What if…the performers played their instruments live?

Well…one month ago, Eurovision 2014 was taking place right before our eyes and we had absolutely no idea that Conchita Wurst was going to take the trophy for Austria. Hopefully, PED has fizzled out of you and you can now prepare for Austria 2015, but here, we’re going to be doing our normal ‘What If..’ series once again and kicking it off today, we’re going to ask what if the performers that were playing instruments played them live? Would the result have been in any way different? Find out what we think below!

Tinkara from Slovenia asked for each of the artists to play their instruments live...would it have made a difference?
Tinkara Kovač asked for each of the artists to play their instruments live…would it have made a difference?

Ever since the end of the orchestra back in 1998, countries have been singing their songs to a pre-recorded backing track and even though all vocals are to be performed live, the instruments must be recorded on the back, with musicians “playing” the song on stage for presentation purposes. This is due to an EBU rule that has almost banned all live music from being performed at the Contest.

This year, however, someone applied to the European Broadcasting Union to play their instrument live – Tinkara Kovač from Slovenia. Speaking at the winner’s press conference for the second semi-final, Kovač said that she had asked the EBU to lift the ban for performers to not play their instruments live, since she is so passionate with her flute. The EBU obviously rejected her request, but it got me thinking – how would this year’s Contest turn out if those who were playing instruments actually played them? Now, there were many people who were playing instruments this year, but Tinkara was the most prominent, with her flute:

Tinkara plays the flute as if her life depended on it, and even if she wasn’t actually playing, at least she made it look like she was playing it! Now, I’m not saying that she would have been any better or worse than how she did when she faked playing the flute, but if she was to play the flute live and still do the amount of bowing down and then jumping straight back up again, I doubt we would have heard the flute as well as we did on the backing track and we wouldn’t be seeing Slovenia in the final – but she would still be playing it as well as the backing track. However, the point Tinkara was trying to make is that when people who play an instrument don’t play them live, it doesn’t seem as intimate and passionate as one would want them to be…this was pointed out by one of the members of The Shin in an interview on the escXtra livestream that when they were performing in Amsterdam at Eurovision in Concert – he had actually stopped playing his guitar on stage, even though the music was playing!

Another person that this rule may have affected is Sebalter from Switzerland. Not only did he bang drums, he was playing his violin at the same time. However, there’s a loophole of the EBU’s rule in his performance of ‘Hunter of Stars’ – try to spot what it is below!

Did you spot what the loophole was? Yes, it was Sebalter’s trademark whistle! Despite the EBU’s rule about live ‘vocals’, a whistle isn’t technically a vocal, so it was allowed to go onto the backing track…but if he was to whistle it live, he still would give a great performance…sure, look at his whistling in the Swiss NF! However, the violin would prove to be a bit like Tinkara’s flute – if he was moving around as much as he was and he was actually playing the violin, we might not have heard it as well and then that violin solo wouldn’t have come across so well and Switzerland may not have done as well as they did. *sad face*.

This sort of article would always come back to the orchestra and how backing tracks has destroyed the Eurovision and everything it represents, but actually I would care to disagree with that point. My opinion on it would be this – if an artist is playing an instrument (e.g. Tinkara – flute, Sebalter – violin, Common Linnets – guitars), they should be allowed to perform it onstage live and not just on a backing track. The backing music obviously would just be on the backing track but if there’s a featured instrument, they should be playing it. But that’s just my opinion on it, what’s yours?

Your views:


Do you think the performers playing their instruments live would have affected the result?
Do you think the performers playing their instruments live would have affected the result?

Ian Mack from the United Kingdom:  Don’t think it would have made a huge difference for Tinkara…but maybe for Softengine or Firelight or even Sebalter!

Rosie Owen from the United Kingdom: Definitely – it also ruins the atmosphere, having everything but the vocals on the backing tracks.

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I think it would be cool to see them performing live! I really wanted to see Sebalter play his violin live, but he didn’t do it..maybe they might change the rule for next year!

Jmangreg Eurovisionboy from Sweden: I prefer the backing tracks. New music can’t be played by orchestra. For example this year Greece. How an orchestra can play this song?

Well, it seems that we all have mixed opinions on this! Maybe it would be best if the instruments were to be played live and maybe it would be best to leave things alone – we’ll just have to see what ORF does for next year! So what do you think about this topic? Is it best if it’s just on one backing track or should we be expecting the artists play instruments live? And should the EBU get rid of the rule? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

3 thoughts on “What if…the performers played their instruments live?”

  1. If the instrumentalists want to play live on stage, they certainly should. It puts so much pressure on the vocalist(s) to be the only one not miming to a track. And, no matter how good they are, miming looks fake and ruins the stage impression.

    For that matter, I believe they should bring back the orchestra and conductor, or at least have them available as an option in performance. There’s a spark to a live performance that playback can never capture.

    1. Thanks for the comment Teka! 🙂

      I most certainly agree with you that miming does look fake and if the instrumentalists want to play the instrument live on stage, they’re more than welcome to, in my opinion!

      The orchestra is hotly debated amongst most Eurovision fans as to whether it should be there or not and I do agree with you to have it as an option. However, it does depend on the song that’s being performed. For example, songs like “Moj Svijet” and even “Rise Like a Phoenix” would have probably be able to be performed by the orchestra, whereas songs like “Children of the Universe” and “Wild Soul” really wouldn’t work with it. Live electronic music is hard to recreate. So I agree with you on very orchestrated songs but not really the electronica bracket of songs.

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