Which Eurovision selection processes are working for their broadcasters, and which should change?
Following the results of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and its national final season, fans began looking at how country's have placed, how it compares to previous years, and even down to the tiniest details of individual juror's votes.
Meanwhile, I decided to take a look back and see which broadcasters are choosing their performers in the best way, and which ones should consider shaking it up a little. Is a national final or internal selection a better option for a broadcaster? And who should just be considering giving their current selection method a bit of a revamp to keep up with the time?
Please note: For nations that usually hold a national selection but instead opted to internally select their 2020 representative for this year’s contest (like the Czech Republic, Iceland, and Moldova, among others), I am considering their national selection process from the previous year as their current selection process.
Countries with internal selections that should move to a national final
Greece – Despite a top ten result this year, Greece’s internal selection process turned the country from one of the best nations in Eurovision to one who failed to qualify twice in three years. Looking at prior results, the national final Ellinikós Telikós had been providing Greece with amazing results year after year, including seven top-ten results in a row. It could perhaps be an opportunity for Greek broadcaster ERT to consider moving back to Ellinikós Telikós and trialing it again.
Ireland – After five competitions using internal selections, only one entry has managed to qualify. After so many disappointing results, Irish broadcaster RTÉ need to seriously consider moving back to a national final system if they have any hope of performing well at Eurovision again.
North Macedonia – Despite a high quality, jury-winning performance from Tamara Todevska’s ‘Proud’ in 2019, the song remains their only qualifying entry in the previous eight competitions. While not necessarily incredibly better, there was a slight improvement on the qualification chances of previous Macedonian entries selected through ‘Skopje Fest’ and ‘Nacionalen Evrosong’.
Poland – After failing to qualify from the semifinals with two internally selected artists in 2019 and 2021, it may be time for TVP to move back to the national final systems that helped them to qualify in 2016 and 2017.
Countries that should keep their current selection system
Albania (Festivali i Këngës) – Albania’s national final system is older than their participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, and has gone through its ups and downs. Recent years have shown that Festivali i Këngës works so long as RTSH keeps the song in its original Albanian rather than rereleasing the song in English.
Australia (Eurovision – Australia Decides) – Despite being run twice, Eurovision – Australia Decides has only provided us with one Eurovision entrant. Kate Miller-Heidke’s ‘Zero Gravity’ came an amazing ninth place, which shows there being no reason for SBS to give up on our national selection process.
Azerbaijan (Internal selection) – Azerbaijan has had major success with both national finals and internal selections when it comes to Eurovision, having only failed to qualify for the final on one occasion. Following their non-qualification, the internal selection process was revamped to get them another top-ten position with Chingiz’s ‘Truth’. Their current selection process is working, but they could choose to return to a national final system if they wanted to.
Belgium (Internal selection) – Belgium’s internal selection processes has provided them with some amazing songs that have done really well at the competition, along with two entries which failed to qualify. While currently sitting at a 50/50 success rate, there’s no reason yet for either VRT or RTBF to give up on their internal selection processes yet, as seen by each of their successful entries in ‘City Lights’ and ‘The Wrong Place’.
Bulgaria (Internal selection) – Bulgaria’s open internal selection process has worked wonders for them this year, and their regular internal selection process has been amazing between 2016 and 2018. The open internal selection process works incredibly well as it gives an opportunity for the public to hear the potential songs and not feel completely left out of the way the potential Eurovision entry is selected.
Croatia (Dora) – Despite their second non-qualification using the national final of ‘Dora’, Croatia’s HRT should continue to use the system. Results have improved significantly year-on-year, and the program provides artists with a national platform to advertise themselves which allows for some potential international recognition even if they don’t make it to Eurovision.
Czech Republic (Eurovision Song CZ) – One of the most relatively new national finals to Eurovision, ‘Eurovision Song CZ’ has seen the Czech Republic’s fortunes change from a nation that had failed to qualify every year but one, to one that qualified twice in a row with significant results, both featuring on the left hand side of the scoreboard. Czech broadcaster ČT should continue with its current national final system, which appears to have worked out to be relatively inexpensive for the broadcaster considering the format in which it is run.
Denmark (Dansk Melodi Grand Prix) – DR is a broadcaster that takes pride in the fact that it has used the same national final since it first began appearing at Eurovision back in 1957, and has never internally selected an artist. As such, ‘Dansk Melodi Grand Prix’ is an institution in Denmark and to the Danish broadcaster, and its failure to qualify this year marks only its fifth since the semifinals began back in 2004.
Finland (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu) – Finnish national final ‘UMK’ has provided the country with some questionable performances, and questionable results, since it was first introduced in 2012. In fact, this year marks only the fourth time the country has qualified using this national final. However, with a sixth-place result that marks the nations best result since Lordi won in 2006, maybe ‘UMK’ is changing for the better?
France (Eurovision France, c’est vous qui décidez!) – The newest national final of them all, ‘Eurovision France, c’est vous qui décidez!’, has provided France with its best result in decades, and could honestly give France the chance of winning the contest for the first time in over 40 years. There are no reasons not to be running this national final again next year.
Iceland (Söngvakeppnin) – While it appeared that the Icelandic national final of Söngvakeppnin wasn’t working out following four non-qualifications in a row, the show has made a change, providing two top-ten placings in a row in 2019 and 2021. Söngvakeppnin is almost certain to stick around, and is likely to have garnered a number of interested first-time viewers following the results of the 2019 and 2020 competitions.
Israel (HaKokhav HaBa L’Eurovizion) – After some of the nations worst results in the first half of the 2010’s, the Israeli reality show ‘HaKokhav HaBa’ (or ‘Rising Star’) changed the fate of the nation, with a top ten placing from Nadav Guedj in 2015, qualifications in 2016 and 2017, and a win in 2018. Israel is on a winning streak with its entries chosen through this format at the moment.
Italy (Sanremo Music Festival) – The Sanremo Music Festival is the predecessor and inspiration to the Eurovision Song Contest, and following Italy’s return to the competition in 2011, has provided the country with some of the best results it has ever seen. Easily the most successful ‘Big 5’ nation of the decade, and most successful nation who didn’t win in the 2010’s, the music festival gave Italy its third win this year.
Lithuania (Pabandom iš naujo!) – The Lithuanian national final ‘Pabandom iš naujo!’ (‘Let’s Try Again!’) does just that, tries its hand at Eurovision again after failing to qualify in 2019. And the move was a success, bringing Lithuania its best result at the competition since LT United competed in 2006. The formula has brought about a success story for the country, and could be replicated again next year following in its footsteps.
Malta (X Factor Malta) – After failing to qualify for the final three times in four years, PBS moved from the long-running ‘Malta Eurovision Song Contest’ to an internally selected song using the winner of ‘X Factor Malta’. This has resulted in two qualifications in a row from Michela Pace and Destiny, who gave Malta its best result since 2005.
Moldova (Finala națională) – In recent years, Moldova’s national final system has provided us with memorable performances from SunStroke Project’s ‘Hey, Mamma!’ and DoReDoS’s ‘My Lucky Day’. Their current selection system is working for them, and there doesn’t appear to be a need to change it yet.
Netherlands (Internal selection) – Following years of a national final system that hadn’t seen the Netherlands qualify in eight years, Anouk requested that the broadcaster change to an internal selection and choose her to go to Eurovision in 2013. Since then, the Netherlands have only failed to qualify once, and have also had three top-ten results and a win. Despite a poorer performance this year, the internal selection process hasn’t had enough failure to consider moving back to the national final system.
Portugal (Festival da Canção) – Portuguese national final Festival da Canção recently underwent a change in the rules, allowing for entries of any language to take part. This rule certainly worked for them this year, where they managed to make the left-hand side of the scoreboard. The festival also saw Salvador Sobral take out the competition in 2017 with the most points of any Eurovision entry to date. Festival da Canção seems to be changing its fortunes for the better, and providing Portugal with better results than ever before.
Romania (Selecția Națională) – After three years failing to qualify using their national final, most would consider that it would need a revamp, but it is clear TVR is attempting this, after their internally selected artist in 2020 an attempt at this. The broadcaster should be given the opportunity for this form of national final to represent them at the contest before deciding the revamp or change their current system.
Russia (Evrovidenie – Nacional’nyj Otobor) – In a return to a national final show for the first time in years, Russia provided Eurovision with a female empowerment anthem from a Tajik refugee who has emigrated to Moscow, a progressive entrant with a progressive song for the country. National finals might just be the way forward for Russia, though a little more warning so fans could prepare themselves would not go astray.
San Marino (Internal selection) – The internal selection process has worked wonders for the tiny nation of San Marino, providing two qualifying entries in a row from one of Europe’s smallest nations and Eurovision’s smallest broadcaster. A continuation of their current selection system could provide the tiny country with more decent results in future years.
Serbia (Beovizija) – Serbian broadcaster RTS’s return to Beovizija in 2018 has provided the country with amazing qualifying results for a few years now, and is a return to a national final system technically older than the country itself. RTS should continue using Beovizija into the future.
Slovenia (EMA) – Despite not qualifying this year, EMA has provided RTV SLO with great results from qualifying entries that have been memorable in the eyes of many Eurovision fans, with songs like ‘Hvala, ne!’, ‘Sebi’, and the headphone-clad ‘Here for You’ providing the nation with decent results. Slovenia’s first non-qualification since 2017 doesn’t mean the selection process needs to be changed yet.
Switzerland (Internal selection) – Switzerland’s internal selection process has brought them back from nearly half a decade of failing national final processes that proved inadequate to make the Eurovision final. With ‘You Got Me’ and ‘Tout l’Univers’, the current internal selection process is providing Switzerland with high quality entries, and its future looks bright.
Ukraine (Vidbir) – Ukraine’s current national final process, selected through a show held on a rival network, has provided the country with amazing results and even a win through Jamala’s ‘1944’ in 2016. And, as the only country in the contest to have never failed to qualify, there is no need for UA:PBC to change a system that has been working for years.
Countries that should revamp their current selection system
Austria (Internal selection) – With two non-qualifications in a row following two decent results the years before, Austrian broadcaster ORF should consider possibly revamping its internal selection process to provide it with quality entries as seen in 2017 and 2018. Its current internal selection process has not yet gone to a low enough standard of non-qualifications that they need to necessarily consider returning to a national final system.
Estonia (Eesti Laul) – Since its introduction in 2009, ‘Eesti Laul’ has provided both some good and not so good results for Estonia. But the show itself is starting to struggle with fewer quality performances and a waning international audience and interest. The show should consider a significant revamp in order to garner increased interest in the competition that many fans considered this year to be a one-horse race from the very beginning.
Georgia (Georgian Idol) – Georgian reality talent show ‘Georgian Idol’, and the internal selection process used the year before it, have provided GPB with disappoint non-qualifiers. The broadcaster should instead return to the national final systems they used when first getting into the Eurovision Song Contest, which provided them with a plethora of quality songs and results.
Germany (Internal selection) – After a multitude of years filled with poor results from national final selection systems throughout the 2010’s, German broadcaster NDR moved to an internal selection process in 2020 and 2021 with the hopes of changing their fates at the Eurovision Song Contest. Followed by another result placed in the twenties this year, NDR should consider changing their internal selection process in an attempt to improve it before returning to their failing national final system.
Latvia (Supernova) – Despite providing Eurovision with the unforgettable Aminata’s ‘Love Injected’, ‘Supernova’ has only provided Latvia with two qualifying entries in the past six competitions. LTV may need to consider going back to the format of ‘Eirodziesma’, which provided the country with a win, a third-place result, and three top-tens over the course of its run.
Norway (Melodi Grand Prix) – After a second year using a system of a weeks-long semi-finals process and the use of pre-qualified entries, in which an already pre-qualified entry has won the competition, NRK should consider updating the format of Melodi Grand Prix to either reduce the length of the show (five semifinals and a second chance round became a little exhausting this year) or remove the pre-qualified entries and make them compete in the semifinals.
Spain (Internal selection) – After years of bad results using national finals, RTVE moved to an internal selection process in 2020. After their poor performance this year, the internal selection process may need a slight revamp to give it another shot before moving back to a national final.
Sweden (Melodifestivalen) – After a decade of well-performing results making it the most successful country in Eurovision in the 2010’s, Sweden has this year failed to make the left hand side of the scoreboard. SVT should consider updating the format of Melodifestivalen, as it has not changed in the direction that Eurovision has over the past few years.
Countries that need to make massive, wide-spread changes
United Kingdom – The BBC has failed to perform using both national finals and internal selections. They should consider upgrading to an “open internal selection” system as used by Bulgaria this year, holding a national final with quality entries and performances, or giving the Eurovision Song Contest to rival network ITV.