Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl has revealed that the EBU will give broadcasters the option to use pre-recorded backing vocals during Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam. It’s meant to help create a more sustainable contest.
Österdahl explained that the EBU is relaxing the rules on backing vocalists singing live in order to help countries cope with new realities.
“The lessons learned from the spring of 2020 are that we need to plan for a global crisis, and we have tailored the rules of the Contest to that effect. We must be able to be more flexible and to make changes even to the format itself and how we organize the event in these challenging times.”
“As organizers of the world’s largest live music event we are determined and united in our mission; to bring back a Contest, a new winner and a handover to a new Host Broadcaster. These elements are in our DNA and part of our legacy.”
Eurovision 2021 rules change: Pre-recorded backing will be allowed
Normally, all the vocals, including backing, must be completely live to ensure fair play. Because each entry usually features a small group of backing vocalists, this puts additional strain on delegations. It increases their numbers, which subsequently leads to greater expenses, such as hotel and travel costs.
As part of making Eurovision come back “for good”, the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group has decided to allow the participating broadcasters to opt for the use of pre-recorded vocals on the backing track. We should emphasise the optionality. Countries are still allowed to use real-life backing vocalists on stage. They can decide to add pre-recorded voices on the backing track, or replace their backing vocalists with recordings altogether.
A side goal of giving broadcasters the chance to use pre-recorded vocals is to give them more creative freedom. Abiding by the six-person rule, delegations could now replace backing vocalists with dancers, while still having the extra voices on stage. It also means delegations will no longer have to find dancers who can sing.
The EBU underlined that though there is no limit in the amount of vocalists that can be heard on the track, the lead vocals will always have to be performed live. On top of that, it is not a permanent rule yet. Martin Österdahl said:
“When making the rule change, maintaining authenticity and fairness has always been front of mind.”
Pre-recorded vocals are not completely alien to the contest. Popular national finals such as Sweden’s Melodifestivalen and Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix have made use of pre-recorded backing vocalists in the past few years. Norway’s Eurovision 2017 entry JOWST was also allowed to use a vocal sampling during his performance of “Grab The Moment” in Kyiv.
What do you think about the rule change? Do you think many broadcasters will make use of it? Let us know in the comments down below!