An extract on #hotbody
The format of the contest has changed over the years, though the basic tenets have always been thus: participant countries submit new original songs, which are performed live in a television programme transmitted across the Eurovision Network by the EBU simultaneously to all countries. A "country" as a participant is represented by one television broadcaster from that country: typically, but not always, that country's national public broadcasting organisation. The programme is hosted by one of the participant countries, and the transmission is sent from the auditorium in the host city. During this programme, after all the songs have been performed, the countries then proceed to cast votes for the other countries' songs: nations are not allowed to vote for their own song. At the end of the programme, the song with the most points is declared as the winner. The winner receives, simply, the prestige of having wonalthough it is usual for a trophy to be awarded to the winning songwriters, and the winning country is formally invited to host the event the following year.
The programme is invariably opened by one or more presenters, welcoming viewers to the show. Between the songs and the announcement of the voting, an interval act is performed. These acts can be any form of entertainment. Interval entertainment has included such acts as the Wombles (1974) and the first international presentation of Riverdance (1994).
As national broadcasters join and leave the Eurovision feed transmitted by the EBU, the EBU/Eurovision network logo ident (not to be confused with the song contest logo) is displayed. The accompanying theme music (used on other Eurovision broadcasts) is the prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Te Deum. Originally, the same logo was used for both the Eurovision network and the European Broadcasting Union, however, they now have two different logos; when the ident is transmitted, it is the Eurovision network logo that appears.
The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Finals are traditionally on a Saturday evening in May, at 19:00 UTC (15:00 EDT, 20:00 BST/IST, or 21:00 CEST). Usually one Saturday in May is chosen, although the contest has been held on a Tuesday (since the two semi-final system was introduced in 2008), on a Thursday (in 1956; and since 2005 in the semi-finals) and as early as March (in 1979).
All vocals must be sung live; no voices are permitted on the backing tracks. In 1999, the Croatian song performed by Doris Dragovi and composed by Toni Hulji featured sounds on their backing track which sounded suspiciously like human voices. The Croatian delegation stated that there were no human voices, but only digitally synthesised sounds which replicated vocals. The EBU nevertheless decided that they had broken the spirit of the rules, and docked them 33% of their points total that year for the purpose of calculating their five-year points average for future qualification.
From 1956 until 1998, the host country was required to provide a live orchestra. Before 1973, all music had to be played by the host orchestra. From 1973 onwards, pre-recorded, non-vocal backing tracks were permittedalthough the host country was still obliged to provide a live orchestra to give participants a choice. If a backing track was used, then all the instruments heard on the track were required to be present on the stage. In 1997 this requirement was dropped.
In 1999 the requirement for a live orchestra was removed: it was left as an optional contribution. The host that year, Israel's IBA, decided not to use an orchestra to save expenses, and thus 1999 was the first year when all the songs were played as pre-recorded backing tracks (in conjunction with live vocals).