General

Changes to ESC Voting

Hello Dear Readers!

So, I realized that I did not address the voting change to the ESC announced in February and, figuring that I want to help you make the Contest easier for others to understand, I thought that I would give a handy explanation of the changes.

What is NOT changing:

  1. The results will still be 50% voting and 50% juries. (Semi-final qualifiers and the winner are decided by combining the results of televoting – the votes of those viewing at home – and professional juries)
  2. Final jury results will still be determined by combining the the full rankings of each juror and awarding points to the top ten.
  3. Countries will still call in their votes in a predetermined order based on the results of the juries.
  4. Televoting – via phones and SMS – will still be collected in a 15 minute interval during the show and will determine fifty percent of the final scores’ value.

What IS changing:

  1. Instead of combining the a country’s jury votes and televoting, they will remain separate. This means that, effectively, each country is handing out points twice: to the top ten countries in the jury’s ranking AND the top ten countries in the televoting.
  2. The points being announced by each country will be purely from the juries. This is being done for several reasons.
    1. It means that the interval act can be shorter because the jury votes can be read while the televotes are calculated, cutting down the length of the show in hopes of returning it to the appropriated three hour running time.
    2. Since 2011, an algorithm (or formula) for determining the order of how countries gave their votes has been in place based on the results of the juries. This algorithm is designed to give the voting sequence maximum suspense and excitement.
  3. The televoting from all the countries will be combined and revealed en masse after the jury votes are given. They will be given in ascending order, so the country with the fewest points will be read first all the way through the country receiving the most points.
    1. This makes the voting sequence more exciting because we’ll see countries fall back down the scoreboard only to rise back up.
    2. This makes it much harder to predict the winner before voting is over.
  4. There will now be twice as many points available, essentially setting up all the old point total records to be shattered. This year, with 42 participants, there will be a total of 4,872 points available (as compared to only 2,494 last year under the previous system).

The biggest issue that people dislike is that the juries’ votes are being read as opposed to the televoting public’s votes. But, as mentioned above, the jury votes are already collected, so having them be the ones read for each country makes more sense from a practical, time-saving point of view.

Unanswered Questions

The bigger question is what happens when either jury or televoting results are unavailable? We all know that some countries rely 100% on jury votes for assigning points (such as San Marino, which lacks the infrastructure to collect televotes). Others are forced to do this if there are irregularities found with their televoting (such as Moldova which often has issues getting enough people to televote). Conversely, some jury results are disqualified when their results appear to be suspect (as has happened with Azerbaijan and Macedonia in previous years). The new voting procedure indicates that an assortment of countries will be used to create a stand-in score for the missing points. How this amalgam score will be calculated, in terms of how stand-in countries will be determined and how many there will be, has yet to be revealed.

Additionally, information about tie-break procedures has yet to be released (as far as I know). Previously, in breaking a tie, the country with the higher total number of countries voting for it would be higher, after that, it was the country with more 12s, then 10s, etc. all the way down to 1s. For semi-finals, if there was still a tie at this point, the one performing earlier in the running order would move through. For the Grand Final, a tie would be declared. Under the new system, would the total number of countries be counted for each jury and televoting, or just total overall? When doing the countbacks (counting the number of 12s, 10s, 8s, etc.), is it by televoting or juries – or both? Will there be a new level added before a tie is declared (or we turn to the producer-determined running order, in the case of semi-finals) that gives the nod to the country with a higher televoting score? or jury score? This needs to be cleared up and publicized BEFORE the Contest. Time is running out EBU.

Overall, this is not a change to be afraid of. If you’re concerned or want to dive into the numbers, I point you to ESC Insight, were they break down the effects of the new system using numbers from past Contests. I look forward to seeing how the voting sequence will look this year!

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Safety and Security at Eurovision

🇧🇪 We zijn België. Nous somme Bruxelles. 🇧🇪

Belgian Flag Country

Our prayers and thoughts are with Belgium today.


Again, on another day after another senseless act of violence, of terrorism, we find ourselves mourning for the loss, rebuilding what has been destroyed, and trying to understand the pointless. There’s nothing more I can say that I have not already in the wake of the attack on Paris.

I will say, this further emphasizes the need for a coherent, thorough, and visible security presence in Stockholm. The Eurovision Song Contest is a major cultural event that brings all of Europe together. Not to mention that Sweden is an EU country and is known for its super-liberal policies as well as discrimination and violence towards Muslims and folks of Arab descent. This means that SVT cannot simply settle for rent-a-cop security guards or the Globen’s own security force. The city of Stockholm and the country of Sweden need to treat Eurovision as a high-risk event. There will be thousands of fans, many of whom will be aggravated, anxious, and aggressive adult men. Not only do we the fans need to be managed (and much better than in Austria) but if there is not a strong structure in place, then it will be incredibly easy for someone to sneak in with something they should not. SVT and Globen need to not only devise a strong security process, but communicate it.

SVT and Globen have the emails of every ticketholder.Swedish Flag Map They need to send out a dedicated email to all attendees discussing security policies and the what we can expect and rules we need to follow for attending the Contest. Not only that, but also at the arena, they need to have plentiful, visible signage for folks to see with diagrams and words in English, French, Russian, and Swedish.

But, additionally, they need to have a visible police presence. Maybe this is because I’m American, but seeing police. Seeing them, their cars, their dogs, their gear (including weapons) conveys that safety is a top priority and that they have people in position to protect us. And I’m saying that as a black man in the US.

Stockholm, please: Give us police and give us lots of them!


A Word on the Paris Attacks

🇫🇷 Nous sommes tous Français! 🇫🇷

In times like this, one is thankful for art. It can capture our pain, our loss, our despair. But it can also inspire, instill hope, and uplift. So, instead of some contrived words or inept speech in French, I simply leave you with France’s entry from the ESC this year: N’Oubliez Pas, which, I think, captures a perfect response in the face of terrorism. Yes, we mourn for the dead, feel for the injured, we must reclaim what is loss – but our spirits will never be quelched. We will keep going, getting stronger, with the memories of those who have fallen as our inspiraion.

Je suis ici ce soir au milieu de ces ruines
Pour vous parler d’espoir et vous chanter la vie
Et je fais le serment quand séchera le sang
De reconstruire ma ville bien plus belle qu’avant

Mais n’oubliez pas!

New French Flag MapIl ne me reste que des larmes
Ces quelques notes venues d’autrefois
Et le chant de nos prières, nos cœurs qui espèrent
Et le vide sous mes pas

Il ne me reste que les cendres
De mon village plongé dans le silence
Je ne suis qu’une blessure, un cœur sans armure
Comment survivre après ça?

Mais je suis là, je n’oublie pas
Dans mon village balayé par l’histoire
Et je vis là, n’oubliez pas
Effacée des cartes et des mémoires

Je me souviens du rire des enfants
La voix des hommes quand ils partaient au champ
Les fêtes des moissons, l’odeur dans les maisons
Les éclats d’amour et de joie

Mais je suis là, n’oubliez pas
Effacée des cartes et des mémoires

Quand ils sont arrivés, cachés derrière leurs armes
Ils étaient des milliers, ils riaient de nos larmes
Ils ont voulu détruire nos croyances sous leurs armes
Avec des mots de haine que l’on n’connaissait pas

Je suis ici ce soir au milieu de ces ruines
Pour vous parler d’espoir et vous chanter la vie
Et je fais le serment quand séchera le sang
De reconstruire ma ville bien plus belle qu’avant

Mais n’oubliez pas

English Translation

New French Flag MapOnly tears remain for me
These few notes from the past
And the song of our prayers, our hoping hearts
And the emptiness under my steps

Only ashes remain for me
Of my village plunged into silence
I am only a wound, a heart without armor
How do I survive after that?

But I’m here, I don’t forget
In my village swept away by history
And I live there, don’t forget
Erased from the maps and memories

I remember the children laughing
The voices of the men leaving for the field
The harvest festivals, the smell inside houses
The bursts of love and joy

But I’m here, don’t forget
Erased from the maps and memories

When they arrived, hidden behind their weapons
There were thousands, they laughed at our tears
They wanted to destroy our beliefs under their fire
With words of hatred which were unknown to us

I’m here tonight in the middle of these ruins
To talk to you about hope and to sing to you about life
And I swear that when the blood dries
I will rebuild my village even more beautiful than before

But don’t forget


Summer Projects!

Hello Dear Readers!

I wanted to give you an update on my plans for the summer. I’m moving to Oklahoma! I’m starting a Ph.D. program at Oklahoma State University. Okay – enough of my personal life. I’m sure that you’re much more interested in my Eurovision-related updates!

1. I have a post coming up regarding my experience in Vienna. I also plan on posting about my hopes for the 2016 Contest in Sweden. Additionally, I will be crafting a series looking at the next 60 years of the Contest, including the precedent set by Australia’s participation, the powershift back to the West, and the ever-increasing importance of production value, among other topics.

2. I am getting YouTube (escobsession) off the ground. You may have noticed a few playlists appearing on previous posts. My primary project will be building playlists of ESC songs from the past 10~15 years that align within a certain genres (including: hard rock, jazz, hipster, country/folk, and dance). The goal is that you will be able to spread the joy of Eurovision to doubters and/or encourage new fans through being able to easily forward to them a playlist of songs within a genre that they already enjoy. These will be published on Fridays – starting with “Eurovision for Beginners“!

3. I also will begin working on my book, The Beginner’s Guide to Eurovision, this summer. I spent the last year brainstorming and examining various formats. Not only that, I’ve been moving away from the main fan media sites to get a better view of the average person’s perspective of the Contest. The primary question I get, regardless of whether or not someone is familiar with the Contest, is: “Why are you so passionate about Eurovision?” This book is meant to, not only introduce people to the Contest, but to help instill increased excitement within the casual viewer.

4. Partnerships! I will be reaching out in an effort to “build bridges” with other fans, particularly within the US. Not only that, but I am working on establishing a partnership, working for a participating broadcaster. This would, of course, be a dream come true! But time will tell.