Eurovision Song Contest 2010: Europe forgets debt woes with song contest
Europe was set to forget its financial worries for a few hours on Saturday as millions across the continent tuned in to the famously kitsch Eurovision Song Contest.
The first ever Eurovision Song Contest took place on the 24th of May, 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland. In 54 years, over 1,200 songs competed in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Noel Kelehan conducted five winners (1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1996). Dutch conductor Dolf van der Linde conducted for seven different countries (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland). Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest three times. In 1980 and 1987 he represented Ireland as performer and won both times, in 1992 he wrote Linda Martin’s winning entry Why Me.
The 55th annual competition was expected to be watched by more than 120 million viewers in 39 European countries but also in Burma, Australia and New Zealand, organisers said.
With sexy divas, bare-chested bronzed playboys, exuberant costumes and sparkling light displays, no effort was being spared for the musical extravaganza at the Telenor Arenam near Oslo, where around 16,000 spectators will gather for the live event.
According to bookmakers, Azerbaijan, Germany, Armenia and Israel have the best odds of winning the contest, described by Time magazine this week as having taken “tacky to a new level for over 50 years.”
Norway’s public broadcaster NRK spent 200 million kroner (25 million euros, 30 million dollars) to host the show.
While less than the 32 million euro bill footed by Russia last year, NRK still had to sell off its rights to broadcast the football World Cup in South Africa to finance the contest.
With financially troubled Greece and Iceland, and a slew of Eastern European countries also among bookmakers’ favourites, the cost issue is even more pertinent, as the winning country is in charge of organising Eurovision the following year.
“The cost has become too much. I feel sorry for Azerbaijan or Moldova if they win. Where would they get the money?” said Eurovision expert Inge Solmo, who wrote the “Absolutt Grand Prix” book about the contest.
A survey published this week in Norway, a rich country thanks to its oil reserves, showed that 43 percent of those asked said that the 200 million kroner spent on Eurovision was a waste of their television licensing fees.
“You can bet that the head of Greek public television and the minister of finance are hoping (Greek candidate) Giorgos Alkaios and his crew will reach a stellar second place tonight,” a columnist in daily Aftenposten wrote Saturday.
“A solution would be to organise a more economically sober Eurovision. But the terms Eurovision and austere are contradictory,” he added.
As is the custom, the large European countries–Germany, France, Britain and Spain, are automatically qualified for the final, as is Norway as the host of the event.
Bosnia-Hercegovina, Moldavia, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Belarus, Serbia, Belgium, Albania, Iceland, Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Ireland, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Romania, Armenia and Denmark also made their way past the two qualifying rounds held Tuesday and Thursday.