Let’s face it… the last 18 months have been anything but ordinary!! And in these strange times of COVID, social distancing and frantic hand washing, even Eurovision has undergone massive changes to ensure the event we know and love can go ahead. We all knew it was going to be a contest unlike any other – but just how different will it be?
In this diary series, Eurovision Ireland regular James will give you his daily personal thoughts about the goings on backstage at Eurovision 2021, both through the lens of a contest being hosted during these unprecedented times and as someone following rehearsals from afar. Will it be The Weirdest Eurovision Ever? Quite possibly!
Day 14 – Rage Against The Running Order
What a night last night was! Eurovision 2021 is well underway now with its spectacular Second Semi Final giving us a fantastic show. First of all, congratulations to Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Portugal, Iceland, San Marino, Switzerland, Greece and Finland for making it to the final! And of course, commiserations to Estonia, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Georgia, Latvia and Denmark.
Once again, most of the Eurovision Ireland gang and our extended family of press rightly guessed between 70-80% countries correctly (I had Denmark and Austria down over Serbia and Moldova). That means I got 18/20 across both semi finals for me, which may be a record for me! Admittedly the Second Semi Final always seems to throw me a bit more – I think I even dipped as low as 6 our of 10 one year! As a group, we’re rather stunned about Austria and Denmark’s not reaching the final. Austria was jury gold, so I can only assume flashier numbers caught the attention of the televoters and scuppered their chances. Similarly, I wonder if these televoters loved Denmark (as evident by the fans chanting the country’s name before the last qualifier was announced!) but the jury were less impressed. So many of us were convinced Denmark would reach the final, which proves just how unpredictable this contest can be! Must say though, I’m happy for San Marino making their 3rd ever Eurovision and there are a fantastic range of songs for Saturday night – it’ll be quite a show!
So we have our 20 qualifiers! Hurrah! Now what? Well, last night after the qualifiers were announced and their had press conferences and randomly drawing which half of the final they’ll be performing in, the next big thing for the show’s organisers to grapple with is the running order for Saturday’s grand final. Knowing this could take hours, I’ll admit I was fast asleep by this point and woke up to the list this morning. The running order for the Eurovision Song Contest is a peculiar thing, which is why I suspect they moved away from it being a random draw to a being put together by producers. Start too slowly and there’s the risk people will switch off. Put all the favourites and floor fillers on at the beginning, and people won’t hang around till the voting. It’s a fine balance and I certainly don’t envy the poor sod who has to do it!
Every year there are screams of foul play, sabotage and personal grudges coming out in the running order. Fans clutch wildly at straws saying things like “Well X can’t have come 1st in their semi, they’ve got a bad draw!” and “OMG This is because everyone hates X!” – usually the more deranged and outlandish the suggestion, the fewer words are spelt correctly. One of the most popular Eurovision Old Wives’ tales is that performing 2nd on the night is somehow cursed. Yes, it is true that in over 60 years no song that performed after the opener has won – does that make it cursed, or just a quirk of statistics? Regardless, anyone who is put on to perform 2nd is thereby hysterically labelled by fans a sacrifice to the Eurovision Gods that has been purposely singled out to fail. I’d like to point out that, yes, there do seem to be a handful of countries more likely to find themselves performing second than others – but remember this is what happens you have 26 songs to put into an order. They can’t all go on 11th and can’t all get favoured spots!
Looking at the running order for 2021 and watching the first rehearsal for the Grand Final this afternoon offer some interesting observations. Cyprus are a banger of an opening song and set the tone for the night well. Switzerland and Iceland have drawn a good spots, while early favourites Malta are on quite early in proceedings. Not necessarily a bad thing, a good song will stand out wherever it is in the running order. Lithuania, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Norway provide a suitably mental last third, almost to the point where I wonder if they’re going to swamp France. Germany are on early enough that the televote should still be fairly sober (!!) while Bulgaria’s subdued ballad gets swallowed by Finnish rock and madcap Lithuanian disco. And finishing with San Marino… well, I still wonder if that could be the moment we see the microstate claim an accidental win! These are just my first thoughts watching the run through and by tonight’s jury final they’ll have developed further. There’s still much to play for!
Cyprus, Albania, Israel, Belgium, Russia, Malta, Portugal, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Greece, Switzerland, Iceland, Spain, Moldova, Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Azerbaijan, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and San Marino are all potential winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Of course, some countries have more of a chance than others. Indeed, 18 of our contestants’ countries have lifted that trophy at least one before. For 8 of them, it would mean their first foray into Eurovision victory – and there’s an exciting thought!
I’ll be giving you my thoughts on tonight’s Jury Grand Final tomorrow. 39 have become 26 – and tomorrow night, 25 will stand aside for one winner!
Signing off for today – thank you Europe, and good night!
Author: James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Banner Image Source: Adapted from realireland.ie