Well, hello again friends. The travel bug has bit again and one of my best friends and I are off to Iceland at the end of may. But that’s not the point of this post.
You’re probably thinking – “But, Aaron those are Christmas lyrics. And, last time I checked its April”. Well, you’re n0t wrong. But, in just over one month, the Eurovision Song Contest will be happening in Stockholm, Sweden and you should most definitely watch it.
While it gets little coverage on this side of the Atlantic – Eurovision is one of the highlights of the year and you should watch it not only for the tackiness of some of the performers, but if you’re lucky enough to stream the BBC’s version – Graham Norton’s comments (here’s a sample).
Ok, now I’ve got you thinking -“Aaron, what the f**k is Eurovision”. Here’s a short explainer – Back in 1955 the Europeans were rebuilding from the ravages of World War II. Worried that another war would decimate the continent – they decided to put down the guns and fight their battles through song. Which is cute right? It started out small, with a handful of countries but now has morphed into one of the biggest live TV events of the year featuring 20+ countries (including Australia, because why not).
Each member of the European Broadcasting Union is able to send one representative to the contest, but they don’t have to (which is why Portugal isn’t participating this year). Every country, minus “the Big 5” – France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, has to go though the semi-final process.The reason why “The Big 5” are exempt is because they contribute the most $$ to the contest. Each country is then judged by Televoting and a score from a professional Jury and the top move on to the Grand Final.
Now, this is when the best 4 hours of your life happen. In the Grand Final, all the countries that made it though the semis and the Big Five perform and they are then scored again. Each country then has a representative to deliver their points from 12-0 on stage. If you’ve ever hear the expression “nil points” – this is where it comes from. Seeing who voted for who is one of the highlights of the evening as sometimes countries that traditionally vote for each other don’t and it messes everything up. The Wire did a great run down of traditional voting “blocs” and you can check that out here.
“But, A-a-ron, why should I care?” Well my friend. There are many many reasons why you should care. Firstly, Eurovision gives all the countries of Europe a chance to come together and put aside their political differences for one night of music (note I didn’t use the word great… as one YouTube search would prove that wrong). Plus, Eurovision is an amazing stage for the acceptance of everyone. Not only was Iceland’s 2014 entry called “No Prejudice” but that same year an Austrian Drag Queen named Conchita Würst (google the translation) won the entire thing. How cool is that? You can check out her winning song, “Rise Like A Phoenix” here.
But, this isn’t the first time a Drag Queen has participated. In 2007, Vera Serduchka from the Ukraine graced the world with her wonderful ditty – Dancing Lasha Mumbai which was featured in the Mellissa McCarthy movie “Spy” (also, click the link I dare you). Also, Dana International from Israel has participated 2x, along with many other additional LGBT performers. But, this is not the only reason why you should watch Eurovision. Basically, Russia’s 2012 entry by a group of 80 year old grandmas called “party for everybody” sums it up nicely . Because it is. I’m gonna skip over the part about how it promotes the performing of songs in national languages for the fun part.
Eurovision is basically a four hour hot mess.
Each year, the show has one over arching theme. It’s usually some vaguely non-sensical idea – but it is there. For example, 2014’s theme was “#JoinUs” and 2011’s was “Feel Your Heart Beat”. But, each country is responsible for their own staging and this does not have to fit in with this theme. Which has lead to – this, this and this.
And, while most countries send “normal” songs – with questionably translated lyrics. “Tick Tock, can you hear me go tick tock, my heart is like a clock and steady like a rock… my heart is like a clock you won it with your love” is an actual lyric from a real song that was performed during the contest – that song (Tick Tock from the Ukraine) placed 6th with 113 points. Yikes. Some countries have serious lapses in judgement and the result is wonderful pieces of music that will forever live in infamy. Here are 3 wonderful examples of times that people should have thought twice about what they were sending to an international song competition – one, two and three. Also over the years, there have been songs about Social Media, a singing turkey, and some INSANELY high notes (see: Miracle – Paula Seling and Ovi, 2014 – Romania).
It’s hard to sum up the essence of what Eurovision is in words. And thus, friends – I present, without further adieu, my top 10 Eurovision contest entries. These are sure to stick in your head for the next few days, and when May 12 rolls around, will cause you to watch the wonderfulness that is Eurovision.
10. Zaleilah – Mandinga (From Romania, but with Bagpipes and in Spanish… because #Eurovision.
9. Da Da Dum – Paradise Oskar (2011, Finland)
8. Popular – Eric Saade (2011, Sweden)
7. Euphoria – Loreen (2012, Sweden)
6. Only Teardrops – Emelie de Forrest (2013, Denmark)
5. I Am Yours – The Make Makes (2015, Austria)
4. Calm After The Storm – The Common Linnets (2014, The Netherlands)
3. Undo – Sanna Nielsen (2014, Sweden)
2. A New Tomorrow – A Friend in London (2011, Denmark)
1. Heroes- Måns Zelmerlöw (2015, Sweden)
Over the years, there have been some careers launched at Eurovision (Céline Dion and Abba both got their starts there) and some that have failed to take off as well. If you can’t wait for May – there are videos of the Grand Finals up on YouTube and I highly encourage you to check them out because Eurovision is truly the best time of the year.
Also, as a thank you for making it this far, here are some of my favourite Eurovision GIFs.
When Mom asks you to do your chores but bae is coming over
When Mom and Dad take you to dinner
And finally… The struggle between Wallet and Brain