Jury vs. Televote…the Saga Continues

There’s been a lot of chatter from fans (both casual and obsessed) about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a 50% Jury, 50% Televote split at Eurovision.  Call me crazy, but I actually kind of prefer having the two sides.  A jury might be less inclined to vote for a song based on geographical or cultural distribution, while a public vote might be a better divining rod of what’s actually popular.  Juries also have the benefit of having a few hours to digest their thoughts and register their votes, while televoters have a smaller window to decide where to spend their hard-earned cell-phone minutes. (Granted, until the full votes from each nation are released by the EBU or by the broadcasters themselves, this is a lot of speculation.)

What *does* bother me a bit, however, is the fact that the juries and the public vote on two different performances.  The Juries give their scores based on the final dress rehearsal from the night before the actual event.  As many have said over the past few weeks, Blue’s vocals simply didn’t do the song justice during the Jury Final (which pains me to say, since I loved both the song and the boys themselves, as my readers knew). 
I think it all boils down to what makes a Eurovision Winner the “best” song.  Is it the composition?  The showmanship?  The personality?  The actual vocal performance?  The potential for a song to become a commercial hit?  The public will look for one thing, while the juries might look for something else.  When it comes to actual musical talent, I sincerely think that the juries got it right when they favored Italy.  In terms of showmanship, the Azeris put on a great performance that was visually stunning (with a bit of eye candy for all).  Was “Running Scared” my personal choice or prediction for the winner?  Not by a long shot.  After watching the semifinals and a slew of rehearsals, I was hoping for Rome, Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Athens, Sarajevo, or Tblisi, and I predicted it would go to London, Dublin, Paris, or even Belgrade.  But even though “Running Scared” wasn’t my personal taste, I can sit back and understand how it took the crown.  Düsseldorf was full of impressive songs and performances, and when enthusiasm is spread out over a number of different nations (a total of 20 nations out of 25 ended up with at least one “douze points”, with only Estonia, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, and Serbia missing out), an entry can easily fly under the radar and take a victory.
It’s possible to go on about this topic for pages and pages, and you might never come up with a true consensus of how to find an ideal winner.  My friend John Kennedy O’Connor wrote a really in-depth and incisive piece on this topic for ESCInsight.com, and I recommend that you all check it out, if you haven’t already.
Ok, everybody…let the (hopefully civil) debate begin!  What would you like to see, in terms of the voting?

Posted on June 9, '11, in 2011, Special Comment. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I pretty much agree with you on the fact that the juries should vote on the same night. But I think they don't, because, like you said, they get a significantly longer time frame to make their decision. The most democratic way to do it would be to have just the televote, and I lean closer to that because when it boils down to it, the winner is usually always the best song. There may be political voting, but a song doesn't win solely on politics. If I remember correctly from my mum, the whole point of adding televoting was to eliminated political voting from the JURIES. There were always controversies of bribes and stuff. Regardless, I think televoting is the correct way to go in the end. But if that is not an option, then put the juries on the same night as the final.

  2. If only there were a way to keep the jurors or the televoters in the dark so that they only hear the songs/see the performances, and they don't know what country they come from…this is, of course, impossible, but it would cut down on political voting! ;-)I find it hard to believe that if the 50/50 split had existed in 2008, that we'd have been in Russia in 2009…and if Dima would have won with a jury component, it wouldn't have been by such a wide margin. Portugal would have scored higher, and San Marino wouldn't have come dead last (in my imagination, anyway).You say "the winner is usually the best song"…but the word "best" is the sticking point in this case! 😉

  3. Personally, I don't think any song in 2008 should have won… lol To me, that was the worst eurovision ever. In fact, I just watched it recently, and I couldn't believe how bad it was. My mouth was literally gaping the whole time and I didn't have a favorite song out of all of them. If there was a song that I thought had a pinch of enjoyability, it was Azerbaijan. lolAnyways, to me, the main factor is that televoting is the most democratic way to go about things. Regardless of political voting. Even if EVERY person voted politically, at least it was their decision. We don't have a dictator choosing all of the decision for a country so why should we have an elite group of people choose to win?

  4. It's funny…2008 was one of my favorite years! Between Turkey, Portugal, Ukraine, San Marino, Bosnia and France? Love!!But I think that proves your point that it all comes down to personal opinion, both on the best song for the top spot as well as the best methods to determine that best song.(And is it sad or hilarious that as soon as I saw the word "dictator" in your response, "I Love Belarus" popped into my head?)

  5. Maybe I should go back and review it? lol But as my memory serves, I didn't like it that much. Plus, I wasn't as into Eurovision as I am now, so I only heard the songs on the final night.I understand why you would think of that, but, if you actually look closely at the lyrics of the song, there really isn't any reference to dictatorship or anything of the sort. She's basically just saying that she loves her country. lol (No matter what the means of how the song came to be.) lol I personally like the song because I can connect with her loving her country as I love mine, even if she was forced to say it. lol Anyways, if you get to the root of the debate, televoting is the most democratic way of doing things, regardless of everyone's opinions, and no one can say that isn't true. What do you think?

  6. I think it's just perfect as it is, it's interesting to see who will sink and who will float, based on two different views, maybe if they would have more people in the jury – that would be better, but really, EBU has found a formula that works, at least for now.

  7. Your comments on Belarus are actually pretty much what I said in an interview with Belarussian TV…that there is a difference between patriotism and politicism, and that pride in one's nation isn't a bad thing by any stretch. My association with Belarus, however, isn't so much in the song, but rather in the promotion. When I interviewed Anastasiya, a lot of her answers felt orchestrated and rehearsed, as if they were soundbytes from the Ministry of Tourism. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XLE7FDOsj8) She's a very sweet girl, but you wonder how much was going on behind the scenes.But you're right…a televote is probably the most democratic way of scoring…but is it the best? The televote gave the win to Azerbaijan, which was possibly the "most appealing", but in terms of musical quality, Italy was a force to be reckoned with. (Again, personal opinion here…)And what about small nations like San Marino, Andorra, Monaco (if they come back)…if a minimum voting threshold isn't reached, what then? They revert to a jury vote…but then, is it fair for one nation to be evaluating the songs one way, while another country uses a completely different method?Definitely an interesting debate…

  8. Lol I love watching you in your interviews. You try so hard to remain neutral. lol I especially love your one with Armenia because it was on your least favorite list when you made that post a while back. And when she insisted that she sing her catchy song, at the end, you had to force yourself to say that it was so good. lol I see what you mean by the falseness of her answers and I definitely agree that there was a force that we didn't know about. But, isn't that political voting by being biased against the song because her country is under a dictatorship? I fail to see the same situation happening if say, Estonia or Greece had come out with a song professing their love for their country. I agree that Italy definitely had musical quality, but (unfortunately), that type of music is not mainstream in today's societies and that is why it didn't receive as much points as Azerbaijan, which was a great modern song. That also explains why Sweden was rated so high (I didn't like it at all) but that is pure pop and which is popular today. The next song, Greece, was also a modern song (with rap in it).Like I said before, whilst there may be political voting, usually the most deserving songs win. If Lena was from San Marino and she sang the song Satellite, then we wouldn't have been in Germany this year, we would have been in San Marino. Its the same case with Alexander.

  9. I believe the Jury vote must be kept. However, I would like to see the Jury vote at the same time as the popular vote. They would just have to make their decisions quickly (they can do that right?). However, getting rid of the jury vote would be a serious misstep. We must stop a travesty (yes I disliked it that much) like Dima winning again. Political voting is a serious problem, and I feel that the Jury provides a very nice counterbalance to those impulses. In a semi-related topic, I found it fascinating how some of the Eastern European clear political results were booed (Balkans country only voting for other Balkans countries) but yet the Scandinavian block voting did not get booed. Were there just a lot of Swedes and Norwegians in the audience?

  10. I find that funny too, Kate. We always hear people in western countries complaining about political voting. Those western countries aren't immune to that either… I also think people must also take into account cultural/popular links between countries. A singer may be popular in a group of countries say like in the Balkans, and that's why those countries voted for those countries. I mean if you look at Jedward this year. They are hugely popular in the Uk because of them on X-factor and that's why the UK gave Ireland 12 points. If you look at the Scandinavian countries, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark all speak very close languages. So close that if you spoke Swedish, you would be able to understand Norwegian. Because of this, the countries actually share many of their pop culture tv shows with one another. Take Big Bother, for example, the show was broadcasted to all of the countries as Big Brother Scandinavia, and it had contestants from all three countries. As with Finland being in that mix, nearly half of the entire population speaks Swedish, and it is also a recognized language of the country…

  11. There's no such thing as a fair song contest! Or art contest, dance contest, cooking contest, gymnastics contest, writing contest, play audition, or anything else that involves subjective judgments of an artistic performance. I doubt there have ever been any of these things that didn't end with some disappointed contestant or fan declaring unfairness. It's just how it is.There's also no way to make the ESC truly democratic. We know that the call-ins are influenced by the announcers – some of which actually tell the audience who to vote for (looking at you, Turkey!). They can also be unfairly influenced by technical difficulties (real or invented), economic issues (can the poor afford to vote 10 times or however many it is?), name recognition (Blue, Jedward, that guy from Bosnia), and of course the inevitable regional preferences. And then there's the uneven distribution of citizenry. Russia's 12 points count the same as San Marino's regardless of who's doing the voting. Is that fair?If you really want to make it democratic, you'd need to ditch the juries, enforce one vote one person, make sure all viewers have equal access to a telephone, allow callers to vote for their own country, and do away with the 12-point system so that each vote counts equally. And the losing countries would still find some unfairness somewhere to complain about!I would prefer that the juries vote on the same performance as everyone else, only because the method they use now is causing undue confusion (especially in the UK). Otherwise, I don't see how it could possibly be any fairer than the current 50/50 system, since each set of voters (public and juries) will tend to offset many of the negatives of the other. The juries are more inclined to vote for musical excellence over popular trends and spectacle, while the public vote offsets the tendency for the juries to make corrupt or self-serving choices.Some countries will always have an advantage due to sympathetic neighbors, a large diaspora, bigger budgets, or a larger talent pool to draw from. You're never going to get rid of that regardless of who's doing the voting.Hey wait … here's an idea … NOBODY in Europe gets to vote. Let the rest of the world choose the winner! Then you can blame us instead of each other. (And you'd probably be in Dublin next year instead of Baku.)

  12. I prefer our current system, even if it is not perfect.In theory, juries should be perfect, assuming they are good arbiters of taste and view every entry objectively.Looking at their voting patterns, though, I see two immediate problems, which lead to a third problem (so three in total). Firstly, consistency; Lithuania won the jury vote in her semi-final, and yet she landed really low with the juries in the Final. Ireland, even with just sufficient jury support in its semi-final, got more jury support in the Final than Lithuania (the jury support for Ireland, by the way, was so mindboggling, so shocking, I can't even…). Secondly, why is the jury scoreboard so much less polarized than the televote? Have they not so firm vision as to what they want to see from the contest? Given these two problems, how authoritative are they? What exactly is on the agenda of these so-called "music industry professionals" when assessing these songs?I also do not believe in having "a few hours" to decide right after just getting freshly acquainted with all the songs. All the songs are published well in the advance of Eurovision week for a reason!And how honest are they? 2009 showed considerable improvement from 2008 (possibly the worst Eurovision ever, not for lack of good songs, but for the most heinous scoreboard known to man), and kudos to them for helping out France and United Kingdom, but did they vote for them for the right reasons? Did they support them because their songs were great, or just to make themselves look better? Did they go merely for that "noble vibe" they were giving off, to make themselves look better? Same goes for Italy this year. I like noble. I love noble! I will take it when (key component) paired with a great song. At the same time, I can do without it if the song on its own is great.Were the juries trying to make themselves look better by voting against those known to be supported by bloc-voting? Why did they vote Russia down that year? The more I think about it, the more I believe that was a gem of modernity. It was by no means a conventionally beautiful song, and it consisted of elements which, on their own, one would not typically consider beautiful, and yet they all came together to make something really uniquely beautiful. I was not a fan of Mamo before or during the contest, but rather I fell in love with it after. Brilliant performer, too!

  13. Now that I think of it, might that previous paragraph apply to Bosnia this year, too? Thank goodness we had the Balkan bloc to help that one out, and that the unhelpful jury vote did not pull him down a single place on the Final scoreboard. To me, that song Love In Rewind channels the Eurovision sensibility perfectly, while still containing the qualities of a brilliant song, and I still believe televote and juries alike should have gone for it. So why not?I can accept if someone disagrees with me and has a perfectly good reason for it, and/or it makes sense. My reaction to this result, though, is a mere shaking my head in disappointment, because I just do not get it.Also, if I can take the time to type all of this, explaining and articulating all my feelings, juries should be able to do the same, no? If they are so righteous, objective, and authoritative?So what exactly do these juries have on their agendas? Are they like our stupid American Idol judges, who are there for nothing but self-promotion, money, and proof of relevance, and not even to give any decent critiques? Or are they smarter than that? Are they in the slightest perceptive, more like our Project Runway judges (even our Project Runway judges make mistakes, which is why I think our Finnish version is even better than the American version. Our Finnish judges take into account every relevant aspect, and even if I had preferred another outfit over what won, I still understand perfectly well what just happened and am in the end content with the result.)?@ Jack BuckPolitical voting by juries, via bribes and stuff? You may be onto something; maybe some pedophiles vouched for Jedward by bribing the juries, which is why they scored so high with the juries! Now at least I can comfort myself, now finally having some explanation for such a, a… "tragedy" does not even begin to describe that jury support for Ireland! I honestly thought they were NOT making the Final BECAUSE of the juries. Damn, I hate it when they contradict me like that.-Finland

  14. Stefanos, there has been evidence of the juries being bribed in the past. I forget what the incident was but it was a long time ago. Either way, Juries aren't immune from personal thought and that does seep through in the views of the songs. For example, they may think a song is nice but they may really like that same song because it is from a certain country. I find myself doing that sometimes. What's even funnier is that the reason why they implemented televoting was because they said that the juries were too political! It cam full circle in 2009 so where is the logic behind both choices? There is none. People are going to complain if the jury's vote or if they themselves vote. They first said that the juries were political and then they said that the public were political, so they implemented the 50/50. Well, when Greece and Cyprus gives each other 12 points each year, that's BOTH the public and the juries giving each country the highest amount of points. So, technically, that system doesn't work either. We still have political voting in all three scenarios, so, what do we do? We SHOULD go the most democratic way and allow 100 percent televoting. Personally, I don't like the fact that a few people are given such a large amount of power that they take 50 % of my vote. It's morally and ethically incorrect… So, like I said. All systems have failed, so we need to do what feels most right, and to me, that is to have we, the public vote.

  15. What I think bothers me so much about the jury vote was that it was so out of what I perceived to be their character. That jury support for Ireland seemed so ridiculously out of character. Also the other two problems I pointed out earlier, the consistency and the lack of polarization, in a way relate to being out of character. These "professionals" should have some more or less common school of thoughts which we can identify through the votes and of which to make sense. Do you think it is a tall order that they also should have more developed taste?To be fair, I myself started wondering, do I as a person place too much emphasis on taste? Upon reviewing the end result for Muodin Huipulle, I started asking myself this question. They probably did not need those judges to come to that same decision, but we needed those judges to make all those well-reasoned arguments for each collection. An argument in favour of Leni was that she had the best taste, and yet Leni was not the winner, but her collection wound up being my favourite for that reason, which taught me something about myself: that good taste goes really far with me.Leni's runner-up collection: http://www.mtv3.fi/helmi/minisaitit/artikkeli.shtml/2011/05/1323823?muodin_huipulle/uutisiaThe winner, on the other hand, did fit the criteria for a winning collection, I cannot deny. It made for the greatest show. Typically Scandinavian in a way, but with enough twists to make it really unique.Linda's winning collection: http://www.mtv3.fi/helmi/minisaitit/artikkeli.shtml/2011/05/1323811?muodin_huipulle/uutisiaJussi's third-placed collection, in case you are curious: http://www.mtv3.fi/helmi/minisaitit/artikkeli.shtml/2011/05/1323853?muodin_huipulle%2FuutisiaI really loved that judging session because I know I am justified in having a favourite that is different from the eventual winner. That comment about the taste really resonated with me.The problem I have with this year's Eurovision is that I thought Bosnia would be BOTH my favourite this year AND the outright winner of the contest, by both accounts, jury and televote. I thought now was the perfect time for that. In the past, my true favourites would not be the eventual winners (for example, France 2009, Slovenia 2007), and I could get behind how the winners fit the criteria. Now?-Finland

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