In this editorial piece, Phil Colclough, Webmaster of OnEurope (revamp coming!!) shares his thoughts about Spain and their fall out of love with Eurovision.
It generally starts so well. Lots of fan support some verging on the fanatical at times, getting behind one or two local artistes. The tension building up around a national final whipping national and international fans and supporters into an anticipational frenzy for the big reveal….
…..and then it arrives, the song from Spain. This usually cues 8-9 weeks of internet panic and fervent poll voting and Spanish fans on the internet at least deciding that Spain is going to be to the wonning and nothing can stop their march to glory, Except for two things in recent years, the juries and the televote. This then baffles the very same Spanish fans who it seems can’t get the idea that real people and juries don’t like their song very much, but they don’t understand why.
That, dear friends, is Spain in a nutshell. Not having won since 1969, the Spanish have done all sorts of things in the past to compete in this contest but, it can be argued, for the last decade and a half it really does seem that the powers that be at TVE Towers have lulled themselves into a false sense of security. They have caught what I like to call ” BBC-ITIS” – they have got a formula for a song and they will not deviate from that, because that’s what they think Europe likes, and they don’t have to try to change it because they have the safety blanket of being exempt from relegation. Sadly, though, everyone in Spain who follows the contest has bought into this idea as well.
It’s at this point in the article, if you’ve got this far, that you will be about to furiously type an email to me saying “Why do you hate Spain… you Spanish hater…” – but let’s look at the evidence for this. Since 2004 they have not finished in the top 9 in any contest since. Their best has been 3 x 10th places (in 2004, 2012 and 2014) and a whole raft of contest failures that no one in Spain saw coming, but the rest of Europe have seen from a mile out. Spanish Eurovision entries have become predictable. They are generally aimed squarely at a minority, and not the one you would immediately think of either when Eurovision comes to mind. The songs are often throw away pieces of Pop with a fan-friendly big note or key change in it, lots of heavy choreography to distract the casual viewer from the fact that the songs have no depth or feeling and when they do have this, the performance or the staging lets down a singer often doing their best.
The fans, think of them what you like, and the viewing public of Spain deserve better. When Spain does well in the contest, the rest of Europe tends to be buoyed by the result but in their current malaise it is hard to see how the run of poor results and internet meltdowns and recriminations will stop and a good result takes that place.
TVE *have* listened to the fans in recent years, but is this right? – Are Fans in the right place and frame of mind to know how to get a good Eurovision result, rather than their idea of what they think a good Eurovision song is? – It’s all about the Televote and Jury in the brave new Eurovision world and to get the success the Spanish crave, you’ve got to be good at everything. And it can certainly be argued that there has been an amount of papering over the cracks that the songs have with choreography, but the whole package also needs to be looked at.
TVE need to work from the ground up. They have to work out what a good result looks like and how that is achieved, not continuingly request for, and get, outdated variations on the same theme. Traditional Eurovision “Stompers” don’t work anymore… because Eurovision has moved on. It’s audience has grown up and wants a piece of music that it likes, not one that it is told it should like.
The juries have added the quality dimension to the overall package and are actively told to mark up songs on a range of criteria, they can not be dazzled by a populist piece of choreography or stereotypical songs, they now have to be good. They need to be brave enough to ditch their traditional late, very late, call for songs and put the ground work in to get what is needed. If they are currently doing this behind the scenes, then I’m afraid to say it’s not paying dividends.
Is their National Final structure working? – It’s put on very late at night and can go on for hours… that’s not engaging Television, that’s a very long and boring show for 4-5 songs. Either cut it down to something manageable or get rid of it entirely. A National Final is only worth its salt if there is enough quality in it to make it a meaningful contest and a coronation of one artist does no one any good and the ratings will suffer. It is a TV show after all.
Also, is language a problem? Say Yay! and it being in English was a massive step for TVE to take, should it have been done earlier? I believe it should have been, or at least 50-50 because English is, like it or not, the language of popular music.
So what do TVE do? – Nothing? – That’s the TV Execs option because “ It’s a TV Show”. Revamp? – That’s the Fans option (and mine for the record) because results count for everything in the contest and “doing badly because we can” isn’t the right way to go. Personally?, Get TVE out there and press the flesh, speak to ALL the record companies, get rid of the joke entries and remember that this has the potential to be the biggest talent show in Europe for the Right talent. Getting that right talent won’t be easy, but it will pay off in record sales and viewing figures. Remember the Operacion Triumfo bubble?, That feeling is something that needs recreating. Something that got Spain talking ABOUT Eurovision again, not Talking DOWN Eurovision ( as that is the easy route).
What say you, Readers of Eurovision Ireland? – Of course this is all just Phil’s opinion, so what’s yours?? Get in touch and tell us!!