Every year, when the EBU announces the grand final running order, there’s one number to dread — two. It’s common Eurovision trivia that no song has ever won from the second spot. In recent years, songs that went second consistently finished on the right hand side of the scoreboard. Jonida Maliqi, Alfred and Amaia, Kasia Mos, Gabriela Gunčíková and so on.

However, there’s another number that us Eurofans don’t often discuss. As it turns out, in the 64 years of the Eurovision Song Contest, no one has ever won from spot #16 either.

Eurovision curse in spot #16?

Since 1961 — with the sole exception of ESC 1970 — there have always been 16 or more participants in every Eurovision grand final. Yet not one country that performed 16th has ever won. Just for comparison, seven songs have won from grand final spot #17 in just 53 editions where at least 17 countries competed.

Of course, success isn’t only about winning. Surely some songs that competed in the 16th spot have done OK? Well, not as many as you’d think. The last three songs that went 16th in the final were “Do It for Your Lover” (Spain 2017), “We Got Love” (Australia 2018) and “Bigger Than Us” (UK 2019). All three songs finished either last overall or at least last with the televote. Ouch.

In the last 15 years, not a single song that was 16th on the night of the final placed in the top third of the grand final.

Are #2 and #16 the only running order spots to have never won?

Almost. #25, #26 and #27 are the other three grand final spots to have never produced a winner. But in all fairness, these spots haven’t been around that long relative to #2 and #16. Also, Eleni Foureira almost brought home a win from spot #25 in 2018. Il Volo, who were the only #27 ever, won the televote.

Is the curse real?

The last #2 that finished in the top third was “Love in Rewind” in 2011. In recent years, the running order hasn’t been decided at random — producers have set the running order to create the most interesting show possible. Songs with little chance of winning (partly divined from the semi-final results, which are known to producers before the running order is decided) are frequently dropped into slot #2. Being so close to the beginning (which allows it to be forgotten) and directly after the opener (which is always exciting since, well, it’s the opener), might explain the second spot “curse”.

With the 16th spot, the constant lack of success seems harder to explain. While it would seem like a strategic spot, after the middle of the show and not too late, it constantly brings bad luck. Since 19 songs have won from neighbouring spots #14, #15, #17 and #18, could the curse be real? <Plays spooky music>.

What do you think? Is the curse real? Would you rather perform second or 16th? Tell us in the comments below!

Read about more Eurovision curiosities.

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Preuss
Preuss
1 month ago

Yeah Australia failed because their delegation kinda forgot that the song needed staging

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Preuss

IMO that song wasn’t meant for the ESC stage, it was meant for the radio.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

The two aren’t mutually exclusive, though…

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

Of course they’re not, there *are* songs that are meant both for stage and radio.

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

I remember the discussions that year. Apparently SJB had done the minimalistic staging and some special choreo as a tribute to JM’s heritage. That song did not deserve to qualify IMO but it was hyped here and there (youtube). Same with 2017 IMO. Australia do know how to promote their entries.

dxi
dxi
1 month ago

I think the most important thing to remember is that if your song is really, really good, it will end up high regardless of the spot. I don’t think running order has a large impact on the eventual winner, either. People will notice and remember the winning song whether it’s second or last in the running order. At the end of the day, the winner is all that counts, thus making these types of number games a bit futile (though they are fun, I must admit).

T.J.
T.J.
1 month ago

You are arguing as if every song has statistically the same chance to win and thus the spot is decisive every year there has been the same number of participants (16th in a year where there are 20 contestants is different as if there are 27) these two assumptions are false – as anyone can see immediately. Furthermore: Even IF the spot HAD any influence on the chances (which I strongly doubt), then the number of events (not even 100) is FAR to small to have any statistical value. The fact that it’s “in 60 years” as so many point… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by T.J.
Jack Pricefield
Jack Pricefield
1 month ago

I figured this out a few years ago, I remember Donny Montell getting pitted in #16 slot thinking “damn, was hoping he’d finish Top 10 but oh well” and 2 nights later he placed 9th which was a wonderful surprise! Lithuania also sung in the dreaded #16 slot on their unfortunate debut in 1994, Sakis Rouvas from 2004 remains the only 16th performed song to finish Top 5 this century and interesting to note that 5 entries under slot 16 in ESC history have finished runner-up • Imaani (UK 1998) • Michael Ball (UK 1992) • Wind (Germany 1987) •… Read more »

Una
Una
1 month ago

Interesting info. I’d also like to see that article as mentioned above in the comment. Thinking about how important televote is for the final ranking. I presume that the juries pay attention to all entries regardless of their place in the running order and they apply the standard criteria as per their own perspectives. It looks like the televote leans more heavily to the final entries. So I would also *love* to see an article about the role the televote plays for the final ranking – I don’t remember reading an article or watching a wiwi video on this. Makes… Read more »

Alex
Alex
1 month ago
Reply to  Una

I don’t agree. Televote Top 10 is usually 50% 1st half and 50% 2nd half. And you could win it performing in 1st half. Keiino or Sergey would have won it as well.
And performing earlier than your closest competition might be good as well. Like Denmark in 2013. Or Estonia in 2001. It can be good. There are many cases. It depends but a good entry will stand out regardless any draw tho

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

I wasn’t even sure myself – that’s why I said that “it looks like the televote …”. No harm.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
1 month ago

I liked Donny, Knez and Lena but otherwise, these were all bad songs in the final. It’s not a curse when bad songs do badly.

JDS
JDS
1 month ago

“Songs with little chances of winning (partly divined from the jury vote, which is held hours before the running order is decided) are frequently dropped into slot #2.“

I don’t think that correct. The running order for the final is announced early on Friday morning, before the jury final.

It is right to say of course that the results from the semi-finals, known for the producers but not to us at this stage, do play a role in the final running order.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  JDS

Yep, it should have been the semi-final results. To be clear, the jury rehearsal of the grand final uses the exact same running order as the live grand final show. 🙂

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  JDS

And also the producer-led running order is treated like a radio playlist. Everything has to flow so songs of the same feather are spread out. Producers like high-energy or impactful entries to open and close the show.

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  JDS

I am very sure that at some point WLA said that the running order may suggest how well an entry or another did in the semis. I can’t remember when exactly – it must have been in a video before the GF in the past few years.
Allocating better spots for the the better entries makes sense for a good show that people will enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with that. The only variable hard or impossible to control is in which half the entries will perform. That’s the random one. But anyways, a good song is a good song.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Una

I think there is something wrong with giving the “better” spots to the “better” entries. The only judges of quality should be the juries and the televoters. Not the producers.

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

I agree with your point but also with the point made by the producers about making each entry shine etc. And I also understand that all the props and whatnot will have to be brought onto stage and off. And that the audience could get bored with a situation where three or four women in a row sing ballads. I wish there was a random draw for each spot, not only half semi/GF. Maybe next year because of the situation – maybe the show could be more expensive thus they will want to control the kosts a bit with less… Read more »

Jo.
Jo.
1 month ago

No curse, basically the producers fill those mid-positions in the run with the…fillers. It’s the toilet-break time. Those songs would’ve flopped in any other spot.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Michael Rice’s draw is one of the most cruel I can remember. Between Keiino and Hatari.
I can only think in Anja close to that who had Gabbani and Sobral.
Producers and EBU knew Anja flopped in the SF but they didn’t know about Michael.

Last edited 1 month ago by Marc
Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

Anja did come last in her SF but I don’t think she flopped. Plus, she won the Danish GP. She deserved to be there IMO.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

Denmark didn’t get any single point from friends Nordic televoting. That shows a flop imo. She won Danish GP but it was a weak contest in those years.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

It still qualified which means it didn’t flop.

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

I cannot feel sorry for Michael Rice. Nothing could have saved that song. Unremarkable in everything.

T.J.
T.J.
1 month ago

ever heard that correlation does not equal causation?

Denis
Denis
1 month ago

Could it not be that song 16 is the song 2 of the second half? It has low chance to win, probably didnt do to well in the semi or jury show and follows a more memorable “opening tune”?

Marc
Marc
1 month ago
Reply to  Denis

2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019 didn’t compete in Semifinals.
Lithuania 2016 had Serbia and Croatia. both flopping across the board and both were borderline qualifiers.
Australia 2018 was 4th in the Semifinal.

Last edited 1 month ago by Marc
Izzy
Izzy
1 month ago

Ofra Haza finished 2nd in 1983 performing from 16th position. I don’t know if this substantiates this article or not as one might claims that this is bad luck as she only missed by 6 points.

Iván el Conquistador
Iván el Conquistador
1 month ago

“The last #2 that finished in the top third was “Love in Rewind” in 2011”.
Objection! Love in Rewind ended up in sixth place.

Jamaraqueer
Jamaraqueer
1 month ago

They say “top third” (so 8/9 of the 25 finalists) not “top three”.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago

Objection allowed!

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

This is a language misunderstanding. The article says “top third”. That is acts finishing in the top 33.33% of the rankings, not “top three”, which would be first, second third.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Nancy G

Objection dismissed! And thanks for the clarification.

FanESC
FanESC
1 month ago

I thought the same, thanks the comments.

Miss Uncongeniality
Miss Uncongeniality
1 month ago

In the case of Manel Navarro, the curse was not the spot, was his voice (and an awful song) indeed

Iván el Conquistador
Iván el Conquistador
1 month ago

There were something fishy in the national final won by Navarro. Mirela, who placed runner-up, was the favourite of the crowd (she won the televote) but because of a draw, the jury was given the right to have the last word and ended up voting Manel Navarro (who was very uppity and insolent because of his victory). Before the NF, “Do it for your lover” was promoted by radio station Los40 and Xavi Martínez, a presenter from that radio station, was a member of the jury and voted for Manel (he even was attacked by someone from the crowd after… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Iván el Conquistador
Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago

What happened in the parliament?

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

RTVE was asked to explain themselves about the skirmish and got a scolding.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  James

LOL! That sounds so funny. Thanks!

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  James

LOL. I think that the Spanish parliament discussed Spain in Eurovision after the “oyit points” from 2008 or 2009 misunderstanding.

MusicFan
MusicFan
1 month ago

It was a good song for me. Much better than their overrated powerballads

JDS
JDS
1 month ago

It was horrible. How it got any points at all is beyond me. More deserving of 0 points than both the songs which ended up with zero in 2015.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago

I am loving curiosities posts. Please make a curiosities series.

I guess competing on the no 2 spot in the GF mustn’t feel that good.

Sale
Sale
1 month ago

We ll Montenegro Lithuania and Germany all managed to be on the left side of the scoreboard with 13th 9th abd 10th place so I wouldn’t call it that cursed but I see the points since almost every song ends up with lower than 15 placing

Last edited 1 month ago by Sale
Una
Una
1 month ago

So funny, no pun. There is no curse IMO. I don’t think so. There is some statistics and analysis involved when “weaker” songs are ranked 2nd. Maybe the 16th could be the same but for the second half. Because we must not forget that acts randomly choose in which half they will play.

Jakeboy
Jakeboy
1 month ago

One think I have noticed is that the winners since 2015 have performed in positions 10, 21, 11, 22 and 12. If this pattern continues expect number 23 in the running order to win.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jakeboy

That looks interesting.

pasi
pasi
1 month ago
Reply to  Jakeboy

So the Netherlands would have won this year again? I doub that. But well now 2020 is missing, next year 13 spot will win? Because 23 should have been 2020 😀

Last edited 1 month ago by pasi
esc2021rotterdam
esc2021rotterdam
1 month ago
Reply to  pasi

I doubt that the Netherlands would’ve won this year but because eurovision 2020 isn’t counted so there is a chance that the eurovision 2021 winner will be performed 23rd (I think there will be again a lottery to determine where the netherlands will perform in the final so it’s unlikely that they will be 23rd again)

Marc
Marc
1 month ago
Reply to  pasi

Chain might have been broken. There was also the rule that the finalist announced 5th.. was gonna win the final and it was broken in 2019.

Denis
Denis
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

Of course that was never the rule! The winner was sometimes announced last, sometimes in the middle. It was never only 5th..

Marc
Marc
1 month ago
Reply to  Denis

The winner was announced in 5th in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2019 was broken.