• Dale Roberts

National finals or internal selections - which did better at Eurovision 2021?


Photo credit: EBU / Thomas Hanses

It's always the dilemma of a Eurovision broadcaster.


Do you select your entry internally or let the public have a say?


Each country has their individual circumstances, but we've looked over the numbers to see what works overall.


The winners


In the last 15 Eurovision Song Contetsts, 13 have come from some form of national selection (the artist, the song or both).


It was no different in 2021 with champions Måneskin with 'Zitti e buoni' coming through as winners of Sanremo.


Only 'Rise Like a Phoenix' in 2014 and 'Arcade' in 2019 have come from internal only selections.


So if you want to win Eurovision, hold a national final.


The Top 10


The French runner-up Barbara Pravi with 'Voila' also came via a national selection show as did Blind Channel for Finland in 6th, The Roop for Lithuania in 8th and Manizha for Russia in 9th.


Top ranked internal selection was Gjon's Tears for Switzerland with 'Tout l'univers' and he won the jury.


Interestingly the jury has favoured internal selections in four out of the last five Contests (2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021).


Other internal selections in the Top 10 were Go_A for Ukraine in 5th, Daði og Gagnamagnið for Iceland in 4th, Destiny for Malta in 7th and Stefania for Greece in 10th place. (However it must also be noted the Go_A and Daði og Gagnamagnið had previously won a national final in 2020!)


That's a 50/50 split between the Top 10 but let's have a look at the averages:


National Finals


Average rank: 5.2

Average score: 350


Internal


Average rank: 5.8

Average score: 320


So the numbers are close but with higher average scores, ranks and a win - national finals take out the Top of the table.


Grand Final


What if your ambitions are just to do well in the Grand Final but not win? Well let's take a look...


In the Grand Final there were 15 internal selections and 11 national final selected songs.

(Please note we included Bulgaria in the internal selections as her feedback was conducted as a national final).


We crunched the numbers:


National Final


Average rank: 12

Average points: 203


Internal


Average rank: 14.6

Average points: 152


The numbers are more clear cut this time, national finals win easily here.


Qualification


Ok, some countries don't care about anything other than making the Saturday night. Is an internal selection a safer bet?


Let's have a look at the qualifying records. Once we take out Big 5 countries and the hosts this is how it landed.


National Final


Semi-final entries: 11

Total qualified: 8


Qualification rate: 73%


Those not qualifying were Croatia (11th), Denmark (11th) and Estonia (13th).


Internal:


Semi-final entries: 22

Total qualified: 12


Qualification rate: 55%


The eight lowest scoring countries in the semi-finals came from internal selections.


If you want to qualify, it looks like national finals come out on top yet again.


Overall


It is clear national finals dominated in 2021.


Were results skewed because we had so many returning artists? Perhaps.


Have some countries found new success with internal acts? Definitely.


But overall, there is something special about national final winners. They are tried and tested with the public and often that is the little it of x factor needed to get an entry over the line.