Does Spain actually wants to win Eurovision – or is participation enough?

Four years in a row in the bottom, and 49 years since their last win. Spain isn’t doing anything to change the bad results, so question is whether or not they are satisfied with just taking part, or actually seriously want to improve.

This year, following the great expectations created for Alfred y Amaia, and the poor result they got, Spanish broadcaster RTVE made a special programme in which autocritic had no presence: “We want to clarify it. We are totally into Spain and the Eurovision Song Contest. We are working every day to be in the best positions and do well at Eurovision”, said Director of Entertainment, Toñi Prieto.

Many Spanish fans disagree. Nothing seems to change – despite one year after the other with bad results. When was the last time that Spain was in Top 5? In 1995 when Anabel Conde sang Vuelve Conmigo and got the second place behind Norway. 

2002 was a revolutionary year in Spain when the Operación Triunfo program was released. It broke all audience records and became the Spanish national selection to appoint its representative for Eurovision in Tallinn. Everyone in the country knows Europe’s Living A Celebration and Rosa’s 7th position was a real disappointment since the Spanish fans thought that she could win. 12.7 million viewers that year, an audience share of 84.5%. Something incredible had happened in Spain.

Next year was similar. Operación Triunfo celebrated its second edition, and Beth was selected to represent Spain with Dime. The song was pre-favorite to win alongside the Russian t.A.t.U. Beth came eight in Eurovision. Ramon, the third “triunfito” to go to Eurovision, finished tenth, but ever since then the country has been outside top 10 – and almost always finish in the last positions.

Fans upset, broadcaster seems lost

Alfred y Amaia who had gained love from everyone in the country already in show three by covering the La La Land song City of Stars, won the entire show this year. Everyone who loved the young duet thought they were would do amazing in Eurovision. But it failed. 

The problem for Spain was not the song, it was not the voice of Alfred and Amaia. The problem is the team behind the Spanish participation. It seems like they lost all interest in winning the contest. The Ketchup brought the stage four office chairs and everyone still remembered that “chiqui chiqui” dance by the invented character Rodolfo Chikilicuatre protrayed by David Fernández. Poorly to say it is one of the best results since 2005.

The magic trick from Soraya behind a horrible fabric, Edurne’s moving cloak to show a Greek warrior wannabe dress, Barei’s fall on the floor or the led surf tables by Manel Navarro. When it comes to Eurovision, the country should have everything under control, but Spain likes to improvise during rehearsal weeks. Just look at Sweden, they have everything planned down to the milimeter since Melodifestivalen and if the stage doesn’t fit with the performance, they ask for a new staging for Eurovision, and they have it.

Ever since technology, fireworks and lots of glitter became standard in Eurovision, Spain has still been stuck in the first 2000s where the song and a catchy chorus was all you needed. LED, the staging and the capability of telling a story is the country’s true achiles heel. 

It’s impossible to obtain a good Eurovision result if you go to your first rehearsal, being the mayor responsible of the performance (as was Tinet Rubira), and tweet “fireworks wasn’t working. Looking for alternatives”. Alternatives? The Grand Final is in five days, and you are looking for alternatives?

Another “amazing” part was showing three different outfits for Amaia and ask fans to select the dress she should wear in Eurovision. The decision has to be made by professionals, caring about the whole staging, the lights and the cameras.

Twitter became a battlefield between Tinet Rubira and Spanish fans following the bad result, a 23rd place for Tu Canción. The General Director of Gestmusic went on to blocking the critical fans. You are the responsible, you are there to listen to them, you shouldn’t tweet “I want this torture to end” or “I don’t understand people who give their life for a simple song contest”. Mr. Rubira, they want their country to win, on the contrary of you and the rest of the team, it seems.

One of the larger media in the country, ABC, explained this year’s failure due to 1. very bland staging, 2. the unfortunate of performing second, 3. that the song wasn’t a typical Eurovision song and 4. no international promotion…. but countries like Germany (4th place), Lithuania (12th) and Ireland (16th) were songs in a similar style and they had better results. Eleni had no promotion, and came second… Everything in Spain is just excuses. 

“Eurovision is all politics”, “always the same ones that win”, “the nordics always in top five”, “they vote between neighbours”. Then how do you explain that Germany, in the bottom three years in a row, suddenly came fourth? And what kind of neighbours secured Portugal to finish with more than 700 points?

In the video below, you can see a clip from one of the Spanish rehearsals at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.

Let’s get back to the words of RTVE’s Director of Entertainment Toñi Prieto: We want to clarify it. We are totally into Spain and the Eurovision Song Contest. We are working every day to be in the best positions and do well at Eurovision”

Are you? Since 1973 Spain never even reach 120 points just once, since 1995 they have been out of top 3, and in the last years they ended in the bottom positions more than 10 times. Are you serious, RTVE, that you want to win Eurovision? Stop the excuses. Every country can win the contest, they just have to want to.

This reflection article is based on the author's own personal experience. Views expressed belongs to him or her, and are to be seen as unrelated to

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