Following Eurovision 2017 there was serious talk of San Marino withdrawing from the contest. Eurofans rejoiced when the Most Serene Republic decided to give ESC another go, giving their presence a new lease of life through the new national final format, 1 in 360. Serving as the country’s first ever national selection, it was an undeniably bumpy ride…but overall a jolly good attempt at making the microstate competitive at Eurovision again.

Naturally any first attempt is filled with stumbles — and, in this instance, some very unfortunate optics. It’s no wonder that in the minds of many this was more Scam Marino than San Marino. In any event, mistakes are meant to be learned from. So we have reviewed the contest’s format, and come up with 10 areas where they could improve the show for 2019.

1. Consistent rules and expectations

When 1 in 360 was first announced, it made many ambitious promises, such as having multiple live shows, and even filming the show in 360 degrees. Failure to deliver on these promises, as well as numerous alteration of goalposts, the number of shows, revamps and line-up changes (for both the acts and the jury) gave the impression of chaos (and perhaps a bit of in-fighting and differing visions?) in RTV HQ.

2. A smarter submission process

The preliminary stages, where artists could upload an audition video in the hope to be picked for the televised shows, wasn’t fully thought out. There were numerous fake entries uploaded to the platform on behalf of acts like Margaret and Maxine Swaby, who had no idea it was happening. This could have easily been prevented with simple measures, such as requiring a 20-second intro from the artist themselves where they say why they want to represent San Marino at Eurovision….or even more basic identity card or e-mail verifications. Artists were also allowed to submit studio versions of songs, which seems bizarre when they are being judged on their vocal abilities.

3. Stronger Sammarinese identity

Whilst they did offer a special wildcard to 1 of the 8 Sammarinese artists that applied to represent their country, this is embarrassingly low representation – and given that there’s so many talented artists from the Republic itself, we’d love to see an exclusively Sammarinese line up some day. It would be interesting to see how the Sammarinese people feel about being represented by a Maltese and a German singing a song with zero connection to their country whatsoever.

4. Remove the acoustic shows

Two of the three shows that were filmed for 1 in 360 were entirely acoustic performances. Whilst melody and lyrics are indeed important elements to a song, the overall impact relies massively on the studio production. Take Emma’s entry for instance – when “Diamonds” was selected as her competing song it was a guitar ballad, but when it was actually produced it turned out to be an almost unrecognisable ethno-europop number. A live band may be a nice idea, but would they be better off simply giving us the finished product and saving some dollar? Yes.

5. Give each artist their own song

Once the jury had selected which of each artists’ two potential entries should be sung in the final, it turned out that Basti, Judah Gavra and Franklin Calleja would all be singing the same song. While their individual versions may have had a slightly differentiated production, fans of “Stay” had to decide whose version they preferred – meaning that each artist’s potential votes were divided in three. Therefore, assuming that the public vote is not corrupt (long pause), these three artists were all put at a massive disadvantage. They also could aim to attract some big names in the songwriting world by having an open call for song submissions.

6. More representative public vote

“Letting viewers have a say” started off on the wrong foot when Giovanni Montalbano won the ‘internet wildcard’ via some very unsubtle vote buying. However, with the grand final ‘public vote’ being decided by how much money was raised towards a €8000 crowdfunding target, things got even more fishy. Especially when you consider that many of the people involved in 1 in 360 made investments themselves.

As of 23rd February, Sara de Blue was leaps and bounds ahead of her competitors, having raised €6050 towards the €8000 target; the closest being Jenifer Brening with just €2922 (who, the previous evening, saw her fund suspiciously increase from €40 to €2882 in a matter of hours). Sara was the first to be fully ‘funded,’ although by the time the vote had cut off, four more artists had suddenly reached the target, and therefore all received a maximum 12 points. However – if the rules stated that 12 points were awarded the first artist to reach the goal, 10 points for the second artist, and so forth – the votes would be more representatively allocated, and in fact it would have been Sara that would be representing San Marino in Lisbon.

7. Stable stream

Many Eurovision fans were squealing in excitement at the prospect of tuning in to San Marino’s first ever national final. Sadly the small Sammarinese web domain couldn’t handle the high traffic, and the stream was so poor that it was almost unwatchable. Next year let’s stick to Youtube, please.

Image result for frustrated

8. Slicker production

Whilst we commend San Marino’s courage for producing the show on an evidently tight budget, we can’t help but think that those crowdfunding riches could have been put to better use. The sound in the live final was not connected to the programme’s actual sound system, but was instead played out of a speaker within the studio – and whilst this may have been fine for the live audience, it didn’t show the songs and artists’ full potential to viewers at home. The hosts also had a tendency to awkwardly lash out the judges for their comments, notably after Jessika and Sara’s performances.

9. Re-think the jury

As is the issue in many national finals, the jury’s feedback added little merit in terms of helping San Marino choose a Eurovision entry. What good was gained from cruelly criticising Emma’s vocal abilities, or ridiculing Sara in her glamorous dress? Two jurors even criticised Irol’s song for being “not right for Eurovision” – despite the 1 in 360 team having selected it themselves as a potential Eurovision entry for him.

It was also unclear who the actual jury were in the end. Whilst Zoë initially said “I’m relieved because we might be the judges, but we’re not deciding who goes to Eurovision,” inside rumours claim that eventual jury was head of delegation Alessandro Capicchioni, last-minute judge John Kennedy O’Connor, and the owner of 1 in 360, Matthias Strasser – and that certain judges were eliminated from the panel due to their preferences for certain acts. True or not, the jury should have revealed their individual votes on a scoreboard to improve transparency and avoid accusations of corruption. If you aren’t transparent, you can’t blame people for coming up with their own theories and explanations.

10. A fairer result?

Sara de Blue was a huge favourite among the fan community – winning almost every opinion poll by large margins, and racking up tens of many thousands more Youtube views than her competitors. But we do understand that juries don’t always agree with fans. Yet regardless, after achieving an applause so tremendous that the hosts had to ask the audience to stop, and receiving comments from the judges such as “You could go far in the Eurovision Song Contest,” “I think I may have heard the winner of San Marino,” and even “When you’re in Lisbon,” it seemed certain that she was the jury favourite too. Therefore it came as a surprise to see her finish just third with the jury. Zoë’s face at 1:51.31 speaks for itself (see below).

1 in 360 was produced by (the appropriately named?) Naff Naff ltd, which is owned by Matthias Strasser. Prior to the show, this same Mr Strasser had written various tracks for competitor Jenifer Brening, such as “Not That Guy,” “A New Me” and “Alive”. He is also part of the rumoured three-person jury in the final. Coincidence? Maybe. Nevertheless, contestants have criticised the show for having “a set vision” of their entry for Lisbon from the beginning. After Jessika and Jenifer’s win on Saturday, San Marino’s odds for winning Eurovision are currently sat at 100/1.

Despite the tone of this article, we sincerely congratulate Jessika and Jenifer on their victory and wish them the best of luck come May.

What do you think? Did you enjoy 1 in 360? Does San Marino use Eurovision solely for economic profit? Leave your comments in the box below!

Read more San Marino Eurovision news

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Jenny
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Jenny

Maybe J.K.O.’C. is a hidden fan of Marilyn Monroe Style and fashion pictures like J.F.K. in those days? And the rest could have been cinematic history, cinema at its most exciting, based on male fantasies like these: ‘She sung to a President, wooed some of Hollywood’s most eligible men and wore some most iconic, plunging neckline dresses….Marilyn is standing on a subway grate, with her white halter-neck dress billowing in the wind…’ That’s the stuff dreams are made of and …if Sara de Blue especially had known this, oh my god: San Marino have come in the final…, what a… Read more »

Fanty
Guest
Fanty

Dreams are dreams and sometimes dwell in open eyes,
when mind misses the reality and loves the lies !
During that mild intoxication they may see themselves as JFK or Marilyn-like-Star,
but after public wake-up call, they begin to stupidly ask – “Who we are – Who we are?”
However time is the true master and travels in the fastest flight,
so once it’s gone, now they can never come out of their “Twilight” !

Emily
Guest
Emily

Yeah Fanty, i also agree that San Marino show was just a funny drama (lot of lies and twilight zone) with pre-decided story and climax which is so shameful. 9 singers were robbed. Sara must be the true winner !

Fanty
Guest
Fanty

Sara de Blue O Sara de Blue ! We are stuck on You with Fanatical Glue.
Waiting eagerly for Musical Reason, So see you soon in next Eurovision.

Simu
Guest
Simu

Sara, me too stuck on u 🙂
Next time from Austria !!!

Chris
Guest
Chris

sara would have been the best choice for eurovision. sad that san marino did not recognize this!
blame yourself. now the chances are bad for san marino.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Shame on you San Marino! Sara was and is the best singer

Peter
Guest
Peter

Like someone else already wrote: At least many Eurovision fans are now aware about Sara and if she’s competing some day for her own country (and I’m sure: SHE WILL!) I hope San Marino respectively 1in360, Strasser and all other persons involved in this crap will remember about 2018 and this missed chance.

Oh. And don’t forget: Karma is a b*tch.

Fabio
Guest
Fabio

Some people here should understand that San Marino’s people didn’t have a say in the process or the results of this selection. Stop blaming SM as a country of the people living there, because they were not involved at all.

Finlay
Guest
Finlay

Shame on you San Marino!
All other 9 candidates got robbed.
Sara is the one and only! A perfect overall artist

John Kennedy O'Connor
Guest
John Kennedy O'Connor

Thank you, but I was NOT a last minute judge at all. I was booked and confirmed back in January.

John Kennedy O’Connor

Sergio
Guest
Sergio

According to Neon Hitch and 320 in 1’s Twitter Accounts, Neon couldn’t arrive due to flight problems (maybe, or maybe not?), so you had to join in. Thats’s what I call a last minute judge. Anyway, it’s not you fault, But the lack of Neon Hitch was noticeable.

N H
Guest
N H

If Neon Hitch was there, She would have commented on musical quality / vocal skills rather than dresses / fashion !
I remember Neon had tears in her eyes after listening ‘Out of the Twilight’ from Sara..

Peter
Guest
Peter

You don’t deserve to be a judge at all when you think a dress is more important than the quality of song and singer, while be able to ignore two robots dancing to the winner song. WTF!

N H
Guest
N H

And Mr. J Kennedy, thanks to tell that you were booked/confirmed back in January (as a judge in finale). Good if you had given a public notification in January as well that – “Ballad is sort of banned and plunging neckline dresses would be preferred”. Then all contestants could prepare according to your demand & this would have saved a lot of time, effort & money from wastage.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Can it even get uglier…?

If they planned to send Jessika all the time they simply should have send her without robbing money from the fans by making them believe they would actually vote.

Colin
Guest
Colin

Margaret seems so nice and chill. She should sue for royalties. Every year we get about 10 different plagiarism accusations, majority of them false. But this one is obviously true. Really obvious plagiarism.

Diego
Guest
Diego

I think the only fair judge that really made really good points was Neon Hitch tbh

Peter
Guest
Peter

100% agree.

And maybe the only person not involved in any way, too…

Colin
Guest
Colin

One thing that REALLY made no sense is criticizing the songs. If artists already came with their song, like in Romania or Moldova auditions, the criticism would be encouraged. However, if THEY gave them songs, any “not right for you” comment is actually a sabotage from within.

The Anders
Guest
The Anders

I’d simply make an internal selection instead. It is much more fair. The whole way this was set was most definitely not, and especially the “crowdfunding” things made several alarm clocks ring for me. So please, San Marino: keep far away from this Naff Naff thing and select internally.

Curly
Guest
Curly

I’d do what Finland did this year with UMK and Saara Aalto and organise a selection show to choose a song for Valentina Monetta. Not written by Ralph Siegel, of course – something that sounds more 2018. Or at least 2010.

Jokes aside, I was initially surprised (in a good way) by the first live show but then the second round came, the changes in the rules and the juries and all that.. and I ended up thinking it shoud have been better to carry out an internal selection.

Benny
Guest
Benny

Did Zoe shake her head at 1:49:17?

She clearly didn’t want Jessika to win…..

EscAU
Guest
EscAU

Jenifer Brening is also part of the ‘global rockstar’ group, like a company/record label that zoe and christoph headline, I’m pretty sure she was going to Lisbon one way or another

Oisín T
Guest

I have a brilliant idea.

Don’t rig the bloody thing.

Oisin xx

Zuzu
Guest
Zuzu

I’ve got an even better idea. San Marino should just withdraw and go away forever. All they ever send is complete rubbish.

Georg
Guest
Georg

Must Watch (jenifer’s plagiarism) : “https://youtu.be/YeELdhydlkk”?

Georg
Guest
Georg

After second Heat of 1in360, the views on Youtube for Jenifer’s own Song ‘Until the Morning Light’ were suddenly reduced (about some thousands) .. Now who can explain why this was done by Youtube and for what reason ??? 😉

Georg
Guest
Georg

Hi Lola, Thanks to add direct link.. I had to put the link in “quotation marks” as a test bcoz Wiwibloggs has started too much unnecessary filtering now .. many of my messages either with direct link or with longer text were blocked otherwise people could read a few more scandals of Jenifer/Jessika 🙂

Georg
Guest
Georg

Thanks Wiwibloggs ! I just saw on another page that you have posted my Comment with Links after moderation/checking from your side. But my longer texts were totally discarded while I can see other people sending even longer texts. Can you please tell what should be the Word-Count / Text length for posting a comment ?

Georg
Guest
Georg

Wiwi, you are not submitting Long Texts even for moderation from your side (directly discarded on spot/computer as i noticed) . 🙂 . Previously it was not so !

Matt
Guest
Matt

Great points throughout, but I do need to nitpick what you wrote about Sara’s dress. If it was just her dress that she was wearing, I don’t think it would have been an issue. But that, I’m blanking on the word, shawl or whatever she had around her head at the beginning was an issue, and the judge accurately pointed that out. Although I did like her semi dress better, the new dress was okay. It was the first few seconds when she had that other garment around her head that really did distract from the singing. With that said,… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest

So one judge saw Sara’s dress as a distraction, while the plunging neckline of Jessika’s pantsuit and her dancing robots were okay? That’s just wrong, they’re supposed to judge songs and not wardrobe choices!

Colin
Guest
Colin

When this contest was announced, I was overjoyed with the worldwide selection process and the opportunities it gave to so many talented artists. However, as it went on, many things went wrong with it. And even if I am thrilled for Jessika’s victory, there is a lot to improve in this selection process. 1. Have more diverse and numerous group of judges. 2. Have better supervised online voting. 3. Have artists already come with a song or at least let them each have their own song later on. 4. Crowdfunding is an odd, but efficient way to do it if… Read more »

Georg
Guest
Georg

“Party Shore” song of Jenifer Brening is copied from “Cool Me Down” song of Margaret (a Polish artist-singer-songwriter).
Margaret is now aware of this & the news breaking out on many channels/sites.

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

Agree with everything in this article!
I hope they read it there in San Marino and listen to you guys

Ari
Guest
Ari

San Marino should withdraw from Eurovision. I of course didn’t watch it, but I sporadically caught up on their selection methods on here and frankly, that’s all you need to come to my conclusion. Maybe this competition just isn’t right for micro states. If you’re willing to send whoever pays the bill or develops the best relationship with the responsible TV dudes, you simply should not participate at Eurovision. Period. As an Austrian, I do enjoy the picture with Zoe’s frozen face though, I’ll give you that. Personally, I don’t get all the whining about Sara though. Yes, the corruption… Read more »

Ari
Guest
Ari

Also, isn’t they voting of San Marino by default 100% jury voting? I don’t like that. Imagine in a really crazy year where countries are battling for victory in a very tight race, they might actually decide the winner. Highly unlikely, but not entirely impossible. If Azerbaijan paid them enough, then what…

Fabio
Guest
Fabio

San Marino uses the same country code as the rest of Italy. That’s why televote is not possible, you can’t identify which votes come from SM and which from Italy. In addition, SM is only 32.000 people and I don’t think they have much interest in Eurovision. Most likely, the 95% would vote to Italy. How do they award the rest of the points then?

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

We need a jazzy Serhat feat. Valentina Monetta entry before San Marino withdraws

SpanishSubzero
Guest
SpanishSubzero

Amy Lee you did great.

ImpressiveInstants
Guest
ImpressiveInstants

San Marino needs to quit ESC and re-think their path.

miramax09
Guest
miramax09

Thank you guys, such a great article…

And issue nr. 11 (just to say it clear): CHOOSE THE RIGHT WINNER!!!!!!!!!

#justiceforsaradeblue

esc1234
Guest
esc1234

Aftew the complete failure of the 1 in 360, i am afraid that siegel is going to come back….

Weißbrot
Guest
Weißbrot

I’ll make sure that Siegel stays in Germany and won’t get out of here to commit any more Music crimes.

Zuzu
Guest
Zuzu

Danke, Schatz! (Just make sure he doesn’t write anything for Germany while he’s there…)

Esc
Guest
Esc

Good … San Marino doesnt deserve Sara de blue representing them… She has to go from Austria…

Roxy
Guest
Roxy

They obviously can’t stand the idea of having a well-received and respectable entry. They are super determined to kill even the slightest chance of doing good in Eurovision. If it’s their ultimate goal, they are perfect at it. Good job!

MarcelFIN
Guest
MarcelFIN

If they want a larger interational fan audience for their preselection process, they need to organize it earlier in the year when people are still eagerly waiting for the eurovision season to begin. I think that by March most fans had already lost interest in San Marino, because there were so many other shows around.

H5rre11
Guest
H5rre11

Justice for Sara De Blue!! ??

Denise Return Pls
Guest
Denise Return Pls

In the video at 1:49:00, the jury is clapping and smiling and Zoë is showing her austrian reserve. Priceless

b00nika
Guest
b00nika

Good points, hopefully they’ll take them into account if they’re going to do this again. Still I’d prefer them to stick to internal selection

b00nika
Guest
b00nika

(possibly with no Siegel involved, though)

Denise Return Pls
Guest
Denise Return Pls

All the shenanigans has not hurt San Marino’s chances of qualifying one bit. The whole process was worth it just for Zoë’s facial wonders.

Shanfa Chai
Guest
Shanfa Chai

It was so unfair that multiple contestants who received maximum funding could get 12 points. Sara should’ve been the only one that received 12 points, since she was the first contestant to reach the funding goal.

Enjoy your non-qualification, San Marino!! Also for new judge, **** you!!!

Hada
Guest
Hada

No. No “how to improve” for this scam. Just get rid of it and stick to internal selections. I’d rather RTV straight-up crowdfunds Valentina and IROL to enter Eurovision with an entry of their own that reflects their styles and talent.

Shame on San Marino. They went from a country that sends bad songs to a country thatr sends bad songs that aren’t even Sanmarinese and rips off people.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

The results were announced from 5th place and above, each place has its worth and viewers will not know whether there was a disparity between Jury and Televote ranks. The televise should not be down to money, that paves the way for corruption. I think most people can raise €8000 and especially artists such as Jenifer, Giovani, Sara and Jessika who will do anything to win. There should be an external group of jury members who asses the songs and after each show reveal their scores, semi finals should be a combination of jury and televise (online vote, 1 per… Read more »