Robert Hampton

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14th May 2011

Posted by at 3.59pm | No responses | Music, Television

Blue promo shot for EurovisionI will be watching the Eurovision Song Contest tonight at the Mersey Tart‘s house, in the company of his partner Dave and our friends Jamie and Roy. This gathering is sure to be gayer than the cast of Glee singing Kylie Minogue’s greatest hits in a Soho leather bar on a stage made out of condoms.

There are two lazy received opinions about Eurovision which get aired endlessly around this time of year. One is that it is a dated, cheesy waste of money which is irrelevant to modern life and should be scrapped forthwith. You could say the same thing about the Royal Family, and look how popular they are at the moment.

The other complaint is that the contest is ruined by political voting, where countries vote for their nearest neighbours, especially in recent years as a horde of Eastern European countries have rushed to join in the fun. One person expressing these opinions is James Ball in the Guardian who writes, “an examination of Eurovision voting data has confirmed a persistent voting gripe – the eastern European voting bloc indeed exists, and is now all but unbeatable.”

Ball cites some statistics to back up his theory, but even as I read his article my mind was full of doubt. I did some extensive research of my own and have concluded that, even if Eastern European countries do vote for each other, it doesn’t make that much difference. To prove my point, here are the Eurovision winners since 2000, which is around the time that His Royal Highness Lord Sir Terry Wogan started complaining about the “Eastern block voting”:-

  • 2010 – Germany (not Eastern Europe – bits of it were, but not any more)
  • 2009 – Norway (not Eastern Europe)
  • 2008 – Russia (Eastern Europe – and quite a bit of Asia too)
  • 2007 – Serbia (Eastern Europe)
  • 2006 – Finland (not Eastern Europe)
  • 2005 – Greece (not Eastern Europe)
  • 2004 – Ukraine (Eastern Europe)
  • 2003 – Turkey (not Eastern Europe)
  • 2002 – Latvia (Eastern Europe)
  • 2001 – Estonia (Eastern Europe – also, yay!)
  • 2000 – Denmark (not Eastern Europe)

To summarise, in the last decade, 5 out of 10 winners have been from Eastern Europe. But that figure (50%) is roughly what you’d expect, considering the number of Eastern European countries who now enter the contest.

In conclusion, the “Eastern block vote” is a canard, invented to “explain” why the UK has done so poorly in recent years. The real reason is much simpler: we enter bad songs. When we scored 0 points in 2003, it wasn’t because the Ukraine always votes for Russia, it was because Jemini sang out of tune. When Cyndi Scooch came second-to-last in 2007, it was because their song (actual lyric: “Would you like something to suck on for landing?”) was an embarrassment.

On the rare occasions recently when we make the effort, we do quite well (qv Jade Ewen) and sometimes even win! (qv Katrina and the Waves).

Anyway, good luck to Blue. Your song has an actual tune, which is a step up from some of our recent attempts. I hope you do well — and Anthony, please remember that cashpoints are for withdrawals, not deposits.

Well done to me as well, for getting through a Eurovision 2011 post without mentioning Jedward… oh.

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