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4 of 6 pre-qualified countries got 0 points from televotes – time for a change?

Back in 2000, a new rule was introduced making France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom be part a Big-4 group which later expanded to Big-5 with Italy. These countries are granted a spot to be in grand final irrelevant of past results but does it really make sense 21 years later?

After months of preparation, the Grand Final for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest was held in Rotterdam with Italy taking their win. Måneskin, made this happen with their song "Zitti e buoni" after winning with a narrow margin of 25 points over France who was represented by Barbara Pravi who sang "Voila".

As one can notice, the top 2 results reflect countries which form part of the "Big-5". The Big-5 countries are the biggest financial contributors to the contest and they are granted a spot in the final and are joined by the host country. The countries of Big-5 are France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Eurovision 2021 Fun Facts

  • The top 3 countries in the Grand Final all had non-English songs
  • With no particular order, the top 3 countries during the Grand Final are the same top 3 countries which were at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1958 which was also hosted by the Netherlands
  • Two songs in the top 3 are sung in French

This rule was created back in 2000, dubbed as the Big-4 (France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom), to allow a direct pass into the final of the Eurovision Song Contest regardless of their placing in the previous year's contest, fear of relegation, or having to go through a semi-final round. After Italy's absence, they returned in 2011 and joined the Big group, making it the Big-5 as we know it today. Ever since the introduction of the semi-finals back in 2004, the host country was also granted a direct spot in the final for winning the previous edition.

The Big-5 and host countries

Although France didn't secure enough for a Eurovision win, many still consider this as a win for the country after a several years being on the right side of the scoreboard after the introduction of the Big-5 system. With this rule taken in place for 21 years as at today, France only manage to secure 4 top 10 placings during this time:

During this period, France landed in the bottom 5 of the scoreboard for 8 times (2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) with a song from 2014 ending last. On the contrary, Italy has been quite lucky from when joining the Big group. Italy secured a top 10 scoring for 8 times including a win (2021) and three top 3 placements (2011, 2015, 2019).

Sorry, Zero Points!

Although two from the Big-5 countries had success at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, the other three countries including the host country, had a nightmare come true by hearing the host say Sorry, Zero Points. During the Eurovision 2021 Final, history was also made at the bottom 5 end of the scoreboard. For the first time since the introduction of the new jury and public split voting announcement in 2016, four countries received zero points from the televote. These countries in mention are Netherlands, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom. Beside the zero points from the televote, United Kingdom had it worse as they also got zero points from the jury vote.

Germany

The first time we've heard zero points was at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, where Germany had to hear these suffering words. However, ever since the introduction of the Big-5 rule, Germany have been accustomed to bad results. Before Eurovision 2000, this country rejoiced with great results but suffered being in the bottom 5 of the scoreboard for 10 times to date (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021), and three of these times were last in the contest (2005, 2015, 2016). In the 21 years of the Big-5 rule, all was not bad as they secured a win in 2010 with "Satellite" by Lena and six top 10 placings (2000, 2001, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2018). Jendrik, who represented the country with "I Don't Feel Hate" suffered once again the humiliating zero points this year from the public televote having only secured 3 points from the jury.

Spain

A country which has been hit hard by this rule is Spain. Ever since the new rule was introduced in 2000, only six of these times Spain has secured a top 10 spot (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2012, 2014) while having to endure a bottom 5 classification for twelve times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021). This makes Spain ending at the bottom 5 of the scoreboard for six consecutive times. This country to date only landed the dreaded last place once back in 2017 when Manel Navarro sang "Do It For Your Lover". This year at the Eurovision 2021 contest, Blas Cantó sang an emotion song dedicated to his grandma, who he sees her more of a mother role titled "Voy a quedarme". Sadly emotion was not enough this year to grab the attention to the televoters as they received zero points whilst grabbing only 6 points from jurors.

United Kingdom

Without a doubt, the country that holds the record of being a runner-up for 15 times has been hit the hardest with the Big-5 rule set in motion. for the past 21 years, the United Kingdom only managed to secure a top 10 classification twice (2002, 2009), one being in the top 3 with Jessica Garlick in 2002 and her song "Come Back". This country has landed eleven times (2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021) in the bottom 5 of the scoreboard with 5 last placings (2003, 2008, 2010, 2019, 2021). Whilst James Newman with "Embers" suffered the fate of zero points, the wasn't the first time the United Kingdom ended the contest with such a result. Back in 2003, Gemini with "Cry Baby" placed last in the contest with also zero points, at that time it was just televoting. Will they blame Brexit this time?

Host Country

Ever since the semi-finals were introduced to the contest in 2004, a new rule was implement to make the previous winner, which would end up hosting the following Eurovision Song Contest, is also automatically granted a spot in the final. Although not competing in the semi-finals, host country songs. Being the host country, the songs which were performed with this new rule, generally fared very well. Sadly, this year Jeangu Macrooy suffered also the fate of getting zero points from the televote with "Birth Of a New Age". Netherlands however managed to gain 11 points from the juries. This was not the first time that the host country suffered zero points from the televote as The Makemakes from Austria 2015 with "I Am Yours" didn't receive a single point from the televote but managed 40 points from the jury, still scoring a total aggregation of zero points.

Besides the bad moments of a host country performance, the general consensus is quite bright as from the introduction of this rule in 2004, such songs have managed to secure a top 10 placement for 7 times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016). The host country however landed in the bottom 5 of the scoreboard 5 times (2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019), with one of them last place in 2018 when Portugal was host to the Eurovision with "O jardim" by Cláudia Pascoal.

As France also suffered the same fate similar times as these previous countries, the country went back to the drawing board and managed to turn things around with a 2nd placing spot in Eurovision 2021. Besides France Italy also secured a win so all this will surely give hope once again to the other ill-fated countries in the Big-5 group.

Many viewers and Eurovision fans have called out the European Broadcasting Unit several times over the years to make changes in the system as such countries after the introduction of the Big-5 rule (with the exception of Italy) are suffering this unkind fate. All the Big-5 countries have used several ways to select their Eurovision Song including national selections and also internal selections. So what are they doing wrong and is it time for the Big-5 rule to change? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

About the author: Steven Spiteri (Malta)

Steven has been a huge Eurovision fan since 1995. He comes from a small town called Birkirkara located in Malta and graduated in Business & Administration. Steven follows all the national finals and Eurovision Song Contests every year especially Melodifestivalen and Eesti Laul. He has an endless list of favorites but the all time favorite entry would be Italy's 2016 entry "Nessun grado di separazione" by Francesca Michielin whilst Lisbon 2018 is his favorite Eurovision edition.



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