One of the big dramas of this years' national final season came from Spain, causing an outcry from the Eurovision community and Spanish public. Clara gives us an in-depth view as to how this all came about...
On the 11th February 2017, Spain aired the Spanish national selection in search for Eurovision 2017’s candidate. It was gala with six contestants and the voting was a compilation of 50% public choice and 50% professional jury.
The selection was scheduled to last 2h 30min and aired during a Saturday Spanish prime time (around 22:00, so the gala ended at 00:30). Manel won. However, this Twitter user noticed that RTVE (Spanish radio and television) had published a report with Manel’s victory headlining the article almost three hours before the end of the gala. (6 hours when the tweet went live at 2:58 12th February).
But that was just the beginning.
One of the most tense national finals Spain ever lived upset not only the viewers but also the contestants. Rumours of unfair treatment had already surface previous to the airing but the contestants decided to not complain until it was over.
Attitudes such as the professional juries checking their phones during everybody but Manel’s performances or the shocking fact that they were only allowed to rehearse 3 times on stage while Manel was granted up to 7 rehearsals (confirmed by LeKlein) where just a few of the upsetting events that went down. LeKlein also points out that the executive directors of RTVE met with the jury during their delivery time to point them where to direct their votes.
I am not even going to address in depth the outrageous fact that one of the juries, Xavi Martinez, gave Mirela the lowest points, because it makes my blood burn. Mirela was the audience’s favourite contestant, she is talented and has performed for a very long time (also Spain’s OGAE candidate for some years), she was also performing a Thomas G:son song. For God’s sake. By giving the lowest points to the strongest contestant, Martinez made sure Mirela wouldn’t have enough score to beat Manel. Because Mirela did, in fact, receive the highest points from the public voting. Really dirty move.
Unfair disadvantage for LeKlein?
And let’s not forget LeKlein’s claim that RTVE misspelled her name on screen during her performance, leading to confusion at the time of voting via app. Which, by the way, led to a message of error when the audience tried to vote for her.
Another Twitter user with a screenshot where it clearly reads: “Your message doesn’t match any contestant” And they were still charged for those SMS.
This May 2017 and after months of request, the real number of the audience’s votes were released after RTVE’s initial refusal (the votes where displayed during the gala in a similar fashion as in the Eurovision final 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5) Not only did Mirela double Manel’s votes but it turned out Manel was not even second! The top three places ended this way:
Manel Navarro: 2109
So how did Mirela did not win if it was 50% - 50%?
So as the gala went by and RTVE execs realized the audience’s sympathy did not match their plans, an unusal thing happened.
And for the first time ever in the history of Spain open national finals it was the jury who had to decide. Not the audience.
This has happened before right?
Let’s go down memory lane for a second, back to the Spanish national selection in 2011 where that year’s Spanish contestant, Lucía Pérez, had the public choose between the two songs she had to perform in Eurovision “Que me quiten lo bailao” or “Abrázame fuerte”. As the audience chose “Que me quiten lo bailao”, which she disliked and claimed far from her music style, she begged the jury to reconsider and let her perform “Abrázame fuerte” in Dusseldorf. Both the conductor and the jury answered that in such tv programmes where there is public voting, it’s the audience who has the final word. And so Lucía Pérez had to perform “Que me quiten lo bailao” that year.
Or not so far in 2014, when Ruth Lorenzo and Braquette tied (seems constantly happening). RTVE stated that it would always be the audience’s votes which would prime over the jury.
So what happened this year? In an unprecedented event, the executives made up a rule on the spot which was not stated on the competition rules which defended that in case of a tie the jury was the one to break it. Obviously everybody’s rep went straight to the rules and failed to find such article.
It was up to Xavi Martinez to decide. He chose his pal Manel.
But let’s dig a little deeper because that is not all...
LeKlein states that Manel only entered the contest five days before the six contestants were announced, while she and the other candidates had to campaign for more than a month to get a spot on the final.
Xavi Martinez, the polemic jury, was specially requested by the executive director to be part of the expert judges. Xavi Martinez, a popular radio host at Los40 radio station, had a few weeks before the gala self-proclaimed the discoverer of a Spanish new talent, Manel Navarro, and was for quite some time radiating about him and his “friend’s music.”
Remeber the first tweet shown in this article?
Another Twitter user shared this screenshot of Los40 (Xavi Martinez’s radio station) announcing Manel’s victory even before the gala had begun (21:26).
Some of them should quit radiating and start a fortune telling business. That is eyesight!
This is a screenshot of the competition rules where it states that the jury will be integrated by tv and radio professionals with no link to any candidate.
Therefore, Xavi Martinez was not fit to be a member.
When Mirela’s manager discovered the relationship between Manel Navarro and Xavi Martinez, he confronted Toñi Prieto (Toñi Prieto is the executive director responsible for the Eurovision selection). She told him in one of our Spanish very poetic phrases that “too bad” (Literally translated: you have no art or part in this). As the jury was revealed a day before the national selection Tomás Limeres, Mirela’s manager, said it was too late to withdraw, as there had been a lot of effort and money involved in Mirela’s entry.
And Sony's involvement?
Another fact is that Manel is signed to Sony Music Spain, which happens to be the record label where Toñi Prieto’s daughter has been working for 2 years and that has not showed any interest in sending any of their signed artists to Eurovision before 2015, year in which she started working for them. Edurne (Spain 2015) is also signed to Sony Music Spain. Barei (Spain 2016) turned down Sony’s offer for Universal Music once she won the national preselection.
In an initial statement, Toñi Prieto says that her daughter had been working 10 years for Sony, so there was no conflict of interest whatsoever. This turned to be a lie as the events of that night spiralled to the point that there was an investigation which led to an audit conducted by a council of five members associated to different Spanish political parties. In such session, Toñi Prieto denied any impartial behaviour from any party involved in the selection process. She also denied she knew about the relation between Xavi Martinez and Manel, even though they have shared friendly tweets on their respective social media weeks before the gala.
The official Eurovision Spain fan club also sent a document to Spain’s Prosecution to have the gala investigated for fraud and corruption.
Only one member of the Spanish national selection team, Federico Llano, stepped down of his position but claiming it is for “personal reasons and more interesting projects”. This is Spain, my friends, nobody takes responsibilities for a bad job and steps down, they are just there to accept a pat on the back for a well done job.
After the disastrous results of Spain in Eurovision 2017 this series of unfortunate events will be discussed by the Spanish Congress during this upcoming month of June.
To add more drama, Mirela has been since vetoed from taking part in any preselection organized directly by RTVE as the public television estimated that she hurt Manel’s public image because eurofans where more keen to her.
The EBU has received information about it, as Nicky Triphook, a 2017 potential candidate that didn’t make it to the final emailed them about this fraude. Though we haven’t heard back from them.
Nicky Triphook has done an important job of letting the audience know some more of what goes behind the fraudulent process. He tweeted some screenshots of a conversation on whatsapp with another important source inside the music industry (I have my guess of who the source is) which I downloaded but stupidly erased them from my phone trying when I was trying to free some space, in which the source tells him around the 13th January something close to “I have already heard Manel is going. He is already rehearsing with the staging the way RTVE is telling him to. I was on the studio the other day and (blurred name but a producer) played me his song...” As I have no evidence of this anymore, but I have added all my sources at the end of the article, you are just going to have to believe me on this last one.
And no, I am not forgetting about Manel’s offensive gesture to the audience once he won he national final, but, Occidentalis Karma, once he was back from Kiev, RTVE and Xavi Martinez turned their backs on him. They all publically agreed it was a mistake to choose someone so young and inexperienced in such events as Manel. It is a shame how RTVE has played with the illusion of so many talented people, Manel included.
So what is your take on the Spanish drama this year? Don't forget to let us know in the comments below...