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9 Things We Expect From Sweden And Eurovision 2016 Written by on May 25, 2015 | 17 Comments

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.

Guy Sebastian | Eurovision 2015 Australia

Will we see ‘Australia, again’? Photo: Eurovision.tv

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.

Ukraine JESC 2011

A subtle staging from Ukraine at JESC 2011? (image: Ewan Spence)

Fika Returns

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.

Alcazar (Sweden 2013 Interval Act Melodifestivalen)

This would be the ‘entertainment’ option (image: SVT))

Ireland Descending

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…

Terry Vision and Christer Bjorkman (image: ESC Insight)

Two charlies in search of a Song Contest… (image: ESC Insight)

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.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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17 responses to “9 Things We Expect From Sweden And Eurovision 2016”

  1. Evan Davis says:

    If Australia returns, it will be via the semis. SBS can’t afford a Big 5 fee unless there is a significant “donation” from Austrade.

  2. europete says:

    I think the contest is above its optimum size at the moment, but am very conflicted at the thought of losing participants. Higher risk of DNQ-ing seems to encourage playing safe in most cases – until a tipping point is eventually reached as for Austria last year. A longer list of entries counter-intuituvely reducing diversity? Anyway, BBC should copy ORF – book SDF now before SVT do, and start searching for her song ASAP. And PDQ.

  3. Ewan Spence says:

    I think the Saturday night show is certainly above optimal (27!) but if you have host and big and guest, that means less qualifiers from the semi finals.

  4. togravus says:

    I don’t think that a final with 27 songs is too much per se. In fact, some people at our party said ’27 songs? This will be a long night’ before the show but then commented that it felt like only one hour when Il Volo came on. My main issue is that 27 songs are too many for the voting system which only allows points to 10 songs. The voting system was designed for a contest with less than 20 songs, and we can still see it working fine in the smaller semi-finals. However, in the final, the ranking does not reflect the popularity of the songs imo. I’ll just give one example: Germany was in 11th to 13th place in several countries but ended up last with 0 points. Albania and Armenia, on the other hand, were near the bottom in many countries but managed to finish 10 places higher because of neighbour and diaspora voting from some countries. With only 10 songs being ranked when it comes to distributing votes, there is nothing to balance the pro-votes some countries get.
    Yesterday, I cobbled together a small analysis: I converted the full rankings into points, which means that the entry ranked last in combined jury/televoting in a country got 1 point, the entry ranked 2nd from last 2 points and so on until 26 pts were awarded to the song ranked first. (In the voting of countries that were not in the final the song ranked last got 0 points.) While only very little would have changed in the top 10, there were significant differences in the lower part of the final ranking. Germany would have come 19th and Armenia 25th f. e. I don’t want to suggest such a complicated voting system but think that such an analysis makes evident that our beloved voting system doesn’t work with so many songs. I did the same analysis for the semi-finals 2014 and 2015 and we would have got exactly the same qualifiers in every semi (almost identically ranked too). As I’ve said above: The voting system still works perfectly in the semi-finals.

  5. togravus says:

    Spain and Cyprus are even more striking than Germany: Edurne camme 11th in the full rank to points conversion, John 15th.

  6. the juries have to much power raking the song from 1 to 27 and telovote only going at 20 is a Hugh disposition to the results also song that dared to be different are punish by the juries (see:poland 2014) we should revert back to the 1 to 20 system of jury voting.

  7. ChrisB says:

    I can’t wait for Mr Bjorkman to get another chance to turn Eurovision into MelFest-lite, by picking unfunny/cynical/sneering hosts, overproducing the show to within an inch of its life, fixing the voting in favour of his friends and casting-couch buddies, and changing the rules so there’s more live singing in the preview video than on the stage.

    I’m also especially excited by the thought of 40 entries that all have Swedish producers, all have gimmick-heavy animated backdrops, all are songs with new lyrics on top of established chart hits, and all bear no relation to the country that entered them.

    If there’s one good thing to come out of this, at least Mr Bjorkman has repeatedly said that he’s not a fan of the big 5, so will likely force through rules to make us prove we deserve a place in the final instead of padding out the bottom of the table as normal.

  8. Ken says:

    Can we have Sarah Dawn Finer host this time please???

  9. Fatima says:

    As Ewan said, with the hosts + big 5 + guest (s) that would be at least 27 finalists which is too many.
    My main hope for 2016 is that there won’t be any “soundbrushing” of crowd noise as we heard from Vienna. I do hope that escinsight will investigate.

  10. Shai says:

    Some of the songs in the contest sound like a bad karaoke night. Allowing to put the backing vocal on the the recording track will make it even worse. Fingers cross it won’t happen. It will means that the contest loose credibility even more.

    Bjorkman already talks about down sizing the contest and the costs. Friends Arena is therefore not an option(I think).

    Down sizing the final is a must. 27 countries in the final and 4 hours show was not amusing.Someone on-line suggested, several months ago, only 9 qualifiers per semi and a total of 24 countries in the final. That would be ideal. It will make the competition in the semi much harder. It might force the countries to dare more.

    The big 5 issue can only be solved if the big 5 agree on it. Something tells me they like the fact that they don’t have to proves themselves in the semi. At the same time, is allows some of the big 5 to constantly complain that Europe doesn’t love them, in order to justified their unsuccessful run.

  11. joni says:

    Ewan, will you do an article on the whole jury situation this year? I’d be very interested to read your take on this.
    I’m very conflicted on this. I for one am happy with the result since I hated Italy this year, but I can understand the upset. On the other hand, if the EBU hadn’t brought back the juries in 2009, I’m not sure some of the Western countries would have stayed in for much longer. I guess no system is 100% perfect.
    Btw, since I read some comments online saying that the result was due to the new system, according to this Sweden still would have won under the pre-2013 voting system
    https://thankyoueurope.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/stats-corner-2015-results-2012-style/

  12. Ewan Spence says:

    We’ll be looking at all the split scores, but my initial thought is a simple one -the principle of the jury is a good one, and if you accept that Public can overrule Jury, then you should also expect that the jury should overrule the public. My immediate issue is that the public are casting one positive vote only, and the jury are casting one positive and then a whole shedload of negative votes because of the ranking system. I;d much rather there were equal systems, and more jurors in place.

  13. Fatima says:

    I can’t believe that all jurors will go to the bother of putting all 26 songs into a meaningful sequence. It would be like having an over-long questionnaire where we’d start to fill in answers arbitrarily.

  14. Alen says:

    My main problem with the jury is that with putting Italy 6th, Italy had pretty much no chance winning the contest. So that part was already decided on Friday night and all the (paid) televotes for Italy were for nothing. I guess they only could have won if Sweden an Russia would have been bottom top10 in televote.

    My other issue is that Jurys change their votes in Semi and Final.

    Just a small example from two swiss jurors:

    Georg Schlunegger (producer) put Sweden 8th in the Semi and 3rd in the Final …….
    Gabriel Broggini (singer of Sinplus) put Sweden 9th in the Semi and 3rd in the Final…

    This is beyond logic. How can you like the song suddenly more when there are 10 more songs to compete with? Oh right….you noticed that it’s a big fave with fans so you put it higher. Or what else?

  15. Max says:

    LYNDA WOODRUFFE TO HOST

    PLEASE!!! <3

  16. Evan Davis says:

    With the revelation that Sony paid for Australia’s entry fee into Eurovision, I hope a precedent hasn’t been set for record companies to “buy” an extra entry via a “wild card” entry.

  17. Kenan says:

    Probably we’ll have Lynda hosting the green room and being hilarious, with Mans and Eric as a host couple (boy can dream ) 🙂

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