If the main story from Semi-Final One was (largely) about Kalush Orchestra, Semi-Final Two was (largely) about Cornelia Jakobs. Oh, and the drama. And drama there was!
Let’s take a look.
Is their wont, yet again in 202 Sweden tacked toward juries—to great effect. Sixteen of twenty juries awarded douze points to Hold Me Closer. Cornelia Jakobs earned points from every jury; in fact, their lowest jury score was 6 points from Spain. That is a lot of love—222 points of love!
But Sweden’s public vote was also strong. While Sweden’s 174 points nominally equal ranked level with Serbia, the current tie break rule ranks Sweden first. Every televote gave some points to Sweden: unfortunately the Azeris blanked Serbia. If we were still using the “most 12s” tiebreaker, Serbia trumped Sweden’s three sets of douze points. More on Serbia shortly.
In total Hold Me Closer netted 396 points—a massive—semi-final score. Only Bulgarian Kristian Kostov’s 403 points in 2017 is higher. Like Kostov, the semi-final was Jakob’s peak. In both instances, it was an 18 song semi-final with three of the pre-qualified entries’ juries also voting.
Over 150 points separated Sweden and the runner-up.
Congratulations to Sheldon Riley, whose Not the Same ranked second on 243 points. Australia was also runner-up with the jury (169 points) and received points from every jury. Sweden’s jury gave their douze points to Not the Same—and 12 juries had Australia second. Of these, the Spanish jury had Azerbaijan first: the other 11 were right behind Sweden. What an interesting pattern… ☹
In something of a pattern for the Aussies, the public quite liked Not the Same, but not as much as juries. Sheldon Riley was eight in the public vote (74 points), exactly 100 points behind Sweden. Most televotes (16/20) gave Australia some points.
In the Grand Final, Australia’s momentum dissipated, which has happened before—yet again, particularly with regards to the public vote. Australia needs to crack that televote secret to have a shot at victory in the future.
Something of a phenomenon Serbia
Konstrakta crushed the public vote, only finishing second behind Sweden on a count-back. The public in Malta, Australia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, North Macedonia, San Marino, Montenegro, and Georgia all gave Konstrakta douze points. And this from the ostensibly unfavourable third slot!
In a mirror image to Sweden, In Corpore Sano was only ranked 8th with juries: six delegations’ juries blanked Serbia entirely. Only North Macedonia had them first.
Konstrakta proves one of the enduring principles of the modern Eurovision Song Contest: Marmite is better than vanilla.
Something from nothing
But we had extraordinary aspects of this semi-final. First, Azerbaijan’s Nadir Rustamli is the first entry to qualify from a semi-final with null points. Not overall points: Fade to Black netted 96 points (and 10th overall), but they were all from juries. Those 96 jury points were 6th in terms of that scoring element. But in getting zero from the televotes was offset by a good level of jury support. Azerbaijan was still 20 points clear of North Macedonia, who finished 11th.
The other shocker relates to allegations of some form of jury tampering. Although not named by the EBU, other media have named Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino as those involved. As a result, for both this semi-final and the Grand Final these juries’ scores were deemed invalid and replaced by aggregate jury scores based on their pots. The specifics of the allegations—collusion within a jury or between one delegation’s jury and another’s—is not yet clear.
Edit: it is clearer now: click here for the EBU’s press release about these 6 juries swapping points. ESCExtra’s analysis indicates San Marino would have qualified instead of Romania–despite both delegations among the 6 accused of collusion.
No rest for the
Finally we wanted to bang on about express the inequity that persists from those randomly assigned to the Thursday semi-final. The injustice of have no days of vocal rest has, yet again, impacted some entries in the Grand Final.
Asking performers to sing for the Jury on Wednesday, live SF on Thursday, Jury on Friday, live GF on Saturday. Many of the qualifiers who sounded amazing on Thursday were worse for wear thereafter. Including Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Belgium.