Ah, the Eurovision. Three hours of I-don’t-know-what, followed by some half-time entertainment of variable quality, followed by the voting.
Now, I’m not going to pass judgement on this year’s songs – though I can’t understand the love for the Australian entry. Nor the fact that it’s now so X Factor-ish that most of the entries were solo performers / singers. But the reveal of the marks – wow!
For the first 40 or so years, judging was purely by a panel. Then it was a public vote only, which gave us the excesses of all the Baltic, Scandinavian, Balkan and former Soviet countries all voting for each other. Then we went to 50-50 splits, added together and the final result given.
But we never knew exactly how that worked (unless we looked it up on Wikipedia). The judges’ scores were added to the public vote and we saw the end result. There are web sites out there where you can get to see the raw data but you have to be really keen; or rely on a newspaper article to reveal that, for example, the Polish milkmaids won the UK popular vote in 2014, while the judges put them last.
Which is why I really, really like the new reveal of the results. The judges’ marks were fairly even – no big winners apart from Australia, and they didn’t get the most 12s from the juries. And it shows that, musically, the United Kingdom entry wasn’t that bad at all. The public vote, meanwhile, went as well as you’d expect, with some spectacular leaps up the table, especially for the Polish entry.
The ‘public’, of course, it notoriously unreliable. The United Kingdom public vote gave douze points to Lithuania, while the jury gave them to Georgia (see the official results).
And, of course, the ‘public’ were the people who voted for Boaty McBoatface.
What does this mean for the other big European vote, in June? Chiefly, that you can’t trust the public to do what you expect, whichever side of the argument you’re on. But also, you can’t trust the so-called experts to make the right choices either. In the end it won’t come down to the facts, the rights and the wrongs – it’ll all come down to the ‘staging’ by the politicians.
Which doesn’t inspire confidence, really.