Rigged! Robbed! Oh, The Drama!

Eurovision week 2023 is finished with yesterday’s Grand Final. And what a final it was! Not just as an amazing array of fantastic songs and performances, but also because of Finland being in the lead until the very last moment before losing to Sweden.

This controversy has, of course, dominated the Twitter, TikTok, and Finnish newspapers today. And why? If you look at the total points, Sweden got the points from the national juries, whilst Finland was clearly the televote favourite. So clearly, Finland should have won, right! And now that we didn’t, the system is rigged, and the national juries just needed Loreen and Sweden to win because next year marks the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s legendary win!

And now comes the unpopular part: is it really so?

Look at the official scoreboards from the finals (provided by Eurovisionworld), which I put above there. Sweden might not have had any 12 points from any country’s televote, but they got points from every country, except Finland’s televote. On the other hand, Finland was by a landslide the fan favourite, gaining points and top points from all televotes, but 14/36 national juries let Finland without a single point. And that makes a difference. Had there not been a national jury vote, Finland would have taken the trophy home, and Sweden wouldn’t.

But is it a secret conspiracy orchestrated by the EBU and SVT to bring the competition to Sweden for the 50th anniversary of ABBA? Come on. Sweden is currently at par with Ireland on the Eurovision wins. Both have seven wins. If anything, this just proves that both of these countries are good with their style of music. Back in the day, Ireland won with more traditional music, and Sweden had ABBA, disco, and europop style. It doesn’t need a conspiracy when you take a melody, a catchy chorus, and a well thought national competition like Melodifestivalen, which is like Sweden’s Got Talent even before they choose their performer and performance.

But whilst it may not be a conspiracy, should we ask ourselves if Eurovision Song Contest has grown past the national juries?

This, on the other hand, is a valid question. Especially this year, the jury votes seemed to differ greatly from the public vote. Some of the most blatant differences were with Estonia (public gave 22 points, jury gave 146), and Norway (public 216, jury 52). And of course, Finland, which got most points in the whole competition this year from the public,376, and only 150 points from the jury.

If we ditch the national juries and let the public vote, is it going to make the Eurovision Song Contest better and more modern? Are the national juries only a remnant from the distant past?

Actually, the jury system is in place as a back-up, in case the televoting system can not be relied upon for some reason. In this sense, it is not obsolete. This year, however, the rules of the voting were changed – in the Semifinals, there were no jury points. Only televotes counted.

This, of course, meant that some of the countries were not qualified, which might have been if there had been jury votes as well, but at the same time those gave more power for the general public to decide who we will see in the Grand Final.

My personal, maybe unfounded, fear of this change is that it will homogenise the music in this world’s biggest music competition if we ditch the national juries altogether. We already know that the voters, ie. us people tend to vote with the current trends. And if we do that, would we get such iconic winners like Lordi in the future when rock music isn’t exactly the mainstream genre of the Eurovision?

Drama has always been part of the Eurovision, especially on the Sunday following the Grand Final. And this year seems to be no different story. Personally, I would have wanted to see Finland win because of the hype, energy, and positivity that Käärijä brought to everyone during this week. And also because he won the popular vote. And there was a bromance. But as the win went to Sweden, maybe it is time to start making preparations to book tickets for next year…

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