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Malmö 2013: The technical arms race is over

26 October 2012 at 14:15 CEST

In the past three years, the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest have been Germany’s Lena, Azerbaijan’s Ell/Nikki and of course Loreen from Sweden; three entries that were staged in a more toned down way and created a connection with other people.

Sweden wants to stop the technical arms race

Ten years ago, female artists like Ruslana and Elena Paparizou won the competition with intense dance numbers. Since then, the special effects have been stepped up in terms of performances with acts like Lordi and Dima Bilan proving to be prime examples.

However, after this something happened – the winners became artists with less overwhelming performances, but at the same time the organisers of the actual event still continued to advocate the use of advanced technology.

This trend is something Sweden wants to stop. Here are the plans for the competition in 2013, which involve a whole new direction for the Eurovision Song Contest.

End of the road

Martin Österdahl is the executive producer of the competition and responsible for the Swedish organisational committee. He believes that the Eurovision Song Contest in its current format has outgrown itself.

”There is no continuation of the route taken in Moscow and Baku. It just doesn’t work to create an interesting narrative with the same equipment they used. It isn’t possible to create a more extraordinary technical light show than in Moscow, even if you have a bottomless pit of money”, he says.

”If you want to take this program forward, you have to choose another path, and our path leans more towards emotions and a good narrative. It is going to be noticeable and it is going to be about taking the show forward into a whole new dimension”.

Melodifestivalen has an effect

At the Swedish national selection, Melodifestivalen, the direction for a number of years has been towards a broad variety of music and big names, with Salem Al Fakir being one of many examples. Martin Österdahl believes that the Swedish national selection also makes an impression abroad.

”The way we produce Melodifestivalen is definitely going to affect how we do Eurovision. We are the only country in Europe that turns our national final into six Eurovision-esque arena shows each year. This means that we are well-trained”, he says.

He also believes that Melodifestivalen has contributed to bringing the Swedish shows into sync with other developments in pop culture.

”Melodifestivalen is a coming together of all music genres and the best of Swedish pop music each year. With this, we of course attract an updated calibre of artist, visual expressions and fashion from many different sources. This has an effect of course”

The future of the Eurovision Song Contest

Now Martin Österdahl believes that there is a saturation in Europe when it comes to competition entries with an extra bit of everything.

”There is nothing left to tell when it comes to big LED screens and a fantastic amount of flashing lights. This means that the camera angels have to be taken from a big distance, which means that the artists become very small. There is a very large distance and between them and the background there is a lot of air. We don’t get enough emotional engagement and I believe that people have begun to realise this – consciously and unconsciously but actually more consciously”.

”This is what made Loreen stand out. When the background was turned off, you could get much closer to her and see her eyes. The words that she sang started to mean something. One develops a connection and a relationship is created, and this is completely decisive. I absolutely believe that this is the way forward”.

Next time: How to make the experience bigger... in the smallest host city for 20 years.