Was Sébastien Tellier robbed?

One to file under “why on earth didn’t I think of that?”. Ewan Spence has analysed each of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entries in Last.fm.

For those who don’t know, Last.fm is a smart website that tracks your music (or podcast) listening habits. It can generate recommendations for you, but I joined the site almost four years ago. Back in those days when it was called Audioscrobbler (before it merged with Last.fm which was a separate website with a slightly different purpose) so I’m just there for all the wonderful stats about my taste in music. (In case anyone’s interested, my profile is here.)

Ewan Spence took a look at the stats for each of the songs in this year’s ESC to see how they measured up. Regular readers may remember that I wrote a post a couple of months back debunking the theory that the ESC is dominated by political bloc voting. So I was pleased to see Ewan Spence’s analysis which suggests that broadly the most popular songs as measured by Last.fm are also the songs that tended to do well in this year’s ESC.

However, there is one mega outlier. And it’s a groovy French man who is way out in front on the Last.fm chart — Sébastien Tellier.

If you remember my post about bloc voting in the ESC, you might also remember that even though there is no political voting, I concluded that France woz robbed. I wasn’t the only one either — I saw that quite a few people liked Sébastien Tellier’s song in particular.

I still see people discussing him from time to time. In fact, I have one friend who likes to talk about Sébastien Tellier quite often. He refers to him as “the hairy Jarvis Cocker”. From what I can gather, Sébastien Tellier had built up quite a following prior to Eurovision. His latest is his third album and is produced by one of the guys from Daft Punk. And back in the day he toured with Air.

Ewan Spence suggests there might be some tricky goings-on with Tellier’s numbers such as a Last.fm player on his website or something. I think it might be down to the fact that Sébastien Tellier is quite popular, so actually merits the attention on Last.fm. In fact, I have contributed to Sébastien Tellier’s numbers on Last.fm as I bought the album Sexuality on the strength of his Eurovision song ‘Divine’.

So, was Sébastian Tellier robbed? Yes and no. Simple following alone can’t explain the discrepancy. While Tellier has some fans, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest — Russia’s Dima Bilan — is a major pop star with several number ones across eastern Europe.

I think it might have a lot to do with the type of person who uses Last.fm though — i.e. people who really, really like music. A slightly odd French electronic artist is just the sort of thing that would probably appeal to your average Last.fm user more than the average person on the street for whom music is like wallpaper.

Take a look at the this week’s Last.fm chart. Like Ewan Spence’s chart, it bears a vague resemblance to actual popularity, but with a few oddities along the way.

Where, for instance, is the UK’s biggest selling artist of the year so far, Duffy? 166th — behind a lot of pretty obscure artists (by which I mean people I’ve never heard of). I bet if you did a televote Duffy would be near the top.

The point is that Sébastien Tellier is great. But it was a bit like the French equivalent of the UK entering Aphex Twin (213th in Last.fm, ahead of the likes of Christina Aguilera, Norah Jones and Lily Allen) — right down to having everyone on stage looking like him. It would be great, but most would be left scratching their heads.

So hurrah for Sébastien Tellier. Eurovision may have ignored him, but that is understandable. Those on Last.fm can handle its odd French electronic music. One more time!


  1. I’ve contributed to Tellier’s stats as I bought Divine and have listened to it a few times. It wasn’t the Eurovision track I voted for, but it is the only one I liked that I’ve found for sale on iTunes.

  2. It’s odd isn’t it, the British media go on about how awful and cheesy the ESC is and yet still get upset when the British entry doesn’t win.

    I would have thought that not winning is almost a stamp of quality.

    Which is why I liked Sébastian Tellier’s song. It was like France saying ‘we know we are not going to win, we are not trying to win, we like this song and we don’t care what the rest of Eurovision think’.