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.


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.

  • Ben Affleck says he regrets asking PBS to edit out slave-owning ancestor
    Ben Affleck says he regrets asking PBS to edit out slave-owning ancestor

    Actor Ben Affleck said Tuesday he regretted asking a PBS documentary show profiling his ancestors to not include a relative who was an owner of slaves, saying he was embarrassed by the revelation. Affleck's ancestry was traced by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr, known as Skip, for an episode in the second season of his Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series "Finding Your Roots," in which well-known personalities can discover more about their family history. …

  • The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store

    iTunes' Official Music Charts for the week ending April 20, 2015: …

  • Head of movie association predicts record year at box office
    Head of movie association predicts record year at box office

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — It matters where you watch a movie, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America stressed Tuesday at the opening of an annual gathering of theater owners in Las Vegas. …

  • PBS probes slave-owning issue; Affleck expresses regret
    PBS probes slave-owning issue; Affleck expresses regret

    NEW YORK (AP) — PBS is conducting an internal review following revelations that producers of "Finding Your Roots" may have violated the network's editorial standards after a request by Ben Affleck that the program not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor. …

  • Review: Broadway's 'Doctor Zhivago' is bombastically silly
    Review: Broadway's 'Doctor Zhivago' is bombastically silly

    NEW YORK (AP) — The folks behind the new Broadway musical "Doctor Zhivago" promise it is "sure to steal your heart." They apparently hope to do so by bludgeoning you into unconsciousness and then cutting you open with a scimitar. …

  • Marvel's 'Daredevil' Season 2 News
    Marvel's 'Daredevil' Season 2 News

    Marvel's "Daredevil" is getting a Season 2. …

  • Flawless 100-carat diamond sells for $22.1 million at NY auction
    Flawless 100-carat diamond sells for $22.1 million at NY auction

    An eye-popping, 100-carat diamond, the highlight of a magnificent jewels sale in New York on Tuesday, sold for $22.1 million, Sotheby's auction house said. It had a pre-sale estimate of $19 million to $25 million. Gary Schuler, the head of Sotheby's jewellery department in New York, said the gem is the definition of perfection. The $22.1 million price, which includes the buyer's premium, fell short of the $30.6 million world record price paid for a 118.28 carat white diamond in Hong Kong in …

  • See Ben Affleck's Batsuit
    See Ben Affleck's Batsuit

    Director Zack Snyder has unveiled the newest Batsuit. …

  • 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. …