The latest in our series of “what if…” articles will take a slightly different approach – for this time, I’m speculating on whether Germany’s disastrous result can be attributed to its running order position. We all accept that singing in the second half is often synonymous with a better final result, so was Germany doomed from the moment it got #11?
In the run-up to the 2013 contest, the high-profile German entry “Glorious” by Cascada was hotly tipped for success – although it did manage to create a ferocious rift in the fan community as accusations of plagiarism and incompetence were hurled back and forth. The song’s failure to even break into the top 20 however, will undeniably go down in the history books as one of the biggest shocks of the Malmö contest. I am going to explore some of the possible reasons for this, and hopefully postulate a number of answers to today’s “What if…”.
So, brand new national final, high-profile act with previous chart success, just-about modern contemporary song… It was clear from the start that Germany meant business. But almost immediately after Cascada’s national final victory in February, concerns began to surface regarding the apparent similarities to the 2012 winning song “Euphoria”. For a great many fans, this was a convenient reason to start a vendetta against the entry, and even after experts had cleared it of plagiarism, the negativity was still present.
Now, since I’m writing for a small blog, and I’m likely not going to get my point across to many people, I’m going to be blunt. The comparisons to “Euphoria” are the biggest load of bullshit I’ve heard all year. The two songs share a common genre, and a line – yes, a single line – where any rhythmic or melodic similarities are evident. And even that “eu-phooooooo-ria”/”gloooooo-rious” comparison falls down as these notes occur at different stages within the rhythm of the song, with Loreen beginning on an anacrusis and Natalie commencing the note a whole bar later. “Euphoria” is predominantly minor. “Glorious” is major. The beat and bassline of each song is formed from its own distinct motifs, and the strophic structure of both entries is simply due to the generic conventions of dance music. If anything, “Euphoria” owes more to Cascada’s earlier work than “Glorious” owes to Loreen.
In all seriousness, if you’re on a witch hunt for plagiarism, “Eg A Lif” is the one you’re looking for. “I Am Cow”; need I say more?
But I’m not here to single-handedly attempt to vanquish deep-set prejudices like this. If this was indeed a contributing factor to the 21st place then it’s one hell of a shame, but I believe there are more subtle possibilities to explore.
What with Natalie’s extensive experience of arena and TV performance, the Saturday night show from Germany should have been world-class. But, unfortunately, it was clear from the start that there was something missing. Her voice – perhaps from overexertion during rehearsals or due to the nerves and pressure on established artists – seemed slightly hoarse, and the higher end of her range came across way too forced. The backing singers’ perception of pitch was woefully wayward, and to top it all off, when the beat dropped out for the first chorus, she managed to lose track of the tempo. Not exactly what we were hoping for. However, to a casual Saturday-night viewer, these errors weren’t as detrimental as we fans would assume, as (especially on a single listen) the main aspect of the performance which will have connected with these viewers is the song itself. The ropey live performance was not, in my opinion, enough to knock this one down to 21st.
And this is where my argument for the running order comes in. Now, we all know that it has “no statistical impact” (hah… good one Jon Ola…) but I think that Germany were already at a disadvantage the moment they drew first half. Only one out of the previous ten Eurovision winners has performed in the first half (Ukraine from 10th in 2004), and this year in particular, seven out of the top ten were performed towards the end of the show. Coincidence much? Say Germany swapped positions with Norway, for argument’s sake. Coming after Italy and before Georgia, it would have stood out a mile and – vocal performance aside – been more recently engrained in the minds of viewers when they came to vote.
This doesn’t work in every case, of course. Ireland, performing a similarly modern up-tempo number drew the pimp slot and still ended up in last place. Having been given such a good draw, it was Ryan’s to lose, and by all accounts, the Irish jury performance was woeful. That explains somewhat this potential skew in the data. I’m not one to pretend that the entire result hinges on the running order, but I do believe that it can increase or decrease a song’s chances of success, especially if its chances of success were marginal in the first place.
When Germany were selected to perform 11th, they were at an immediate disadvantage. Add onto that the fact that they were singing directly after the Russian song – another favourite with considerably more consistent vocals – and it leaves very little room for error on the final night. For Cascada, these errors in vocals and staging did occur, and as the draw had already given them a hill to climb if they were to secure a top 10 placing, they proved more costly than anticipated.
So yes, in all honesty, I believe that Germany would have finished higher had they sung nearer to the end. With her eventual performance, I’d still say top 10 would have been unlikely, but a later draw would have given them a more commendable finish.
Nelly Takis from Greece: The song was excellent and deserved top-5, what went wrong was the presentation and stage concept which was totally wrong. Germany should have hired choreographer and stage director Fokas Evagelinos before Azerbaijan grabbed him first 🙂
Jordan Alexander from Australia: There was nothing wrong with the song or the singer to be honest. It was those ridiculous accusations that ruined Germany’s chance to obtain a good result this year.
Pascale Veenhuis from the Netherlands: The draw has nothing to do with the fact she did bad! if it was second half she still sound not good…on TV it was a big disappointment really.
Chris Steinbrück from Germany: I liked her performance. But with dancers it were usually better. Her voice was at many times not so good. The sound in the arena was great. But her startposition would have been better in the end. Number 11 was not good, I think.
There are, of course, a number of contributing factors to Germany’s disappointing result, and not all the fans see the running order as significantly as I do. However, this simply goes to show that “Glorious” failed to live up to expectations in more ways than one, and its final position cannot be pinpointed to one single problem.
Are any of these views in line with yours? Feel free to leave a comment below!