Editorials & Opinion

Progress Report – The Big Five

In this feature I will be looking at the current status of the Big Five: France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. These countries are the largest financial contributors to Eurovision with a long history at the contest. Could there be a winner again on the horizon?  Which of these is most likely to win and host again?
The fortunes of the Big Five have been mixed. Many wins in the earlier years of Eurovision and some poor or even bottom placed scores in more recent contests. 2010 saw Germany win in Oslo with Lena, leading to one of the best modern era contests in Düsseldorf the following year. Let’s look at each country’s chances of getting the top spot as they currently stand.


Best result this decade: 1st – Worst result: 27th – Average: 17th
Germany have not yet been able to get close to their 2010 win, in fact falling to the lower end of the scoreboard in recent years. In 2013 they attempted to bring in a big name with Cascada, but left many thinking of the superior ‘Euphoria’ the year before that won it for Sweden. 2014-16 saw a set of national selections with an eclectic mix of artists to choose from. (Gregorian anyone?) Germany can bring something unique to the contest and those finals showed it. However the German public had different ideas and ended up with safe choices that couldn’t excite at Eurovision. This was repeated in 2017 where given a choice of artists Levina was the best choice, but the songs on offer were not exciting enough. For Germany to do well again I think go back to a national final of artists and songs, but focus on songs with more impact. Our Katja thinks Germany should try schlager.


Best result this decade: 2nd – Worst result: 21st  – Average: 9th
Italy returned to Eurovision in 2011 after a fourteen year absence, making up the now Big Five. ‘Madness of Love’ by Raphael Gualazzi achieved an amazing 2nd place and set the course for a high standard of entries from Italy. The country would then achieve another two top 10 placings before disappointment in 2014 with “La mia città” only achieving 21st. In 2015 Il Volo won the televote but was pushed down to 3rd place overall by the jury, who awarded most of their points to Sweden. In 2017, ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ was almost the assumed winner leading up to the contest, but the magic of the Sanremo performance didn’t translate on the Kyiv stage and it only placed 6th.
Italy’s well regarded and long running Sanremo Music Festival is used to provide their entry at Eurovision. This is a real strength for them as more often than not they can showcase the best music Italy has to offer. Italy last won the contest in 1990, and on their current record they could do it again very soon.


Best result this decade: 10thWorst result: 26thAverage: 19th
Spain recieves a lot of love from Eurovision fans, but this doesn’t always translate to points on the scoreboard. Five twenty-something placings in the last seven years including a bottom placed 26th this year with ‘Do It For Your Lover’. Two standout performances of recent years would be Ruth Lorenzo’s ‘Dancing In The Rain’ and Pastora Soler’s ‘Quédate conmigo’ – both rewarded with a top 10 finish. Knockout vocal performances from the two certainly played a part here – either of them returning to the contest would be very welcome by Eurovision fans. Nathan thinks Latin Pop is the key to success, and I think that’s a route they could go down. Could their neighbours hosting in 2017 give them the extra incentive?


Best result this decade: 6thWorst result: 26thAverage: 18th
Like the others there has been mixed results. Anggun’s ‘Echo (You and I)’ in 2012 was the first song from France I liked a lot. Europe didn’t agree however and placed it 22nd. I really like what France has been doing recently. Amir’s and Alma’s entries in 2016 and 2017 freshened France’s Eurovision sound and that little shot of English amongst the already appealing French language did well for them. I think France are onto something good – perhaps if anything perfect the staging. Their time will come.

United Kingdom

Best result this decade: 11thWorst result: 25thAverage: 20th
So onto my home country. The UK has one of the leading music industries in the world, and the well-respected BBC as the broadcaster. But somehow these don’t make magic together. Two 25th and two 24th placings in this decade! After some odd internal selections (Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck!) the UK went back to a national selection. This year the second ‘You Decide’ show chose Lucie Jones. The Emmelie de Forest penned “Never Give Up on You” achieved a respectable 15th place. If BBC can find a hit pop song that can chart high at home they would be onto something.
The UK has all the talent and diversity to produce anything it wants and do it well. But it needs the BBC to convince the best people that the Eurovision stage is worth performing on. Tim has previously shared his view on what the UK could do to achieve at least a top 10 placing.

What do you think of the Big Five countries? What is your favourite entry from the five this decade? Will one of them win again soon? Let us know in the comments below on on social media @escXtra

Tom O'Donoghue

Music photographer based in Somerset, United Kingdom. Photographer for London Eurovision Party.

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