49º Eurovision Song Contest
Wild Dances (Ruslana) - Ukraine
The 49th Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Abdi İpekçi Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, with the final on 15 May 2004, and the new semi-final three days earlier, on 12 May 2004. The hosting national broadcaster of the contest was TRT. The Ukrainian singer Ruslana Lyzhichko won the contest with the song "Wild Dances", and a score of 280 points. It is notable that this was only Ukraine's second participation in the contest.
The current official generic logo of the contest was first used this year, with the heart-shaped flag in the centre to be changed for future contests. The slogan for Istanbul's contest was "Under The Same Sky", which communicated the importance of a united Europe and Turkish integration.
This year's Eurovision was the first contest to be a two-day event, with one qualifying round held on a Wednesday and the grand final held on the following Saturday. Under this new format, byes into the final were given to the 'Big 4'; the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain (as the largest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union) and the ten highest placed finishers in the 2003 contest. It was also the first contest to be broadcast in high definition format.
Andorra, Albania and Belarus participated in the Contest for the first time, Serbia and Montenegro returned after a 12-year hiatus (however, they had participated as FR Yugoslavia the previous time) and Monaco returned after a long 25 years ansence. All participating countries had the right to vote in both the qualifying round and the grand final. This was the first year in which all 36 participating countries voted based on a public phone vote. However France, Poland and Russia did not broadcast the semi-final (as they were not participating in it) and therefore did not give votes for it like the other thirty-three countries.
The hosts of the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul were Korhan Abay and Meltem Cumbul. In the semi-final and the final, Meltem Cumbul warmed up the audience with a sing-a-long of Eurovision classic "Nel blu di pinto di blu (Volare)", originally by Domenico Modugno. An official CD was released and, for the first time, the entire contest was released on DVD.