A new voting system will be implemented at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
This is the biggest change to voting since 1975.
In previous years each country’s jury and public votes were combined and announced in one go.
Now the votes will be split with each country’s jury vote cast first, and votes from viewers in all countries combined and announced at the end.
According to organizers, this will create a “dramatic finish” as the winner will only be revealed at the very end.
In previous years the winner has been known for up to 20 minutes before the end of voting.
“This format change will inject a new level of excitement into the finish of the Eurovision Song Contest,” said Martin Osterdahl, executive producer for this year’s show.
The new voting system is a “big step forward”, according to Jon Ola Sand – executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest – that will “make a better television show as well as a more exciting competition”.
Jon Ola Sand added: “It is fitting that this change to the contest’s iconic scoring sequence will be debuted in Stockholm, where the famous douze points system was introduced in 1975.”
The same voting system will be used in the semi-finals.
For those wanting to know how their country has voted, the televoting and jury scores from each participating country will be available after the show on the official Eurovision website.
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Stockholm on Saturday, May 14.
Germany has decided to withdraw its act for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest following criticism Xavier Naidoo’s lyrics are anti-Semitic and homophobic.
Xavier Naidoo, of Indian and African heritage, has sold millions of albums in Germany, but songs such as 2012’s Wo Sind (Where Are) have been widely criticized.
Anti-racism groups’ complained after Xavier Naidoo’s selection, on November 19, for the Stockholm contest.
Germany’s public broadcaster ARD denied the “brilliant” singer was racist.
Executive Thomas Schreiber added: “It was clear that his nomination would polarize opinions, but we were surprised about the negative response.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is a fun event, in which music and the understanding between European people should be the focus.
“This characteristic must be kept at all costs. The ongoing discussion about Naidoo could harm the image of the Eurovision Song Contest.
“This is why Naidoo will not represent Germany. We will quickly decide now, how the German entry for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest will be found.”
In 2014, when Germany marked the 25th anniversary of reunification, Xavier Naidoo was criticized for appearing at a rally of the controversial Reichsbuerger group, which wants the re-establishment of Germany as a two-border state.
On November 20, Germany’s most popular newspaper, Bild, questioned Xavier Naidoo’s selection, on its front page.
Anti-racism group the Amadeu Antonio Foundation also described the choice as “problematic”.
In response, Xavier Naidoo, 44, said on Facebook, in his native language, that it was “OK for me” and that ARD had urged him to compete in the first place.
The singer also said he represented a Germany that was “open to the world” and tolerant of different religions and lifestyles.
The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest was won by Swedish singer Mans Zelmerlow with his upbeat pop track Heroes, which was accompanied by innovative animated visuals.
Germany, which came last in the 2015 competition, with zero points, would name a new contender as soon as possible, Thomas Schreiber said.
Australia will compete at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna, Austria.
Organizers issued a one-off invitation as part of the contest’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying let’s celebrate this party together!” contest supervisor Jon Ola Sand said.
Australia will be fast-tracked to the final, which will take place in Vienna on May 23.
A total of 40 countries will now compete in the contest.
The European Broadcasting Union said Australia had been given a wildcard for the final “to not reduce the chances” of the semi-final participants and because of the “one-off nature” of its participation.
Australia will be allowed to vote in both semi-finals, as well as the grand final. The possibility of allowing the public to have a 50% stake in the Australian vote through televoting is also being explored.
The other participating countries will be allowed to vote for the Australian entry – who has yet to be selected – however should their act win the contest, next year’s show will be held in a European city and Australia will be allowed to defend its title.
Eurovision has a long tradition of being broadcast in Australia by broadcaster SBS.
“SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians’ love of the song contest has grown during those years,” managing director Michael Ebeid said.
“We are very excited to have secured this historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world’s biggest stage and are honored that the European Broadcasting Union has supported us to achieve this ambition.”
Host broadcaster ORF added: “With the participation of Australia, together with our partners at the EBU and SBS, we have succeeded to lift [Eurovision] to a new global level and to build another bridge for the 60th anniversary.”
It is not the first time Australians have participated at the song contest.
Singer Jessica Mauboy – who appeared in the 2012 film The Sapphires – provided the interval entertainment in 2014.
Australians have also competed representing the UK – including the New Seekers, Gina G and Olivia Newton John – who lost to Swedish pop group Abba in 1974.
Eurovision organizers have announced that countries found to be vote-rigging at the song contest will face bans of up to three years.
The announcement follows an investigation into attempts to influence the voting in favor of Azerbaijan during last year’s contest.
Organizers confirmed rigging attempts were detected by its security systems, but the votes were declared invalid.
It added there was no evidence to link Azeri broadcasters to the activity.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said as there was also no evidence to suggest Ictimai TV was aware of the attempt, no sanctions would be made.
Allegations of vote-fixing arose after Azerbaijan failed to award any points to neighboring Russia.
Eurovision organizers have announced that countries found to be vote-rigging at the song contest will face bans of up to three years
It prompted Azeri President Ilham Aliyev to order an inquiry, as traditionally ex-Soviet republics have regularly given each other top marks.
There were also claims of attempts in Lithuania to buy votes for Azerbaijan’s entry.
It is hoped tightening rules will “strengthen the credibility of the voting and protect the Eurovision Song Contest brand”.
The contest’s governing body, known as the Reference Group, said if voting irregularities are detected before, during or after the contest in favor of any country, it would automatically initiate procedures against the country’s broadcaster.
“Just as football clubs are, in principle, accountable for the behavior of their fans, we will hold – on a case-by-case basis – participating broadcasters accountable and make them responsible to prevent voting irregularities in favor of their entry,” said Dr. Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Reference Group.
EBU executor Jon Ola Sand added: “It’s our goal to do the best we can to assure a fair and correct result.
“We know that audiences in Europe want a fair result and vote with their best intentions, but in nearly every competition, there are attempts to cheat. It’s our job to spot and stop these attempts.”
The new rule follows the announcement last September that each country’s jury will now be revealed ahead of each year’s contest in an effort to increase openness and accountability.
Previously, the identity of jury members – whose votes account for 50% of the total score awarded to competing countries – was not disclosed until after the final.
Eurovision Song Contest 2014 will take place in Copenhagen on May 10.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called Azerbaijan’s failure to award any points to Russia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision song contest as “outrageous”.
Sergei Lavrov said the points had been “stolen” from Russia’s Dina Garipova and “this outrageous action will not remain without a response”.
Azerbaijan says it cannot explain how it awarded no points to Russia, when Dina Garipova came second in its phone poll.
Russian voters awarded the maximum 12 points to Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has ordered an inquiry into how its votes for Russia apparently went missing.
And the country’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, sitting next to Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in Moscow, called it a “detective story”.
Elmar Mammadyarov said records from all three of Azerbaijan’s mobile phone operators show that Azeris awarded Ukraine’s entry the most votes, followed by Russia’s.
Azerbaijan says it cannot explain how it awarded no points to Russia, when Dina Garipova came second in its phone poll
“Where did the votes go? How did they disappear? This, of course, is a question for our public television,” he said.
Sergei Lavrov said he and his counterpart had agreed they should take a “unified course of action” once the reasons for the discrepancy became clear.
A spokesman for the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the Eurovision Song Contest, said the phone vote was not definitive. A national jury in each country also contributes 50% of the final decision, the Associated Press reports.
Despite the high-level political interest, 10 points for second place from Azerbaijan would not have made any difference to Dina Garipova’s fifth place, since she finished 17 points behind Norway.
Azerbaijan, which hosted last year’s contest, has traditionally tried to maintain good relations with Moscow though there have been tensions over energy in the past.
Meanwhile, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has weighed in with his own accusations. Suspicious that the Belarusian singer did not receive a single point from Russia, he has claimed that the final was falsified.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has ordered an inquiry into why his country gave Russia “nul points” at Eurovision Song Contest 2013.
Voters and the official Azerbaijan jury in fact gave strong backing to the Russian entry, according to officials.
Azerbaijan’s state broadcaster suggested there may have been voting violations.
Russia gave the maximum 12 points to Azerbaijan’s entry – a ballad by Farid Mammadov.
Farid Mammadov came second behind winner Emmelie de Forest from Denmark.
Russia’s Dina Garipova came fifth at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmo
Russia’s Dina Garipova came fifth at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmo.
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, disclosed that President Ilham Aliyev had ordered an investigation and votes were being recounted.
He said that a large number of voters in Azerbaijan, submitting votes by text message, had supported the Russian Federation.
“According to this data, Russia should have received 10 points from Azerbaijan. An announcement will be made about this tonight on Azeri Public Television.”
Camil Guliyev, head of the country’s state broadcaster, said the failure to give Russia any points was of serious concern.
“We sincerely hope that this incident, possibly initiated by certain interest groups, will not cast a shadow over the brotherly relations of the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples,” he said, without elaborating.
Azerbaijan, which hosted last year’s contest, has traditionally tried to maintain good relations with Moscow though there have been tensions over energy in the past.
The Eurovision Song Contest has been running since 1956 and in that time, acts from around Europe have been singing their hearts out in the hope of winning the trophy.
There have been 57 Eurovision winners to date but what has become of those acts that hit the dizzy heights of Euro fame?
Some have gone on to be international stars, while others have faded into obscurity.
Here we take a look at some of the winners over the years and what they have been up to since.
1950 – 1959
1956 – Lys Assia (Switzerland)
Lys Assia was the very first Eurovision winner when it was held in Lugano, Switzerland. She won with her song Refrain and went on to compete in the contest for the next two years, finishing eighth and second respectively. She entered a song into the Swiss national selection for the 2012 contest, but didn’t qualify.
She continued with her singing career and released her last album in 2008. She is considered Eurovision royalty and regularly appears at the contest as a guest of honor.
1959 – Teddy Scholten (The Netherlands)
Teddy won the contest for the Netherlands for the second time in four years with the song Een Beetje.
She had a career in both television and music and released dozens of records through to the 1960s. But she gave up showbiz to work as a public relations officer for the Dutch Red Cross. She died in 2012, aged 83.
1960 – 1969
1960 – Jacqueline Boyer (France)
Jacqueline Boyer gave France its second Eurovision win with her song, Tom Pillibi. As well as being a singer, she also became an actress and appeared in several films and TV series, enjoying a career in Germany as well as France. She continues to record music today.
1964 – Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy)
Italy scored its first win with Gigliola Cinquetti’s Non Ho L’eta (I’m Not Old Enough) aged 16. The song became a European hit.
She competed again in 1974 with her song, Go (Before You Break My Heart), and finished second, losing out to Abba’s Waterloo. She went on to co-host the contest in 1991 when it was staged in Rome.
In the 1990s she quit the music industry and became a journalist. She currently hosts the current affairs programme Italia Rai.
1967 – Sandie Shaw (UK)
Sandie Shaw gave the UK its first Eurovision victory with her famous barefoot rendition of Puppet On A String. With a number of hits to her name before the contest, she was an ideal choice having recorded many of her songs in French, Spanish, German and Italian.
As one of the most successful British singers of the 1960s, she was absent from the music scene in the 1970s and returned to the spotlight with a cover of The Smiths’ song Hand In Glove.
She disappeared again until 2010, when she announced she had started recording music again. However, in April 2013, in an interview with The Telegraph, she said she was retiring for good.
1970 – 1979
1970 – Dana (Ireland)
Dana’s All Kinds of Everything was a hit around the world after becoming Ireland’s first winner. She went on to release more than 30 albums, many with a strong Christian focus.
She also pursued a political career, coming third in the Irish presidential election in 1997. In 1999, she was elected to the European Parliament but lost her seat in 2004.
Showbiz came calling again however, and in recent years she has appeared on celebrity dance show Celebrity Jigs ‘n’ Reels and been a judge on The All Ireland Talent Show.
1972 – Vicky Leandros (Luxembourg)
Greek singer Vicky won for Luxembourg with Apres Toi after coming fourth for the country in 1967. The song gave her success in Europe, North America and Asia.
More recently, she was elected a councilor in Piraeus in Greece and subsequently became the deputy mayor. She resigned in 2008 and has continued with her music career performing all over Europe. Her career as a Eurovision singer has also continued, taking part in the 2006 German final with the song, Don’t Break My Heart. She is still recording and touring today.
Probably Eurovision’s most famous and successful winners, Abba have sold millions of records thanks to their hit Waterloo
1974 – ABBA (Sweden)
Probably Eurovision’s most famous and successful winners, Abba have sold millions of records thanks to their hit Waterloo.
They topped the charts until the early 1980s when they split up, with hits including Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Money Money Money.
Members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus continued to work and record together, including writing the musical Chess. Anni-Frid Lyngstad embarked on a solo career and Agnetha Faltskog’ shied away from the spotlight, although she has recently returned to the music scene with a new album.
A musical based on their hits, a successful box office film and a museum dedicated to the group have cemented them firmly in Eurovision history.
1980 – 1989
1981 – Bucks Fizz (UK)
Possibly the UK’s most popular Eurovision entry, Bucks Fizz beat Germany by four points with Making Your Mind Up. Famous for its dance routine which included ripping the skirts off Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston, the song was a hit around Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
They scored several more chart hits following the contest, but tragedy struck the band in 1984 when their coach crashed while on tour, badly injuring them.
After several line-up changes and legal disputes over ownership of the group’s name, there are now two versions of the group – one which features Bobby G, and the other with Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston – both of which are currently still performing and touring.
1988 – Celine Dion (Switzerland)
Celine Dion has gone on to become one of the most successful female singers in the world since winning Eurovision for Switzerland with the song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi.
It wasn’t until 1991 that she found more international fame with the theme to Disney film Beauty and the Beast and then power ballads The Power Of Love, Think Twice and the mega-selling theme to Titanic, My Heart Will Go On followed.
She took a short career break to start a family and came back with a five-year residency in Las Vegas.
She has sold in excess of 200 million albums worldwide.
1990 – 1999
1995 – Secret Garden (Norway)
Irish-Norwegian duo Rolf Lovland and violinist Fionnuala Sherry scored a win for Norway after a period of being the butt of “nul points” jokes. Originally planned as an instrumental, a few lines of lyrics were later added.
The group has had global success with their first album, spending two years in the US Billboard New Age chart from 1996-1997.
Rolf Lovland is most famous for composing one of the world’s most covered songs – You Raise Me Up – made famous by the likes of Josh Groban, Westlife and Il Divo.
1998 – Dana International (Israel)
Dana International caused controversy as Israel’s Eurovision entry. As a transsexual, conservatives tried to block her involvement, but she beat the UK’s Imaani by six points to win with her song, Diva.
Already a success in her native country with three albums to her name, Eurovision propelled her to international stardom. The following year’s contest, she famously fell over on stage after the Swedish entry stepped on the back of her dress.
She released more albums and even composed Israel’s Eurovision entry in 2008 which finished ninth.
After disappearing from showbiz for a few years, she came back in 2009 as a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol. She released a new single in April 2013.
2000 – 2009
2003 – Sertab Erener (Turkey)
It was third time lucky for Sertab Erener, who had previously tried out twice to represent her country in 1989 and 1990. Everyway That I Can was Turkey’s first entry sung entirely in English and gave the nation its first victory after 25 attempts.
The song topped the charts in Turkey, Greece and Sweden as well as charting in nearly 10 other European countries.
Sertab Erener was already one of Turkey’s most successful female singers before the contest and had released five albums.
She has since released another five records in both Turkish and English.
2006 – Lordi (Finland)
Finland finally won the Eurovision Song Contest thanks to monster act Lordi. Hard Rock, Hallelujah stormed to the top with a huge 292 points – the highest score ever at the time – and won by almost a 30 point margin.
Led by Tomi Putaansuu (otherwise known as Mr. Lordi) and inspired by the rock group Kiss, the group never take off their masks and costumes.
Eurovision helped boost their success and their song charted over most of Western Europe, while their album charted over in the USA and Japan too.
They tour extensively and have performed at numerous festivals, including on the main stage at Ozzfest in 2007.
They released their seventh studio album, To Beast or Not To Beast, in March.
2013 Eurovision Song Contest is under way in the Swedish city of Malmö as 26 countries compete in front of millions of TV viewers.
Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest is the favorite to win with Only Teardrops.
Veteran singer Bonnie Tyler, best known for her 1983 hit Total Eclipse of the Heart, performed the UK entry Believe in Me half way through the contest.
France’s Amandine Bourgeois was the first act to take the stage.
Also among favorites is Cezar, who is representing Romania and is considered as one of the most talented contratenors of his generation, due to his ambitious and special vocal techniques. Cezar’s unmistakable sound led his fans add The Voice to his name. He represents Romania in Eurovision Song Contest 2013, in Malmö, with the song It’s My Life, music and lyrics by Cristian Faur.
Cezar is considered as one of the most talented contratenors of his generation and represents Romania in Eurovision Song Contest 2013, in Malmö, with the song It’s My Life
Bonnie Tyler claims she has “a fighting chance” of becoming the first British winner in 16 years, but bookmakers William Hill revealed her current odds stand at 50/1.
Denmark has odds of 4/6 to win the contest, with its closest competition coming from Norway and Ukraine.
“Emmelie looks very hard to beat and she could spark the biggest payout in the Eurovision’s long and distinguished history,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
“Normally we see a patriotic punt on the Eurovision, but it looks like the public have given up on our chances and Bonnie is simply friendless,” he added.
Welsh star Bonnie Tyler, 61, performed in 15th place, midway through the show – giving her a clear advantage over Engelbert Humperdinck, who opened the contest last year in Azerbaijan, and ultimately finished in penultimate place.
Newcomer Ryan Dolan performs Ireland’s entry, Only Love Survives, in the coveted final slot, after qualifying from the semi-finals in Malmö earlier in the week.
The UK is one of the “big five” countries along with Germany, France, Spain and Italy, which automatically qualify for the final.
The remaining 21 spots were filled by the highest scoring countries from two semi-final heats held this week.
A number of countries have withdrawn from the competition citing financial woes. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Portugal and Slovakia pulled out over money, while Turkey withdrew after complaining about the automatic inclusion of the big five.
Armenia has announced its withdrawal from the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku amid new tension with its old rival Azerbaijan.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organizer of Eurovision song contest, said it was “truly disappointed” by Armenian Public Television’s decision.
Azerbaijani and Armenian forces fought a war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990’s which left at least 25,000 people dead.
A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but no permanent peace deal has been reached.
There has also been internal tension in Azerbaijan, where security forces used force to break up an opposition rally in the northern district of Quba on Friday.
Armenia has announced its withdrawal from the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku amid new tension with its old rival Azerbaijan
Armenian Public Television accused Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev of making hostile remarks in recent days.
“Despite the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities have given security guarantees to all participating countries, several days ago the Azerbaijani president made a statement that enemy number one for Azerbaijan were the Armenians,” the Armenian TV said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.
Last month, a group of Armenian pop singers launched a Eurovision boycott campaign, saying: “We refuse to appear in a country that is well known for mass killings and massacres of Armenians, in a country where anti-Armenian sentiments have been elevated to the level of state policy.
“There is no logic to sending a participant to a country where he will be met as an enemy.”
In a speech about local government on 28 February, which was posted on the Azerbaijani leader’s website, President Ilham Aliyev said: “Our main enemies are Armenians of the world and the hypocritical and corrupt politicians under their control.”
Reacting to news of the Armenian withdrawal, senior Azerbaijani politician Ali Ahmedov told reporters that Armenia had no genuine reason to boycott the competition in Baku.
“The Armenian refusal to take part in such a respected contest will cause even further damage to the already damaged image of Armenia,” said Ali Ahmedov, who is secretary of the governing party.
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