Aftermath 2018 (3): Azerbaijan, Russia and Romania lose their perfect track record

The semi finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 had a couple of shock exits. Greece and Armenia failed to qualify for the final for the second time in history and Azerbaijan, Russia and Romania even had to suffer that fate for the very first time.

Before the contest in Lisbon took place, we had five countries that NEVER failed to qualify for the final, when they took part in the semi finals. Australia only took part in the semi finals for the third time, but for Ukraine, Russia, Romania and Azerbaijan the amount of qualifications was extremely impressive. The 2018 shook and shocked these statistics, leaving only Ukraine left as a true top nation in the semi finals.

Yulia Samoylova gave Russia its worst result since the 90’s

After Yulia Samoylova was denied access to the host country Ukraine in 2017, she could not take part at the Eurovision Song Contest. One year later, Russia decided to give her a chance after all and thus Yulia went to Lisbon. Her handicap was not extremely visible in her performance of ‘I Won’t Break’ and perhaps jury and televote were not as accommodating to the challenges this gives her vocals.

After not qualifying for the final, Yulia was in tears. A blogger from the Dutch website Eurostory witnessed the tears in the greenroom after the second semi final. “Yulia was carried, carefully, down the stairs of the greenroom. She was crying. There was no camera to register this story. The guy who helped her throughout these two weeks, carrying her off and on stage, was by her side. Gently holding her,” is the heartbreaking description of the events after the first Russian non-qualification. The worst result for the country since the late 90’s.

Unique early elimination for Romania

Another country that always used to qualify from a semi final is Romania. A ninth place in the 2009 semi final, that was as close as Romania ever got to elimination before the final. The Humans, who had a tough draw coming in starting slot 2, ended up in 11th place, narrowly missing out on the grand final.

What was the problem? Did their message of hiding your true self by wearing a mask for the outside world not come accross? It did for the jury, who ranked Romania in eighth place. Or were they only impressed by the vocals of Cristina Caramarcu. Perhaps the tough theme of overcoming suicidal ideation, depression and internal battles, is not so suitable for a light competition as the Eurovision Song Contest.

Will Azerbaijan return to their golden Eurovision era after missing out on a final?

Since their debut in 2008, Azerbaijan always was in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Heck, in their first six attempts they made it to the top-10 of the final! After 2013, the results become less good, with a 12th place in 2015 as best result. ‘X My Heart’ by Aisel thus became the worst scoring entry in the brief history of Azerbaijan at Eurovision, coming in 11th place in the semi.

The discussion about bribery, diaspora and other conspiracy theories have stopped. As we already expected a few years ago, should Azerbaijan ever got less impressive results at the contest. Let’s hope the Azeri are able to play their A-Game again, now that Aisel did not qualify for the final in 2018. And that Azerbaijan has been freed from their scapegoat status once and for all.