Editorials & Opinion

Does selection method matter?

There is a wide variety of ways to select a Eurovision Song Contest entry, and each television company can choose whichever format they prefer. Some countries go for some sort of internal selection, while others let the TV audience have all the say. The question is, does it really matter, the way a country picks its entry?

Loreen and Alexander; both selected through a national final, and the two entries with the most points in the history of the contest. 

Before we try to answer this question, let’s take a look at some of the formats broadcasters have chosen over the years. When a broadcaster decides to choose internally, we often see a 100% internal selection, where the TV channel picks both the artist and the song. France is one of the countries which has decided on an internal selection in recent years, with seven of the latest eight entries having been chosen this way.

Amandine Bourgeois was internally selected for France in 2013, finishing 23rd. 

Sometimes we also see partial internal selections, where the broadcaster chooses either the song or the singer, and then leaves it up to the TV audience to decide on the other. The UK chose this method in 2009 and 2010, when three singers performed the same song, and the public then decided which of the singers they preferred.
Spain has also tried a version of this; in 2012 and 2013, when the broadcaster chose the performer and let the public choose between a number of songs by this artist, three for Pastora and four for ESDM.


ESDM were internally selected by TVE, while their entry was chosen by the public. They finished 25th, with 8 points. 

Then there are the more open song selections, as we see for instance in the Nordic countries. Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is one of the more lengthy processes, consisting of four semifinals and a second chance heat before it’s time for the grand final. In Iceland they have two semifinals and a final, while Denmark has just the final.

Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is the most successful pre-selection process, producing no less than 6 winners. 

Other varieties of open selection processes can be found in for instance Lithuania, where the 2015 selection lasted almost two months and the rules were so complicated most people didn’t quite understand what was going on?
Now let’s try to answer our initial question; Does the selection process have any influence on the results? And if so, which is the best format to choose if a country really wants to win the contest?
Ireland and Sweden, as the two most winning countries in Eurovision history, have always chosen to let the public choose their entries. With a total of 13 victories between them it is safe to say that this decision has been a wise one, for them.

Johnny Logan has been involved in *three* of Ireland’s seven victories. 

On the other end of the scale the Big 5 countries very often go for some sort of internal selection, and, especially in recent years, that hasn’t gone very well. Especially France and the UK have experienced disastrous results in recent years, after going for internal selections. Spain has had more mixed results, with both top 10 and bottom 10 results.


Josh Dubovie performed “That Sounds Good to Me” in Oslo in 2010.
Unfortunately it didn’t sound good to very many others, finishing last with only 10 points. 

If we take a look at the winners from 2000 until today, we find that only five of the 16 most recent winners have been internally selected, whether it’s song, artist or both. Sertab’s “Everyway That I Can” (2003), Ruslana’s “Wild Dances” and Conchita’s “Rise Like a Phoenix” (2014) were all 100% internally selected. In 2011 Azerbaijan had a (partially) public selection of the artists while “Running Scared” was picked by an internal jury. The Greek broadcaster, ERT, decided to send Elena Paparizou to Ukraine in 2005, but let the public choose the entry.

 These are the only five winners of Eurovision Song Contest since 2000 who were internally selected.
There are of course a number of other factors which influence whether a song does well in Eurovision or not, but these statistics certainly suggest that giving the public a say in the selection of your entry to the Eurovision Song Contest might be a good idea?


Måns Zelmerlöv is the latest in line of Eurovision winners who have been selected by the public in a national final.

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