Planet Eurovision almost fell out of orbit on November 7 when the E.B.U. announced that the running order of Eurovision 2013 will not be decided by a draw. That’s right. Rather than having contestants pull a numbered ping pong ball out of a fish bowl, producers of the show will have the right to decide who goes first, who goes last, and who will get stuck somewhere in the middle.
Our friends at Eurovisionista rounded up some of the best tweets on the matter, and judging from that y’all want the rule change reversed. Here at WiwiBloggs.Com, we’re rather torn about the news.
Why it’s a good idea
Jan Ola Sand, the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, made a good point when announcing the news. By controlling the running order, producers can ensure a more interesting show.
Wiwi nearly fell asleep at the start of Eurovision 2012. That’s because, as a result of the running order draw, four of the first five songs in the final were slowish. Engelbert Humperdinck, Compact Disco, Rona Nishliu and Maya Sar all in a group is seriously mind-numbing. Even more mind-numbing was the first semi-final, when we had to sit through Pernilla Karlsson’s “När Jag Blundar” after enduring Iris’s “Would You?” It was like doing a bag of opium but not having a bed to pass out on. Had producers had the power to decide the order, I doubt we would have had two boring songs in a row.
It’s also good for the contestants who actually have a shot of winning. Rewind to 2011. I seriously felt like most of the favourites performed among the first eight acts. Estonia’s upbeat Getter Jaani had to go after Sweden’s upbeat Eric Saade after Ireland’s upbeat Jedward. It was way too much fierce in a row. And all of them came after Bosnia’s Dino Merlin, Denmark’s A Friend in London and Hungary’s Kati Wolf—all of whom we (and the bookies) were obsessed with. Spreading them out would have let each of them shine a bit more. Ell & Nikki, who ultimately won, had the pleasure of performing after Nadine Beiler. Great voice. Terrible song.
Why it’s a bad idea
From a viewer’s perspective, I don’t think there is any downside. From a contestant’s perspective, however, there’s plenty to bark about.
First, producers now have the power to influence who wins. Whether they want to admit it or not, the acts who go first have a greater likelihood of being forgotten as the night goes on. Countries who perform near the end are fresh in voters’ minds as they pick up their cell phones to cast their votes. (David, one of the Wiwibloggers, disagrees strongly. You can read his take here).
Second, the running order could influence how contestants actually perform. For instance, if you’re told you’re performing first, you will probably think, “I’m not total crap—they wouldn’t let me open the show. But I’m also not a real contender since they’re getting me out of the way so early.” That kind of thinking wouldn’t encourage Wiwi to sing his best.
Third, this opens the door for back-room deals and bribery. If I was a state broadcaster keen to host next year’s Eurovision, and if I had some cash to burn, I’d totally pay the producers off to let me perform 18th instead of second. What if Sweden decides it wants to take bloc voting to a whole new level, and allows all of the Scandinavian countries to perform 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd in the final? These are the scenarios folks will now be suspicious of.
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