Malmö 2013: The technical arms race is over

Malmö 2013: The technical arms race is over
One third of the world's LED screens were used in the stage in Moscow in 2009. Photo: Alain Douit (EBU)
Stockholm, Sweden -

Sweden is going to take the Eurovision Song Contest to a new dimension. This is the message stated in internal documents belonging to the Swedish organisational committee. The key here is to turn the use of technology on its head and inject new life into the competition.

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.

There are 23 comments

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  • Posted on 2 December 2012 at 23:06
    Eurovision is the biggest musical event in the world. I liked the one staged in Athens 2006, the semi final opening was a Eurovision medley of old and new songs all the gr8 songs including recent one. So in my opinion it must have pyrotechnics, lasers and a medium size stage report to the moderator
  • Posted on 2 November 2012 at 13:40
    I think it will be good. We have some experience from Melodifestivalen and I think it's only an advantage!! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 1 November 2012 at 06:28
    I like Swden, as 5th more competitiveness Country in World, i have faith that they will do an Spectacular Show, A big Kiss of Russia's Size From Panama xD. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 31 October 2012 at 12:00
    I dont think it's a bad idea ,but i think everyone is so used to the LED lights ,that some of us would find it peculiar. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 30 October 2012 at 18:11
    Sweden is by far the best country to host it on a budget. And yes they do have lots of experience from Melodifestivalen. I think they should go for a stage similar to Melodifestivalen 2011 or 12. They were really intimate and really good and the small arenas are much more intimate. Trust SVT. They know how to make a good show. We see that every year. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 30 October 2012 at 10:46
    As someone said, people often reffer to year 2000 as the start of "The new Eurovision". It was also held in Sweden.

    SVT is extremely professional and one of the best in the buisness in hosting shows like this, we have alot of experience from Melodifestivalen and other events such as the royal wedding and Friends Arena Grand Opening.

    Just Youtube the Friends Arena Opening and look at the perfomances. No LED screens, big orchestras and chours. Everything much more simple but yet very personal and stylish.

    The CEO of Eurovision wanted Sweden to "tone down" the competition cause of the shows getting bigger and bigger with no feeling. And i think it was ment to be for Sweden to get it this year and revolutionize the competition once more.

    You can trust us Europe, be sure to watch Mello 2013 and you will see.

    (fyi, Finland and Norway also had arenas as the size of Malmo.) report to the moderator
  • Posted on 30 October 2012 at 09:39
    I absolutely think this is the right path to pick. And i also know that SVT will nail this.

    Last weekend we had the "Grand Opening of Friends Arena" (Scandinavias biggest Arena & Swedens new national arena). The show for it was the most expensive show ever made in Sweden, and it was aboslutely perfect.
    Not too many long camera shots, and all of them "had a meaning" showing the TV audience something rellevant like the chours, instruments ect.

    I can promise you all that this Eurovision will be awesome, SVT has a big experience with hosting huge projects, not only the Swedish wedding a couple of years ago, but also all the Melodifestivalen completitions.

    Have faith in us Europe :) report to the moderator
  • Posted on 30 October 2012 at 03:47
    You know what I just realised?

    Euphoria was intimate and relatively low-tech in Baku, but it was still amazing, so much so that it's the second-biggest winner of all time.

    Of course, not evey country is gonna have great choreography and high quality songs, but the presentation is something SVT can influence. So I guess SVT are going to try and present every entry in 2013 as well as they presented Euphoria.

    Fantastic. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 29 October 2012 at 13:30
    Louie Artur,

    You'd expect every single country to do a Manchester City and spend, spend, spend to host the the biggest ever Eurovision Song Contest? Not all countries can do this and we certainly don't want them to resort to the "Father Ted" moment (sending a horrendous song to avoid hosting next year's contest)!

    I can understand why SVT are doing this and I kinda agree with them. By going back to basics presenting it professionally whilst on a restricted budget and focusing purely on the acts, songs and voting, Sweden will want to show Europe that it is possible and CAN be done without all the fancy staging and effects! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 29 October 2012 at 12:45
    I've been saying this for many years (and i certainly wasn't the first to discover it). Eurovision had become ridiculously megalomanic and artists are getting lost in a light show of effect and pyros. I am not a tv executive, so I don't know all the million-and-one aspects that have to be considerd for making a tv extravaganza, but something here seems to professional & distancing, so it's a good thing someone wants to make a change (let's just hope it's the right one). report to the moderator
  • Posted on 28 October 2012 at 16:09
    I definitely agree that the camera angles in the last few Eurovisions has been a major problem. They were too far away from the stage and you lost your connection to the performers. When i watch melodifestival it is much more immersive and i hope Sweden does the contest proud. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 28 October 2012 at 13:43
    I'm resentful to the comment that we watch Eurovision "for a laugh". I don't. A lot of the songs in Eurovision become my favourite songs for the whole year. Of course, it shouldn't be taken so seriously, but that doesn't mean it's a joke, either.

    I have noticed that a lot of acts struggle to make full use of such a big stage in recent years. A more intimate staging might actually work wonderfully for the show.

    The performances are an important part of the show as they're used to compliment the song, but Loreen has shown that more artists should think outside the box and not just rely on flashing lights for an impressive performance. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 28 October 2012 at 00:47
    Martin Österdahl , the Exec-Producer of Swedish Eurovision is definitely right to say this !
    I wouldn't want to see Eurovision become hollow like American Music Shows !
    Eurovision has Variety - Folk , Pop , Rock , Metal , Rap , Techno , Classical and Traditional . It represents the Heart of Europe to the World ! All the Lightshows or Back Screens shouldn't overshadow the Performance or the Performers ! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 28 October 2012 at 00:32
    I like the idea but I love big productions so its 50/50 report to the moderator
  • Posted on 27 October 2012 at 16:03
    The years that we only laughed about the songs and artists are over. Eurovision is becoming a show with higher quality songs and performances. Of course Sweden can't influence the entries and there will always be awful participants but what Sweden can, and will, do is taking the contest to the next level by making the performances more memorable. A huge stage with all those long shots make the performances everything but memorable and strong. I bet that with Eurovision 2013 a trend of sending better songs with well thought performances will be put in motion report to the moderator