Eurovision: what explains the British zero point disaster?


In general, it can be said that Eurovision went well this year. The television audience was positive, the songs had an impact in several countries and most importantly, the organization managed, without major obstacles (albeit with major challenges), to set up one of the largest pilot events in Europe since the beginning of the pandemic.

3500 people tested in Covid-19 without a mask or social distance watched the performances at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. As The Black Mamba anticipated in an interview with NiT, this model can open doors for other major musical events that may adapt and take place in the near future.

Italian band Måneskin were the winner of the competition – although their performance quickly became controversial due to a movement by the singer that would have led many viewers to believe that he was using cocaine live (a picture released in the meantime shows this) that the explanation of the band is correct).

Portugal took 12th place with The Black Mamba and the song “Love is On My Side” – it was the second best national classification of the 21st century, just behind the historic achievement of Salvador Sobral, who won the 2017 competition.

Another of the most talked about in connection with this year’s edition was the UK disaster. Competitor James Newman finished last in the competition and received no points – neither from the jury nor from the public in each country.

The UK social networks – and the comment boxes in the online newspapers – have been full of criticism of Eurovision. Many citizens said it was a kind of revenge for Europe on Brexit, the country’s exit from the European Union.

Some politicians have also responded as one of the pro-Brexit movement’s biggest proponents, Nigel Farage. “I’ve said it before, but we have to leave this globalist farce of Eurovision,” wrote the British politician on social media.

However, many personalities have also spoken out against this thesis. “Britain had no zero points on Eurovision due to an uncanny vengeance for Brexit,” said TV presenter Piers Morgan. “We got zero points because we had a bullshit song played by a bullshit singer who did a bullshit performance. End, ”he wrote on Twitter.

Great Britain did not receive zero points at the Eurovision Song Contest because of a scary revenge for Brexit.
We got ‘nul points’ because we had a crap song that was performed by a crap singer who was doing a crap performance.

– Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 23, 2021

“For those who see Eurovision as a proxy war designed to avenge geopolitical resentment behind the glitzy and tight shorts, Britain’s chances in this year’s edition of the competition would always be slim,” wrote an editor at The Guardian in a text about criticism and the phenomenon.

“In principle, any country could have a reason to hold a grudge against Britain. Perhaps the European nations have not forgiven us for Brexit. The Russians still can’t believe we can’t buy this story about their secret agents visiting Salisbury Cathedral. And the Australians might be sore after the trade deal. But maybe – just maybe – our participation wasn’t incredibly good, ”added journalist Helen Pidd.

The truth is that the phenomenon is not new. In the last edition, which was held in 2019 – the event was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic – the UK also came last, despite receiving 16 points.

There are those in the UK media who explain this by the inconsistent selection of the country’s competitors. Over the years there have been different competitions with different rules to determine the UK representative. In most cases, the public had the right to decide: first by letter, then by televote and via the Internet. But there were also issues where the decision was internal, from the BBC public broadcaster.

After a few years in which the public could decide, the participants for the 2020 and 2021 edition were again selected internally by BBC Studios in collaboration with the publisher BMG, without the citizens generally having to check.

That year, James Newman was selected, a 35-year-old singer and songwriter who has worked with names like Rudimental, Kesha, Armin Van Buuren and Calvin Harris. The topic that led to Eurovision was “Embers”.

What happens is that unlike The Black Mamba for example, James Newman didn’t have the experience of going through different stages until he won his national competition. Plus, he didn’t have to perform in the semi-finals of the competition as the UK is one of the five big countries – the five countries that go straight to the Eurovision finals each year.

The Big Five have been the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France and Germany since 2011. The rule started in 2000, but only with the Big Four – Italy held a long interregnum to attend the festival. The reason is very simple: these are the countries that contribute the most money to the European Broadcasting Union, the organization that organizes the Eurovision Song Contest. In other words, they are the countries that pay the most for the party. This was seen as an advantage for these states.

While the UK has a reserved seat in the finals of all editions, each competitor’s short path will potentially make it more fragile in public – and you will have less space and time to promote your music or do your own performance.

Since that rule, only one of the Big Five has won Eurovision twice. It happened in 2010 when the winning theme was “Satellite” by German singer Lena. and now with the victory of the Måneskin. Whenever a Big Five wins the Eurovision, the final of the following year has fewer competitors, as this country combines the role of host with that of the Big Five. This will happen with Italy next year.