The “Curse” of The OGAE Poll? Will it happen again this year at Eurovision?
We are just over half way through the OGAE Eurovision 2015 Votes so our guest writer Barry Joyce takes a closer look at the results over the years.
As we head into the final few weeks before Eurovision 2015, the members of OGAE are gearing up to vote on their favourite entry of 2015. And one can almost sense the fear in this year’s contestants too. Forget Tutankhamun, which entry this year is going to succumb to the “curse of OGAE”?
The Organisation Générale des Amateurs de l’Eurovision, in English the General Organisation of Eurovision Fans and better known by its French acronym OGAE, is the network of 43 Eurovision Song Contest fan clubs across Europe and beyond. Since 2007, they have conducted a pre-Eurovision Contest poll in which every national club plus OGAE Rest of the World vote on all entries, using the same scoring system as at the Song Contest itself (12, 10 and 8 points to the top three songs in that order, then 7 points to 1 point for the next seven songs). The points for each country’s fan club are then collated and an overall OGAE poll winner and runners-up are announced shortly before the Contest begins in earnest.
Most of the time the OGAE fans and Eurovision juries & televoters are in agreement – Molitva (in 2007), Fairytale (in 2009), Euphoria (in 2012) and Only Teardrops (in 2013), as well as winning the Contest, also won the OGAE poll. In other years, the song that was the pick of the fans might not have won the Contest, but did come close to the top (for example, Sanna Nielsen with “Undo” in 2014 ended up finishing 3rd on the night; in 2010 Chanée and N’evergreen’s “In A Moment Like This” ended up in 4th place, both songs having won the OGAE poll). Other songs that end up in the top three in the OGAE poll often end up doing quite well in the Contest itself too; for example Margaret Berger for Norway placed 3rd with OGAE voters and 4th in the Contest in 2013 with “I Feed You My Love”; Jelena Tomašević from Serbia placed 3rd with OGAE voters and 6th in the Contest in 2008 with “Oro”. (There are of course the years when OGAE members didn’t put the Contest winner in their top three at all, but maybe its best we avoid mentioning that…)
However, ever since the OGAE poll was inaugurated in 2007, OGAE fans have tended to put one song in their Top Three that ends up going nowhere at the Contest – either it fails to qualify from its semi-final or ends up near the bottom of the scoreboard on the night of the final itself. In fact, this has happened with such alarming regularity that it could almost be argued that at least one of OGAE’s top three picks is going to definitely fail to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. Other songs may have excellent studio versions or eye-catching videos that just don’t translate to success on the night itself. Other songs are well, just pants and one wonders what illicit substances OGAE fans are enjoying when they pick these howlers as their favourites…
So, is one of OGAE’s top three favourites for 2015 cursed to suffer the ignominy of the bottom portion of the right hand side of the scoreboard, or worse still, to end up with the Kate Ryan award? Lets look at the previous evidence…
2007 Switzerland – Vampires Are Alive – DJ BoBo
OGAE Poll: 2nd
Eurovision Final: Failed to Qualify (20/28 in semi-final)
Okay, there WERE 28 countries in the semi-final and only ten could qualify, and Switzerland WERE 8th in the running order (although that didn’t stop Belarus and Georgia from qualifying in 4th and 6th positions respectively) but coming 20th in your semi-final after coming 2nd with the OGAE fans was frankly embarrassing. At least that year Molitva, the OGAE favourite, also won the contest, and 6th placed Belarus came 3rd in the OGAE poll.
2008 Sweden “Hero” – Charlotte Perelli
OGAE Poll: 1st
Eurovision Final: 18th
2008 was a bad year for OGAE fan favourites. Switzerland’s Paolo Meneguzzi, with his song “Era Stupendo”, came second with OGAE voters but failed to qualify for the final, coming 13th out of 19 countries in the semi. While this alone would qualify it as the contender for this years “Curse of OGAE”, it was spectacularly eclipsed by the shambles of Charlotte Perelli’s “Hero”, the ultimate “fan” song and perennial Euroclub favourite. Failing to qualify from its semi-final, being placed 12th out of 19, it was shoe-horned into the final by the back-up juries, at the expense of Macedonia who actually came in 10th place (which must have somewhat aggrieved Tamara, Vrčak & Adrian). While Charlotte tried her best, a rather off-putting performance and frankly scary staging left her trailing in 18th place on the night.
2009 Sweden “La Voix” – Malena Ernman
OGAE Poll: 3rd
Eurovision Final: 21st
Proving that “popera” is possibly best left to people who have form in this area (i.e. the Italians), Malena did manage to come 4th in her semi-final with some very impressive scoring, but failed to translate that success to her Eurovision Final performance. An analysis of the voting patterns show that she was more popular with televoters than juries, and as the semi-final results were decided by televoters only, perhaps her 4th placing there was somewhat of an over-exaggerration. At least OGAE picked Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” as their favourite song this year.
2010 Israel “Milim” – Harel Skaat
OGAE Poll: 2nd
Eurovision Final: 14th
Not OGAE’s worst year (Denmark, the OGAE poll winners, eventually ended up in 4th place on the night , while Germany, the eventual Contest winners, came in 3rd) but “Milim” should really have done much better than 14th, given that Israel also had a clean sweep of the Marcel Bezençon Awards that year (winning the Press Award, Artistic Award and Composer’s Award).
2011 Hungary “What About My Dreams?” – Kati Wolf
OGAE Poll: 1st
Eurovision Final: 22nd
Ok, at least Kati qualified for the final. But from the moment that she appeared on stage in THAT blue number combined with Dynasty hair and the three most pointless and irritating backing dancers in Eurovision history, we should have known that she was destined for the lower end of the right-hand side of the scoreboard.
2012 Iceland “Never Forget” – Gréta Salóm and Jónsi
OGAE Poll: 3rd
Eurovision Final: 20th
Oh dear. The kind of song which would probably have done very well in the mid-nineties with juries got very lost in the year that gave us “Euphoria” (which was also the OGAE poll winner, of course). Jónsi and Gréta were rather easy on the eye admittedly, and Jónsi had done this before so we kind of had a soft spot for him (and the preview video was all very moody and snowy and backlit and temperamental). However the stilted and faux-dramatic performances just didn’t gel together very satisfactorily on stage and left everyone, including televoters and jurors, rather underwhelmed.
2013 San Marino “Crisalide” – Valentina Monetta
OGAE Poll: 2rd
Eurovision Final: Failed to Qualify (11/17 in semi-final)
Who doesn’t love an underdog, especially one that not only tries so hard, but so often? After the rather dismal failure of ‘The Social Network Song’ the previous year, San Marino decided to send Valentina back for the second of her three appearances for the diminutive republic. Cleverly deciding that sending two completely different melodies masquerading as one song would double their chances of victory, in the preview video Valentina gave us drama, a wind machine, an epic key change, AND glowing disco balls. The good people of OGAE loved it and lapped it up in droves. Unfortunately, it failed to find much love with either televoters or juries in its semi-final (and was second in the running order, a rather accursed position) and ended up languishing in 11th place, a full 16 points behind tenth-placed Georgia.
2014 Israel “Same Heart” – Mei Feingold
OGAE Poll: 3rd
Eurovision Final: Failed to Qualify (14/15 in semi-final)
Ouch. Exactly what went wrong with Mei Feingold’s Eurovision thumper, which had been seen as something of an outside favourite to win the contest outright before the semi-final, has been the subject of some debate. The staging looked impressive, the outfit was acceptable, the dance moves not that embarrassing. So what happened? Mei’s vocals were somewhat off, and there is a belief that bilingual songs rarely work at Eurovision. Then there was the additional strain of being second in the running order (cf Valentina above) and the possible additional political handicap of being the Israeli entry. The shock of non-qualification was palpable on the night, only to be further enhanced by the knowledge of Mei’s (undeserved, in most people’s opinion) second-last semi-final placing.
So what do you think? Is success in the OGAE fan poll the ultimate kiss of death? Should Mans, Il Volo, Maraaya or anyone else this year be concerned? Is it all just a combination of bad vocals, bad staging and bad placing? Or is it something else? Eurovision 2015 entrants…. be afraid… be very afraid….
Guest Writer : Barry Joyce
Source : OGAE and Eurovision Ireland