Even before Norway crashed out of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest a few people had said to me, ‘they’ll never vote for her because she’s black’. Now I don’t think there is discernible racism in the Eurovision voting but lets have a look at the evidence.
Glennis Grace: The Netherlands 2005: 14th in the semi final – did not qualify.
She was one of the bookies’ favourites to qualify and gave an amazing performance but was it racism that led to Glennis not qualifying, or was it simply that big ballads have mixed success at Eurovision?
Glennis has just achieved her first number 1 in the Dutch charts with ‘Afscheid’.
Edsilia Rombley: Netherlands 2007: 21st in the semi final – did not qualify
Some people felt this should have qualified but Edsilia finished just one place below pre-contest favourites Switzerland who crashed out in 20th place. She did however come 4th in her previous attempt at Eurovision 1998, so it’s hard to level any accusations of racism at that!
Javine: UK 2005: 22nd place
After Turkey’s success in the previous year I think many in the UK thought this would do well. But after performing the cursed 2nd spot it seemed even Turkey only slightly agreed (1 point) and Javine finished near the bottom of the scoreboard. This wasn’t anything unusual though as the UK had some of its worst results in this period.
Andy Abraham: UK 2008: 25th (last) place
This was the year that Terry Wogan quit claiming eastern Europe had voted for the ‘Russian Bear’ so that they’d keep their gas supply running! However, ‘political voting’ aside, it wasn’t a great song and again the UK performed in the dreaded 2nd position, meaning a last place finish wasn’t really all that surprising.
Enough of these bad results, let’s focus now on some successes!
Jessy Matador: France 2010: 12th place
Having not even considered this song before the final I was blown away by this energetic performance. The juries placed Jessy 18th but he came 8th in the public televote, making his overall finishing place 12th.
Jade Ewen: UK 2009: 5th place
After the embarrassment of Andy Abraham’s last place in 2008 the BBC decided enough was enough and it was decided to bring in a big name to write the UK entry. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren penned ‘My Time’ and Jade’s fantastic performance gained the UK our best result in years. No accusations of racism here.
Imaani: UK 1998: 2nd place!
Coming a year after Katrina & The Waves win Imaani was beaten by just 6 points by Dana International. This in the same year that Edsilia Rombley came 4th for The Netherlands.
Dave Benton: Estonia 2001: 1st place winner!
Now when most people mention racism in Eurovision they point their fingers east. Estonia chose an entry sung by a white guy AND a black guy and guess what, it won!
In summary the influence of race in Eurovision voting seems as subjective as ‘political voting’. The evidence seems to suggest just what it does about political/bloc/neighbourly voting – if the song is good enough it will do well regardless.