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Eurovision Song Contest - the last bastion of live singing falls?

The most popular live music TV show in the world was always a haven for live singing. But now, the evidence says that the show is performed to playback. What's happened? Can't people sing anymore?


IMPORTANT - Please note that this is an old article and does not reflect current practice. The current (as of 2018 when this note was added) rules of Eurovision state that the lead vocal must be performed live.

Eurovision - the last bastion of live singing falls?

Love it or loathe it... actually we love it! A show watched by nearly a billion people all over the world, combining the massed talent of nearly every country in Europe (and some countries outside of Europe, some countries that are so new you haven't heard of them, and some countries that aren't even officially countries yet!).

How the USA envies us ;-)

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For the five billion people in the world who didn't make it to the party - the Eurovision Song Contest dates back a full 50 years and is a live annual event where member countries of the European Broadcasting Union each compete to produce the best song, as judged by panels of judges or phone votes from each country. The main point of interest is not so much the songs, but watching countries with such different traditions and musical tastes trying to please each other. And then there's the tactical voting...

Love it or loathe it, as I said, the one thing you could say about Eurovision was at least the singing is live. You could tell that from the occasional slip up.

But there were no slip ups in the 2005 show of May 22. In fact the singing was exemplary - remember that this is a live show and there is no chance for a retake.

In fact the singing was more than exemplary - it was amazing! Amazing considering the energetic and vigorous dance routines that now seem almost compulsory.

Now this is a problem even for the best of singers. Some singers mime to playback because they aren't good enough to sing live. Other singers use playback during numbers where their dance routines would either leave them out of breath, or the movement would affect voice production.

But no-one was out of breath at Eurovision. How well they must train. And even the most violent of head and body movements produced hardly a quiver in the voice. In fact no quiver at all.

Although there is no insider knowledge to hand (anyone who gave the game away would be instantly transported to a dungeon somewhere in deepest, darkest central Europe), it does seem that Eurovision is now performed to playback.

Perhaps this does not apply to every singer. Perhaps they even do sing, but the pre-recorded vocal is the one that is broadcast.

OK Mr. Insider - spill the beans. To

By David Mellor Sunday May 22, 2005