Post Mortem: San Marino

post mortemPost Mortem – In our next look at the countries that did not make it through to the grand final this year, Eurovision Times contributor Jane looks at the fortunes of San Marino’s Serhat… 

Serhat’sI Didn’t Know’ had music by Olcayto Ahmet Tuğsuz and lyrics by Nektarios Tyrakis.



When ‘I Didn’t Know’ was first presented to the public, Turkish singer Serhat’s Leonard Cohen style growl stood out, in part because he hardly seemed to sing the song at all.  The last minute change to a disco mix didn’t alter his vocal approach and the whole staging concept – older suave man seduces much younger disco girls on the dance floor – bordered on the absurd if not the sleazy.  San Marino was considered totally out of the running and borderline desperate.

Widely predicted to bomb, ‘I Didn’t Know’ went on to achieve a creditable 12th place with 68 points for San Marino.  Although he didn’t qualify for the Grand Final, Serhat stayed well clear of the bottom of the table.  Responses along the lines of ‘how come Estonia and Iceland did worse than San Marino?’ could be heard throughout the Eurovision bubble.

Serhat’s distinctive growl and the retro-kitsch disco staging may not have pleased the juries, but it did appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers across Europe, who picked up the phone and voted.

Here’s a run down of how ‘I Didn’t Know’ fared.


  • In summary, the majority of jurors, and juries, slated San Marino, placing Serhat in their bottom 3.  However, around a quarter of the jurors ranked ‘I Didn’t Know’ in their top 10, and in a handful of countries this was enough to offset the extreme low marks and give it a useful 19 points.  It seems this was a song that divided the experts.
  • San Marino was awarded a total of 19 points from 3 juries, and finished 17th (out of 18) in the jury vote.
  • All 5 jurors in Hungary placed San Marino last, Montenegro and Spain were almost as harsh.
  • The only juries awarding points to San Marino were Malta, Azerbaijan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who placed San Marino 2nd with a very handy 10 points.


  • In summary, Serhat connected far better with the public than with the juries, but not well enough to pass through his Semi Final.
  • San Marino was ranked 11th out of 18 countries in the televote, and received points from 11 countries.
  • In almost every country the televote ranking was higher than the jury ranking, so it is fair to say that Serhat was more appealing to the popular vote than to juries.
  • In some countries the discrepancy between jury ranking and televote ranking was quite extreme.  In Hungary every juror ranked Serhat last, but the public gave him 6th place.  Greece, Estonia, Austria, Moldova and Montenegro also followed this pattern of stern jury combined with public love.

sf1 2016 results

Before the Semi Final

As pre-shows and rehearsals progressed Serhat came across as charming and professional, relaxed and determined to have fun at the delegation parties. Although never considered a serious contender for qualification, he gained many friends during Eurovision fortnight.

During the Semi Final

Here are some sample tweets:

  • Oh gawd #SMR #SanMarino – this is like a set on Blake’s 7, Not sure what else to say…
  • I love San Marino’s retro styling! Not sure about the song, but the vibe is killer. #SMR #Eurovision
  • I’d have gone into my overdraft to ensure that won and it didn’t even qualify for the frigging final.
  • #Eurovision Please let this be the next Bond movie’s theme tune!! #SMR
  • I’m really trying to keep a straight face but I can’t 😂 #SMR #Eurovision
  • San Marino qu’elle horreur c’était quoi cette chanson ? #SMR #Eurovision

No doubt about it, the disco staging, and Serhat’s stylish performance, was noticed and got a reaction, and that is the first step to picking up the phone and voting.

Review: Jane Taylor

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190 comments on “Post Mortem: San Marino

  1. I could also put it another way: I have nothing against the songs sounding “like 2016”, but it is my experience that whenever people want it to be “contemporary”, it often means that it has to sound a certain way. The result is that producers and songwriters begin to imitate each other, and so all the songs end up sounding alike. This is what worries me.

    The “sound of 2016” is defined by those who make the music, and who says it can’t be acoustic, jazzy or whatever. If there is a guy today writing songs like the 70’s, it is still contemporary – even if it may stand out from the rest.

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  3. B&H has an outstanding debt of 6 million francs to the EBU and now they’re given a deadline till the end of May to pay the first installement or else they may face Romania’s fate. :(

  4. Australian tv shows talking about controversy and how Dami was robbed of the crown(LOL)!Get a grip please and be thankful for the jury fanwanking.At least Dami herself is a more down-to-earth person and didn’t follow them on their rants:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGGeVsRjMAo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrwLptuzlKA

    • They are not alone. The same kind of crap is repeated in a lot of british sites. Apparently they think that winning the public TV juries on grounds of pure calculation (let’s all vote for this so neither Russia nor Ukraine wins) makes you a winner somehow.

      It is not their fault though. Not only was the jury winner accepted as the overall winner last year, but this year discrepancies about the overall winner that used to be unheard of before 2015 were now built into the show to create more “suspense” (even though the voting system marginally became a little more fair to the preferences of the actual audience). Instead of trying to create consensus around the winning entry, this situation only cultivates divisiveness and acrimony which will only get worse every passing year.

      • I like the way the results are being announced tbh.The overall winner is what matters especially when they receive such support from televoters and even from some juries.I’m saying again that it’s a great luck that a song like “1944” managed to win given how the esc juries vote.I’d like to see their not so experts faces when the winner was announced.

        • ehm…Ukraine was 2nd at jury vote ? And would not have won if it wasn’t ?

          • ehm,have you checked why it finished second?Because of the massive support of the Eastern juries plus the UK,Italy and SM.It was snubbed by 17 other juries in the west plus Armenia and Cyprus…I’m checking now the Albanian jury.It was 2,8,8,17 and 25th with the five jury members.The ability to vote down songs should be scrapped.

            • There is no “voting down” – I love Jamala – some jurors did not, it’s natural if their musical background is different than these sounds. All songs had their up and down moments with many juries actually – Australia was the only one with a kind of general consensus and that tells a lot about the quality of the overall act imo.

            • It says more about the fact esc juries are boring and they unite behind a mainstream pop song with a nice stage performance than about the song’s quality.Another example:the Finnish jury ranking Ukraine again: 8,5,6,15,22.We’re talking about people who watch it as if they’re in their living room with their friends and family.If they see others liking and supporting a song they don’t want to win they could resort to voting it down.Put them in separate voting booths.Why risk the credibilty of their vote?

            • You make assumptions about the jury vote environment from one video of a semi vote of a russian jury (which as time goes by I am getting more and more convinced it was a deliberate stunt by the russian broadcaster to devalue juries more than anything else).

              But even if that’s the case we have to decide at some point here whether juroros being in the same room makes them rank the songs similarly or it does what you describe here. Because if it does both (which are states of opposite effect – collective upvoting and individual downvoting) then it would seem pretty balanced to me.

              Anyway what all those jury votes showcase is that juries are suceeding to one of their targets at least mostly : diversity. This is the whole point of having people of different ages and backgrounds – they offer different musical perspectives and make the vote more variant. It also showcases that the existence of a consensus of something among a diverse bunch enhances the credibility of the entry benefitted from that consensus. “Sound of Silence” is a quality mainstream song – well written and well performed – it is natural it will get the consensus vote imo given the criteria based on which jurors are called to decide.

            • And who said they are a diverse group of…experts?The PR lady,the fashion designer and the celebrity news reporter of the Greek jury don’t look very diverse.

      • You are right. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/search.html?sel=site&searchPhrase=eurovision
        Every news item seems to be about Dami Im and Australia not winning the contest.

      • What is wrong with these Damists? I’ve harrased by very aggressive specimen for couple of days now for not liking the entry and stating the fact that it flopped in one of the global key market area, UK.
        Talk about relevance and contemporary sound!

        • There is a lot of pro-Australia hooliganism running amuck at the moment, which is another unfortunate by-product of letting a country buying their way in with money. At the same time also a lot of arrogant, provincial posturing about how they are more open-minded than those stuffy europeans and how thankful we should be for their musically relevant participations.

          All very disagreeable really.

          • Everyone has a right, of course to believe that luke warm channeling of pre Chandelier era Sia without even taking time to compose verses proprely and concentrating on a gay friendly icing instead is all the rave in the contemporary pop music. However these Dami hooligans should also accept the fact that the world and ESC world disagrees on that presumption.
            Problem is that for these guys the music outside ESC is mostly Kylie, Madonna and Cher et al. ’’gay icons’’ and hottest ticket in dance music is Almighty remixes and radio means internet gay radio stations, so they are actually in no position to valuate the music scene outside ESC or gay communities.
            These paying guests have seriously over stayed their welcome now. But what to expect, after all, they are rednecks.
            Just a little disclaimer. I have nothing against Kylie, Madonna or Cher. Have seen all them live many times and know their careers inside out. Same goes with may gay icons. When it comes to Almighty I have shaked my ass probably way too many times to it.

    • I am sure things in Russia are even worse and juries are being slammed on shows every day personally, construsting conspiracy theories not unsimilar to those we keep reading here (“grounds of pure calculation” and other such factually void nonsense) and televoting is praised like the holy cow it is considered by some.

      P.S. I am glad that it’s becoming more clear that certain people do not consider an overall winner legitimate because it was the jury winner – shows where bias lies.

      Also got to love the use of phrases such as “preferences of the actual audience” to refer to the diaspora and neighbouring fanatics that dominate televoting in esc.

      We need an immediate return to the 2013-2015 voting system to restore some balance imo and – again I will say it – 100 % jury vote. We cannot afford incidents that ridicule the contest like the one with Poland this year to be repeated imo.

      • Good riddance to the disgraceful 2013-2015 system.Australia would win only because ofthe jury fanwanking and with only 191 televoting pts.I think we’ve been over this before anyway.

        • 191 pts for a country that starts from a basis of zero (unlike others) and is outside Europe even in televoting is an extraordinary feat imo. Yeah we’ve been, my first paragraph was mainly an answer to your comment, the rest was directed to the well known crowd at this point anyway.

          On the 2013-2015 system : imo provided the most balanced and fair results in recent esc history – and would have done so this year as well. I guess after a couple more years of the travesties we saw this year, it will be back – hopefully to stay this time.

    • Be thankful as well for allowing you to stay without being a full member. Or, let me word it differently – not following the rules.

  5. Russia 2017(and a fake burning piano)lol

  6. The first post-contest interview of veteran ESC composer Dimitris Kontopoulos, discussing Sergey and the rest of the year’s results among other things:


    On his professional partnership with choreographer Fokas Evangelinos: Their chemistry has been immediate since the first time they worked together for Ukraine 2008. They only work together and only go for it when they believe they can give the audience something different. Fokas is the first person to listen to any new song he has.

    On the result this year: He does not believe that victory is the only measure of success in the contest. For example he cites the digital sales of the song which would not be there if it wasn’t for exposure through the contest. He knew what the voting system was when he decided to take part, so no complaints there. However in his words, giving five people the same power millions have “might be an issue”.

    On Greece’s participation this year: He says he is not the right person to judge the choices of greek public TV this year, especially since he competed with a different country.

    On people who criticize Eurovision as a campfest: He says it is a huge event, only comparable to Champions’ League finals in terms of audience. His Sergey Lazarev song charted in 30 european countries thanks to the contest. In other circumstances, achieving this result with an artist that is unknown outside his country of origin would take months and months with doubtful results.

    • Thanks Michos for the reference. I hope Kontopoulos and Fokas will return in couple of years time with yet another FK classic representing whatever country.
      Shame our YLE is so broke that they really can’t afford them and we probably don’t have sexy enough singers to meet their taste 😃

      • In Greece we have a saying about someone who comes close to winning too many times: “He reached the spring, but never tasted water.” Let’s hope it will not stick in Kontopoulos’ case. At least Fokas knows what victory feels like from back in 2005.

        • I’m totally into Fokas’ athletic and masculine choregraphies and his broad shouldered tall dancers with great legs.
          I’m sure Kontopoulos will eventually taste the water. Maybe he should try from Greece next time, though your ERT lefties surely do not agree with my proposal.
          Kontopoulos and Fokas produce totally shamelesss high end entertainment entries. They have also been major forces in the evolution of staging.
          ESC would be so much less without them.

          • He is great when he doesn’t dress russians with militaristic black uniforms to make them less campy :P That was really quite gauche of him.

            • The choreography was easily the best this year.
              I have second thoughts about the styling 😃 You might got it right from the begining. They were too military the moment Jamala walked in with her lament in her all victim glory and changed this year into a political likeability contest.
              Overall I think Team Kontopoulos did well. If it had been Sweden, it would have been an easy win.

            • They were politically incosiderate. This is not the way to go about bringing a russian victory, just like you wouldn’t do it for a german entry. It triggers all the kind of stuff you don’t want to get triggered. A lot of the reactions of the central european juries and Ukraine coming so close in the televote can be explained by the russian super hero-Mission Impossible choice of theme.

            • I’m afraid you might be right.

            • Watching people in videos reacting to Russia’s performance i disagree.On the contrary,i feel it’s the stage performance that gave them those 361 pts,they definitely milked that cow.If it wasn’t for that stage performance and given the rather weak song their score would be much lower.

            • Conchita and Il Volo both had 90-point leads in the televote. Sergey barely got a third of that, even though his odds basically predicted a “Euphoria” or “Fairytale” type of sweep (I know the odds were wildly unrealistic when it comes to the combined jury-televote appeal of a schlager song representing Russia, however they should have at least accurately predicted his popular appeal). I definitely find it impressive that he managed to get televoting points from every single country, however the obvious cost of what they chose to present was solidifying the opposition by feeding its narrative. The one thing they did right, which was to refuse lionising Ukraine by calling for their song to be banned etc, they ruined by turning a pop song into some kind of superpower narrative. Even though I think the patriotic implications of said pop song were there from the beginning and the staging only lifted the veil for us to see what was right before our eyes. Sergey did not suddenly choose to sing a song about passionate, commited monogamy! In hindsight “You are the only one” must have referred to the motherland all along, represented in the video by Miss Russia.

              Of course I know this is not a fully satisfactory explanation. From day one it was also obvious that Ukraine had a particularly strong song, performer and message and that they were ridiculously underrated throughout the pre-contest season by betting experts and prognosticators operating on stereotypical western pop assumptions regarding Eurovision. So this was definitely Ukraine snatching a victory that was always within their reach (even though they also risked a lot with the kind of presentation they went for) as much as Russia coming up short with what they needed to win.

            • Taking that road we can also see Romanov’s eagle rising on it’s wing in the begining. So it can be interpreted as obsessed love affair with lost areas of empire and a promise to come and claim what they see legally theirs. No wonder Finland didn’t warm up to the song.
              I clearly see the problems in the semiotics of the show, but then again. I love the performance. Still, with still with soft styling with high tech approach of love that conquers all could have done the trick.
              They should have used Sergey’s very likeable personality and looks more too. In that sense the tech galore was estranging too.
              Russians are masters of semiotics, wonder how they didn’t notice this. Or did they just want to get as far as possible from Polina’s all white Soviet era manipulative peace festival and accidentaly fell to same trap.
              Or is it just another threat to Finland, ex-Soviets and their lost eastern block?
              I love it now even more 😃

            • I doubt they did not notice it. It was a conscious decision, not something fortuitous. Everything was there, the czarist eagle, soviet space exploration, a strongman standing proud on top of the world. Why did he even sprout wings before he actually needed them? Because it was a historical progression. Why did they take a gay icon, covered him up to his neck and put him through a special forces training course? Because they wouldn’t win on the West’s terms. Sending a message was probably more important than winning.

              They are becoming assertive and pretty sick and tired of all the peace and unity messages which always tend to be more effective no matter how much they are denounced as hypocritical – in the end Polina finished higher than him. Now they just decided to host their Eurovision Junior selection in Crimea of all places. They are done with the PR and they let everyone know.

            • By the way, I don’t find their being assertive as necessarily threatening. I think that what they are signalling is that they are a world power that will not expect anyone’s approval to act on its own terms, for example in Syria.

            • Of course. On the other hand, no one has quite a history of being led on by Russia and then being let hang out to dry by them as the greeks have. They did it with greek rebels in the ottoman era, then again with greek communist rebels straight after the war, more recently with the turkish invasion of Cyprus and the financial crisis. You are right we don’t feel threatened by them but we can never trust them either. To them we are always a pawn in their game with the West that they will always sacrifice first.

        • We have a bit different perspective with many European nations for Russia being assertive. It has been just threatning all around Baltc Sea for couple of years now.

          • Of course. On the other hand, no one has quite a history of being led on by Russia and then being let hang out to dry by them as the greeks have. They did it with greek rebels in the ottoman era, then again with greek communist rebels straight after the war, more recently with the turkish invasion of Cyprus and the financial crisis. You are right we don’t feel threatened by them but we can never trust them either. To them we are always a pawn in their game with the West that they will always sacrifice first.

            • We have saying: Russian is Russian even after you fried it with butter. It’s very old and politically totally incorrect. It uses the Finnish n-word for Russians “ryssä”.
              Never ever to be trusted.

  7. HoD of Armenia in a talk show after Eurovision answered to the question about withdrawl “Why must we withdraw if we have sponsorship and public interest? As for the sanctions of EBU… Well after Ukranian victory we ourselves have a lot of things to discuss with EBU about their tabboos during the choice of our song in 2015, changing the title of our entry. Also we have got a lot of questions after that decision about banning the flags, later excuses and overhyped reaction after the incident in the green room”! Talking about this she reminded me of the cat from Shrek (how her cute face turned to be very snaky)!
    Btw in other talk show Diana Mnatsakanyan (former HoD of AMPTV) indirrectly announced that current team (aka HOD) doesn’t work proffecional!

  8. San Marino is fun to watch and hear during the first minute and then it becomes flat. Belgium was the epitome of fun in 2016, imo.

  9. Semiotics on a Sunday morning? What has happened here? LOL Some culinary semiotics are beckoning, must go.

  10. Mick Pedaja and Juri Pootsmann in a duet and ET members wetting their pants.lol

  11. Heads up. What if San Marino is planning on pulling another Valentina Monetta trilogy with Serhat? Joke song for debut then a serious entry for the 2nd or 3rd time??

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