Stockholm 2016

Spanish lessons from their National Finals.

The Spanish broadcaster TVE has confirmed a few days ago their line of action for 2016. As their statement says: they received a lot of proposals from singers, songwriters, record labels and such, they haven’t decided yet, but they’d want to see six young talents to perform in a National Final.
Spain in the last few years have used different methods to select their artist for Eurovision. Between a few internal selections (like ESDM in 2013 and Edurne in 2015), an internal artist selection with a song final (Pastora Soler in 2012), Spain have given us a lot of formats to reflect upon before the 2016 edition.
And this time, young talents will be involved. Is it because of last year’s placing? Or lack of interest by big names? Is this the results of a review of the Spanish approach to Eurovision or the need of a entertainment programme to fill in the winter weekends? We don’t know, but we compiled a quick guide for RTVE in order to have a successful 2016!

No useless rounds – yes more logical selections.

Let’s skip the fact that the title was longer than the song itself.
In 2011 an entire month was dedicated to find a song to end up 23rd out of 26. Seen the kind of announcement given (six young talents and such…), I hope the Spanish television is not thinking of doing a quick talent show again.
The main problem with a talent show type of selection it’s usually the final song performed. Either you are Andrew Lloyd Webber and you tailor “My time” for the three final acts that you have, or you’ll end up with assigning songs without being completely sure of what’s going to happen. And some songs don’t fit all the performers and some performers are not able to make theirs some songs.
There is to say that Lucia Perez proved to be a good singer at the Eurovision in Düsseldorf, but the song was probably a reject from a few years before (sorry to be harsh). “Abrazame” could have been a better choice (even though you can clearly hear the G:son sound on it – and better to leave it to Pastor, the next year on stage) as Lucia looked more into it.

Never again gimmicky stuff.

If you are the public broadcaster of a Nation, you probably know your audience very well. And you know, by voting pattern, that gimmicks do very well in your country. This is clearly a cultural difference: choosing a song for Eurovision is such a party in Spain that a good laugh is necessary – whereas comedy acts in Sanremo, in Melodifestivalen or at our beloved Festivali i Këngës almost never do well.
After Las Supremas de Mostoles came second with “Eres un enfermo” (thanks to my colleague Laura for showing me this song), after the massive online voting, it was pretty much expected to see Rodolfo Chikilicuatre show up in Belgrade with his toy guitar. Everyone loved him back home and it was such a laugh!
Yes, well, as much as he was fun and shouting “Perrea perrea” is still a thing at times, Coral or La Casa Azul would have been a probably better and more understandable choice throughout Europe, with a possibility of ending higher than 16th.
Clearly it was difficult to stop Rodolfo, being the 2008 selection very democratic, but a jury should have intervened straight away. And this brings us to…

Be less democratic – or go with better songs.

I never understand why a broadcaster would create a show with songs that are awful and could put the country in disgrace in front of millions of viewers. If entertainment needs to be, let’s leave it to the interval act.
Dustin the Turkey is one of the example: fun! But then you have to own up to the fact that half of Europe will see a puppet singing and will be very confused of the situation in Ireland. That is why being slightly less democratic is key: picking six artists with six good songs means a fairly better national final with fairly better results in the end.
If Norway has taught us anything: it’s not how many rounds of voting you do, it’s not how your jury intervenes at the end on the results – it’s a small number of high quality entries that matters.

No more fake drama

We all knew Ruth Lorenzo was going to win in 2014. She was the biggest name – and probably the jury put her in second place just to make it more saucy. The entire 2014 selection (“¡Mira quién va a Eurovisión!”) was a bit of a nonsense, focusing more on the emotional appeal of the thing (with singers crying for 15 minutes), with long and endless interviews, fourteen recaps and a not surprising ending. As much as it was probably a way of raising awareness on the contest, maybe next time a special episode of an hour on Ruth Lorenzo’s life would be better.

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