New rule for Eurovision 2021 - let's take a closer look
With the firm stance of Eurovision being "back for good" from the new Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl and confirmation of the 2021 contest dates it'd be understandable if you missed the new rule change amongst the news.
Is it the end of the contest as we know it? Or simply an opportunity for our contest to remain relevant and prosperous? Or could it be part of the greater plan to prepare in the event of another global pandemic?
Now that the dust has settled let's take a closer look:
"...the Reference Group has decided on a one-year trial basis to lift the ban of backing vocals (harmonies) from the backing tracks." - Martin Österdahl
Österdahl goes on to say that this change would promote artist creativity and freedom, reduce the hosts technical burdens, allow for the songs to be performed as close to the studio recording as possible and the ability for delegations to travel with less performers. After the 2021 contest the rule will be reviewed to decide if it shall remain. Note the main vocal performance must still be live.
The announcement was met with some push back online from fans. The key concerns surrounded artists relying too heavily on the backing where usually a more exposed vocal might've highlighted weaknesses in the performance - negatively impacting their score accordingly. Others also voiced the unique qualities and authenticity of Eurovision might be sacrificed in order to become closer to mainstream music. Our spot poll on twitter revealed fans are split on first impressions of the change:
In order for delegations to save on costs it would actually require them to travel with less performers - just using the prerecorded backing vocalists. The majority of Eurovision performers utilise the maximum number of people allowed on stage (currently 6) whether that be hidden or visible vocalists, dancers or 'people props' for lack of a better term. Given they now have freed up a few bodies for other purposes it's hard to imagine delegations not jumping at the opportunity to use those resources in other areas (eg. more dancers). However, for delegations that have withdrawn due to financial struggles this could be a stepping stone for their return to the contest.
Purely speculation - but perhaps the rule change will facilitate in the unfortunate event of another global crisis (*touchwood* this doesn't happen) that a delegation could send a minimum number of people as decided by the EBU and just a single performer. Halving, quartering or maybe even tenth-ing the number of people present backstage at the contest to ensure social distancing and safety. I repeat there has been absolutely no confirmation this could be the forethought but it would help prepare for another unorthodox Eurovision regardless. Having delegations embrace and think about using less performers is certainly a positive in the current global setting.
Every few years the Reference Group (the Contest’s governing board) and the EBU Television Committee will make small and sometime large modifications to the scaffolding of our contest. Eurovision is a wondrous event where contemporary creativity meets the beloved traditions.
The small customs that are unique and special to the contest such as the songs being 3 minutes and the maximum of 12 points are iconic. It's understandable that there are concerns about this change but nothing ventured, nothing gained. We shall just have to wait and see how it unfolds.