Enhance your Experience: the Eurovision Scoring System

Ah Eurovision, the institution that enriched our lives with such classic acts as ABBA, Celine Dion and the infamous  Moldovan “Sexophone” guy.
(Who, thanks to Herm Trololol, can be viewed thrusting away for ten glorious hours, right here).


Eurovision, the reason why millions tens of Australians know that Azerbaijan is actually a country.

Eurovision, a phenomenon that divides nations, communities and living rooms, between “Bleurhrhjrgh not this sh*t again. Can I change the channel now?” and
“ERRR MAH GERRRRDDD!  I’m SO FRICKEN EXCITED! This year I’m coming as UKRAINE and I’m bringing CHICKEN KIEVS!!!”

Look - a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Look – a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Watching Eurovision is a cultural activity.  Like all new cultural activities it can be a little uncomfortable, a little confusing,  and maybe even a little (lot) bit frightening until you get used to it. The best way to overcome Eurovision-induced culture-shock is to turn watching it into a game, where points are awarded to countries for including one or more of the following elements in their performance.  By keeping watch and tallying points, even the most reluctant viewer will be drawn deep into the experience of melody and glitz.

Crazy Costumes
Lets face it – one of Eurovision’s biggest draw cards, and the main way many acts seem to get into the competition (also something about… singing?)
Giant poultry , Pocahantas , Zombie Apocolypse, Little Bo Peep … the list goes on. Basically, if you look like you escaped from Vegas,  Mardi Gras or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you get a point. Or many!

Now this one needs to be handled with discernment. Most Eurovision acts involve some form of choreography, ranging  from insipid arm waving,  to group routines so tight they’d bring a tear to the most hardcore N*Sync fan’s eye.

Points for choreography can be awarded for complexity, originality, visual impact, execution, and “I can’t believe they had the balls to do that in front of millions of people”.

Big hair
Nuff said.  One point.

 Key Changes
Prominent in the Hillsong back catalogue,  a key change is a tried-and-true method of rousing the crowd. Two key changes in the one song? You decide whether to award an additional point… or subtract the original one.

Reveal / costume reveal
One of the true gems of Eurovision, the “reveal” usually happens when part of a costume is (dramatically) removed or expanded to reveal a completely different costume (or even additional backup dancers!) However, the reveal is not exclusively bound to costume changes (skip to 1:50 to see what I mean).

Shooting flames, a shower of sparks, or even a strategically placed angle grinder will all score you a point for pyrotechnics (especially if it’s attached to a sexy robot).

Cheesy ballad
Lets face it, they’re agony to sit through so they may as well score a point!

Bad weather (Precipitation/ Wind machine)
Not exclusively bound to flowing locks or mid-stage fountains,  countries have also scored points under this category for simulated snow (including last year’s winner, Loreen from Sweden.)
For the record, Loreen also scored major points from me for her Hammer-pants dance.  Technically that comes under “choreography” though.

 Unnecessarily sexual content
Are the male backup dancers dressed as Roman soldiers, and gyrating around the stage in small metallic loin cloths?  Award points as you see fit.

Singer also playing an instrument
Sometimes it’s legit.
Sometimes it’s so obviously not plugged in, it’s painful.
(See also the overly sexy lady’s non-drum-solo at 2:20)
Worth a point either way? You decide.

Cross dressing
Are you Ukraine’s answer to Mrs Doubtfire, wrapped in tinfoil? (Elton John was actually papp’d wearing this costume soon after the competition).
Perhaps you are the hairiest air hostesses Slovenia has ever seen?
(Would you award choreography points for completing the Safety Talk?)
Here we see a fine example of cross-dressing COMBINED with a costume reveal (3:00). No wonder Latvia won in 2002.

Circular camera work
No, you haven’t developed vertigo in the last 3 minutes, that’s just the camera spinning round and around the lead singer (who magically manages to keep his eyes locked on it nearly the whole time. Maybe he studied ballet?) Award one point.

 Mismatching elements of the performance
Do the costumes have nothing to do with the lyrics have nothing to do with the choreography have nothing to do with the fact that a large paper mache unicorn just swooped down from the rafters and burst into flames?  You’ve scored yourself a point.

Gratuitous use of sequins/ sparkles
Is Eurovision, is shiney!
If the lead singer looks like she’s been vomited on by a mirror ball, award one point.

Circus arts
Aerial cartwheels, swallowing a giant glowstick sword and riding a bicycle that’s swinging around the ceiling on wires will all get you points for circus arts. Think I’m joking? Check this out.
(These guys technically weren’t competing, and lucky that they weren’t. They also score highly in the categories of choreography, big hair, and mismatched elements. There’s even a reveal).

Shameless channelling of an already famous act
Trying to secure a place in the top ten by riding on the established popularity of Twilight / Pirates of the Caribbean / Michael Bolton ?  You’ve scored yourself a point, my European friend, but not necessarily a ticket to success.

This scoring system was introduced to me by my friend KT Danger (who isn’t actually Ukranian). At that time I was still relatively fresh to the Eurovision phenomena.. and to be honest, still a little bamboozled at times (“obviously the last act was hyperbole, but are these guys serious? I can’t tell. Eurhghr, what is that?? Hold me!” )

Scoring the acts has truly revolutionized the way I watch the competition, and solidified my status as a hardcore fan. My hope is that you too might have your enjoyment enhanced through the use of the above (or a similar) scoring system. Take it and make it your own, tweak it in any way that you want, turn it into a drinking game (or something more G rated).

In the spirit of Eurovision, don’t take yourself too seriously and HAVE FUN!

Eurovision is screening on SBS one and SBS HD in Melbourne, at 7:30pm tonight for Semi-Final 2 and Sunday night for the Final.