• Dami Im could potentially be doing a lot of singing (Eurovision.tv)Source: Eurovision.tv
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Chris North

5 May 2016 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 6 May 2016 - 4:06 PM

The Eurovision rule book comes in handy as an excellent door stop for 11 months of the year. But come May, it is given a new lease of life. So Euro-philes, the hibernation has ended, and here are seven things about the staging of Eurovision you’ll find only in the rule book.

1. The Rehearsal Schedule

Before Dami Im sings at the semi final, she’ll have spent the previous week at press conferences, openings, live sites, fan days and public appearances. For the TV broadcast each country is allocated 50 minutes rehearsal time split over 2 days. This ensures technical precision of the dry ice and wind machines. Then there’s the three, yes three, full dress rehearsals for each Semi Final AND for the Grand Final. So, if Dami gets through Semi Final 2, and qualifies for the Grand Final, she will have completed 68 minutes on stage for her three minute song.

2. The Song, part one: New material

The lyrics and music can’t have been commercially released before the 1st of September the year before. But that doesn’t guarantee a spot in the competition. The Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, decides if the song is eligible for the Event or not.

3. The Song, part two: The length

The song cannot be any longer than three minutes. In Stockholm the show starts at 9pm, the first song is at about 9:15pm, and twenty-six songs later it’s past 10:30pm, then there’s all that un-rehearsed comedy banter from the hosts, and finally the results. It’s a long night. That being said, Finland’s entry in 2015 went for a staggering 85 seconds. If only...

4. The Song, part three: Lyrics

Sorry all you Satriani fans, the song must have lyrics. You don't need many, as Norway’s 1995 winning song ‘Nocturne’ demonstrated with just 24 words. However the legal term isn’t “lyrics”, it’s “discernable vocals”. Belgium is a repeat offender of not using a proper language for its lyrics. They have three official languages, and twice (in 2003 and 2008) they’ve entered songs in an imaginary dialect. So, technically, you could sing in Lorem Ipsum and win.

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5. The Instruments

If you’re thinking a Polish milkmaid can shred a six-string like Slash, think again. In 2015 in Vienna, a stage manager let it slip that their job was to “stop drummers playing the drums on stage in between songs”. Why? Because they wouldn’t work as the top skin was a rubber mat and they didn’t want audiences to realise the band was miming. The sound came completely from a backing track, except for the vocals.  

6. Live Voices

It’s not Countdown and all vocals must be sung live. They are so strict on this that no voices are permitted on the backing track. It follows then to say that if you sing live you better sing well. Listen to the last five seconds of Il Volo ‘Grande Amore’ from the 2015 final. It’s right at the end, one of them loses their voice, and the look on his face is priceless.

7. Free Plugs

Apparently the ghost of Steve Jobs appeared in the Eurovision app to remind Dami Im of “rule 1.2.2.g, commercial messages within songs are not allowed." Thankfully her lyrics say ‘face time’ not ‘Facetime’. In 2013 San Marino had a song about Facebook that nearly got them disqualified. So what defines a commercial message? In 2015, while ‘Beats by Dr Dre’ took over the world, Slovenia’s Marjetka ignored the trend and wore Sennheiser headphones as “part of her image”, and Sennheiser just happens to provide the tech desks for the broadcast. What about other trademarks? In Denmark’s ‘Cliche Love Song’ from 2014, every time Basim sings, “even girls they whistle” you hear a definitive version of the ‘Twitter whistle’. It’s a fine line, but until the stage turns into two golden arches, it’s business as usual.

The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast on SBS’s Eurovision Weekend - Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Grand Final Sunday 15 May, 7.30pm on SBS, with LIVE early morning broadcasts from 5am on Wednesday 11, Friday 13 and Sunday 15 May.

For all the Eurovision behind the scenes action in Stockholm make sure to follow SBSAustralia on Snapchat.

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