Wasn’t it great to have the Eurovision back? And aren’t we all indebted to the EBU and Dutch host broadcasters for delivering three great shows (six if one includes the jury rehearsals)? We are all winners!
But Måneskin, they are the actual winners of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. Forza Italia!
This is our annual omnibus analysis of this year’s Grand Final medal winners. Let’s jump right in to the results.
The results sequence
While we still contend the current sequencing of the televote results is both more confusing and crueler, it does produce suspense—largely through chaos—regardless of the final tally. This year, like 2019, certainly was confusing and exciting. And at times cruel.
After the jury votes were tallied, there was only a 69 point difference between first ranked Switzerland and fifth ranked Iceland. At that point any of the top five jury favourites could win:
Our assumptions were that Iceland, Italy and Malta would be near the top of the televote tally, and that both Switzerland and France would score much lower with televoters.
Iceland’s 180 points were surprisingly low: we assumed the rest of the Scandinavian bloc televoters would rank 10 Years first, which would mean a starting value of 60 points. 180 points is a very good score, but not one that will give you victory under the current scoring system. Iceland were out of contention (but ended up further overall, which is a great achievement for any delegation).
A jury or televote component score over 300 is massive. Thus when Måneskin’s televote tally of 318 was announced, we knew it would be hard for Switzerland, France or Malta to catch Italy. Malta’s surprisingly low 47 televote points quickly took them out of contention. France’s huge 251 points still left Barbara Pravi 25 points behind Italy. Given that Ukraine had also already put up a massive televote score (267 points; ranked only behind Italy), there simply were not enough points left for Switzerland:.Gjon’s Tear’s 165 televote score was enough, however, to move them into third place.
On to our medal winners
Zitti e buoni (Oro)
Måneskin will bring the Eurovision back to Italy after the country’s third victory. In 1964 Gigliola Cinquetti’s Non ho l’eta triumphed in both Sanremo and the Eurovision, which makes Måneskin only the second artists to win both festivals with the same entry. The band members co-wrote Zitti e buoni, so they become the first artists to have won both festivals with a self-composed entry. Italy’s second champion, Toto Cotugno’s Insieme 1992 (in 1990) did not compete at Sanremo (though Cotugno had previously won Sanremo in 1980).
Twenty-five countries had Italy in the televote top three, including top marks from Ukraine, Malta, Serbia, San Marino and Bulgaria. In fact, every single country gave some televote points to Italy. For the second time since their return to the Contest in 2011, Italy topped the televote (as did Il Volo’s Grande Amore in 2015).
Fifteen out of 38 juries had Italy in their top three, with the Croatian, Georgian, Slovenian and Ukrainian jury awarding Zitti et buoni their douze points. In total 28 juries gave some points to Måneskin: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Russia all blanked Italy, though Russia had them ranked 11th—just outside the jury points. Among the rest of the Big Five only France’s jury awarded Italy any points (3 points, in fact), but that was due to one juror ranking Zitti e buoni first and another 10th: the other jurors had them ranked 12th, 12th and 15th.
Italy’s per delegation average score was 13.8 points, which includes 8.4 average televote points and 5.4 average jury votes.
Congratulations also to Barbara Pravi and France, whose second place finish is France’s best since Marie Myriam’s winning L’oiseau et l’enfant’s from 1976. Pravi’s result equals Amina’s C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison, which also ranked as runner-up, in 1990.
France was ahead of Italy by 42 jury points, but Italy’s televote score was 67 more than France’s. Voilà’s 499 total points put France comfortably in second place overall. How close were the two entries? A difference of 25 points across 38 delegations is .66 of a point—less than one ordinal rank. Super, super close, in other words.
Although many predicted Voilà would be over-reliant on a jury score for its final result, in fact Pravi scored slightly more televote points (251; third in the televote) than jury points (248; second with juries). Like Italy, France earned at least one televote point from every other country, including 13 who had France in their top three. Unlike Italy, nearly every jury (except those from Poland, Belgium, Denmark and Russia) awarded Voilà at least one point.
France’s per delegation average score was 13.1 points, which includes 6.6 average televote points and 6.5 average jury votes.
Tout l’univers (De bronze)
Félicitations aussi to Gjon’s Tears, whose Tout l’univers finished third overall. Building upon strong fourth place in 2019, the last Swiss entry to rank higher was Céline Dion’s 1988 winner, Ne partez pas sans moi. Gjon’s result equals Switzerland’s 1993 result when another Canadian—Annie Cotton sang Moi, tout simplement.
Gjon topped the jury vote (267 points, mean score 7 points), which included douze points from Albania, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Israel and Latvia. Thirty-four juries gave Switzerland points: only Azerbaijan, Italy, Greece and Bulgaria did not. After the juries had voted Switzerland held a narrow lead over France (19 points difference), Malta (59 points) and Italy (61 points)—in other words, an entirely surmountable lead.
In the end, Switzerland netted a respectable sixth place with televoters for a total of 165 points (mean 4.3 points). This was less than half of Italy’s score and 102 points behind France. Having got points from 34/38 other countries is usually a guarantee of a top 10 result, but with most of these being seven or fewer points (Albania’s douze points was the only top 3 televote ranking for Switzerland), winning is almost impossible. Malta, Italy, Cyprus and Georgia all blanked Switzerland in the televote—though, to be fair, each could have ranked Tout l’univers anywhere between 11th and 25th. We don’t know.
For the first time since 1991—when the highest ranked English language entry was Malta’s Could it Be, in sixth place—four of the top five entries were entirely performed in languages other than English. Throughout the 90s Ireland, the UK and Malta routinely placed at least two English language entries in the top five.
With the end of the national language rule in 1999, most entries in the Eurovision have been performed all or partially in English. As have been all but three winners this century: Marija Šerifoviç’s Molitva (Serbia 2007), Salvador Sobral’s Amar Pelois Dois (Portugal 2017) and now Måneskin’s Zitti e buoni (Italy 2021).
As well, six entries in the televote top ten were entirely or mostly in a language other than English:
Of these only Serbia finished outside the overall top 10: their jury score of 20 points (21st overall) held them back to fifteenth overall.