Opinion: ESC 2013 - a contest past its peak? | Music | DW | 19.05.2013
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Opinion: ESC 2013 - a contest past its peak?

In Malmö, the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest has been crowned: Emmelie de Forest from Denmark. DW's Andreas Brenner writes about what her victory means for the contest itself and for Germany.

You don't have to like the Eurovision Song Contest, but you do have to be thankful for it. And not just for making ABBA world famous. And not even because its strange and often tasteless acts offer plenty to talk about. It's about the competition itself.

A surprise finish this year - like, say, a victory for Dracula reincarnated as Cezar from Romania - didn't come. For weeks, Emmelie de Forest from Denmark has been the bookies' favorite with her sleek pop song that will soon be forgotten.

Indeed, only long-time Eurovision fans know that Danish duo The Olsen Brothers won in 2000 in Stockholm with their ballad "Fly On the Wings of Love." History repeats itself twelve years later, and the trophy will change hands from Sweden to Denmark.

Swedish humor and tolerance

Three countries from the former Soviet Union are among the top five: Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Russia. But these countries could learn a thing or two from this year's witty host. In a six-minute act, moderator and comedienne Petra Mede poked fun at all manner of Swedish clichés.

Now everyone knows that the head of state can be reminded to clean up his teacup, that Swedish women like to play soccer or that men raise children and can even get married to one another. Tolerance counts in Sweden, but it's unfortunate that these sides of the show were not presented in many other countries. Instead, ads were run.

Germany came home from the contest disappointed after Cascada landed in 21st place. The dance group's lead singer Natalie Horler reacted with poise. She was largely ignored by German media until she was actually in Malmö, having said little to the press at home between her selection for the contest and her appearance in Sweden.

Just for minorities?

Due to the Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden had to host the song contest in its third largest city, Malmö. But the organizers turned the location into an advantage, saving costs and doing things on a smaller scale than in the past. Viewers at home, however, would scarcely have noticed how small the performance hall with its Ikea-like light fixtures was in comparison with previous venues in Baku and Düsseldorf. Malmö delivered perfect TV material, but in the city of 300,000 residents, there was not too much to be seen of Eurovision fever.

It plays a role that the Eurovision Song Contest has in many European countries become an event associated with gay and lesbian fans. If organizers want to win over a young and diverse audience in the future, then the week of programming that includes the ESC semi-finals and the finale must include a colorful stage show with a varied program that connects with local audiences.

That worked well in Germany during the World Cup in 2006. And Germany has also managed to come up with an appealing way of selecting its Eurovision contest representatives. That has translated into success at Eurovision itself, although this year proved an exception. Now that yet another edition of ESC has drawn to a close, it's time to start thinking about what can be improved for next year.

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