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The Eurovision Song Contest 1999 was the 44th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on May 29, 1999 in the Usshishkin Hall at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, Israel. The presenters were Yigal Ravid, a well known Eurovision fan who's also an IBA culture journalist; Dafna Dekel, a singer who had already participated in the contest representing Israel back in 1992 getting 6th place (her performance was broadcast as a reminder in the 1999 contest); and Sigal Shahamon, a popular model and TV host who had some experience in the Israeli Kdam (the Israeli pre selection for the contest) shows as a back up singer. This was the second time that the contest was held outside of Europe, the first time the competition was presented by more than two presenters and also the first time the orchestra was cancelled (mainly due to lack of room in the Israeli venue hall) and it was decided that all countries will use playback.
This year the long-standing rule that each country had to sing in one of its own national languages was dropped, and it was decided that France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, as the highest-paying European Broadcasting Union subscribers, would automatically be allowed to participate every year, irrespective of their five-year point average. The requirement of an orchestra was dropped, providing that all participants agree to use backing tracks. The Israeli broadcaster chose not to use an orchestra, after consulting all participants, which meant that for the first time in the history of the contest, all entries would perform using a backing track. This change was criticised by two-time Eurovision winner Johnny Logan, who commented that the contest had turned into karaoke.
The favourite to win the contest this year was Iceland's Selma, who performed "All Out of Luck", a bouncy, upbeat song with a prophetic title, and the 13th song to be performed, Cyprus was also considered a challenger for Iceland. Because Croatia's song used synthesised male backing voices, the country's score was reduced by a third to 79 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 the previous year’s winner Dana International, who performed her new song "Free" (a cover of the Stevie Wonder song), which caused some controversy in Israel because of the lyrics. Dana International also provided one of Eurovision's most memorable, if embarrassing, moments when she slipped backwards and took a fall while helping in presenting the winning trophy, which was never properly presented, while the hosts hardly try not to laugh at her (fortunately the girls were documented laughing hysterically). A promise by Yigal Ravid that no one is going to sing a reprise with the credits on their face was kept for the contest ended with all of the participants singing the English version of "Hallelujah" (Israel’s winning song in 1979) as a tribute to the people who suffered from the war that went on in Yugoslavia - The bombing resulted in their transmitter being blown up and therefore they were unable to transmit the contest.
As the Russian broadcaster ORT had failed to send a participant to the 1998 Contest, they decided not to broadcast 1998's Contest in order to make strong comeback the next year. However, the rules of the Contest stated that only broadcasters that broadcast the 1998 Contest would be allowed to participate in the 1999 Contest, leaving Russia out for another year. Latvia initially wished to take part, but withdrew at a late stage due to financial problems. Hungary was offered the free spot but they declined to take it, so Portugal eventually got the opportunity to go to Jerusalem.
Commentary as ever with Terry Wogan, enjoy!
File: The Eurovision Song Contest - 1999 (29th May 1999) [VHSRip (DivX)] DW Staff Approved.avi
Filesize: 2228.12 Mb ( 2,336,356,352 bytes )
Play length: 03:13:56.639 (290916 frames)
Subtitles: Not Present
Video: 528x400 (1.32:1), 25 fps, DivX Codec 5.x or 6.x ~1482 kbps avg, 0.28 bit/pixel
Audio: 48 kHz, MPEG Layer 3, 2 ch, ~116.32 kbps avg
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