven countries in the past ten years have released their songs before the second half of February and finished in the top five. The earliest of these are Ukraine’s 2013 entry “Gravity”, and Albania’s 2012 entry “Suus”. Both were released prior to the New Year and finished third and fifth respectively.

The most successful song to be released before mid February is Yohanna’s “Is It True?”. She achieved second place for Iceland in 2009, their best place to date. Iceland’s entry was released on February 14th, just before the halfway point in February.

But being released late is no guarantee for success – just ask The Makemakes or Engelbert Humperdinck. Their songs were released on the 13th and 19th of March respectively, to very little success. Both finished a measly second to last, amassing a total of 12 points between them.

Though the last-place finishers have been selected at varying times, there are a couple of dates to avoid. Both Juri Pootsmann’s and Ann Sophie’s song were selected on March 5th, and both finished last, Juri in the semi-final in 2016, and Ann Sophie in the final in 2015. The week of 11th to 18th February has also proved to be unlucky — six last places have been selected this week.

While countries that choose their song via internal selection have more freedom around when they present their song, those that use a national final are more likely to be locked into a timetable. We know that the winner of Albania’s Festivali i Këngës will be decided around Christmas time every year, while the winner of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is always decided in mid March.

Last year the Dutch Eurovision commentator Cornald Maas told us that the Netherlands got it wrong by releasing “Walk Along” months ahead of Eurovision 2015. He said, “Last year we made a big mistake by letting you hear Trijntje’s song for the first time in December. It was way too soon and we’ve learned from that.” As a result, Douwe Bob’s “Slow Down” wasn’t heard until early March.

But as much as the timing of a song release can have an impact on how it is received by Eurovision fans, ultimately it all comes down to how the song comes across in the semi-finals and finals. Regardless of the release date, it is all about the quality of the song, the performance of the singer, and the staging at the contest.

What do you think? Can the release date of a song affect its changes at Eurovision? Is later better? Share your thoughts below!