Eurovision Song Contest 1999
The 1999 Eurovision Song Contest was preceded by lots of new rules, which didn't affect the glamorous show in Jerusalem.
Goodbye to the orchestra
In 1999, the long-standing rule that each country had to sing in one of its own national languages was abolished, and it was also decided that France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, as the highest-paying European Broadcasting Union subscribers, would automatically be allowed to participate every year, irrespective of their five-year point average. Also, the requirement of an orchestra was optional.
The Israeli broadcaster chose not to use an orchestra, which meant that for the first time in the history of the contest, all entries would perform using a backing track. This change was criticized by two-time Eurovision Song Contest winner Johnny Logan, who commented that the contest turned into "karaoke". Latvia wanted to take part this year, but the country withdrew at a late stage, giving the opportunity to Hungary, but Hungarian TV didn't except the offer either, so the 23rd spot was given to Portugal. Finland, Greece, FYR Macedonia, Romania and Switzerland stayed at home.
The Lithuanian delegation was trying to keep its budget problems under control and they were allowed to arrive at the Eurovision Song Contest venue a day later than everyone else to save costs. The Cypriot song by Marlain had been one of the favorites to win the contest, so many experts were shocked when the song just got 2 points altogether, both from the United Kingdom televote. The Croatian entry Maria Magdalena was sanctioned after the contest, as it used synthesized male backing vocals despite the rule stating that all vocals would have to be performed live on stage. Croatia lost 33% of their points, giving it a lower five-year average.
About the winner
The Swedish delegation was very surprised about their victory of Charlotte Nilsson's Take Me To Your Heaven. Had the song in Sweden been seen as old-fashioned, the European televoters thought differently and saw the song as a charming hommage to the ABBA-sound. Sweden's win was endangered by the Icelandic and German songs during the voting, but when the Bosnian jury gave Sweden its 12 points while ignoring Iceland completely, it was clear that Sweden would be the winner of the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest.
Facts & figures
When the winner of the 1998 contest, Dana International, was about to hand over the trophy to Charlotte, she fell down on stage in her stilettos causing a security alert in the hall.