Eurovision 2017 is now a fading memory. But as delegations and broadcasters begin plotting their moves for Eurovision 2018 in Portugal, they’re pouring over the surprising and frequently controversial results from Kyiv. Cue Australia.
This year Australia’s Isaiah Firebrace, 17, placed a respectable ninth in the grand final with his song “Don’t Come Easy”.
Of the 173 points Australia earned in the grand final, 171 of them — a whopping 99% — came from the juries. And if it were up to televoters, Australia would not have qualified from its semi-final. Shock! Horror!
GRAND FINAL: AUSTRALIA’S JURY-TELEVOTE SPLIT
The song scored well with juries across Europe in the grand final, with 29 out of the potential 41 international juries awarding Australia points. Juries in the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the United Kingdom each awarded Australia 10 points. When purely considering the jury vote, Australia placed fourth.
However, it didn’t come easy for Australia in the televote. The public awarded Isaiah just two points (courtesy of Denmark, which, coincidentally, fielded a contestant with Australian roots). This placed Australia 25th in the televote, just above Austria. That’s next to last.
Australia’s jury-televote split in the grand final was larger than any other country. It’s thanks to the juries that Australia managed to reach the Top 10 for a third year in a row.
SEMI-FINAL 1: JURY-TELEVOTE SPLIT
Semi-Final 1 tells a similar story, with Australia earning a total of 160 points and finishing in sixth position. The juries placed Australia second with 139 points, ranking Isaiah behind only eventual winner Portugal. The Czech, Slovenian and Swedish juries even awarded Australia twelve points.
Australia ranked 15th with the televote, earning just 21 points (six of those points came from Iceland). That put Australia above only Slovenia, Latvia and the Czech Republic with televoters. Under the pre-2009 voting system, which relied solely on televoting, Australia would not have advanced to the final.
How do you explain the difference?
It’s obvious that the juries approved of the boy from Oz, who delivered sultry vocals and some decidedly polished staging courtesy of creative director Sacha Jean-Baptiste.
Their love continues a trend. Over the three years that Australia has been a part of the contest, juries have always ranked Australian performances higher than televoters did in the grand final. In 2015 Guy Sebastian’s “Tonight Again” ranked fourth among the juries, but sixth in the televote. In 2016, Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence” won the jury vote in a landslide, but finished fourth in the televote. Isaiah’s gap — fourth place vs. 25th — marks the biggest disparity yet.
Some say that Australia enjoys a leg-up with the juries owing to the country’s noted pop music industry, which, like Sweden, punches well above its size. It’s widely agreed that Australia brings a stamp of quality and ambition to the contest that encourages other countries to up their game. Still others say it’s not a matter of Australia having a halo with the juries. To them the juries simply appreciate quality and talent, which Australia brings.
In either case, it’s clear that televoters don’t appreciate Australia as much. This may be down partly to the lack of an Australian diaspora across Europe.
Australian media outlets were quick to blame Australia’s poor televote result on the “Australian” streaker who, wearing the country’s flag, crashed Jamala’s performance during the interval. Although the culprit was later identified as an infamous Ukrainian streaker posing as an Australian, The Australian newspaper speculated that this offensive display may have discouraged European televoters from voting for Australia.
At least British comedienne and former Australia’s Got Talent judge Dawn French saw the funny side, tweeting:
Actually, no…my money now on that bottom!!!!!! #eurovision
— Dawn French (@Dawn_French) May 13, 2017
David Knox, owner of Australian television website TV Tonight, has a simple explanation: Australia’s poor televote stemmed from “Don’t Come Easy” being an “ordinary ballad amongst a sea of others”.
In previous years, Australia may have benefitted from the novelty of their participation. This year’s televote score may reflect Europe’s waning enthusiasm for Australia’s inclusion in the contest. Even last year the UK’s commentator Graham Norton slammed Australia’s participation, telling British tabloid The Sun that the Eurovision Song Contest should “get rid of Australia” (despite Australia eventually placing a respectable fourth in last year’s televote).
Do you think Australia deserved their place in the grand final? Do you think juries have a bias towards Australian entries? Let us know in the comments section below!