An editorial from Zack.  This content does not reflect the views of ESC United or its readers.  We encourage readers to share their comments below.

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Some of the readers may know that I had a love-hate relationship with Denmark’s winning entry this year, “Only Teardrops.”

But as I reflect back during the time leading to the live shows, I realized that my assessment regarding “Only Teardrops” was influenced by many factors, for better or for worse.  Honestly, perhaps more for the worse.

As much as I love watching the Eurovision live shows, this was actually the first year in which I got immersed in watching as many of the National Selections as I could.  The National Selections were a nice variety of music from around Europe. I saw many songs that I thought were great and could have nice additions to the Malmo atmosphere.

And when I watched Denmark’s National Selection, I remember equally liking “Only Teardrops” and “Unbreakable.”  So when “Only Teardrops” won, I thought, “Cute song.  This could do well!”  However, this is where following the National Selections may have ruined “Only Teardrops” for me.  Not because of the song itself, but because of how “Only Teardrops” became portrayed as the early front-runner.

The reaction to “Only Teardrops” being a possible winner in Malmo was immediate.  Still, cynics noted that there were many countries that still had to reveal their songs.  But as these countries selected songs, we all couldn’t help but ask ourselves, “How does that song and its presentation compare to Denmark’s?”  And most of the time, the answer was “Not as good.”

And then we landed in Malmo.  The Danish fans were proud and loud, making sure everyone aware they they were confident in Denmark’s victory.  Some people there started complaining about the Danish fans being rude.  But in retrospect, I don’t see anything wrong with how the Danish fans that I met and saw reacted. As I’ve mentioned before, “Only Teardrops” became a symbol of national identity and pride.  It was something the Danish people could look at with pride and remark, “We built this!” (through the televotes at the Danish National Selection).  And for some of us, looking at our favorites pale in comparison, our response to “Who do you want to win Eurovision?” became “Anyone but Denmark.”

So things were looking great for Denmark.  But for those looking for more ways to question Denmark’s invincibility, the discussion started to arise about the new voting system.  In Malmo, the press center started speculating that the new system would hurt Denmark’s chances of winning.  There was talk of  songs with decent jury and televote scores acquiring more points than “Only Teardrops” because the juries would not reward it well.  We now know this is not the case as in the average overall rankings, Denmark was first with the juries and the televoters.  Funny to note, that when Denmark did win, some press started spinning it the other way- that Denmark gained the upper hand because of the new voting system.

Two weeks separated from the Eurovision hoopla, I can look at things a bit more clearly.  I admittedly got sucked into the Eurovision funnel of following the show a little too closely, rather than taking a step back to look at the bigger picture.  For myself, I heard so much talk about Denmark not winning that I began to believe it, and hope for an unexpected outcome.  But watching the replay of the show on TV, Emilie’s performance screamed “WINNER!” from the staging to the wonderful pyrotechnics shower at the end.

I also thought about who comprised the press and fans present at Eurovision, and even those who faithfully follow Eurovision all year round.  These are great little communities, but the key word is “LITTLE.”  I am prone to believe that we make up such a small part of the actual voting audience during the live shows.  So the power of the televotes most likely come from those fans who are tuning as first-time listeners of the song.  Those who with the first time watching Emilie perform “Only Teardrops” were instantaneously charmed.

So what would have happened had I never followed the National Selections prior to Eurovision 2013?  I am pretty sure that during Semi-Final 1, I would have instantly loved “Only Teardrops,” and would have been rooting and cheering for a Denmark victory.  Instead, I was hoping for a “David” to knock over this “Goliath.”  In a sense, I wasn’t rooting against Denmark because of the song; I was rooting against Denmark because it was the favorite.  I now wonder how much I would have loved “Euphoria” had I known how much of a favorite it was prior to watching Eurovision 2012.

A colleague that I met during my time in Malmo met up for drinks after Eurovision.  He warned me to make sure I stay grounded as I dive deep into the Eurovision scene.  It is thanks to his wise words that I’m able to look back and write this.  And anytime I hear “Only Teardrops,” I can take myself back to a wonderful two-week experience.

I hope that in future coverage of Eurovision, I can continue to take a step back and assess my own personal investment (and detachment) from songs, artists, and delegations.  After all, Eurovision provides a great opportunity to connect with such a diverse group of individuals from not only across Europe, but all over the world.  And so I wholeheartedly close this article by congratulating Denmark, Emilie de Forest and company, and the success of “Only Teardrops.”  Best of luck with Eurovision 2014!

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What do you think about “Only Teardrops” and its portrayal as an early favorite and frontrunner?  Where do you think we as faithful fans stand in the context of our ability to sway televotes?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below!

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3 Comments

  1. Roy van der Merwe

    May 29, 2013 at 13:22

    I like the Danish song, I am just wanting a new country to win every year. I had been to denmark for Eurovision 2001 and it was wonderful, enjoying especially Tivoli – I think Denmark will be good again as host but in some way it is too soon after Malmo, it is like you are almost in the same spot.

  2. Zack

    June 2, 2013 at 18:38

    @Mike Ledgerwood (from FB comments):
    Regarding Azerbaijan, I think their placing seems about right. The song was decent but the performance was spectacular and any first time viewer would have been wowed I think. The voting fix allegations are quite sad because for this performance, I’m not sure how much of a difference it actually made. If the allegations are true, then perhaps a move up two or three spots. We shall see what the EBU determines. In the end, I just feel bad for Farid.

  3. rajo

    June 2, 2013 at 20:31

    I knew Denmark would win, when Malmö was announced host city. And actually they came up with a very old fashioned, but still catchy schlager tune full of cliché. Somehow it doesn’t feel right, but at least it’s more justified than having a winner like in 2011. Swedish songwriters selling their formula to countries who don’t know what else to bring are those who destroy the competition for real.

    Other factors of destruction:

    – Political voting patterns – we all know them and loathe them, therefore we have juries now, but
    – juries who vote politically correct – destroying chances of great songs…. like the German jury who votes for anything but ex-Soviet or ex-Yu countries
    – politically correct hosts like Sweden this year, downsizing the contest inspite of having pre-selections in the biggest arenas, just to remind Europe they don’t need to have huge arenas and spectacular shows, and assigning culturally troubled cities as host city and celebrating multi-culturalism, when there are tensions and xenophobia underneath

    Still I am looking forward to Denmark 2014, since it is more normal and less distorted than Sweden nowadays

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