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Analysis: The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna

Published: May 16, 2015; 14:00 · Updated: May 28; 08:00 · (FriedlNews)

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 has been the 60th edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest musical event. The contest took place in Vienna and followed Conchita Wurst's victory in the 2014 edition with her song "Rise Like a Phoenix". The song "Heroes" by Måns Zelmerlöw took the winning spot in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna with 365 points. The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest will therefore be held in Sweden.

The winner of the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna: Måns Zelmerlöw from Sweden. / Picture: © WienTourismus

This is the second time that Austria hosted the contest after holding its 1967 edition also in Vienna.

The contest consisted of two semi-finals, which took place on 19 and 21 May, and the final, held on 23 May 2015.

Forty countries participateed in the contest, with Australia debuting as a guest entrant, and Cyprus, the Czech Republic, and Serbia returning. Ukraine, however, announced their withdrawal due to financial and political reasons.

The shows will be presented by Mirjam Weichselbraun, Alice Tumler and Arabella Kiesbauer while Conchita Wurst will host the green room.

On 6 August 2014, Austrian public broadcaster ORF announced that it had chosen Vienna as the host city for the 2015 contest. The contest will be held at the Wiener Stadthalle, which has an overall capacity of approximately 16,000 people.

Bidding phase

After Austria's victory in the 2014 Contest, their delegation revealed the possibility of hosting the contest either in the capital city, Vienna, or in Salzburg. Vienna, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, Lower Austria, Graz, Upper Austria, Burgenland, and Vorarlberg were all reportedly interested in hosting the contest while Salzburg pulled out of the bidding phase as the city was not able to meet the cost of the venue and promotion.

Vienna, the capital city and the considered front-runner in the race, had two venues in the phase: the Wiener Stadthalle which hosts the annual Erste Bank Open tennis tournament, along with many concerts and events throughout the year, and the trade fair centre, Messe Wien. These venues have capacities of up to 16,000 and 30,000 respectively. Also in the race were Stadthalle Graz and Schwarzl Freizeit Zentrum, both located in the second largest city of Austria, Graz. With a maximum capacity of 30,000, the Wörthersee Stadion, located in Klagenfurt, also joined the race of hosting the contest. However, the stadium would require the construction of a roof for the contest to be hosted there. Innsbruck also joined the race with Olympiahalle, the venue which hosted ice hockey and figure skating at the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. A fifth city, Linz, joined the race for hosting the contest with Brucknerhaus, although the venue is not big enough for the contest. Being geographically close to Linz, Wels showed desire to host the event as well. Oberwart, with the Exhibition hall and Vorarlberg, with the Vorarlberger Landestheater were the latest cities to declare an interest.

On 29 May 2014, host broadcaster for the 2015 contest ORF and the EBU released some requirements and details about the venue. ORF requested interested parties to respond until 13 June 2014. They stated that the venue needs to be available for at least 6 to 7 weeks before the contest and one week after the conclusion of the contest. The chosen venue must not be open-air, but an air-conditioned building with a capacity of at least 10,000 and a minimum ceiling height of 15 metres, that is insulated for sound and light. The Green Room should be located in the arena or as near it as possible, with a capacity of 300. An additional room that is at least 6,000 m2 that will house 2 catering stands, a viewing room, make-up rooms, wardrobe, and booths for approximately 50 commentators. Separate offices that must be open between 11 and 24 May 2015, that are at least 4,000 m2 in space to house the press centre, with a capacity for at least 1,500 journalists.

After the deadline ended on 13 June 2014, ORF announced 12 venues interested in hosting the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest: ORF announced on 21 June 2014, that 3 cities (Vienna, Innsbruck, and Graz) had been short-listed in the final stage of the bidding process. The contest was provisionally set to take place on 12, 14 and 16 May 2015, however, the dates were later pushed back a week in order to accommodate the candidate cities.

Format

The competition will consist of two semi-finals and a final, a format which has been in use since 2008. The ten countries with the highest scores in each semi-final will qualify to the final where they will join the host nation Austria, the five main sponsoring nations (known as the Big Five): France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and Australia which was invited this year to commemorate the Contest's 60th anniversary.

Semi-final allocation draw

The draw that determined the semi-final allocation was held on 26 January 2015 at the Vienna Rathaus and hosted by Andi Knoll and Kati Bellowitsch. The participating countries, excluding the automatic finalists (hosts Austria, the Big Five and Australia), were split into five pots, based on voting patterns from the previous ten years. The pots were calculated by the televoting partner Digame.

Running order

The final running order of the competing performances at the semi-finals and the final will be decided by the producers of the show and approved by the EBU Executive Supervisor and the Reference Group, as had been done since the 2013 Contest, and in contrast to a draw system for the contest's editions up until 2012; that is excluding an ongoing draw method for the host country's direct position at the final. The running order of the semi-finals was revealed on 23 March 2015. It was decided that Moldova will open the First semi-final and Lithuania the Second. The running order of the Final, except for host Austria's entry drawn in advance, will be known after the announcement of all the finalists.
Graphic design

On 31 July, the EBU released a new and revamped version of the generic logo as a celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest's 60th anniversary. On 11 September 2014, the slogan for the 2015 Contest was revealed to be "Building Bridges". The Director General of ORF, Alexander Wrabetz, commented in reference to the slogan: "With the song contest in Vienna, we want music to build bridges across borders, cultures and languages. In light of the unifying power of this great common European event, we invite all to build bridges and to join hands." One way of realising the slogan will be introduced in the beginning of the contest's final, as the competing artists will enter the arena via a structure which simulates a "magic bridge" of light. The graphic design of the contest was revealed by the EBU on 25 November 2014.

The theme utilises wave-shaped spheres meant to symbolise diversity and the bridging of connections and encounters people experience on a constant basis. The colours of the theme intend to highlight individualism whilst simultaneously also representing the building of musical bridges and the diversity and variety of the artists, songs and audience. The theme art will be incorporated in all contest related developments such as crew uniforms, on-air graphics and merchandise.

The postcards of this year's contest also witness the slogan "Building Bridges". In the postcards, each of the clips start with every contestant receiving an invitation to Austria in their home country. More specifically, the invitation is to a region in the host country with all nine Austrian provinces taking part. The story continues with the contestants making their way through one of the provinces where they have an individual task to fulfil to the host city of Vienna. The tasks on the journeys vary from culture to sports, from economics to science and tradition to modern.
Presenters

On 19 December 2014, ORF announced that Mirjam Weichselbraun, Alice Tumler and Arabella Kiesbauer will be the hosts of the 60th contest; the all-female trio will be the first in history to host the contest. Last year's winner Conchita Wurst was also chosen as host of the green room.
National host broadcaster

During an initial meeting between the host broadcaster ORF and the EBU in late May 2014, the representatives of the core organising team were selected. Edgar Böhm, who is the Head of Entertainment at ORF, was announced as the executive producer.

Participants

On 10 February 2015, it was announced that thirty-nine countries (forty including Australia) will participate in the 2015 Contest. Cyprus and Serbia will return after one-year absences, Czech Republic will return after a five-year absence, while Ukraine has withdrawn. Australia will make its debut as a guest. The deadline to apply to participate was on 15 September 2014. Countries that applied had until 10 October 2014 to withdraw from participation without financial consequences.

Invitation of Australia

On 10 February 2015, the EBU announced that it had invited Australia to participate in the finals of the contest, represented by SBS—a long-time broadcaster of the ESC in the country. The special circumstances surrounding Australia's entry and "to not reduce the chances" of the semi-final participants have led the organisers to allow Australia to compete directly in the grand final without pre-qualification. Its participation will be a one-off event in honour of the contest's 60-year anniversary, and Eurovision's cult following in Australia; if Australia wins, it will be able to return for the 2016 edition—which would be organised by SBS but held in a European host city of its choice. The EBU has considered the possibility of similarly inviting outside countries to participate in future editions of the contest. Australia's participation will bring the number of the finalists up to 27. This will be the highest number of entries in a final in the contest's history. It will be the first time that a country in the Oceania region will be participating in the contest.