ESC 2011: Who’s Running Scared?

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Azerbaijan won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Running Scared’ performed by the duo Ell & Nikki who were chosen via a television show, and the song was then chosen through an internal selection and the juries picked ‘Running Scared’ who coincidentally came from the same writers who composed last year’s Azeri entry. This was Azerbaijan’s fourth ever participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their debut was back in 2008 where they finished in eighth place with ‘Day After Day’, a year later they managed to go further up the scoreboard placing third with ‘Always’ whilst last year they managed a fifth place finish with Safura’s ‘Drip Drop’.

‘Running Scared’ was  always one of the songs touted to do well, but few expected it to triumph as other countries like France, UK, Ireland and Estonia were considered stronger contenders for the title but towards the end of voting, the other countries were running scared as they realised that their Eurovision glory for this year is over. In fact a lot of speculation and rumours have been circulating since yesterday, as soon as the results were announced. After the disappointing finish, a number of countries are considering complete withdrawal from the competition since they feel it is somewhat useless to keep participating when they cannot do well even if they pull out all the stops.

One of the countries debating withdrawal is none other than one of the big five countries namely France. France was the outright favourites for this year’s Eurovision. Amaury was a popular choice amongst the French and amongst the Eurovision fans, but it seems that they hype in the lead up to the contest got to him as on the night he did not deliver as strongly as he had done previously and ended up in fifteenth. A very disappointing result considering ‘Sognu’ had better odds than Alexandre Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’ who ran away with the trophy as it scored more points than any other Eurovision winner.  The French had their hopes crushed when their song got a mid-table result, as Amaury was seen as a winner in the eyes of the French and many thought Paris 2012 was almost assured but it wasn’t.

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The UK have pulled out all the stops to get a good Eurovision result, in 2009 they sent Jade Ewen with a song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the country got their best result since 2002 second runner up finish, finishing fifth. Hitting the bottom of the scoreboard last year, meant that the BBC wanted to up their game and they got the boy band BLUE to represent them. Blue achieved success all over Europe ten years ago, they reunited recently and decided to do Eurovision to recreate interest in Britain – but their eleventh place result is considered a major flop that will surely send their careers in taters. After this disappointing result, it seems that UK are also contemplating on future Eurovision participations. If both France and UK leave the contest, the EBU would need to evaluate on what to do as both countries are two of the biggest financial contributors.

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The participation of Greece and Slovakia is also in doubt for next year as both countries are facing financial turmoil. Slovakia in fact wanted to withdraw this year but since their decision was taken after the stipulated period – it was better for the country to participate rather than withdraw. Greece on the other hand has been facing financial problems for quite some time and their Eurovision participation has always been in question in recent years, although since they are a country who normally does well they somehow always find a way to finance their participation. Another country in doubt for next year is Armenia – after their first non qualification at this year’s contest and the Eurovision being won by a country who they have political problems with, their participation is very much in doubt.

Nine countries have already confirmed their participation, with more confirming in the upcoming days. I guess we’ll have to wait and see who will be in it next year but just a day after the 2011 Eurovision things don’t look promising. Some countries might have valid reasons, whilst for others it might be a case of sour grapes. One has to keep in mind that in the past fifteen years, fifteen different countries won the Eurovision so it is not a case of one country really dominating the winning proceedings.

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