The Fix Is In

May 20, 2015 by

The Fix Is In

2nd rehearsals for the 7 automatic qualifiers today. Others can provide rehearsal notes on those. My focus here is on today’s 1st half/2nd half draws.

This is a fun day when conspiracy theories abound, usually started by yours truly, regarding how the drawing of lots will pan out among the 6 automatic qualifiers, possibly because of the EBU’s ‘master plan’.

It might tell us how happy the EBU is about the Contest returning to Sweden so soon, and how concerned it is about the prospect of Russia hosting next year. More 2nd half draws today than 1st half ones would reduce Mans’ chance of pulling out a 2nd half draw tomorrow.

Of course, if Mans is called as 1st qualifier tomorrow, he would get to pick first in the press conference that follows, with the potential to be directed, Emmelie-style, to one of the remaining 2nd half lots, unsubtly placed at the top of the bowl…

Just a bit of fun. Here are my predictions written ahead of today’s press conferences:

Italy – 2nd half. One of this year’s big acts and one of the market leaders. EBU will very likely want Italy in the 2nd half. There is a sense RAI might be ready and willing to host ESC. CORRECT. That’s 1/1.

Spain – less confidence attached to this one. Could go either way, Edurne is a big name though and Spain has made a real effort again this year, so 2nd half is the marginal call. CORRECT. 2/2.

Germany – Very much an also-ran this year, expect to see a 1st half draw for this. WRONG. 2/3.

UK – A below-par entry from the UK, deserving to be put away in the 1st half. A 1st half banker this. CORRECT. 3/4

France – this is one that could go either way. Given France was dumped in the coffin slot 2 years ago, and despite a 2nd half draw last year, given the worst possible starting berth in 14, perhaps Lisa has hope of landing a 2nd half draw. But fear of too many 2nd half slots being taken today ahead of Sweden’s draw tomorrow edges this towards being a first half draw too. CORRECT. 4/5.

Australia – perhaps the greatest conundrum and a really key moment. Australia has already received a lot of preferential treatment this year: automatic finalist status, being given the chance to vote in both semi-finals, and with so many references to Australia during last night’s first semi-final it was like watching X Factor UK transformed into the Fleur East Show last season.

While this is one of the current market leaders there is an argument it could be a great way to start the final. And putting Guy on first would help appease potential disharmony among some ESC nations at the favouritism afforded this year’s interloper. This would also act as an alarm call for Australian viewers to get up to see him perform at the start of the show.

If given a 2nd half draw, and then landing, say a draw between 18 and 22 you sense the resentment will grow among all those nations knocked out in the semi-finals and might risk withdrawals from the competition next year.

Equally, Oz might be considered the perfect show-closer and maybe the 27 berth would actually be a slight disadvantage given possible viewer fatigue, so its plans for Australia might not become fully clear until Friday’s running order reveal.

Another way of looking at it is, the EBU has been pretty shameless in its promotion of this year’s new entrant, and it may well secretly fancy a possible Oz win and getting to choose next year’s host city, instead of risking Sochi and perhaps not being eager for the Contest to return to Sweden so soon. But the marginal call here is 1st half draw for Oz. Guy still to draw at time of posting…

So, you see, now it’s all abundantly clear what’s going on this year. As Elbow once sang, ‘The fix is in. There’s a nag gonna dance home at Epsom’ and that nag is… YOU decide.

4 Comments

  1. Henry VIII

    LOL Rob the EBU are shameless. I’m expecting Oz 2nd half. ESC web feed just went down in the middle of Oz press conference.

  2. Henry VIII

    Oz 1st half. No comprendo.

  3. Rob

    I think the arguments for 1st half draw for Oz were overall more compelling, Henry, than 2nd half draw, for all the reasons outlined.

    I personally don’t think the EBU wants an Oz victory on its debut. Too many awkward repercussions. It could be given the 1 slot now. That really wouldn’t surprise me – it is the ideal song to get the party spirit started rather than, say, the UK being the opener & risking vast swathes of viewers changing channels.

    Let’s see if Israel gets through tomorrow night as that might be good for the 1 slot too.

  4. Ben Gray

    Hi Rob. Quick disclaimer before I begin, I hold the belief that the EBU would be very happy for Australia to win. They’ve been quite clear when they announced their participation, it’s a one-off, unless they win. Scandals are where the EBU tends to shy away, but I don’t think they’ll chicken out of their own media spin and invite Australia back if they belly flop into 6th place as some people, comparing the Australian entry to Denmark 2008, (proving that they literally get so wrapped up in this contest that they can’t tell clichéd shite apart from A-list pop music,) are saying it will.

    Since the producer-led draw came into effect, one ballad and one up-tempo song has opened the final, so we simply cannot establish any kind of statistical pattern there. I am open to the idea of Australia opening the show, but the reasoning sounds a bit off to me. Waking the Aussies up at 5am sharp to see their entry… and then what? Some will go off for a 90 minute snooze until the result, plus the European audience has no sense of anticipation for what is clearly the highlight of the evening. It’s just bad telly to put Australia on first after all this promotion.

    My hope is that he will get a draw similar to Conchita/Sanna last year. Austria at 14 is looking very convenient given the uneven halves, isn’t it? If Eurovision’s good at one thing, it’s throwing curveballs. At least the possibility of Australia showing up too late is now eliminated, and if Conchita can win from 11, so can Guy.

    On a side note, some news from outside the Vienna bubble for you. I haven’t been tuning in to any TV or radio due to living at a student’s house with no aerial or license for the last 6 months, but I went home to see family this past weekend. I came downstairs in the morning and the TV was on a chart music channel. They did a segment on Eurovision coming up, and immediately went straight to “our Australian cousins” as the first talking point. They then had 39 other Eurovision 2015 entries they could have showed the UK public next, and they decided to show “Heroes”.

    By Conchita Wurst.

    and then quickly moved on with Electro Velvet, moaned about how we never score any points and moved on. Not a single mention of Sweden or Italy. Australia’s also been interviewed somewhat extensively during the first semi final, and by the BBC where he explicitly said to Mel Giedroyc “if we don’t win, that’s it for us, forever and it’ll be all my fault.” He said it in a light-hearted tone but if it wasn’t true, he’d have been told to dance around the subject.

    Later that day, at a family BBQ, (how apt,) my uncle comes up to me and says “when is Eurovision on?” I said next week and he said “I like the Australian song, it’s good.” I hadn’t even shown him any of the songs and I don’t know where he’s heard “Tonight Again”. I asked him quickly if he thought Sweden might win, but he hadn’t heard it. I brought up the lyric video quickly on my phone, he listened up to the first chorus, and said “No it’s shit, turn it off.”

    There’s also been a lot of articles about Australia in Eurovision in the mainstream press this week. Even when Daniel Gould spoke to the Independent, they used Guy’s photo under the headline despite Daniel describing Mans as the hot favourite.

    I haven’t exactly gone around Europe’s high streets with a placard around my neck but to me this is more than enough evidence to suggest that the Australian entry has already captured the attention and imagination of televoters. There is really nothing that the juries can mark him down for either, unless they share some Eurofans resentment towards the country being there in the first place.

    Speaking of resentment, you say putting on Australia first would appease delegations who might withdraw if Australia win, but is there any actual evidence or sign of this distaste in the press center? It sounds like something broadcasters would have been informed of before the public reveal to be honest. There’s a mystery surrounding the unusual “last minute” nature of their inclusion. Was it part of ORF’s original plan or was it really as spontaneous as we’re inclined to believe? The reveal video with Julia Zemiro must have taken a bit of time to prepare at least.

    I’m sceptical of the repercussions. I think more planning and communication with other broadcasters has been done behind closed doors than we’re aware of. I’m not saying the EBU have gone “we’re inviting Australia this year and we’d like them to have their moment” without telling us, THAT would cause withdrawals because the likes of Slovenia and Lithuania would be like, “well what’s the point then?” I just don’t believe a lot of broadcasters care as much about winning as they do press and ratings, and getting through to the final is imperative for that, especially for the small countries. That’s probably why France and Denmark are so bloody complacent. Eurovision is not a sport. Sweden could literally win Eurovision any and every year if they wanted to.

    Back to the draw, the first half draw is a slight spanner in the works, but we’ve seen in 2014 and in 2012 with the “would have won were it not for Loreen” massive score for the Babushki, that it is no real obstacle if you’re good enough. I think people need to pay attention to this “aura of interest” surrounding Australia and stop obsessing over whether his performance and song really is the most instant omfg-amazeballs, emotion-swelling spectacle people will see on Saturday night. That’s Eurofanboy thinking. It’s the most memorable, most mainstream-appeasing entry that wins, for one reason or another.

    Moving on.

    I believe Russia would be the ideal show closer. Since rehearsals, I’ve affectionately been describing Russia as “Children of the Universe + voting power.” It’s soaring anthemic qualities sound like the perfect finale to me. Those overhead shots of Polina’s dress were marvellous last night, but apart from that, I’m not feeling the static band set up for such a huge song has a “winner” look. They’d have done much better with 5 racially diverse, clapping backing singers dressed in smart-casual to represent ordinary folk led by the Goddess of Peace.

    I hope the UK do come dead last this year too. Guy Freeman needs to be sent a very strong message, just as Denmark and the Netherlands already have been by getting the boot, and Iceland could do with a year off as well. Their NFs have been packed with mostly insipid fluff since Yohanna. Iceland might scrape through again owing to Maria’s adorable mug, but I think Switzerland need the encouragement.

    Anyway, until Saturday, I’m going to keeping a very close eye on Cyprus. Thanks for the ongoing coverage and remember to have some fun while you’re there too. 🙂

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