2013 in review! (May-August)

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It’s been a big year for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, and here at ESCToday we’ve put together a handy guide to help you look back at all the biggest events of 2013.

May

After Loreen’s victory for Sweden in 2012, the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 made its way to the Swedish city of Malmö. The show aired from the Malmö Arena and was presented by Swedish presenter and comedy star Petra Mede, who already hosted the Swedisch ESC- preselection Melodifestivalen in 2009. Swedish singer and actress Sarah Dawn Finer appeared in the semi’s and final as her comedy character Lynda Woodruff.

For the 2013 edition of the ESC some changes were made in the format. The running order of the performing acts and artists was no longer decided by a draw, but by the producers of the show. This was done to make sure that there was a good mixture of musical styles and an attractive varying show. The division of countries in one of the two semi finals was assigned by lot as usual, as was the place of the host country in the final, but both Denmark and Norway were already placed in a diferent semi final, in order to better regulate the logistic distribution of tickets for Sweden’s neighbouring countries.

Another major change was found in the jury voting system: the jury members had to rank all the songs, and not just devide their points among a top-ten. This change, which created quite a stir and discussion among the ESC-community, was installed to make the voting more exciting and fair.

After a year of absence Armenia returned to the Eurovision stage: the group Dorians would eventually reach an 18th place in the grand final. But there were also exiting countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Potugal and Slovakia opted out of the contest due to the Financial Crisis. Turkey decided not to partake because of disagreement with the 50/50 voting system (jury and televote), the Big 5-rule and the greater role of the producers of the show in the running order of the songs.

The first semi final was held on tuesday 14th of May 2013. The opening act featured 2012 winner Loreen performing a special version of her wining songEuphoria with a choir of children.Swedish musician and producer Andreas Kleerup provided the interval act.Ten countries eventually made it to the final: Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belgium, The Netherlands, Belarus, Ireland, Lithuania and Estonia.

The second semi final was aired on thursday 16th of May 2013 and was opened with a performance by the Dance Orchestra, while the interval act consisted of a performance by Swedish pop-stars Darin and Agnes Carlsson. The ten qualifying countries of the evening were: Azerbaijan, Greece, Norway, Malta, Rumania, Iceland, Armenia, Hungary, Finland and Georgia.

The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 was held on Saturday 18th of May, and was opened by Benny Andersson, known from Abba, in collaboration with Swedisch DJ and producer Avicii. The interval acts were performances by former Swedisch ESC-winners Carola (1991) and Loreen (2012). Loreen presented her new single We Got The Power.

Petra Mede again was the presenter, while 2011 Swedish ESC-participant Eric Saade hosted the interviews with the artists in the Green Room.

At the end of the evening Denmark’s Emmelie De Forest won the 58th edition of the ESC with her song Only Teardrops with 281 points. Azerbaijan came second with Farid Mammadov’s Hold Me, while third place went to Zlata Ognevich with her song Gravity for Ukraine. The top-ten was completed by Norway, Russia, Greece, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands and Hungary.

Other news from May: Australia’s television network SBS celebrated the 30th anniversary of broadcasting the ESC down under, showing the special bond Australia has with Eurovision.

Lys Assia, the very first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, was taken into the hospital with a severe pneumonia. Luckily she recovered and was well enough to attend the ESC 2013 in Sweden, were she had a mini-interview with presenter Petra Mede.

On the 23th of May a very special charity gala was held at London’s West End in the Dominion Theatre, West End Eurovision 2013, in which cast members of various West End shows performed a version of a past ESC-song. This was the sixth edition of the event, raising funds for people with chronic conditions and illnesses such as HIV or AIDS, and was won by the cast of the musical Once.

After Denmark’s victory in Malmö, Sweden, the country already got into the Eurovision mood. Cities wanting to host the event in 2014 started bidding, with Copenhagen and Herning kicking off, and Aalborg, Fredericia and Horsens also showing interest soon after. Furthermore, it was announced that Head of DR Media Services, Pernille Gaardbo, will be the Executive Producer of the ESC 2014 in Denmark, joining forces with Jan Lagermand Lundme (DR Head of Entertainment) and Soren Therkelsen (DR Head of Events).

In May the Executive Supervisor of the ESC, Jon Ola Sand, reacted to rumours about rigged or otherwise missing votes during the 2013 edition of Eurovision, coming form Lithuania, Russia and Azerbaijan. He stated that all votes were accurat and valid according to the rules, and that all allegations would be thoroughly investigated.

June

On the 3rd of June the Eurovision season for 2014 already kicked of with news from Belgium. Belgian broadcaster VRT announced that 2014 will see the return of Eurosong, the Belgian  show that selects the Flemisch candidate for the ESC. The national preselection was last held in 2008, since then the Flemisch candidates were chosen internally. According to VRT spokesman Björn Verdoodt, Eurosong will return with a completely new formula.

The 2013 winner of the ESC, Denmark’s Emmelie De Forest, recorded the official videoclip to her winning song Only Teardrops. Filmed in a forest and on a beach, Emmelie’s videoclip was directed by Michael Sauer Christensen. Emmelie’s song also entered most of the various European charts. The clip was released on the 13th of June.

It was also revealed that the 2013 ESC was a ratings hit across Europe: in 36 countries it was rated among the most viewed shows. Some 170 million viewers followed the contest, with an extra surge notable in countries such as winner Denmark, host country Sweden and in The Netherlands.

The interest in Eurovision took on a new dimension in Denmark: broadcaster DR will initiate a grand ESC archival project, collecting old and new ESC footage, focusing particularly on vintage and rare Eurovision footage. Tina Pipa, DR Head of Archives, said the ESC archive will mainly help TV stations looking for footage for productions. It is also a hope that very rare, “lost” editions of the contest will be found again, namely 1956 and 1964.

There was other news from ESC’s past as well in June. 2007 winner, Serbia’s Marija Šerifović announced that a guest on her new record will be Norway’s 2009 winner, Alexander Rybak. Meanwhile in France, the 2005 Belgian representative Nuno Resende achieved a third place in the popular TV-show The Voice 2.

But for some countries, there was also bad news. On the 11th of June it was announced that due to the financial crisis, Greek public broadcaster ERT was shut down. All of the employees were fired. ERT was responsible for the Greek entries. Although ERT would reemerge in a smaller format, at that point the future of the Greek paticipation in Eurovision 2014 was very uncertain.

Yet the preparations for 2014 continued in Denmark. Broadcatser DR enlisted Per Zachariassen as Senior Producer of the 2014 contest. Zachariassen has major international experience within the entertainment industry. Working in Los Angeles, USA, he will return to Denmark for Eurovision. Zachariassen was already involved in big Danisch TV-show productions, such as X-Factor and the Talent-series.

More news form Denmark: after Aalborg withdrew intself from candidature, four cities remained to host the 2014 ESC: Copenhagen, Fredericia, Herning and Horsens. Horsens had a very special accomodation in mind: the courtyard of Horsens Prison, which already hosted the Danish national selection final for the Eurovision, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. Other Danish cities were interested in hosting this national Danisch selection for 2014, such as Odense. After Fredericia withdrew its bid, only Herning, Horsens and capital Copenhagen remained in the bidding race. Copenhagen had three venue options: Parken Stadium,DR Byen, home of the national broadcaster, and former shipyard B&W Hall, situated in Copenhagen’s harbour. On the 28th of June it was announced that Parken Stadium, host to the 2001 ESC, withdrew it’s bid due to logistical complications.

June ended with some sad news: Silvi Vrait, Estonia’s first Eurovision finalist in 1994, passed away after a short illness at the age of 62, on the 28th of June. She will always be rememberd by the Eurovision community for her song Nagu Merelaine, performed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1994.

July

July started with a new exhibition in the National Museum of Copenhagen, centered around Emmelie De Forest ‘s victory. Emmelie officially opened the exihibition on the 3rd of July. Including a plaster cast of Emmelie’s bare feet and also the dress she wore during her performance in Malmö, the exhibition featured the coveted Eurovision trophy. Yet it was discovered that the prize was broken in half! Luckily, the trophy was expertly fixed by the museum’s conservation team. The exhibition could be seen until the 19th of August 2013.

Emmelie De Forest also revealed the dates of her tour of Denmark, which kicked of in November 2013, on the 4th of July. It was also revealed by SVT, the national Swedisch broadcaster, that the hosting of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest was very profitable for the city of Malmö and the region of Skåne in Sweden. The region had the chance to showcase their culture to an international public, and saw an increase of tourism and job opportunties. More news form Denmark on the 8th of July 2013: the initial dates of the ESC 2014 in Denmark were changed from 13, 15 and 17th of May 2014 to 6, 8 and 10th of May 2014. This change was accepted to give the bidding Danisch cities that wanted to be host of the event in 2014 an equal chance, thus fitting all of their schedules.

Meanwhile in other Northern countries, plans were already made for the ESC 2014. Finland kicked of the search for its 2014 candidate on the 10th of July, when broadcaster YLE stated that Finland will once again use the Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) as the national preselection. Norway’s broadcaster NRK revelaed on the 4th of July that songs for the Norwegian national final Melodi Grand Prix could be submitted until the 15th of September 2013.

Ireland made clear to participate in 2014 on the 11th of July, as stated by national broadcaster RTE, although the selection procedure was yet to be announced. Not much later, on the 15th of July, Icelandic broadcaster RUV, Albanian broadcatser RTSH and Dutch broadcaster AvroTros confirmed their participation in the 2014 ESC. Not much later Belarus (BTRC) and Georgia (GPB) informed that they had the intention to participate in the 2014 contest. Switzerland soon followed, broadcaster SRF confirming participation and revealing that their national final willbe held on February 1st 2014. Other countries confirming their participation in July were Estonia (ERR), Malta (PBS) who also revealed that the national preselection Malta Song For Europe would return in 2014, while Latvia (LTV), Montenegro (RTCG) and Ukraine (NTU) stated to most likely be part of the ESC 2014.

On the other hand, Bulgaria’s national broadcaster BNT released an official statement that due to reorganisations they had not yet decided if Bulgaria would compete in the 2014 ESC. And, much to the dismay of fans, RTL, the Luxemburg national broadcaster, informed that the country will not return to Eurovision in 2014, due to financial and organizational problems. This will be the 20th anniversisary of the last entry from Luxemburg.

August

The summer season started in Eurovision-style in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. On the 1st of August the 2013Stockholm Pride kicked of with a concert featuring a host of Eurovision names. Former ESC winners Lys Assia, Agnetha Faltskog (from Abba), Helena Paparizou and Emmelie De Forest shared the stage with past contestants Marie Bergman and Roger Pontare, Gina G, Getter Jaani, Krista Siegfrids, Margaret Berger, Roberto Bellarosa, Ryan Dolan, Valentina Monetta and Zlata Ognevich. To add to the fun, a number of participants form the Swedisch preselection Melodifestivalen would perform, while 2013 Melodifestivalen contestant Janet Leon sang the official 2013 Stockholm Pride anthem, New Colours. The Stockholm Pride is Scandinavia’s largest Gay Pride Festival.

Meanwhile, the countries wanting to participate in the ESC 2014 kept bringing news. National broadcaster TRM from Moldova said that the country would most likelt participate in 2014, as did broadcaster MTVA from Hungary. Other countries were already a bit further in their plans: Norway’s broadcaster NRK announced that their national selection Melodi Grand Prix would feature four shows, yet with less contestants and more social media interaction for the fans. Flemisch Belgian broadcaster VRT revealed the plans for the national selection Eurosong, which includes changes such as auditions and a number of shows to select the Belgian candidate for 2014. The trailer to kick off the search for participants for Eurosong 2014 featured 2012 Swedisch winner Loreen.

2014host country Denmark was also working on plans for the ESC. On the 12th of August, Kamilla Monies was appointed as Head of Production for the ESC 2014 by the Danisch Broadcasting Corporation. Kamilla Monies is one of the most experienced producers of shows in Denmark, with over 25 years of experience, including being part of the team behind the TV-show X-Factor Denmark. On the 20th of August, Denmark also started with the search for their own candidate for Eurovision 2014, who will be selected through the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. Broadcaster DR’s Entertainment Editor, Rasmus Ladefoged, stated that DR will be looking for originality and songs that have the potential of winning.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, and its producer Martin Österdahl, were nominated at the Swedisch Kristallen Awards, in the category Best Entertainment Program. The Kristallen Awards are the official TV awards of Sweden, and the show was held on August 30th. Also in Sweden, the first participant of the national slection Melodifestivalen 2014 was chosen on the 25th of August: the band EKO won the talent competition Svensktoppen Nästa 2013, hosted by Sveriges Rasdio. The band consists of lead singer Anna Lidman, Hannes Lundberg and Michael Ottosson.

Sad news from The Netherlands: on the 22nd of August, Jetty Paerl died in Amstelveen, The Netherlands, at the age og 92 years. Jetty Paerl, daughter of Dutch film producer Jo Paerl, was not only the first Dutch participant (together with singer Corry Brokken), she was in fact the very first singer to perform at the first ESC in 1956, with the song De Vogels Van Holland (The Birds Of Holland), composed by famous Dutch author Annie M.G. Schmidt. Jetty Paerl, who was of Jewisch descent, moved to London, UK, during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands in World War II. From there, she broadcasted radio-shows for the  occupied Netherlands, and became known as Jetje van Radio Oranje (Jetje of Radio Orange). Returning to Amsterdam after the war, she discovered that many of her family members had died during the war, but luckily her brothers had survived. Jetty Paerl will be rememberd by the ESC-community as the first contestant at the first ESC.

August ended with news for the ESC 2014 from FYR Macedonia: on the 28th of August national broadcaster MRT confirmed that singer Tijana Dapčević was chosen internally to represent FYR Macedonia at the ESC 2014 in Denmark. The method of selecting a song for Tijana was yet to be determined, although the song would most likely be revealed in February 2014.

Check the final part of the 2013 in review coming up!

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