After the controversy over the pre-selection in 1996, the European Broadcasting Union introduced a new system for 1997: countries with the lowest average scores over the previous four years would be excluded from the 1997 contest, and those with the lowest averages over the previous five years would be excluded from future contests (save that every country so excluded for one year would automatically be allowed to participate the following year), with so many countries being omitted as would reduce the number of participants each year to 25.
Israel declined to participate, as the Contest was held on its Holocaust Remembrance Day, granting a reprieve to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would otherwise have been excluded owing to its low point average over the previous four years.
RTÉ once again produced a highly spectacular show, with a stage that had a smaller performance space for the artists than in previous years. This was the third Eurovision set to be designed by Paula Farrell, who had previously been involved with the 1988 and 1994 contests.
There was a wide array of different styles this year. Denmark brought a rap song, Croatia came with their version of the Spice Girls and Sweden brought a mid-1980s style boy band. The music was in general more modern than before, and for the first time in six years, an up-tempo song won.
This year, televoting was tested in five countries: Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The results of the televoting countries were, in some cases, different from those that used a jury. Iceland received 16 of its 18 points from these five countries.
Also, for the first time in Eurovision history, there was a country where not one, but two spokespeople gave votes- France. Television reporter Frédéric Ferrer and 1977 Eurovision winner Marie Myriam each took turns at giving results from that country.
Long-time Irish conductor Noel Kelehan was not the host conductor this year, the duty being fulfilled by Frank McNamara. However, from this year entrants were allowed to use playback, and in 1999, the orchestra was completely abolished. The very first use of playback in the Eurovision came much earlier in 1973 when Cliff Richard performed for the second time with the Shadows on "Power to All Our Friends".
Read more about this topic: Eurovision Song Contest 1997
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