It’s “Big Five” time again, with one of the five nations that contribute the most to the European Broadcasting Union and thus are granted a free pass to the final (along with host Azerbaijan). While this wasn’t too much of a bitter pill for the other countries to swallow back in 1998 when this rule was passed, there has been a marked decline in how well these nations have ranked since the semi-final system was introduced 8 years ago. The sticking point is that (the line goes) Eurovision couldn’t happen without the contributions from these heavyweights.
Whether it was down to bitterness, lack of effort from the big countries, or just bad luck, the Big Five have found Europe to be a tough crowd to please since 2004. So much so that Italy only rejoined the contest’s Big Five last year after a 14-year hiatus.
However there are signs of a thaw in this deep freeze. The UK finished 5th in 2009 and seem to be fumbling in the right direction. France, has made modest progress and at least seem to make the effort each year. Italy swooped in from the cold to steal a shock 2nd place last year, and Germany managed to do the unthinkable and actually WIN in 2010 to complete their rehabilitation. But what of Spain?
Well the picture isn’t so good, perhaps unfairly cast aside with some good entries, it’s been a long while since they’ve seen the top 10, and only have two (controversial) wins in the late 60s to show for their 51 entries.
So this year they are going for the big ballad option. In fairness it’s a real grower, and has earned more than a passing affection than recent Spanish entries. It builds up to a really great climax that could be a real showstopper if she pulls off the formidably big vocals. They are performing 19th too, a really hot place in the rankings.
I just hope this is the one to break the Spanish curse and at least take them into the top 10. I’m too soft, I want them all to win… (well maybe not ALL of them). Perhaps the biggest liability for this entry is their insistence to sing in the Spanish language. As I’ve discussed before, why on Earth shouldn’t they perform in Spanish? But the reality is that the general public might well be a little turned off by entries in a language they don’t know, and Spanish is hardly the widespread language in Europe that English, or even a well-placed Balkan language uses to secure some big points.
I hope it’s not something as trivial as that if Spain fails this year, and I would completely sympathise if they were left a little despondent if that was the case. But this certainly feels like their best attempt in a long while, and I am rooting for them.