Five finalists and the host with the most: Malmö’s Big 6 (and my first top 39!)

Once upon a time, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom were known collectively in ESC Land as the Big 4, presumably because they were big and there was four of them. Actually, it was because they were European superpowers responsible in large part for keeping Eurovision going, and as such have been rewarded with automatic entry into the final since the year 2000…and because there was four of them.

Fast forward to 2011, when Italy joined the exclusive Big club after an extended vacation from the contest, taking the total up to five (and as we all know, all the best groups have five members. The Backstreet Boys, *N SYNC, the Spice Girls…need I say more?). But then include the ever-present host country in the final lineup, and you’ll find the current total is six. It’s the Big 6 of 2013 that I want to ramble on about today.

Confused? I’m with you. To make myself clearer to you and to myself, what I mean is:

For the purposes of this post, I’m officially declaring the host country one of the Big countries, despite the fact that as always, they’ll be relegated back to semi-final status next year (unless they win again. It could happen, guys). Also, for the purposes of not driving you insane with this wordy intro, I’m just going to start the main event of rambling now. You’ll get the idea.


Thoughts on the final six

For me personally, the automatic finalists have been slowly but surely lifting their game over the last few years, and I think again in 2013 we have a strong group for the semi-final qualifiers to compete with. In alphabetical order (my favourite kind) they are:

France (L’enfer Et Moi) – I was expecting some maudlin, depressing, obscure ballad from France from the second the song title was announced, but as it turns out, that’s what we got from the Netherlands instead. I’m so pleased this is more in the retro vein of L’amore é Femmina. It’s catchy but sophisticated, and doesn’t make me want to jump off a cliff in the slightest.

Amandine’s good luck charm: sucking on a lemon before performances?

Amandine’s good luck charm: sucking on a lemon before performances?

Germany (Glorious) – Been there, said that about this one. But I’m all too happy to say it again: bravo, Deutschland, bravo. This country is going from strength to strength, and made a clever choice in picking a song that’s great in studio, but goes off like nobody’s business in a live, arena setting. What could be more perfect for Eurovision than that?

Italy (L’essenziale) – I feel I should say bravo to the Italians as well, especially since it’s an Italian word. I was hoping Marco’s Sanremo winner would be the one to go to Malmö, but after what happened last year, I didn’t want to assume. But it is! Yay, etc. Say what you will about Italy, you can’t deny that they always stay classy, and for me this classy ballad is one of the best on offer.

Spain (Contigo Hasta El Final) – This was initially, and still is, the weakest of the six IMO. However (before those of you on Team ESDM start cramming as many expletives into the comment box as possible) it’s grown on me a lot since my first listen. I’m finding the chorus quite sing-along-able now, and I do like the way things keep changing.

Are we to assume some Spanish department store had a 3-for-1 offer on stripy t-shirts?

Are we to assume some Spanish department store had a 3-for-1 offer on stripy t-shirts?

Sweden (You) – Again, I think you’ll all know how I feel about this here host entry. How do you say ‘it’s the bomb’ in Swedish?

UK (Believe In Me) – I still think this is headed the way of Humperdinck, but I’m much more into it that I was the Hump’s song. The country feel is actually endearing, and the verses are as strong as the choruses. If Bonnie’s voice holds out for the jury and live final, maybe she can get on to the left side of the scoreboard. Just maybe.

So if I were to rank these six, it would look something like this:

  1. Sweden
  2. Germany
  3. Italy
  4. UK
  5. France
  6. Spain

Really, there’s not much between the top or bottom three as far as I’m concerned. I’m actually impressed by this lot as a whole. But these are just my thoughts, which will probably translate in no way to the actual results. Speaking of which…


How will they do?

It ultimately comes down to the song/performance combo, how well or how badly these finalists do. Perhaps there’s a bit of the unfamiliarity factor in there to explain why they’ve had a hard time (the Big countries more so than the hosts). For the voters who don’t already know the songs, the semi-finalists get more of an opportunity to win them over. And maybe it’s a bit about when they perform in the running order. But despite all that, with a really good song and a good performance, anything is possible (just ask Lena).

Just for the heck of it, let’s have a looksee at how the Big countries have fared recently. Here are the results from 2007:

17. Finland (hosts)

19. Germany

20. Spain

22. France

23. UK


And 2008:

6. Serbia (hosts)

16. Spain

19. France

23. Germany

25. UK


Not so good, right? The host country did the best on both occasions. Now compare those to more recent results from 2011 and 2012 (including Italy).

2. Italy

10. Germany (hosts)

11. UK

15. France

23. Spain


4. Azerbaijan (hosts)

8. Germany

9. Italy

10. Spain

22. France

25. UK

Again, the host country did pretty well, as did the returnee Italy. France and the UK are the only Big countries to have missed out on a top 10 placing in the last few years, albeit narrowly (with Blue’s 11th in Düsseldorf and Jessy Matador’s 12th in Oslo).

If that trend continues this year, Amandine and Bonnie will be left out, but I think Spain will be pushed not to join them. I suspect that Germany, Italy and Sweden all have a good shot at making the top 10, with Germany being the only one I can see winning. If they did, that would make an incredible two wins in four years, as well as four top 10 placings in a row, for a country that struggled like crazy in the pre-Lena years just to get off the bottom of the scoreboard.

What do you think? Could this be a year when all of the finalists make the top 10? Or will their change in fortune come to an abrupt end in Malmö?


Holy sequined hotpants! It’s my first top 39!

As promised, and eagerly awaited by you, right?

Okay, you can stop laughing. Before I ask your opinion on the best of the Big 6, here’s how they fit in to the bigger picture, as of this second. Because I could change my mind at any moment.

  1. Sweden
Anton Ewald congratulates Robin on topping my list. How nice of him!

Anton Ewald congratulates Robin on topping my list. How nice of him!

  1. Germany
  2. Hungary
  3. Ukraine
  4. Italy
  5. Norway
  6. Moldova
  7. Belgium
  8. Macedonia
  9. Lithuania 
  10. Serbia
  11. United Kingdom
  12. France
  13. Albania
  14. Ireland
  15. Iceland
  16. Switzerland
  17. Austria
  18. Estonia
  19. Spain
  20. Israel
  21. Finland
  22. Belarus
  23. Denmark
  24. Romania
  25. Malta
  26. Bulgaria
  27. Latvia
  28. Greece
  29. Georgia
  30. Montenegro
  31. San Marino
  32. Slovenia
  33. Netherlands
  34. Croatia
  35. Armenia
  36. Azerbaijan
  37. Russia
  38. Cyprus

How’s your personal top 10 looking right now?


POLL TIME: Take your pick…

To finish off this rather strange post, I’m dying to know:

Results will be published next week, and if you vote for the eventual favourite, you win absolutely nothing, because I am poor! But you can give yourself a good pat on the back.


Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time, when I may or may not be switching the EBJ spotlight onto one of the Big countries in particular. It’s going to be eccellente, signore e signori

 EBJ Signature


13 Responses to “Five finalists and the host with the most: Malmö’s Big 6 (and my first top 39!)”

  1. nprovenghi271

    Hi! I’ve been painfully MIA for the past week since I was in France and Italy for eight days and I couldn’t wait to get back to Eurovision. Ironically, since I actually WAS in Europe but I just happened to be in some pretty muted countries instead of a place like Denmark or Germany(?).

    For me, I think I like France a lot more than you do. It’s in my top 5, for sure.

    As for our tops, we finally agree on a number 1! There’s just something totally addictive about Robin and his song that I just LOVE. It makes me happy in a way that only it does this year (and that many songs did last year, however). 🙂

    I haven’t compiled my big list yet, but I can say that Switzerland is on top of the Western Europe region (best region), Estonia eastern (weakest region), Sweden Scandinavia, Greece southern and Hungary central. And I know that my bottom two are Latvia and Belarus. Can’t stand either one…

    Looking back, this year isn’t nearly as bad as we’ve (I’ve) made it out to be. There are plenty of quality songs, just not as many that I’m into (again, unlike how I was into SO MUCH of 2012).


    • Jaz

      ‘Painfully MIA’?? You were in EUROPE!!! I am so jealous! Never speak to me again!!

      Jokes, jokes. You may speak to me.

      I hope Robin stays as your #1. I can’t imagine him being knocked off my list.

      Western Europe is kinda bringing it this year, aren’t they? And if the bookies are right then we’ll be staying to the left for 2014. I’m not that fussed as long as Azerbaijan doesn’t win. I do NOT see what’s so good about that. Although I don’t really want Denmark to win either, just because it’s the favourite and I like a multiple-horse race.

      RE: yesterday’s running order, is it just me or were the producers kerazy to put Latvia first in semi 2? I never would have chosen that to kick things off. Sure, it means we get it over with…but I think Finland would have been better.


      • nprovenghi271

        It’s good you’re granting me that permission because I’d do so anyway. 😉

        “Painfully” in the sense that I was IN EUROPE and didn’t get exposed to any real-life Eurovision… except for the weird guys in Rome who incorporated “Volare” into some sort of Italian folk song medley on the accordion. And seeing Marco Mengoni’s album (without any sort of Eurovision branding, by the way) at a really amazing Italian truck stop. Out of all the obsessive countries there are, I had to travel to two of the most apathetic. That disappointed me and the fact that Wi-Fi was hard to come by easily, so I couldn’t stay connected right after the selection season ended.

        The West seems to finally be waking up in the same year, coincidentally, that Eastern Europe starts slacking. Only Estonia holds the latter region up for me, and even then, Estonia wants to be Nordic, don’t they? As for winners, I’d love to see France do it, mainly because it feels like their year. Them and Italy. The Netherlands will have to wait until they send a song that’s back in my top 10 because I will simply NOT put up with that! 😉

        You’ve touched upon one of my fears; we’re getting an 2011-like situation here and we all know what happened then. I’m constantly afraid that those sneaky Azeris could pull out a shock victory again, and with an even worse song than “Running Scared!” As for Denmark, I just want things to switch regions, so I pass on a Nordic victory… unless Robin wins, in which case I’ll be just peachy… and dead of shock like I nearly was after MF.

        That’s the one thing I need to sit down and read. Just on first glance, I (think I) remember them killing Cyprus’ chances. Latvia starting does seem odd, although it does excuse my least favorite entry quickly. I really want to make my own order and play Björkman for a day.


        • Jaz

          Oh well. You were still on European soil, at least. I drove past a pizza shop yesterday called ‘Volare’…exciting stuff.

          I do not understand the fuss over the Netherlands. There was actually a similar deal last year, in that a lot of people thought Joan could win (and that she’d qualify easily, kind of necessary FTW) which I would never have predicted. And look what happened! Maybe I’m totally off this time though. Maybe it will be Amsterdam 2013. The song depresses me but the Dutch doing well for a change would be good.

          YES. ‘Hold Me’ is indeed worse than ‘Running Scared’! So it could easily sneak in there and win. Dammit.

          RE: the running order, ESC Insight did an article a few days ago which included the percentage of songs from each slot that have qualified. Interesting stuff. Some positions are almost failproof, it seems.


    • Jaz

      I was wondering if someone would notice that, after I’d noticed it myself! I got confused what with Germany having been the 2011 host and there being only five finalists that year…oops. Fixed now.


  2. Annika

    Hi Jaz! Fist of all, late congrats for your 300th post! 😀
    Now, this year and rankings…I’m in such a disinterested state right now it’s actually depressing. I have listened to all of the songs but I can barely pick more than 5 that I like, so I can’t be bothered to rank all of them rigt now, but I’ll hopefully take some time to do it during Easter break. That said, I totally agree on what you said about the French song…and that’s it xD
    Out of the 6 finalist I think I like Spain the most. It’s cheesy like hell, but it’s cute.
    I find Germany extremely boring, UK bores me, Sweden..meh Italy is kind of cute too but meh…maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll be like omg this year is awesome I love it…but right now meh 😛


    • Jaz

      Late congrats accepted. Thankyou!!

      Fingers crossed you get into the spirit soon. I guess 2013 is a weaker year than the last few, but for me there’s only a few songs I really dislike, and a lot of others that continue to grow on me. Maybe there’s some growers in there for you??

      PS – I read your latest post and I really hope uni gets better. At least you’re enjoying some of the subject matter right? If you get to choose it yourself. Those books look interesting, too. Evem though I would have no idea what they were on about =P


  3. Zolan

    It’s good to know someone is looking out for Belgium. 🙂
    An early convert to “Pred da se Razdeni” as well, I see.

    A complete ranking? Wow. I can’t even look at my list without changing it.
    Ok, top ten ta tive:

    San Marino

    See, now I have to go fiddle with it again. :p


    • Jaz

      I hope there are some Europeans looking out for Belgium as well…someone has to vote for the guy! He’s GOT to do better than the terminally boring Iris.

      Mmm, PDSR isn’t as amazeballs as Imperija was/is, in my opinion. But yeah, I’m still mildly impressed.

      I know how you feel about the constant change of mind when ranking. I think all lists are accurate for approximately 3.56 seconds. Happy to see France and San Marino (and even Montenegro, which I am coming around on) in your top ten…tative.


      • Zolan

        I wouldn’t want him to have a bad experience, for sure. Some acts have deserved a slap in the face for treating the contest with contempt themselves, but not aspiring newcomers. It makes me think the minimum age should perhaps be higher.

        My ‘vote’ counts even less than yours, coming from across the ditch where ESC is almost unknown. 😉


        • Jaz

          I wonder how many artists go into the contest with an idea of their chances, or with a feel for the public sentiment directed towards them? If Roberto’s got any idea of recent Belgian results and what a lot people have been saying about his song, then maybe he’s just prepared to go and give it his best shot and not get too down if he doesn’t do well. I guess even as a talent show winner with a bit of home-country fame, when you’re as young as he is and someone asks you to do Eurovision, you’re not going to say no. I wish someone would ask me, actually XD



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