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The 58th Eurovision Song Contest will be held on 18 May 2013 in Malmö

On 18 May 2013, millions of viewers throughout Europe were sitting in front of their television sets again: The pan-European Eurovision Song Contest has been held once a year since 1956 in one of the countries of the European Broadcasting Union. Three years ago, 18-year-old Lena Meyer-Landrut won the competition for Germany; this year, the Bonn-based group Cascada will be singing for Germany in Malmö.

The Eurovision Song Contest attracts great attention from across the globe, and for many of the participating artists, the competition is an important moment in their career. In 2010, for example, the complete newcomer Lena earned instant fame with her winning song ‘Satellite‘. Similarly, in 1982,  the 17-year-old German Nicole became famous overnight with her winning song ‘Ein bisschen Frieden’ (‘A little peace’). Most notably, the Swedish band ABBA made their international breakthrough with the song ‘Waterloo’ at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Originally, however, the Eurovision Song Contest was primarily a competition for the composers and songwriters. For many years, the songs had to be performed in the contestants‘ own national language, but this rule was abolished more than ten years ago and the songs may now be sung in any language. As a result, most of the songs are now performed in English, including the song ‘Glorious’ by the band Cascada, who will be singing for Germany in 2013 in the Swedish city of Malmö.

Eurovision Song Contest 1982: Nicole – Ein bisschen Frieden

The Eurovision Song Contest has been running for 57 years

The song contest was set up in 1956 within Eurovision, a cross-border association of currently 74 broadcasting corporations. Up until 1991, the contest was known as ‘Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson’, which is why many people in Germany still refer to it as the ‘Grand Prix’. As the 56 members of the European Broadcasting Union include countries in North Africa and the Middle East, the Eurovision Song Contest also has entries from nations such as Israel and Azerbaijan, where the contest was held in 2012.

The method by which the winner is determined has always been somewhat controversial. Since 2009, 50 per cent of the vote from each country participating in the contest has been decided on by a five-strong jury, and 50 per cent by the viewers through nationwide televoting. It has been clear on many an occasion that popularity also plays a role: Thus neighbouring countries frequently appear to favour one another, while countries that have a difficult relationship do not give each another any points at all. Nevertheless, the overall experience of the Eurovision Song Contest tends to promote a sense of belonging within Europe rather than putting a strain on relations.

Eurovision Song Contest 2010: Lena – Satellite

‘Glorious’ at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013

The Eurovision Song Contest is always hosted by the country that the previous year’s winner came from. Last year, the Swedish singer Loreen won the contest with her song ‘Euphoria’, which is why this year’s competition took place in Malmö. Germany was represented by the Bonn-based group Cascada, who have already had top ten hits in several countries, have released several CDs and have a large fan-base. Cascada’s song for Malmö, ‘Glorious’, was originally criticised by many as being too much like the winning Swedish song ‘Euphoria’, but it has since been cleared of plagiarism.

May 2013

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