Grab your sequined dresses and jackets, hang that disco ball and have your ears prepared for some god-awful caterwauling. That’s right people, it’s Eurovision 2013 brought to you from the lovely people of Malmö, Sweden.
You can forget about American Idol. Who needs The Voice? America’s Got Talent… pfft. THE biggest singing contest in the world is held right here in Europe. That’s right it’s estimated that each year approximately 125 million people worldwide tune in to the Grand Final to watch the top 26 participating countries battle it out for the honour, the glitz, the glory of being Eurovision champions and to host the competition the following year.
For those of you unfamiliar with the competition, here’s a little background history for you. The first Eurovision Song Contest took place in 1956 and participants come from each active member country of the European Broadcasting Union. There’s only one contestant per country and they have included such heavyweights as ABBA (winning for Sweden in 1974 with “Waterloo” and Céline Dion (winning for Switzerland – not sure how that could happen?? – in 1988 with “Ne partez pas san moi”.
In the week leading up to the Grand Final, each country (apart from the Big Five and the host country) compete in a series of semi finals in the bid to land a place in the all important Grand Final. The Big Five countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – all have a protected status and automatically qualify for the grand final (need to make sure they get the viewing numbers from those BIG countries).
There’s a very complex voting system in place and is highly political with “friends” voting for “friends” and awarding “enemies” the lowest possible score. However, with some names out this year (the Balkan countries and Turkey in particular), votes were wide open. Each country awards their favourite song 12 points, their second favourite 10 and then the next top eight songs a set of points 1 to 8. Votes are collected from the public through televoting and SMS. This provides 50% of a country’s vote. The other 50% is made up of votes from a jury of music professionals in that country.
Filling the stadium in Malmö were 11,000 Eurovision fans from all around the world and boy were they in for a treat. Heading into the Grand Final, Denmark and the Ukraine were both favourites to take out the trophy, and the European voting public seemed to agree crowning Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest with her passionate performance of “Only Teardrops” Eurovision Song Contest winner of 2013. Azerbaijan came in second with the Ukraine a close third.
Much is expected of the Eurovision Song Contest and 2013 didn’t fail to disappoint. The evening began with the new Eurovision anthem, “We Write The Story” written by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and adapted by Avicii as each contestant entered the arena following their country’s flag. The competition was then kicked off by France who sent along a lovely Courtney Love look-alike and continued through to Ireland and Ryan Dolan’s bedroom eyes.
Always a hit at the competition are the interesting costumes. However, it was rather quite sedate this year. We did have a few stand outs though – especially the lovely fuchsia number host Petra Mede was wearing for the first half of the evening, the Phantom of the Opera meets Michael Jackson get-up of Romania, and the 2013 trend of the ladies to cover up and wear dresses modeled on the triangle thus enabling them, at the crux of the performance, to ascend from the ground with excess skirt material billowing in the wind machines.
Another joy of the evening is the cheesy, kitsch dancing. However, like this year’s costumes, this was quite subdued in 2013 with a number of the performers preferring to have an intimate relationship with their microphone stand (Lithuania, Iceland, Ukraine). Most memorable dancers were definitely the upbeat Greeks, the Cirque Du Soleil inspired Azerbaijan and the Backstreet Boy wannabes from Sweden. The obvious signature move of the evening was everyone standing in a line making arm movements reminiscent of the opening credits of a Bond film. But everyone certainly had it down pat.
There was very little controversy from the show. In the lead up to the event, there was much speculation on whether the lesbian wedding kiss at the end of the Finnish entry “Marry Me” would go ahead. In the UK broadcast, host Graham Norton, made one of the best calls of the evening when introducing the song “if that offends you, grow up”. For all the brouhaha about the kiss, it ended up being only a short peck.
However, this was followed up in the medley about Sweden that was performed while the voting was open, where they showed two men getting married and kissing. It will be interesting to see the fallout from the two events in various European nations in tomorrow’s press. Probably the most controversial event of the evening was when the host announced that Denmark had won without going to the last four European countries to get their votes.
While it was obvious that she couldn’t be beaten, this was the first time that countries were skipped over and a winner announced.
It was a night of laughs, what-are-they-thinking moments and wind machines and fireworks. Join us next year in Denmark to experience all once again. For more news from the night, check out the official website.
Check out Denmark’s winning performance below:
Eurovision Song Contest Results 2013
Emmelie de Forest “Only Teardrops”
Farid Mammadov “Hold Me”
Zlata Ognevich “Gravity”
Margaret Berger “I Feed You My Love”
Dina Garipova “What If”
Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis “Alcohol Is Free”
Marco Mengoni “L’Essenziale”
ByeAlex “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)”
Aliona Moon “O Mie”
Roberto Bellarosa “Love Kills”
Cezar “It’s My Life”
Robin Stjernberg “You”
Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani “Waterfall”
Alyona Lanskaya “Solayoh”
Eythor Ingi “Ég Á Líf”
Dorians “Lonely Planet”
Bonnie Tyler “Believe In Me”
Birgit “Et Uus Saaks Alguse”
Andrius Pojavis “Something”
Amandine Bourgeois “L’enfer Et Moi”
Krista Siegfrids “Marry Me”
ESDM “Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End)
Ryan Dolan “Only Love Survives”