(Fairly Useless) Eurovision Statistics
If you’re a fan of the glitzy costumes, energetic dance routines or getting slightly drunk and making xenophobic comments about every other nation in Europe, then surely this is your favourite week of the year. It’s the Eurovision Song Contest and what it lacks in good music, it surely makes up for in seeing most of western Europe getting their knickers in a twist because all ‘them’ Eastern European countries gang up and vote for each other.
“You know that time when we needlessly slaughtered thousands of your citizens a few decades ago? Well, we just wanted to say sorry about that and to facilitate the healing process, here’s douze points. By our judgment, no-one pranced around camply as well as you.”
That’s the theory upon which a lot of thinking about the Eurovision is based. The notion that nations with decades and often centuries of hatred vote for each other in some cosy pact may contain a nugget of truth, but as for being enough to decide the winner – we’re not so sure. Germany won it last year and they haven’t had a cosy pact with any other European nation for about 70 years now. But is there a pattern we can identify to make some money out of it? Well, no quite frankly, but that didn’t stop me trying.
Simple really – if you want to win the Eurovision, being Irish helps. With seven victories, Ireland lead the way at the top of the standings, but things haven’t gone so well in recent years. The last win came back in 1996 and although we like to pretend we’re too cool to get bothered by the lack of success, in truth it’s more embarrassing to the nation than every time Jim Corr opens his mouth. The UK haven’t done too badly, but again recent success has been thin on the ground. The policy of sending tone deaf nincompoops was good for creating a more inclusive society, but it hasn’t yielded much success in the last few years. Whether you think they could win this year or not will depend on whether you think Blue are tone-deaf nincompoops or not. No need to answer that.
English is really the language of the Eurovision, which is somewhat ironic given Jedward’s poor command of it. Songs with English lyrics have won almost half the time whilst French has been the language used to win the hearts of Europe on a pretty impressive 14 occasions. Strangely – the language of love that is German (where the perfectly innocent ‘would you like a piece of cake?’ – Möchten Sie ein Stück Kuchen? – makes it sound like George Michael has learned a new language to proposition you) has only won it twice, making it less popular than Dutch and Hebrew.
Pigeon-holing all the winning songs into different genres is very subjective, but I wanted to make a pretty graph, so here it is. Love songs lead the way so if someone is signing about injecting heroin into their own eyeballs, it’s probably best to steer clear (both of the song and the activity). The only thing separating the Gran Pop and Mum Pop categories is about 25 years to be honest. They’re very similar and there’s a bit of crossover, but the simple rule of thumb I used for the categorising the songs was ‘who’d be more likely to be tapping their foot along to this agreeable little ditty – my granny or my mum?’. Either way, they’d probably both call it an ‘agreeable little ditty’ so that pretty much sums up the two genres. Anyway, Granny Pop basically ruled the roost in the first few years of the competition when contestants all dressed like they were all on the way to a banquet with the Queen, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much these days.
That may or may not help you pick a winner for the Eurovision, but it’s not that important. When it comes to Europe’s singing competition, it’s not about the winning, it’s all about remembering how superior you are to other nations.