To the average viewer, Eurovision Week is not a thing – the contest exists merely as a one night event. As fans, we know that Eurovision Week is so much more than 7 hours. We start with the first and second open rehearsals, press conferences, opening ceremony and dress rehearsals – all of this in combination with the live transmissions (and our live stream of course!)
More than just three shows
Many fans are still unaware of the importance of dress rehearsals, more specifically the second of each show. It is not an exaggeration to say that the second dress rehearsal is equally as important as the main live show itself. This is the recording that the jury members from each participating country are asked to cast their vote on. Although this is clearly stated in the EBU’s official rules, it is something, which I’ve come to realise, is not clearly addressed during the live broadcast. Do they want us to assume that the juries are voting in real-time or avoid giving an explanation as to why it technically can’t be done live?
In the current system, the juries have a 50% stake in the overall contest result. I personally feel that we as viewers have a right to see exactly what each jury member made their judgements on. This year, I experienced my first Eurovision on location. One of the perks was definitely having access to these on a big screen.
For the most part, performances from this rehearsal were almost identical to what was seen in the main show. However, although camera angles and choreography can be perfected, you cannot guarantee a flawless vocal from one night to the next. This can be very apparent when witnessing both run throughs. In many cases, the result of this can be clearly seen when looking at the discrepancy of points given for a particular entry, by the jurors and the public.
Let’s take a look at some examples
- In 2011, the United Kingdom finished 5th in the public vote with I Can performed by Blue. However, this only managed to rank 22nd in the jury vote following a disappointing vocal performance the night before.
- In 2017, Isaiah performed Don’t Come Easy for Australia. Criticised by many for a weak vocal in the grand final, Isaiah only gained 2 points from the public. However, the jury thought otherwise, awarding the country with a whopping 171 points.
- In 2012, Mandinga represented Romania with Zaleilah. In the first semi final, lead vocalist Elena Ionescu experienced difficulties with sound, undoubtedly apparent to audiences due to her off-sync vocal in the second chorus. Televoters awarded the group with the second-highest number of points available, a total of 132. The juries however ranked Mandinga 5th place with only 87 points. We’ll never really know if some of Mandinga’s televote was given out of sympathy, although I certainly think this a significant example in showing how no two performances can ever be judged the same.
- Like the above, another very clear example is SuRie’s performance of Storm, for the United Kingdom this year. Nothing can ruin a performance more than a stage intruder. Following the final, the uninterrupted jury recording was uploaded by the EBU. The public awarded SuRie with 25 pts which despite the stage intrusion, was interestingly only 2 points higher than the 23 points given by the jury. Given the UK’s results in previous years, did the intrusion actually work in their favour?
With the above disparities as examples, it’s apparent that the broadcast seen by jurors can contain enough differences to cause a considerable disconnect between them and the public. For a number of years, the EBU have publicly released the full split results following the final. With this in mind, where is the harm in making the performances, as ranked by the jurors, available to the public? Not only could this explain certain variations in voting but gives artists who didn’t perform as well in the main shows, an opportunity to redeem themselves, with the existence of an alternative run through.