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|Eurovision Song Contest 2003
|Final date||24 May 2003|
|Interval act||Ilgi, Brainstorm, Marie N and Raimonds Pauls|
|Number of entries||26|
|Returning countries|| Iceland
|Withdrawing countries|| Denmark
|Voting system||Each country awards 1–8, 10, and 12 points to their ten favourite songs|
|Nul points||United Kingdom|
|Winning song|| Turkey
"Everyway That I Can"
|Eurovision Song Contest|
The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was the forty-eighth Eurovision Song Contest, held at the Skonto Hall in Riga, Latvia on 24 May 2003. The hosts were Marie N and Renārs Kaupers. Sertab Erener, the Turkish entrant, won the contest with "Everyway That I Can", scoring 167 points. The winning songwriters were Erener and Demir Demirkan. Belgium and Russia were second and third respectively, within three points of Turkey's score.
The 2003 contest was the last to take place over one evening; in 2004 a semi-final system was introduced. Twenty-six countries competed, at the time the biggest field in the contest's history. Six countries that sat out the 2002 contest returned from relegation, and were joined by Ukraine, making its debut, with Ukrainian heartthrob Oleksandr Ponomaryov singing "Hasta La Vista", co-written by Israel's Svika Pick, who composed the 1998 Eurovision winner, "Diva". The 2003 contest's start-list was the last to be influenced by the relegation rule.
The pre-contest favourites, Russia's t.A.T.u, attracted much media attention. Among the other noteworthy contestants were Alf Poier, an outspoken comedian representing Austria; Ich Troje, who attempted to represent two countries; and F.L.Y., a trio of musical veterans representing the host country. Jemini, representing the United Kingdom, finished the contest without a point, the first British entrants to do so.
This was also the fifth time in the history of the contest (including 1956) that no returning artists or acts were featured. All artists taking part in the contest this year did it for the first time.
Latvia won the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest on 25 May 2002, represented by Marie N performing "I Wanna". It was Latvia's first victory, and meant that LTV would host the 2003 contest. Arvids Babris, head of the Latvian delegation at the 2002 contest, said that although LTV's funds were limited, the broadcaster would host the 2003 event; later, the Latvian government pledged €2.3 million for the event. The Skonto Hall in Riga, which seats 5,000 spectators, was chosen to host the contest. Babris was appointed as its producer. In December 2002, LTV announced that the contest would be hosted by Marie N, alongside Renars Kaupers, the lead singer of Brainstorm, the Latvian representatives at the 2000 contest. In March 2003, Danish newspaper B.T. reported that the contest could be moved as it was running behind schedule; the general director of LTV, Uldis Grava, replied, saying: "We [Grava, Bjorn Erichsen of Danmarks Radio and Werner Rumphorst of the EBU] talked about co-operation and about programme exchanges, and neither of them said a single word that would indicate any doubts, lack of trust or accusation." Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Television produced the contest for the second year running (with Sven Stojanovic as director), and Swedish lighting company Spectra+, having supplied the 2000 and 2002 contests, were involved for the third time. The contest's tagline was "Magical Rendez-vous". An official CD of the contest was released, on the EMI/CMC label.
Twenty-four countries participated in the 2002 contest in Tallinn; of these, fourteen were expected to compete in 2003. The bottom ten in Tallinn would be relegated, to allow countries to compete for the first time. In reality, only five countries were relegated—nineteen countries that entered in 2002 competed in Riga. Macedonia, Finland, Switzerland, Lithuania and Denmark were forced to sit out the contest. The nineteen qualifiers were joined by the six countries that had sat out the 2002 contest: Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal. The twenty-sixth contestant was Ukraine, making its debut at the contest. Originally, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and Belarus had planned 2003 debuts, but the EBU's late changes to the relegation procedure meant that they could not compete. All three nations made their debuts in 2004. RTBF was the Belgian broadcaster at the forty-eighth contest, marking the first Walloon entry since 2000. Twenty-six entries was the highest number in the contest's history at that point; it remains the most to have competed in a Eurovision final, and was subsequently equalled nine years later in 2012. The draw for the running order took place in December 2002 in Riga: Iceland would open the contest and Slovenia would complete it.
Austria, having failed to finish in the top five at Eurovision since 1989, selected comedian Alf Poier to represent them in a televised national final on 14 March 2003. Poier beat former Eurovision contestant Petra Frey into second place. He described his song, "Weil der Mensch zählt" ("Because people matter"), as "a hymn to individualism and against collectivism". Ireland, back from relegation, used a reality series, You're A Star, to select their entry. The winner was Mickey Harte; his Eurovision song reached number one on the Irish Singles Chart. Spain also used a reality series; Beth, a runner-up of Operación Triunfo was chosen. Ich Troje tried to represent Poland and Germany with different songs: they won the Polish final on 27 January with "Keine Grenzen-Żadnych granic" ("No borders"; performed in Polish, German and Russian), but lost in Germany. The German contestant was Lou. A member of the Belgian group, Urban Trad, was expelled from the group after it was reported that she had been a member of a far-right political group—this was later denied by the group as the reason for her absence.
In Latvia, three former Eirodziesma contestants won the right to represent the host country as F.L.Y., performing "Hello From Mars". Sweden's Melodifestivalen took place on 15 March at the Globen in Stockholm; Fame won the right to represent the country in Riga. Estonia chose Claire's Birthday as their representative—the band later changed their name to Ruffus. Among the contestants to be chosen internally (without a televised selection) were t.A.T.u from Russia: the self-styled "lesbian" duo had already scored a chart-topper throughout Europe with "All the Things She Said", and quickly became favourites to win the contest.
Twelve languages were represented at the contest: eleven real and one constructed. Belgium's "Sanomi" was described by its composer as "a danceable folk pearl sung in an imaginary and thus universal language". Most of the entries included lyrics in English.
Full preparations for the 2003 contest began on 18 May 2003 at the Skonto Hall. There were rehearsals, press conferences and participants were also involved in an Internet chat. The first performer to rehearse was Birgitta Haukdal from Iceland, on 19 May; she was also first at the Press Centre and on the web chat. t. A.T.u.'s first rehearsal dominated proceedings on 20 May—the band were supposed to rehearse the day before, but had turned up a day late, claiming that Yulia Volkova was suffering from a sore throat. The group were booed by journalists at the Press Centre. Sarah Yuen from the EBU said "They are the bad girls of pop…we shouldn’t have expected them to come here and be nice and pleasant." With the entrants' press conferences and web chats completed, two dress rehearsals were held on 23 May, in front of an estimated 12,000 people. The organisers of the contest held a press conference; one of the issues complained about was the lack of invitations for the after-party. The final dress rehearsal was held on 24 May, the day of the contest. A simulation of the voting procedure was also held, in which the presenters linked up with all twenty-six countries by satellite for the first time.
On the day of the contest, bookmaker William Hill's odds placed Russia as joint favourites to win the contest with Spain. Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Norway and Iceland were behind in third, fourth and joint fifth respectively. Austria, at 100-1, were favourites to finish last. A separate bookmaker also placed Russia to win, but were only joint favourites with the United Kingdom.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 began at 22:00 EEST (19:00 UTC) on Saturday 24 May 2003. Among the 6,000 spectators were several Latvian government ministers. In between the entries, "touristy" film clips of the contestants were shown. Elton John spoke to the presenters from Vienna and one astronaut and one cosmonaut—Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko—gave their greetings from the International Space Station. Alf Poier performed "Weil der Mensch zählt" flanked by stuffed farmyard animals. The Turkish entry, "Everyway That I Can" performed by Sertab Erener, featured a "mix of rhythm and belly dance". Romania's Nicola was joined by dancers holding cardboard records. By contrast, Jostein Hasselgård performed the Norwegian entry at a piano, without any movement from his backing singers. Malta's performer, Lynn Chircop, threw a flower into the audience during her performance of "To Dream Again". Before the voting began, short clips of the songs were played, in reverse order, beginning with the final song. The interval act featured Renars Kaupers' band, Brainstorm, and Marie N performing in a filmed sequence.
The EBU reintroduced televoting as an obligatory voting mode in all participating countries, which awarded 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 points to their ten favourite songs, in ascending order. Countries voted in the same order as they had performed. Bosnia & Herzegovina and Russia used juries, due to the countries' poor telecommunications. Poland's voting was done entirely by text message; all other countries planned to use a televote. This contest was also the first to introduce a computer-generated scoreboard which rearranged itself in order as the points were awarded.
Among the spokespeople were three former Eurovision contestants: Marlayne for the Netherlands in 1999, Ines for Estonia in 2000, and Sandrine François for France in 2002. Kattis Ahlström, co-host of the 2000 contest, announced the Swedish results.
Iceland were first to vote: they awarded their twelve points to Norway, giving Jostein Hasselgård an early lead. Austria were next, awarding one point to Germany and twelve points to Turkey. The jury in Sarajevo also awarded their twelve points to Turkey. As Bosnian spokesperson Ana Vilenica announced the votes, she mistakenly awarded five points to Croatia, rather than Austria. As a result, she had to announce the results again from the beginning. Terry Wogan, meanwhile, jokingly remarked "That's OK, you're fired!" For the first time, Cyprus managed to award points to Turkey (eight, in fact) and, as usual, awarded twelve points to Greece, amidst booing in the hall—Greece reciprocated. The Russian jury awarded twelve points to Romania. Ukraine, making their debut, gave their twelve points to Russia. The host country's top score also went to t.A.T.u.; Russia picked up five twelve-point scores in total.
With just Slovenia left to vote, Belgium's Urban Trad led the contest with 162 points with their song "Sanomi" sung in an imaginary language, with Turkey second with 157 and Russia third with 152. Three points were awarded to Belgium, putting them on 165 and leaving Russia out of the running. Turkey won ten points, giving them a nail-biting victory with 167 points. The final twelve points went to Russia, leaving them on 164. Norway were fourth and Sweden fifth, with the United Kingdom last, without a point.
Turkey's victory meant that it would stage the 2004 contest. During the week of the contest, the EBU unveiled a two-night system for the contest in 2004: a semi-final would be held before a grand final. The "Big Four", along with the top ten from the 2003 contest, would automatically qualify for the 2004 final. The fourteen eventual qualifiers were Turkey, Belgium, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Spain, Iceland, Romania, Ireland, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. All the other countries would compete in the semi.
After the contest, Russia's Channel One complained that Irish broadcaster RTÉ had used a back-up jury, and that it had cost them victory. A statement by Channel One said "Considering [the] insignificant difference in points between the first and third places, there are grounds to believe that the contest results could be much different for Russia." RTÉ responded by publishing the unused results of the Irish televote, which showed that had the jury not been used, Turkey would still have won, and Ireland's voting "partners", the United Kingdom, would still have no points.
The United Kingdom's last-place finish was greeted with much consternation in the British media. Terry Wogan, long-time commentator on the contest for the BBC, said that the UK was suffering from "post-Iraq backlash". Chris Cromby from Jemini said "The monitors were off. Maybe it was sabotage, but we couldn't hear anything...we used the floor monitors, the others used their own." The UK's result was their worst-ever at Eurovision; by contrast, Turkey's win was their first. Alf Poier's sixth place was Austria's best result for fourteen years, Poland's seventh place was their best in nine, and Romania's tenth place was one place behind their best-ever. Belgium's second place was their first top-five finish in seventeen years, but Latvia's third-from-bottom finish was their worst result in four attempts; it was also the worst placing for a host country since 1992.
|01||Iceland||English||Birgitta Haukdal||"Open Your Heart"||–||8||81|
|02||Austria||German1||Alf Poier||"Weil der Mensch zählt"||Because the human matters||6||101|
|03||Ireland||English||Mickey Joe Harte||"We've Got the World"||–||11||53|
|04||Turkey||English||Sertab Erener||"Everyway That I Can"||-||1||167|
|05||Malta||English||Lynn Chircop||"To Dream Again"||–||25||4|
|06||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Bosnian, English||Mija Martina||"Ne brini"||Don't worry||16||27|
|07||Portugal||Portuguese, English||Rita Guerra||"Deixa-me sonhar"||Let me dream||22||13|
|08||Croatia||Croatian, English||Claudia Beni||"Više nisam tvoja"||I'm not yours anymore||15||29|
|09||Cyprus||English||Stelios Konstantas||"Feeling Alive"||–||20||15|
|10||Germany||English||Lou||"Let's Get Happy"||–||11||53|
|11||Russia||Russian||t.A.T.u.||"Ne ver', ne boysia"
(Не верь, не бойся)
|Don't believe, don't be afraid||3||164|
|13||Israel||English, Hebrew||Lior Narkis||"Words for Love"||–||19||17|
|14||Netherlands||English||Esther Hart||"One More Night"||–||13||45|
|15||United Kingdom||English||Jemini||"Cry Baby"||–||26||0|
|16||Ukraine||English||Oleksandr Ponomaryov||"Hasta la Vista"||–||14||30|
|17||Greece||English||Mando||"Never Let You Go"||–||17||25|
|18||Norway||English||Jostein Hasselgård||"I'm Not Afraid To Move On"||–||4||123|
|19||France||French||Louisa Baïleche||"Monts et merveilles"||Mountains and wonders||18||19|
|20||Poland||German, Polish, Russian||Ich Troje||"Keine Grenzen-Żadnych granic"||No borders||7||90|
|21||Latvia||English||F.L.Y.||"Hello From Mars"||–||24||5|
|22||Belgium||Constructed language||Urban Trad||"Sanomi"||–||2||165|
|23||Estonia||English||Ruffus||"Eighties Coming Back"||–||21||14|
|24||Romania||English||Nicola||"Don't Break My Heart"||–||10||73|
|25||Sweden||English||Fame||"Give Me Your Love"||–||5||107|
|Voting procedure used:
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||27||7||12||8|
Below is a summary of all 12 points in the final:
|N.||Recipient nation||Voting nation|
|5||Russia||Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Ukraine|
|4||Turkey||Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Netherlands|
|3||Belgium||France, Poland, Spain|
|Norway||Iceland, Ireland, Sweden|
|1||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Turkey|
The Marcel Bezençon Awards were first handed out during the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia honoring the best competing songs in the final. Founded by Christer Björkman (Sweden's representative in the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest and current Head of Delegation for Sweden) and Richard Herrey (member of the Herreys, Eurovision Song Contest 1984 winner from Sweden), the awards are named after the creator of the annual competition, Marcel Bezençon. The awards are divided into 3 categories; Press Award; Artistic Award; and Fan Award.
|Artists Award||Netherlands||"One More Night"||Esther Hart||13th||45|
(voted by members of OGAE)
|Press Award||Turkey||"Everyway That I Can"||Sertab Erener||1st||167|
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