News Updates

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!


The 2016 Reviews are Coming!

Hello Dear Readers!

Today, the Annual Reference Meeting is wrapping up in Stockholm. For those who do not know, the Reference Meeting is the three day conference where the various heads of delegation (the leading producers from each country’s participating television broadcasters) come together to discuss the final logistics for the two weeks of Eurovision as well as, more importantly, submitting the final versions of their entries.Eurovision_2016_Official_Logo Each delegation must submit the final lyrics (and their English and French translations, as needed), the final studio version of their entry, the karaoke track for their entry (instrumental + backing vocals), the final backing track for the ESC performance (only instrumental NO backing vocals), and the official music video for their entry. This is also the last the point in which the EBU can force countries to edit or change their entries for being too political, vulgar, etc.

Since everything is subject to change up to this point (looking at you Malta!), MaltaI do my best not to listen to any songs (other than the Danish entry) ahead of this date. This is helpful for several reasons. Each song will be on my radar for an equal number of weeks ahead of the Contest. Secondly, many countries are prone to change their arrangements, lyrics, and entire songs up to the Reference Meeting deadline. Albania and Iceland usually translate their songs into English and revamp the instrumentation of the track. Malta and Bulgaria did not even release their entries until the past few days. This being the first time that I know of in which Malta changed their entry after it won its selection special. Belarus has historically changed its entry, sometimes repeatedly, but has not the past few years.

In the coming weeks, expect my initial reactions and reviews for each entry for this year. Happy listening, everyone!

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Eurovision 2016 – And so it begins!

esc2016

Hello Dear Readers!

Officially, Eurovision kicks off at the end of March when all the competing countries have to turn in their official entries (and all related media). But, National Finals season, the period where each competing country selects its entry, has begun! Typically, AlbaniaAlbanian flag country kicks things off with Festivali i Këngës, held annually around Christmas Day. However, a growing number of countries have decided on an artist, a song, or both earlier and earlier. As of January 1, 2016, eight countries (Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, The Netherlands, and Russia) have selected an artist and one (Albania) has an artist and song selected. Germany had an artist selected, but, due to his controversial history, decided to go in another direction. A new artist has yet to be selected.

Yes! You read that correctly, Bosnia & HerzegovinaBosnian Flag Map is finally returning to the Contest after a three year absence! And it’s not alone. Bulgaria, Croatia, and Ukraine are returning to the Contest! Bulgaria and Croatia each last competed in 2013, and Ukraine last competed in 2014. Sadly, Turkey is not making a return after early rumors that it would. And, due to financial restraints, Portugal is once again withdrawing from the ESC.

Australian Flag MapUnsurprisingly, Australia was invited to return as a regular contender. Though, since they are no longer a guest, the country will have to compete in the semi-finals and hope to qualify for the Grand Final. I predict that there will be another song from Down Under on Saturday night.

Swedish Flag MapEqually as unsurprising, SVT, this year’s host broadcaster, has announced that there will be two hosts this year, the popular Petra Mede (who hosted the ESC solo in 2013) as well as last year’s winning performer Måns Zelmerlöw (who has several hosting gigs under his belt, including Melodifestivalen). The Green Room host (if there is to be one) has yet to be announced.

Those are the biggest news stories thus far for ESC2016, but as the National Finals begin in earnest, more news will surely break! Stay tuned for my post about my hopes and expectations for Stockholm from a fan standpoint as well as from that of an attendee.

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