Much of the discussion following the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 has been focused on the differing choices of the national juries compared with the public vote. But who were this year’s jurors, and which of them had been involved with the Contest before?
Let’s take a look at the jury members who’ve been involved in the Eurovision Song Contest before, and stick around to the end for some controversial notes…
Sixteen previous Eurovision entrants leant their experience on stage to a dozen national juries this year. They were:
- Katja Ebstein (Germany 1970, 1971, 1980)
- Moira Stafrace (Malta 1994)
- Monica Anghel (Romania 2002)
- Ludwig Galea (Malta 2004)
- Sopho Khalvashi (Georgia 2007)
- Anri Jokhadze (George 2012)
- Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013)
- Sara Jovanović (Serbia 2013)
- Aminata (Latvia 2015)
- Eneda Tarifa (Albania 2016)
- Sennek (Belgium 2018)
- Damir Kedžo (Croatia 2020)
- Alex Callier/person/alex%20callier of Hooverphonic (Belgium 2020, 2021)
- Vaidotas Valiukevičius of The Roop (Lithuania 2020, 2021)
- Albina Grčić (Croatia 2021)
- Brooke Scullion (Ireland 2022)
Six on Stage particularly celebrates backing performers and at least 11 former Eurovision backing vocalists, musicians and dancers were on their countries’ juries this year. In addition to some of the artists above, they were:
- Nikša Bratoš (Croatia 1996, 2000)
- Matjaž Vlašič (Slovenia 1998)
- Dagmar Oja (Malta 2002, Estonia 2006, 2016, 2017, 2019)
- Anders Øhrstrøm (Denmark 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013)
- Kristjana Stefánsdóttir (Iceland 2010)
- Patrícia Antunes (Portugal 2010, 2019)
- David Badalyan (Armenia 2019)
- Milhanas (Portugal 2022)
David Badalyan was also one of the writers of Armenia’s winning Junior Eurovision song Qami Qami in 2021.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a big group of jurors were composers and lyricists, including at least 25 who have written for Eurovision. Some notable members of this group, excluding those already mentioned:
- Lise Cabble (Only Teardrops)
- Gerard James Borg (Desire, 7th Wonder)
- Fredrik Kempe (Hero, Popular, Undo)
- Branimir Mihaljević (Crazy, Tick-Tock)
- Isa Molin (Hold Me Closer)
Falling into none of those categories and sitting on Denmark’s jury was Birgitte Næss-Schmidt, who has directed the staging of their entries on eight occasions between 2005 and 2022.
Norway’s jury included a couple of unsuccessful Melodi Grand Prix finalists, Emmy from 2021 and JONE from 2023, while Sweden’s included Clara Klingenström from Melodifestivalen 2021.
At least 25 former jurors returned for a second (or third!) go at judging Eurovision songs, many of them already featured in the lists above. Those who’ve had the role more than once before include:
- Lise Cabble (Denmark 2014, 2021)
- Robert Sehlberg (Sweden 2014, 2018)
- Alexandra Cepraga (Romania 2010, 2015)
The earliest returning juror was Matjaž Vlašič, who last did the role 14 years ago in 2009.
So here’s where it gets a little controversial, if only because I don’t have a copy of the current rules for selecting jurors.
In previous years, there have been a number of rules for the selection of jurors, two of which are:
- Jurors can’t have sat on a Eurovision jury in the previous two years (which for this year would mean not in 2021 or 2022).
- Jurors cannot have any direct connection to the songs and/or artists (exactly what this means isn’t set out).
Last year I highlighted a few 2022 jurors who had been jurors for the previous two contests, and this was also the case for one of the Samminese jurors in 2021. This year there are two jurors who were listed as jurors for their countries in 2021, which as far as we know isn’t allowed: Lise Cabble for Denmark and Sokol Marsi for Albania. Given it’s apparently been broken three years in a row, I’d be interested to know if the rule has changed – after all, a lot did because of Covid.
On the second rule, a link to your own country’s song or artist may be unavoidable and it’s reasonable to suggest that it isn’t much of an issue given jurors don’t rank their own country. But since the rule doesn’t specify that, it’s worth noting in passing that Gustaph performed as a Eurovision backing vocalist for both Sennek and Hooverphonic, while Aliona Moon was a backing singer for Pasha Parfeni and 2012 and her 2013 song was written by him. Music is a small world and there are probably other examples too. None of that should imply wrongdoing, but if the rule is still in force it would be interesting to know if it only applies to songs jurors can vote for.