Eurovision Song Contest 1999
|Eurovision Song Contest 1999
|Final date||29 May 1999|
|Venue||Ussishkin Auditorium at the International Convention Center, Jerusalem, Israel|
|Executive supervisor||Christine Marchal-Ortiz|
|Host broadcaster||Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA)|
|Interval act||Dana International performing "Free"|
|Number of entries||23|
|Returning countries|| Austria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Withdrawing countries|| Finland
|Voting system||Each country awarded 12, 10, 8-1 points to their 10 favourite songs|
|Winning song|| Sweden
"Take Me to Your Heaven"
|Eurovision Song Contest|
The Eurovision Song Contest 1999 was the 44th Eurovision Song Contest, held on 29 May 1999 in Jerusalem, Israel after Dana International won the contest the previous year in the United Kingdom. The venue for the contest was the Ussishkin Auditorium at the International Convention Center,the same place that hosted the 1979 contest. Television news anchor Yigal Ravid, singer and 1992 contestant Dafna Dekel and model/actress Sigal Shahamon were the show's hosts, and it was the first time that three presenters were used to host the Contest. Israel's two previous winners, Izhar Cohen, who won in 1978 with "A-Ba-Ni-Bi" and Milk and Honey's Gali Atari who won it the next year with "Hallelujah" attended as spectators. The winner of the Contest was Charlotte Nilsson, representing Sweden with "Take Me to Your Heaven", which scored 163 points. This was Sweden's fourth win in the Contest and the second in the 1990s (after Carola's win for Sweden in 1991).
In the run-up to the Contest, many speculated that it would not be held in Israel, but would be moved to either Malta or the United Kingdom (the countries that completed the top 3 of the 1998 Contest). This came about after major concerns over funding for the event from the Israeli government arose, alongside the opposition from Orthodox Jews that they would attempt to stop the Contest from coming to Israel after Dana International won the previous year's Contest. This, however, provided no hindrance for IBA or to the organising team of the event, and the International Convention Center in Jerusalem was selected as the venue for the 44th Contest.
Long-standing rules in place for decades were abolished during this Contest: rules that each country had to sing in one of their national languages was abolished for the first time since 1977. A majority of the participating countries, fourteen out of twenty-three, chose to sing entirely or partly in English and only eight entirely in their respective national languages; Lithuania, Spain, Croatia, Poland, France, Cyprus, Portugal and Turkey. Furthermore, live music became optional for the first time in the Contest's history. IBA took advantage of this and decided to drop the orchestra from the Contest as a way to conserve money for the show. This meant that for the first time all entries used backing track during their performances. This caused controversy for Eurovision traditionalists, with three-time winner Johnny Logan criticising the move, describing the event now as "karaoke".
In was announced in 1999 that, as of the 2000 Contest, the four biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom – would all be given automatic entry into the Contest, regardless of their average scores over the past five years.
Latvia had attempted to participate in the Contest for the first time, but withdrew at a late stage. This gave Hungary a chance to enter the Contest; however, Magyar Televízió decided not to take part. This allowed Portugal to compete as the 23rd country.
Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark and Iceland returned to the Contest after being relegated from competing in 1998. Lithuania also returned to the Contest for the first time in five years. The Lithuanian delegation had had budget problems to contend with, and so the EBU allowed the Lithuanians to arrive in Israel a day later than everyone else. The first delegation on the other hand to walk the Holy Land were Estonia.
After being relegated from the 1998 Contest, Russia's Channel One had decided not to broadcast that year's contest, in order to allow for a strong comeback in Israel. However, as only countries which had broadcast the previous year's contest were allowed to enter the next year's contest, Russia was forced to miss another year. They were joined by Finland, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland; the countries with the lowest average scores over the previous five years.
The favourites to win the Contest came from Iceland's Selma with "All Out of Luck", and Cyprus's Marlain with "Tha 'Ne Erotas", after an internet poll by fans. But, while Iceland finished second to Sweden (the country's best showing in the contest), Cyprus failed to inspire televotes, finishing second last with only two points, both from the United Kingdom.
A number of controversies occurred before the Contest. Two songs selected to compete in Israel were found to be ineligible: Bosnia and Herzegovina's Hari Mata Hari were disqualified after their entry was discovered to have been released in Finland some years previously; Germany's Corinna May was also disqualified after her song was revealed to have been released in 1997 by a different singer. Both artists would eventually represent their countries in Eurovision, in 2006 and 2002 respectively.
Croatia's entry attracted objections from the Norwegian delegation, due to synthesised male vocals being used on the backing track of Doris Dragović's entry. The EBU decided to reduce the country's score by a third for the purpose of calculating its five-year average to determine participation in future contests, though it was decided to leave its placement in the 1999 result unaffected.
The interval act was provided by Dana International, who performed a cover of the Stevie Wonder song "Free", which caused some controversy in Israel due to the song's lyric. Dana International also appeared at the end of the show, giving the winning trophy to Nilsson. After pretending that the trophy was too heavy to lift, she fell to the stage, bringing down the winning composers with her.  The show finished with the three presenters inviting everyone on stage to sing a rendition of the English version of "Hallelujah", the Israeli winner from the 1979 Contest, as a tribute to the victims of the Balkan War, who were unable to view the contest after the bombing resulted in their transmitters being blown up.
Each country had a televote, where the top ten most voted-for songs were awarded the 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points, with the exceptions of Turkey, Lithuania, Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina who used juries.
Below is a summary of all 12 point in the final:
|5||Germany||Israel, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Turkey|
|Sweden||Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Malta, Norway, United Kingdom|
|3||Iceland||Cyprus, Denmark, Sweden|
|1||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Austria|
|Doris Dragović||Croatia||1986 (for Yugoslavia)|
- Lithuania - Andrius Tapinas
- Belgium - Sabine De Vos
- Spain - Hugo de Campos
- Croatia - Marko Rašica
- United Kingdom - Colin Berry
- Slovenia - Mira Berginc
- Turkey - Osman Erkan
- Norway - Ragnhild Sælthun Fjørtoft
- Denmark - Kirsten Siggaard (Danish representative in 1984, 1985 and 1988 as member of Hot Eyes)
- France - Marie Myriam (Eurovision winner for France in 1977)
- Netherlands - Edsilia Rombley (Dutch representative in 1998)
- Poland - Jan Chojnacki
- Iceland - Áslaug Dóra Eyjólfsdóttir
- Cyprus - Marina Maleni
- Sweden - Pontus Gårdinger
- Portugal - Manuel Luís Goucha
- Ireland - Clare McNamara
- Austria - Dodo Roščić
- Israel - Yoav Ginai (Lyricist of 1998 Eurovision winner "Diva")
- Malta - Nirvana Azzopardi
- Germany - Renan Demirkan
- Bosnia and Herzegovina - Segmedina Srna
- Estonia - Mart Sander
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