Following their win of the 72nd Sanremo music festival, Blanco and Mahmood have confirmed that they will be going to Turin, and will be representing Italy with ‘Brividi’ at Eurovision 2022. Brividi has been met with high praise across the fan community, with some suggesting that Italy could pull off a double win, which would be the first time a country has won Eurovision on home soil since Ireland in 1994. However, in recent years the host country’s entry has performed poorly in the final, a phenomenon referred to by some as the ‘host entry curse’. Now that this year’s host entry is confirmed, is it enough to put and end to this so-called curse?
What Is The ‘Host Entry Curse’?
Ever since 2017, each host country has come bottom 5 in the final. Although some results may be more justifiable than others, it is a strange pattern that each of these countries has performed so badly after winning the entire contest the previous year.
|2017||Ukraine||Time – O.Torvald||24th (36 points)|
|2018||Portugal||O Jardim – Claudia Pascoal||26th (39 points)|
|2019||Israel||Home – Kobi Marimi||23rd (35 points)|
|2020||Netherlands||Grow – Jeangu Macrooy||Contest cancelled|
|2021||Netherlands||Birth of A New Age – Jeangu Macrooy||23rd (11 points)|
None of these entries were anticipated to do amazingly well; however, it is surprising just how badly each of these did. Time was Ukraine’s worst ever result in their 14 year history of the contest. O Jardim came last in the final, despite being met with positive reviews. Home received 0 points from the juries (ignoring Belarus’ mistaken 12 points). Birth of A New Age was one of four countries to get 0 televotes in 2021; however, it performed significantly worse in the televote than its fellow nil point-ers, coming no higher than 18th in any country’s televote.
Why Might Host Entries Perform Poorly?
When a country has recently won Eurovision, there is often a slight bias against them as viewers will want to see a different country win, particularly one that hasn’t won in a while or has never won at all. Even if the host country has a competitive song, viewers and jurors might subconsciously think its ‘unfair’ to award them another consecutive win.
Another reason may be to do with the host entry’s automatic qualification. For the majority of participating countries, they are able to build momentum by initially performing in the semi final, and then performing again in the final. Whereas the host entry, an automatic qualifier, loses out on this momentum by only performing once in the grand final.
Then there is the self-sabotage theory, also known as ‘My Lovely Horse’ (a reference to the legendary Eurovision-themed episode of Father Ted, which was inspired by Ireland’s lacklustre effort in 1995 after winning three consecutive times). Some suggest that the host broadcaster deliberately chooses non-competitive songs as they don’t want to face the financial and logistical pressures of organising a consecutive contest. This is probably true in the sense that a fair few broadcasters would want to avoid a consecutive win, but it doesn’t explain why they host entries have been doing so poorly lately. After all, surely every broadcaster would want their own entry to do well on home soil?
Can Italy’s 2022 Entry Break The ‘Host Entry Curse’?
Brividi by Mahmood and Blanco won Sanremo by a large majority in the televote, being the clear favourite among the Italian public. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that remainder of the European public will respond in the same way.
Nevertheless, Brividi already has begun to gain traction outside Italy, climbing to the Top 5 of the Global Top 50 on Spotify. Recent host entries have had very little impact on the Spotify charts overall, so the fact that Brividi has gained a worldwide base of listeners bodes well for its chances in Turin.
Italy has also shot straight to the top of the betting odds, suggesting that many people across Europe believe that Brividi has the potential to ‘do the double’ and secure a consecutive win. Whether or not Mahmood and Blanco can actually do this is a separate conversation; however, the fact that Brividi is so high in the betting odds suggests that it will gain at least a decent result in the final. While songs sometimes underperform versus what their betting odds suggest, it’s rare that they come bottom of the leaderboard. Even if Brividi was to perform worse than expected and ‘only’ come 12th, for example, it would still be the most successful host entry of recent years.
Just how well Brividi will do in Turin comes down to a few different factors: staging, live vocals, how well the song’s message is conveyed to a mostly non-Italian speaking audience, the quality of the other 24 songs in the final. Nonetheless, the early signs of Brividi’s success are apparent, giving hope that it will end the ‘host entry curse’ by giving the host country a decent result for the first time in years.