Sweden scales down Eurovision, keeps glitz factor high

From Bonnie Tyler via a Ukrainian giant to a barefoot Dane, this year's Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by Sweden, promises to deliver the type of glitzy spectacle that unites Europe like nothing else, short of the love of football.

Sweden will pay less than one 50th the astronomical cost spent by last year's host Azerbaijan, but even so it is expected that 125 million people will sit glued to their TV screens at Saturday's final.

Power ballad queen Tyler will be representing Britain this year in Malmoe, the Scandinavian country's third largest city, but despite the veteran singer's name recognition her entry, "Believe In Me", isn't expected to grab the top spot.

Instead, 18-year-old Emmelie De Forest from Denmark is the bookies' favourite in the singing contest Europeans love to mock, with a dramatic pop tune about the state of the world.

Other countries predicted to do well are Russia, Norway and Ukraine.

In Tuesday's semifinal the Danish singer was backed by drummers and a flute player as she performed the infectious "Only Teardrops" barefoot against a flaming backdrop.

In a similar vein, Russia is fielding a ballad about world peace -- "What If" -- sung by the winner of national reality TV singing competition The Voice, Dina Garipova.

Ukrainian entry "Gravity" provides the annual spectacle with one of its more bizarre numbers as Zlata Ognevich is carried on stage by a 234 centimetre (7 feet 8 inches) tall "giant" meant to symbolise her inner strength.

The trendy electro-pop sound of Norwegian Margaret Berger's "I Feed You My Love" has yet to make it through Thursday's semifinal, but is expected to earn Sweden's neighbour a better place than last year, when the country came dangerously close to suffering the dreaded fate of "nul points."

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet has accused the tall blonde of wearing skirts "so tight they create problems for the entire production", drawing angry responses from Norwegian journalists that the Swedes were simply being jealous.

Sweden itself is one of the countries that each year takes the contest incredibly seriously, using an intricate system of semifinals over several weeks to allow the public to vote on its entry.

It has also enlisted its own set of European jurors to ensure its entry does well with viewers on the continent.

Meanwhile, organisers are hoping to produce a glittering show that rivals Azerbaijan's record expensive production last year, but for a fraction of the cost.

"There are different cost estimates for last year's competition in Baku," said the executive producer of this year's Eurovision broadcast, Martin Oesterdahl, who also heads up the Swedish competition.

"They regenerated the city for one billion dollars. We've said we're going to do it for 125 million kronor (14.6 million euros, $18.7 million)," he said.

By comparison, the cost was 150 million kronor when Helsinki hosted the event in 2007, producing only one semifinal instead of the two shows mandated by the current rules.

Sweden has so far escaped the worst of Europe's economic crisis, but public broadcaster SVT said it wants to scale down the event to prevent crisis-stricken European countries from having to opt out of organising it, should they win.

"We felt that we have to take this in a new direction," Oesterdahl said.

"Even if we'd had unlimited funds, there was nothing more to do. There was no bigger arena, there was no bigger LED screen to hang behind the scene than they did in Moscow."

Part of the strategy has been to make sure that as much as possible of every krona spent will be seen in front of the camera.

"We've cut down on ancillary events such as different happenings around the city, and so on," he said.

Malmoe is buzzing with rumours that its biggest celebrity, Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will open Saturday's show.

Asked about the former resident of the immigrant-heavy Rosengaard neighbourhood, Oesterdahl would only say: "We'll have to see. Tune in on Saturday."

Eurovision fans are also hoping ABBA's Benny Andersson and Bjoern Ulvaeus will make an appearance, following the announcement that they've written a special Eurovision anthem together with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii.

Despite downsizing, the show will attract just under 1,500 delegation members and staff, and 1,700 journalists.

Viewers and professional juries in all 39 participating countries will pick the winner, with televoting and juries each representing 50 percent of the outcome.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Historian, author of 'The Pacific' Hugh Ambrose dies at 48

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hugh Ambrose, who wrote the World War II history "The Pacific" after years of researching for his father, the renowned historian Stephen Ambrose, has died at age 48. …

  • Advertisers ditch TLC's troubled '19 Kids and Counting'
    Advertisers ditch TLC's troubled '19 Kids and Counting'

    By Daina Beth Solomon and Mary Milliken LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four advertisers pulled out of TLC's reality show "19 Kids and Counting," putting pressure on the U.S. cable network to decide the fate of the top-rated programme about a Christian family after reports that the eldest son had molested underage girls. Retailers Walgreen Co and Payless Shoesource Inc, and hotel chain group Choice Hotels International Inc on Tuesday followed the lead of General Mills Inc in removing their ads …

  • U.S. playwright, actor Sam Shepard arrested on drunken driving charge
    U.S. playwright, actor Sam Shepard arrested on drunken driving charge

    (Reuters) - Actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard was arrested in New Mexico on suspicion of drunken driving, police said on Tuesday. Shepard, 71, told police he had consumed roughly two tequila drinks at a downtown Santa Fe restaurant on Monday evening, police spokeswoman Andrea Dobyns said. Shepard was booked into the Santa Fe County Jail on a charge of aggravated driving whilst intoxicated, according to online records. …

  • 'John Wayne Day' in Texas honors actor's 108th birthday
    'John Wayne Day' in Texas honors actor's 108th birthday

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Wearing a brown plaid coat worn by John Wayne in 1945's "Flame of Barbary Coast," Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has declared a day in honor of the quintessential screen cowboy. …

  • Actor Sam Shepard arrested for drunken driving in Santa Fe
    Actor Sam Shepard arrested for drunken driving in Santa Fe

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard was arrested Monday on suspicion of drunken driving after a Santa Fe restaurant's security complained about a possibly intoxicated driver. …

  • 'Tomorrowland' nets a soft $42.7 million holiday debut
    'Tomorrowland' nets a soft $42.7 million holiday debut

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disney's original fantasy adventure "Tomorrowland" ended up earning slightly more in its debut than Monday estimates suggested with $42.7 million across the holiday weekend. …

  • Broadway 2014-2015 season is best ever with $1.36 billion in grosses

    Broadway enjoyed its highest-grossing season in history with $1.36 billion in 2014-2015 and audience attendance topping 13.1 million, the Broadway League said on Tuesday. "It's been an extraordinary season on Broadway, and I'm thrilled that we have broken all records," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement. …

  • Judge to hold hearing on whether Shakira's copyright accuser lied
    Judge to hold hearing on whether Shakira's copyright accuser lied

    By Andrew Chung NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge who ruled that pop star Shakira's 2010 hit single "Loca" was an illegal copy of a Dominican songwriter's work now says the songwriter may have lied on the stand and is prepared to head to Puerto Rico to sort out the truth. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday that new evidence presented by two Sony Corp units, the defendants in the case, have caused him to "lose trust" in the trial testimony. …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …