x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Eurovision’s nul points

Voting in the Eurovision Song Contest to be changed to ensure the score – including the infamous "Nul points" – retains veracity.

“Nul points.” If there is a phrase that has become intrinsically associated with the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s this one, usually spoken in a faux French accent for a song so bad that it failed to trouble the scoreboard.

But while many of the entries in the long-running contest richly deserve the snub, it seems that the results in the most recent competition were influenced by factors other than the quality of the song or the national prejudices of the voting public.

Allegations of vote-rigging in favour of Azerbaijan’s entry, which came second this year, have caused the organisers to change the way they collate the scores to make it more transparent.

This controversy is far removed from the launch of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 with the lofty ambition of helping unite a fractious and still war-ravaged Europe through the international language of music.

Nearly 50 years on, the Iron Curtain is no more and Europe is more united than at almost any other time in its history. Exactly what part songs like Buck’s Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up, ABBA’s Waterloo and Irish puppet Dustin the Turkey’s Irelande Douze Pointe played in this era of peace will be one for future cultural historians to assess.