New Year’s Eve seems like an odd time for a country to reveal their artist for the following year’s Contest. Given that half of those interested will be out on the town in full ‘Valentina and Jimmie mode’ and the other half will be thoroughly engrossed in ESCRadio’s Top 250. (This year I was the latter.) Any reveal will surely end up going under the radar. This is exactly what happened two nights ago when Georgia announced folk jazz group Iriao as their pick for this year’s Contest. Apart from the timing of the announcement nothing wrong with their choice you’d think. That is, until, you do a quick head count.
Were a fully reformed S Club 7 to enter You Decide only 85.6% of the lineup would be eligible to win the ticket to Lisbon. In the wilderness of the mid 00s the BBC could’ve opted for teeny hip hop group Blazin’ Squad, or at least two thirds of Blazin’ Squad. If they wanted to try and replicate their last success and plump for an American based band they could choose The Polyphonic Spree, providing they choose which 40 odd of their number they’d leave at home first. This is exactly the dilemma faced by Iriao as they’ll have to choose which one of their seven will have to stay in the green room, looking after the alcohol. Sounds awful.
This is not the first time this odd pheonomenon has occured at Euroivision. If any group of seven persons chooses to take up the mantle of representing their nation unlucky number 7 will have to step back and allow their bandmates to take centre stage. This person has become known as ‘Sad Tony’, the explanation of which can be found as ESC Insight below:
Unsurprisingly, those who have to jettison a member of their group very rarely end up securing a good result, more often than not failing to even qualify for the Final. In fact Mandinga’s 12th place finish with Zaleiah is one of the best results achieved by a group of 6+ members. Most recently Greece’s 2016 entry Argo with their streamlined six person lineup could barely muster 16th place from an 18 country semi final. This wasn’t any old run of the mill non-qualification either, this ended Greece’s 100% record in the semi-final era. Their Sad Tony probably ended up being ‘Fairly Relieved Tony’.
This has been something of a theme over the recent years of the Contest. In 2007 there were actually two bands who both ditched their seventh and both sank without a trace. The Belgian group The KMG’s had four Sad Tonys, in fact. The Answer, Mr. DeeBeeDeeBop, Captain Thunder and Mr. Y all had to keep their distance whist their bandmates struggled to 26th out of 28 in the semi. Two places higher were Teapacks from Israel. As well as the controversy surrounding their entry and it’s politically charged content the bad had to choose their own ‘Sad Tony’ and again, failed to qualify!
When one really considers it there’s no surprise that if a group who have been together for some time suddenly then have to perform without their full lineup with only a few months of preparation it’s going to be a struggle. Whilst the additional members beyond the performing six will still be able to contribute and offer support right the way through the process to suddenly not have them there on stage will surely be off putting. Otherwise why have them there in the first place?
There is, however one notable exception. Buranoskyie Babushki. Those six “Russian Grannies” were only beaten by Euphoria in Azerjibin. (Which as we’ve seen in the aforementioned Top 250 is nothing to be scoffed at.) Whilst they were never going to do anything for the juries their televote ran Loreen very close on the night and far eclipsed Željko’s Serbian entry in third. They did this in spite of the fact two of the group were left at home. Perhaps if Georgia were sending six Grandpa’s then they may stand a chance, however, based on our previous ‘Sad Tony’ entries they are probably going to struggle.