Former Eurovision winner Emmelie De Forest reveals what it’s really like to compete on the show

Emmelie won the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest with her song Teardrops. Here, she takes us through her time on the show as the competition celebrates 65 years.

Eurovision 2013 winner Emmelie De Forest

The Eurovision Song Contest is in full swing!

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So far we’ve seen the first of the Eurovision 2021 semi-finals, and 10 countries in the Eurovision 2021 entries secure a place in the grand final.

The second semi-final will take place on Thursday, 20th May as the remaining 17 countries compete for a spot in the Eurovision 2021 final, which will air on Saturday, 22nd May.

This year has been slightly different, due to the pandemic which has resulted in some Eurovision 2021 COVID changes, including live recordings from contestants who are unable to travel to Rotterdam.

This is also an option for contestants who test positive for coronavirus, like Iceland who will perform at Eurovision 2021 via a recording after Jóhann Sigurður, a member of Daði og Gagnamagnið, tested positive for coronavirus.

Last year’s winner Duncan Laurence will also not perform live at Saturday’s final after testing positive for coronavirus.

But while some things have changed this year due to the pandemic, some things will always remain the same when it comes to Eurovision. We spoke to former winner Emmelie De Forest, who revealed what it’s really like to not only compete in one of the biggest song competitions, but win it too.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, she said: “It was really fun. It was stressful at times. But I think it was also because I was so young, like 19/20. I think you get better at handling stress when you get older, so it was very overwhelming and it all happened very quickly, from winning the Danish National Final to going to Eurovision and going to release my first album and there was a ton of press. After I won, it didn’t get any more calm. It was a crazy couple of years, but it was fun, too. I mean, when you’re young and you get to travel and play gigs and do the thing that you’ve always dreamt of, it’s a lot of fun!”

Eurovision 2013 winner Emmelie De Forest
Eurovision 2013 winner Emmelie De Forest
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Asked what her biggest highlight was of the whole experience, Forest gushed: “I mean obviously winning the thing was pretty great. And like the opportunities that I got afterwards.  That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s why I moved from a small town to do music full-time, but I didn’t expect any of this to happen.”

She continued: “It wasn’t planned; it just happened to me. The song came to me and we recorded it and then all of a sudden we won! That was the best part about it, and the fact that I still can do that eight years later that’s definitely the biggest highlight.”

There were some challenges along the way, however, with Emmelie revealing: “I had to be on a strict diet, but I wasn’t really keeping my diet. I was just eating whatever!”

Recalling a specific moment from her time on the show,  she laughed: “I feel like there was  a sneaky plan or something with the other contestants because when we would meet up, they would just give me chocolate, and they knew I was the favourite.  I feel like maybe they were trying to make me fat, and they partly succeeded because I was just eating chocolate every night in my hotel room.”

Eurovision 2013 winner Emmelie De Forest
Emmelie represented Denmark at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest
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One thing that really surprised the singer during her time in the competition was the number of people involved in brining the event together.

“It was huge!” she said. “Like all the different delegations who are there, all the countries, all their teams and everyone working behind the scenes. All the camera people and sound guys. It’s like a village. And all the fans. It’s really its own thing. It’s its own world –  that’s what I love about Eurovision. Every year, there’s always really great pop songs – Sweden always sent those! And then there’s crazy [songs]. I mean it in the best possible way, but it’s really like a circus. Everything is there. Everything is represented and that’s why it’s so fun to watch every year. And it was really fun to be there and be a part of it.”

While Eurovision has been a mostly positive experience for Emmelie, there have been some downsides to the song competition, which she says “closes some doors, but it also opens a lot of doors.”

“I guess it’s a bit of the same thing everywhere, but in Denmark, I would say that we’re a bit more snobbish compared to Sweden where Eurovision is bigger. I’m half Swedish and I went to Sweden, Germany and Eastern Europe after I won,  and maybe it’s more respected in those countries. Obviously Denmark was super happy and proud when we won, but crossing over into mainstream radio can be hard,” she explained.

“I did that with my other singles and I’ve always got radio airplay on some really big stations, but there’s some big radio stations where you have to be like super indie-credible and it doesn’t matter what music you make, but if you’ve maybe been on Eurovision, they’re not going to listen to the songs. It’s more of an image thing I guess, so there’s always that.”

Nevertheless, the competition has definitely led to some bigger opportunities for Emmelie, who released her second studio album History in 2018, and has continued to make music since.

She continued: “I mean from Eurovision, I was with the label Universal and then left to kind of figure out my own sound. When I contacted other labels, being on Eurovision felt like a really positive thing because you didn’t just come in from the street and people in the business knew who you are and that you had a song. Even though it’s Eurovision, it’s still a big thing, and I experienced that actually a lot of people were really interested in working with me even though I had a background with Eurovision.”

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The Eurovision Song contest 2021 is airing on the BBC in May. Check out the full list of previous Eurovision winners here. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, check out our TV Guide.