Entertainment & Arts

Eurovision goes back to basics in Malmo

Denmark's Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest
Image caption Denmark's entry Only Teardrops lived up to its billing as favourite

Emmelie de Forest triumphed for Denmark in a year when the Eurovision Song Contest went back to basics.

The 20-year-old gave Scandinavia its second consecutive win and her country's third victory in the history of the competition with her song, Only Teardops.

Punctuated by drumming and a tin whistle, her entry stood out from the crowd of ballads, Europop and dance hits that tried to emulate last year's winning song.

Its simple melody was fitting for a year when the host nation, Sweden, decided to bring the annual music fest back to its roots.

The contest had gained a reputation for becoming increasingly expensive to host - the 2011 contest in Dusseldorf cost a reported 46m euros (£39m; $59m), while Azerbaijan spent a rumoured £60m to put on its show.

And with a host of countries including Portugal, Poland and Luxembourg pulling out of the contest in recent years citing financial difficulties, this year had to be austerity Eurovision.

Running order

The first sign of scaling back was holding the contest in Malmo instead of bigger cities such as Stockholm or Gothenburg.

In 2001, almost 38,000 people gathered at Copenhagen's Parken Stadium for that year's contest - the largest audience the event had hosted.

Image caption Fans have been enjoying the annual Eurovision experience since 1956

Malmo Arena housed 10,500 fans.

Organisers also decided to take the contest back to being a TV show, rather than the elaborate stage circus it had become.

Numerous acts performed parts of their songs with their back to the audience so they could get their close-up on the camera circling them.

Swedish TV broadcaster SVT also chose the running order to make the show "more exciting" and even decided on the order the votes would be revealed to create more tension - although it was clear half-way through that Denmark would be the clear winner.

At the winner's press conference afterwards, de Forest maintained she didn't think she would win, despite being the favourite.

"Of course I believed in the song, but that's the exciting thing about Eurovision - you don't know what's going to happen. I was surprised and shocked when it happened," she said.

Glitter ball

Austerity Eurovision was also plain to see on stage. With countries having to pay for their own pyrotechnics or other gimmicks, many of the performances were simply staged with just the artist and their backing singers or dancers.

Even de Forest was barefoot and wearing an "eco-friendly" dress in her effort to go back to basics, although she did employ the use of some pyrotechnics and falling glitter.

The only real show-stopper moments were the Moldovan entry rising up on a plinth while wearing a huge skirt that was projected with images of lighting, and Belarus's act emerging from a giant glitter ball.

Image caption Despite the dramatic entrance, Belarus could finish only in 16th place

Despite her best efforts, the UK's Bonnie Tyler finished in 19th place with 23 points, thanks to meagre scores from Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Romania, Spain and Malta - with Ireland's generous seven points helping to keep her out of the bottom five.

It was a better score than last year when Engelbert Humperdinck finished second from last for the UK, but it had been hoped Tyler's years in the industry and her European fans would help win votes.

They obviously didn't pick up the phone.

Her downfall, perhaps, was that although she may have been a chart-topper in her day, that day was 30 years ago. And Eurovision is now, it seems, a young person's game.

A large proportion of the performers were victors or contestants in their native country's TV talent shows and were, on the whole, under 30.

And despite securing the coveted final performance slot, Ireland's Ryan Dolan finished an unexpected and disappointing last, with only Cyprus, Sweden and the UK rewarding him five points between them.

So what for Denmark next year? The head of the delegation said they were looking at venues and that there were five possible locations the contest could be held at - hinting it could continue to stay on a smaller scale.

With Sweden having now set the ball in motion, the Eurovision Song Contest could soon become a stripped-back Eurovision Song Show.