The rise of the internet revolutionised the way we communicate. It also transformed the way the Eurovision community interacted with each other. Where as previously fan clubs would run polls and publish the results in magazines weeks later, the internet made everything instantaneous and allowed fans to immediately have their say. Dozens of websites dedicated to Eurovision appeared online and of course so too did those fan polls. However when it comes to predicting a winner, the fan polls have often been wide of the mark.
In 1999 Cyprus was riding high in the pre-contest polls and there were predictions that the song, Tha'nai Erotas, performed by Marlain, could win the entire contest. At the end of voting, Cyprus languished in 22nd place with just two points. It showed in spectacular fashion that what resonates with fans doesn't always have the same impact with televoters.
In 2000 commentator Terry Wogan introduced the UK entry, performed by Nicki French, stating that her song had "been well in up around fifth or sixth position" in the pre-contest polls. Despite being a favourite with the fans she finished in 16th place in Stockholm. Also in 2000, the entry from The Netherlands, No Goodbyes, was widely predicted to do well and yet finished in 13th place. Unlucky for some.
In 2006 Kate Ryan represented Belgium with the song Je t'adore. Ahead of the contest in Athens, Kate was expected not only to qualify for the Grand Final with ease but to win the entire contest. She never made it past the semi-finals. Despite this, Je t'adore became a summer hit in Belgium and charted in several other countries too.
Kate's fate at Eurovision has entered popular fan culture with many in the community speculating about which entry will "do a Kate Ryan" (i.e. fail to qualify or score highly despite being heavily tipped to win outright).
There are many examples of the so-called 'fan favourite' failing to set the scoreboard alight at the Eurovision Song Contest. More recently, in 2011 France was the hot favourite to win in both the betting odds and the fan polls but Amaury Vassili finished in 15th place. Does this mean that being labelled as a 'fan favourite' is actually a curse? Not necessarily, there have been times when the fans have correctly predicted the winner.
Greece's winner in 2005, My Number One performed by Elena Paparizou, was a huge fan favourite prior to the competition as was Loreen's Euphoria which won for Sweden in 2012. Serbia's Marija Šerifović won the contest in 2007 with Molitva and was widely praised by fans before the competition in Helsinki. Marija was the first performer to win with a song completely in a native language since the free language rule was re-introduced in 1999.
For the performers that do well in the contest, being a fan favourite can add to an already rewarding experience. Whilst other performers might be disappointed with their placings, their position as fan favourite means they will always be popular in the community, which in a way, means it's a win-win!