The ESC Insight team feel we wrote this article a few years ago, but here we go again!
Following Måns Zelmerlöw’s victory in Vienna, the Eurovision Song Contest cavalcade is once more looking to Sweden and host broadcaster SVT once more. Following a generally successful hosting in Malmö only a few years ago and the broadcaster’s experience hosting the large-scale stadium show that is Melodifestivalen, expectations are undoubtedly high as Sweden prepares to host its sixth Song Contest.
We have our thoughts on what to expect; be they predictions, hunches, or a bit of wish-fulfilment, as Christer Björkman once again (presumably) takes the helm of our beloved Contest.
Can We Have ‘Dancing Queen’?
“Sweden is hosting, Sweden won with Abba, therefore SVT will be doing everything in its power to get Abba back together on stage.”
Not going to happen. But don’t let that dampen the speculation.
A Major Push By Stockholm To Host
There will be a bidding process with various cities expected to put in an offer to host the 61st Song Contest, but after comments at the Melodifestivalen Opening Party in Stockholm President of the City Council Eva-Louise Erlandsson Slorach was clear: “we would like to host the big Eurovision.”
After the 2013 Song Contest was awarded to Malmö, the capital will be fired up to avenge that loss.
There are choices as well such as the mammoth 65,000 capacity of the Friends Arena offering the biggest Contest in history and the chance for significant ticketing revenue, a return to the Globe Arena that hosted the 2000 Contest and can hold up to 16,000 audience members for music events, or looking at the Tele2. Our resident Stockholm expert Ben Robertson is already on the case looking tat the pros and cons of each option, more on that this week.
The Price Might Not Be Right
One thing to realise about any Swedish Eurovision Song Contest is that it won’t be cheap. It will not be cheap for the fans attending, it will not be cheap in terms of productions costs for SVT to bring in the expertise required, and it will not be cheap for delegations. Bringing out a delegation for almost two weeks of rehearsals, including the performers, support staff, reporters, producers, and technicians, is not cheap – a lot of music programs could be made back home by many broadcasters from Eastern Europe for the same cost as entering the Song Contest and potentially not even making it through to the ratings booster of Saturday night.
Expect budgets to be examined very carefully before a smaller country commits to appearing in the 2016 edition. The forty country total may not be sustainable in 2016.
When Once Is Not Enough
As for returning countries, there is going to be an intense focus on Australia. While the invitation was clearly marked one-year only, SBS needed a win to be invited back in 2016. That said, there has been an official mellowing of attitudes towards Australia from the EBU in statements over the last week, and the Australians did not embarrass themselves or the Contesst with Guy Sebastian’s appearance. Given the financial pressures that a Swedish Song Contest will impose, the presumably ‘Big Five’ level delegation fee is a significant piece of leverage… if Australia wants to use it.
How Many More Heroes Can We Have?
Every year you can see a swing back to songs in the style of the winning song from the previous Contest. That means our ballad-heavy female-led repertoire of 2015 is going to have a bit more fast-moving testosterone-fuelled modern pop numbers. While there is an appreciation of the solo balladeer with nothing but a microphone and a pretty backdrop, the projection screen and lively staging for ‘Heroes’ will likely mean we’re back to an era of over the top staging and ‘special surprises’ from many delegations.
Who knows what Ukraine will bring to the stage if they make it to Sweden.
Normally everyone in a Eurovision Press Centre runs at full power for every minute of the day. Well, the 2013 Song Contest introduced the world’s press to the power of fika… if it’s four o’clock, we all stopped for tiny cakes, tea, and coffee.
No matter the host city, we’ll have fika.
Music First Or Entertainment First?
With Sweden back in the driving seat for the 2016 show, expect some of Melodifestivalen’s points of order to be raised ‘for the good of the Contest’. That means lots of discussion around the rules of staging a song. Expect the idea of more than six people being allowed on stage to arise (potentially pushing up costs for smaller delegations trying to keep up with a musical arms race), and the question of vocals being allowed on the backing track.
These strike at the fundamental questions of what sort of show the Eurovision Song Contest wants to be. The Contest must constantly evolve with each staging, and the Reference Group plays a huge part in finding the path forward. With Sweden now hosting once more it will feature as a member of the Reference Group for a number of years. One of the Contest’s spiritual leaders has strengthened its voice, and it is sure to roar.
Sweden are one win away from matching Ireland in the all-time winner category, but with three of those events have been hosted in the 21st Century (depending where you put the year 2000), there’s no doubt that Ireland is living on its past glories more and more with each year. Carrying the perception of understanding the Contest, and providing a safe National Final where careers can be made even if an act loses is an attractive enabler that gives Sweden a huge amount of power in drawing successful acts (and the reverse is true of RTE’s Irish model).
Success breeds success, and this year’s Melodifestival is going to have some really big names looking to sing for Sweden on home soil. Which means the competition will be intense, and that leads me to…
More Than One Swede On Home Soil
Sweden’s music industry already plays a prominent role within the acts of many delegations at the Song Contest. From the obvious songwriting credits of G:Son, to the production and remixing skills used by many a National Final winner, the Swedish sound is everywhere. Not only would I expect the Swedish industry to be hired by more than the usual num,her of acts to polish a song, there may be some countries looking towards the many Swedish acts looking to sing on home soil, even if they need to fly under a parental flag to do so.
And yes, BBC, I’m looking at you. Sarah Dawn Finer says she’s ready…
So that’s what we’re looking out for, what about you? Are you ready for meatballs and music, half time shows and the return of Petra? Is this the year we can ignore Linda Woodruffe? Let us know your hopes and dreams for 2016 in the comments.