Måns Zelmerlöw won the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in a landslide on Saturday. From his stellar vocals to the swish in his step to the digital projection screen, this oozed wow at every turn. He and his song “Heroes” ultimately finished 62 points ahead of runner-up Russia. For comparison that’s a wider margin of victory than that posted by previous winners Conchita Wurst, Emmelie de Forest, Ell & Nikki and Dima Bilan.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop outrage among some Eurofans after the split results revealed Måns did not win the televote. While “Heroes” placed a respectable third with televoters on 279, Italy’s Il Volo placed first and won the televoting with a huge margin on 366 points.
Il Volo may have won the televote but they only ranked sixth with the juries on 171 points. They may have expected this – at Sanremo “Grande Amore” won the televoting in a landslide but failed to win over either of the two juries. Given that they didn’t win the juries at home, it’s slightly puzzling why so many fans seem shocked they failed to win over an entire continent of juries.
Måns, however, won support from both elements in his native Sweden during Melodifestivalen 2015 — far and away Europe’s most competitive national selection. And although he may not have won the televoting at Eurovision, it is difficult to call ‘Heroes’ an unworthy winner.
It won the acclaim of music professionals from across the continent, whose criteria it is to pick the best song and one with potential to become a radio hit. “Heroes” proved popular with fans in the arena, who cheered when Sweden overtook Russia during voting, and at home, where viewers dubbed it their third favourite song of the evening.
The song is also charting across the world and won the third highest total score of any song in the history of the contest. The staging was slick and the quality of production was incredibly high — both the result of hard work by SVT. They won for a second time in the decade. This is the fastest turn around in Sweden’s Eurovision history and a testament to their commitment to Eurovision.
Where other nations have given little attention to Eurovision —the United Kingdom springs to mind — Sweden has found in Melodifestivalen a formula for repeat success.
Måns has conducted himself with humility throughout the promotional season and in Vienna, telling us on the red carpet that he didn’t feel like the favourite. He diplomatically dealt with a year-old homophobia scandal that British newspapers revived out of the blue (while ignoring the story had moved on). And he made a huge effort to engage with fans at promotional events across Europe in a way no other act from Sweden ever has. Il Volo, you’ll note, was not at Eurovision in Concert or the London Eurovision Party. Or any of the other pre-Eurovision promotional events. Måns put in the miles.
If “Heroes” was unpopular or mediocre, such an outcry might be understandable. But in the absence of any real quality deficit it feels as though something else is at work.
People may feel their votes were denied by the voting system or that Sweden doesn’t deserve to host again so soon. Perhaps press speculation on similarities to David Guetta and the contrasting authenticity of Il Volo has rankled opinions.
The uncomfortable elephant in the rooms for the haters is that Måns did win under the voting system which all countries signed up to. A “Heroes” win isn’t exactly surprising: the song became the red hot favourite almost as soon as he’d won Melodifestivalen in Sweden.
If you are angry about Il Volo’s result, then call for change in the way the voting system works, don’t hate on Sweden. As it stood during the 2015 Contest, Måns won and arguably he deserved to.
People need to build a bridge and get over it. We’re going north in 2016, whether you voted for Måns or not.