The end of a decade: Istanbul 2004

The end of a decade: Istanbul 2004
The logo of Istanbul 2004
Istanbul, Turkey -

The year 2009 marks the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The last ten days of this year, looks back at the remarkable transition that the Eurovision Song Contest went through. We are also inviting you to share your memories with us, right here on the website as well as on Facebook. Today, we're looking back at the fifth Eurovision Song Contest of this decade: Istanbul 2004.

Sertab Erener took victory by surprise at the 2003 contest, bringing the Eurovision Song Contest to Turkey for the first time. For a short time, there was doubt between hosting the contest in the Turkish capital of Ankara, or to chose for symbolic Istanbul, the only city on two continents. Turkish public broadcaster TRT first picked Mydonose Showland as venue, but moved to the larger Abdi İpekçi Arena as the contest came closer. TRT was given another challenge; for the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, a televised Semi-Final on Wednesday would precede the Final, traditionally held on Saturday. The two broadcasts respectively took place on the 12th and 15th of May, 2004.

For the third consecutive year, the Eurovision Song Contest had a theme: Under The Same Sky. The EBU introduced the new, generic logo of the Eurovision Song Contest, giving the competition a more lasting visual identity.

The shows

For the second time, Sven Stojanovic directed the shows, while TRT appointed Bullent Osma as Executive Producer. During the Semi-Final, a new ABBA video was shown, briefly outlining how ABBA started and what the response was of the first record company they approached. It featured small puppets of the band performing snippets of their songs (the voices being the ones of the band).

The Final was opened by Sertab Erener, who entered the arena in a virtual helicopter that looked surprisingly real! The dance ensemble Fire of Anatolia performed as interval act.

Svante Stockselius, the Executive Producer of Stockholm 2000, supervised the contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union for the first time.

The contestants

Due to the addition of a Semi-Final, a record number of 36 countries were represented in Istanbul. The top 10 from Riga, as well as the so-called 'Big Four' (France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the host country (Turkey) automatically qualified for the Final. As Spain was amongst the top-10 from Riga, 14 contestants were assured of a Final spot. The other 22 had to take part in the Semi-Final. All countries that aired the Semi-Final were allowed to vote. During the Semi-Final, only the top-10 would be announced in random order.

Albania, Andorra, Belarus and Serbia & Montenegro debuted in Istanbul. Monaco returned after a long absence as well.

Ukraine, Serbia & Montenegro and Greece topped the polls, and they would indeed finish amongst the first three. Just one year after its debute, Ukraine took victory with Ruslana's Wild Dances.

The controversies

An hour after the Semi-Final had been aired, the EBU discovered that there had been problems with the vote counting in Monaco and Croatia. Consequently, some votes were not counted in the results announced at the end of the broadcast of the Semi-Final. When the results were corrected to include these additional votes, they were found not to have affected which countries had qualified for the Final.

Just before the Slovenian entry was about to be performed, the Turkish broadcaster accidentally took a commercial break which meant the Slovenian song was not heard by Turkish viewers and consequently, Turkey gave no votes for the song.

Finally, TRT chose not to show a map as Cyprus was called to give its points, to avoid controversy over the status of Northern Cyprus.

The development

For the first time, a televised Semi-Final took place, bringing the number of contestants to 36. The EBU also introduced a generic logo for the Eurovision Song Contest, which would return every year. The Host Broadcaster was invited to design theme art that would support the generic logo.

Tomorrow, will look back at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Kyiv.

There are 11 comments

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  • Posted on 26 December 2009 at 19:53
    It was the right thing to introduce the semifinals in Eurovision with such a high number of participants. I don't like the relegation system of the former years. And I don't like the way the EBU had chosen the songs for 1996 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo. Personelly its great to have more Eurovision now - two exciting semifinals and one finale. It doesn't matter if I know the songs before.

    The Istanbul Show was great and a country hosting the ESC for the first time will do a great job, because so many countries in the europe and the world wil look at it.

    My favorits that year came from: Serbia-Montenegro, Sweden, Germany and Macedonia report to the moderator
  • Posted on 26 December 2009 at 16:43
    2004 was the last Spanish entry chosen trough Operacion Triunfo. The new management team of TVE, appointed by the new socialist party government, decided to eliminate everything of the previous conservative government, and Eurovision was not an exception. Since then, the situation of the ESC in Spain is like in the '80, with the only difference that eurofans are more visible thanks to the internet and the ESC apparears in the media but often only because the scandalous of our national selections. The ESC of Istambu was very nice, with wonderful songs like the Serbian. I also liked very much Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Belgium (nice the "nipple moment" of the female dancer !!), Israel. The winner Ukraine was in the bottom of my personal ranking. I do not understand why Ruslana not only won but also the eurofan community really like her song. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 26 December 2009 at 16:42
    i discovered sakis :') in this year. My ruslana, the best ever! The stage was simple and so strange but beautiful as always report to the moderator
  • Posted on 26 December 2009 at 10:53
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 20:35
    and the best opening act.... report to the moderator
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 20:31
    ukraine serbia-montenegro greece turkey were really good.they deserved top4!
    ukranie deserved first place ofcourse..
    no doubt,istanbul 2004 was the best one.... report to the moderator
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 19:56
    Hmph... this year.. my top 10 were
    1. Albania
    2. Belgium
    3. B&H
    4. Ukraine
    5. Poland
    6. Estonia
    7. Denmark
    8. Macedonia
    9. Greece
    10. Malta and Serbia&Montenegro =] report to the moderator
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 16:40
    @ ESCGF & Rajko-Montenegro

    I agree With you both, Greece & Serbia&Montenegro was better than Ukraine.

    Serbia & Montenegro was the best song.

    Personally, I dident saw that ESC Version.
    But I have hear'd some songs from that Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul, 2004.

    Turkey was also bad, dident deserved 4th.
    Cyprus was better than Turkey.

    And I dont understand how Romania could get so low. So Sad. :-(

    No More comments from me, in this article. hehe

    The best songs begins tomorrow.
    The rest of the articles(Contest) from tomorrow, that will be added, have I seen. (At Least)
    :-D report to the moderator
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 16:16
    I personally think that Greece was better this year than Ukraine(who won) and should have the 1st place... report to the moderator
  • Posted on 25 December 2009 at 15:58
    Serbia and Montenegro were best at that ESC! report to the moderator