Monday, 8 October 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 1999

Charlotte Nilsson

Date: May 24, 1999
Venue: International Convention Center, Jerusalem, Israel
Presenters: Dafna Dekel, Yigal Ravid, Sigal Shahamon
Directors: Aharon Goldfinger, Hagay Mautner, Amnon Barkay
Scruteneer: Christine Marchal-Ortiz
Host broadcaster: IBA
Price presenter: Dana International
Interval act: Dana International, performing Free
Duration: 3 hours, 14 minutes
Number of entries: 23
Debuting countries: -
Returning countries: Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania
Withdrawing countries: Finland, Greece, Hungary, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland
Winning Song: Take Me To Your Heaven - Charlotte Nilsson, Sweden
Voting system: Each country awarded 12, 10, 8-1 points to their 10 favourite songs

Béatrice & Dino


01. Lithuania: Aistė - Strazdas (20th place, 13 points)
02. Belgium: Vanessa Chinitor - Like the wind (12th place, 38 points)
03. Spain: Lydia - No quiero escuchar (23rd place, 1 point
04. Croatia: Doris Dragović - Marija Magdalena (4th place, 118 points)
05. UK: Precious - Say it again (12th place, 38 points)
06. Slovenia: Darja Švajger - For a thousand years (11th place, 50 points)
07. Turkey: Tuğba Önal & Grup Mistik - Dön Artık (16th place, 21 points)
08. Norway: Stig van Eijk - Living my life without you (14th place, 35 points)
09. Denmark: Trine Jepsen & Michael Teschl - This time I mean it (8th place, 71 points)
10. France: Nayah - Je veux donner ma voix (19th place, 14 points)
11. The Netherlands: Marlayne - One good reason (8th place, 71 points)
12. Poland: Mietek Szcześniak - Przytul mnie mocno (18th place, 17 points)
13. Iceland: Selma - All out of luck (2nd place, 146 points)
14. Cyprus: Marlain - Tha 'ne erotas (22nd place, 2 points)
15. sweden: Charlotte Nilsson - Take me to your heaven (1st place, 163 points)
16. Portugal: Rui Bandeira - Como tudo começou (21st place, 12 points)
17. Ireland: The Mullans - When you need me (17th place, 18 points)
18. Austria: Bobby Singer - Reflection (10th place, 65 points)
19. Israel: Eden - Yom Huledet (Happy Birthday) (5th place, 93 points)
20. Malta: Times Three - Believe 'n peace (15th place, 32 points)
21. Germany: Sürpriz - Reise nach Jerusalem - Kudüs'e seyahat (3rd place, 140 points)
22. Bosnia & Herzegovina: Dino & Béatrice - Putnici (7th place, 86 points)
23. Estonia: Evelin Samuel & Camille - Diamond of night (6th place, 90 points)


The Eurovision Song Contest 1999 was the 44th Eurovision Song Contest, held on May 29, 1999 in Jerusalem, Israel after Dana International won the contest the previous year in the United Kingdom. The venue for the contest was the Ussishkin Auditorium at the International Convention Center,the same place who´s was hosted the 1979 contest. Television anchor news Yigal Ravid, singer and 1992 contestant Dafna Dekel and model/actress Sigal Shahamon were the show's hosts, and it was the first time that three presenters were used to host the Contest. Israel's two previous winners, Izhar Cohen, who won in 1978 with A-Ba-Ni-Bi and Milk and Honey's Gali Atari who won it the next year with Hallelujah attended as spectators. The winner of the Contest was Charlotte Nilsson, representing Sweden with Take Me to Your Heaven, which scored 163 points. This was Sweden's fourth win in the Contest and the second in the 1990s (after Carola's win for Sweden in 1991). Take Me to Your Heaven was written by Lars Diedricson and Marcos Ubeda and is and  is an up-beat song about love, with the singer asking her lover to take her to heaven by loving her. Some fans have argued that it is derivative of previous Swedish 1974 winner ABBA.


In the run-up to the Contest, many speculated that it would not be held in Israel, but would be moved to either Malta or the United Kingdom (the countries that completed the top 3 of the 1998 Contest). This came about after major concerns over funding for the event from the Israeli government arose, alongside the opposition from Orthodox Jews that they would attempt to stop the Contest from coming to Israel after Dana International won the previous year's Contest. This, however, provided no hindrance for IBA or to the organising team of the event, and the International Convention Center in Jerusalem was selected as the venue for the 44th Contest.


Long-standing rules in place for decades were abolished during this Contest: rules that each country had to sing in one of their national languages was abolished for the first time since 1977. A majority of the participating countries, thirteen out of twenty-three, chose to sing entirely or partly in English and only nine entirely in their respective national languages; Lithuania, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, France, Cyprus, Portugal and Turkey. Furthermore, live music became optional for the first time in the Contest's history. IBA took advantage of this and decided to drop the orchestra from the Contest as a way to conserve money for the show. This meant that for the first time all entries used backing track during their performances. This caused controversy for Eurovision traditionalists, with three-time winner Johnny Logan criticising the move, describing the event now as karaoke.

In was announced in 1999 that, as of the 2000 Contest, the four biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom – would all be given automatic entry into the Contest, regardless of their average scores over the past five years.

The favourites to win the Contest came from Iceland's Selma with All Out of Luck, and Cyprus's Marlain with Tha 'Ne Erotas, after an internet poll by fans. But, while Iceland finished second to Sweden (the country's best showing in the contest), Cyprus failed to inspire televotes, finishing second last with only two points, both from the United Kingdom.


A number of controversies occurred before the Contest. Two songs selected to compete in Israel were found to be ineligible: Bosnia and Herzegovina's Hari Mata Hari were disqualified after their entry was discovered to have been released in Finland some years previously; Germany's Corinna May was also disqualified after her song was revealed to have been released in 1997 by a different singer. Both artists would eventually represent their countries in Eurovision, in 2006 and 2002 respectively.

Croatia's entry attracted objections from the Norwegian delegation, due to synthesised male vocals being used on the backing track of Doris Dragović's entry. The EBU decided to reduce the country's score by a third for the purpose of calculating its five-year average to determine participation in future contests, though it was decided to leave its placement in the 1999 result unaffected.

The interval act was provided by Dana International, who performed a cover of the Stevie Wonder song Free, which caused some controversy in Israel due to the song's lyric. Dana International also appeared at the end of the show, giving the winning trophy to Nilsson. After pretending that the trophy was too heavy to lift, she fell to the stage, bringing down the winning composers with her. At this, security forces threw themselves upon her, think it to be a terrorist attack. The show finished with the three presenters inviting everyone on stage to sing a rendition of the English version of Hallelujah, the Israeli winner from the 1979 Contest, as a tribute to the victims of the Balkan War, who were unable to view the contest after the bombing resulted in their transmitters being blown up.

Vanessa Chinitor

A compilation CD was made and released in Israel, with the idea of containing all the competing songs on one CD. However, the songs from Poland, Cyprus, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were not included, thus defeating the idea. Furthermore, unlike similar CDs released from the following year's Contest onwards, it was not an official release by the EBU.


Each country had a televote, where the top ten most voted-for songs were awarded the 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points, with the exceptions of Turkey, Lithuania, Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina who used juries.

After some thoroughly confusing thrills and spills in the early voting, with Lithuania awarding maximum points to the — for once — rank outsiders Ireland, the contest soon settled into a nip-and-tuck duel between Sweden and Iceland, but with Iceland more often than not holding a slight lead. The fortunes of Germany were more erratic - on a few occasions, their challenge seemed to be failing, only for a couple of high scores to haul them back to within striking distance of the leading pair. That appeared to be the case once again when the penultimate voting country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, handed ten points to the Germans. This momentarily distracted attention from the fact that the Balkan nation had not yet awarded any points to Sweden or Iceland, meaning that one of the two was bound to receive nothing. With Charlotte Nilsson of Sweden already having crept into a three-point lead at a crucial moment, the realisation quickly dawned that, while twelve points for Iceland would put them back into a commanding position, twelve points for Sweden would settle the contest in abrupt fashion.

Trine Jepsen & Michael Teschl

Participating countries

Latvia had attempted to participate in the Contest for the first time, but withdrew at a late stage. This gave Hungary a chance to enter the Contest; however, Magyar Televízió decided not to take part. This allowed Portugal to compete as the 23rd country.

Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark and Iceland returned to the Contest after being relegated from competing in 1998. Lithuania also returned to the Contest for the first time in five years. The Lithuanian delegation had had budget problems to contend with, and so the EBU allowed the Lithuanians to arrive in Israel a day later than everyone else. The first delegation on the other hand to walk the Holy Land were Estonia.

After being relegated from the 1998 Contest, Russia's Channel One had decided not to broadcast that year's contest, in order to allow for a strong comeback in Israel. However, as only countries which had broadcast the previous year's contest were allowed to enter the next year's contest, Russia was forced to miss another year. They were joined by Finland, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland; the countries with the lowest average scores over the previous five years.

Returning Artists

Two artists returned to the contest this year. Doris Dragović represented Yugoslavia in 1986 and Darja Švajger represented Slovenia in 1995.

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