Several countries have decided to change their entries along the way.
Belarus, as usual, decided to dump the song which had won their national song contest. Alyona Lanskaya will instead sing a song written by a Belgian songwriter, who has a proud Eurovision record of one 13th place, and two 22nd places...
Bulgaria also ended up dumping the winner of their national final. They claimed a difference of opinion between the national TV channel and the Argentinian songwriter meant that they could not make the alterations to the original winner 'Kismet' that the artists wanted. Instead they decided to send the runner-up 'Samo shampioni"... which also happened to be the favourite of the competing artists Elitsa and Stoyan.
FYR Macedonia also decided to scrap the song they had originally wanted to send to Malmö. The song 'Imperija' was given a premier on Macedonian TV, but the next day was withdrawn and within two weeks a new song was presented. According to local media Roma singing legend Esma Redzepova is unhappy about the new song, saying she feels like "a backing singer" to her duet partner Lozano.
TV viewers can look forward to a calm contest this year. Ballads and mid-tempo numbers dominate, and the biggest favourites among the bookies so far are from northern Europe: Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
Over the weekend the Head of Delegations from all the competing countries met in Malmö to discuss the contest, and to officially present their entries to Swedish Television. One slight change to the contest was also decided. It had been announced in November that the traditional draw to decide the running order in the semi-finals and final would be scrapped, and producers SVT and the EBU themselves would decide in what order the songs would be performed. SVT hoped this would make for a more exciting contest, by making sure the contest didn't start with 6 ballads in a row, or that all the favourites ended up next to each other.
But the decision caused outcry in some circles, with many fans fearing it could mean the producers would decide the outcome of the contest. There is a widely-held belief, which is somewhat proven by the statistics, that songs coming towards the end of the contest tend to do better.
As a compromise it was decided Monday that there would indeed be a draw to decide the starting order of the final, but that would be limited to deciding whether a song would be in the first or second half of the line-up. Then SVT and the EBU have free hands to set the starting order within those halves.
Most viewers will have no idea about any of this, but at least one element of the draw will be saved, and whether a song is at the beginning or the end of the line-up will once again be down to Lady Luck, and not Christer Björkman.
The Eurovision stage was also finally presented. For Eurovision fans, it is reminiscent of the fantastic stage in 1997 (And also the stage in 2003). Not as big as in recent years, it should give a tighter look to the stage performances. Good in a year full of ballads. Hopefully the stage is as chameleon-like as the one in 1997, reflecting all the colours of the rainbow.
For Malmö City and SVT it is now full steam ahead for the Eurovision in May. Eurovision logos are now spreading around the city, and the content of the show is being finalised. In just two months, eight weeks, the first semi final will be about to begin...