11 May 2004
ANKARA – A revamped Eurovision song contest takes place in Istanbul this week under a new format – a semi-final on Wednesday to weed out the smaller countries and the final on Saturday when the big guns of European music strut their stuff.
A total of 36 countries are taking part in Eurovision 2004, 22 of whom will perform on Wednesday night for 10 spots in Saturday’s final.
The final will see the 10 semi-final winners joined by the host Turkey and 13 other countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Britain in a televised event expected to be watched by more than 100 million people.
Like all reality TV shows today the winners will be decided through telephone voting with the only provision being that viewers cannot vote for their own country’s entrant.
Announcements of the scores is for many better then the concert itself as historic rivalries are warmed up, and traditionally close countries, most notably Greece and Cyprus and in a more recent years the Baltic countries, inevitably give each other full points.
While the Eurovision song contest is often the subject of amusement for producing some truly dire performances it has also been the launching pad for a number of world famous bands, the most famous perhaps being Abba who won the event in 1974 with “Waterloo”.
Others to have taken part in the event include Cliff Richard, who may have lost in 1968 but his song “Congratulations” went on to be an enormous hit, Celine Dion, who won in 1988 representing Switzerland, and Dana International, a transsexual diva won the event in 1998 for Israel.
The event is being held in Istanbul after Sertab Erener won last year’s event in Riga, Latvia with her blend of Turkish pop and rap “Everyway that I can”.
The favourite to win this year according to bookmakers William Hill are Greece, tipped at four to one, with Sweden, Germany and Belgium also popular.
Subject: German news