What is that noise in the distance?? What is this cloud of glitter?? Why it can only be Eurovision 2016!!! If you are looking at the screen and scratching your head chances are you have no idea what I'm talking about. That's okay sit back and relax as I fill you in on a little ESC history. Eurovision or the if you want to use official title, the Eurovision Song Contest, is arguably the best and definitely the longest running song contest in the world. The long running joke of the event is that the only reason Europe hasn't broken out into World War III is that instead of fighting in the streets they fight in the sheets. The music sheets that is! 😉 42 countries enter and one is crowned the winner with the rights to host the contest in their country next year.
Last year was the 60th anniversary of the contest. None of you would have been able to watch from your TV's because until this year it's never been broadcasted in America. That being said Eurovision has been shaping our cultural identity in the shadows without any of us Americans even realizing it!
Quite possibly the most famous singers to come out of Eurovision are the world renowned band ABBA. They have a Broadway musical based on their songs, have a museum dedicated to them in their homeland Sweden, had a teenage cover band using their songs rise to stardom in the 90s and they got their big break when they won Eurovision in 1974 with the song Waterloo.
Another Eurovision competitor who may ring a bell would be early internet favorite Dschinghis Khan with their viral hit Moskau. The group was the 1979 entry from West German with their entry of the same name Dschinghis Khan. The song only placed 4th that year but 25 years later with a little bit of help from the internet and a relative newcomer on the scene in 2005 (aka YouTube) I somehow had a song by this group on my iPod in high school.
Other recognizable artist are:
As I said before, prior to this year the only way someone in the USA could watch Eurovision would have been through live streaming sites on the web both legal from Eurovision’s website or illegal streams from networks overseas. My first time even coming across the contest was through VH1’s blog Best Day Ever when every year blog contributor Michelle Collins (@michcoll) would write up a review rating the good the bad and the ugly performances. Half the fun of the event is just laughing about what the countries put out. There are all sorts of analysis that make it online made about the routines: what country thought they had a shot, which country entered a joke group cause they can't afford to host the contest next year, whose neighbor gave the other 12 points or dust. The drama is never ending!!!
I was hooked reading these reviews but the kicker was that the contest was already OVER by the time I became aware. Another 365 days before the performances returned. For three years following that first review I just couldn't catch a break. May would come around and Michelle would post her review and I would smack my head going “GOD D*MNIT!!! I MISSED IT AGAIN?!?” Eventually Michelle left Best Day Ever and I had to take measure into my own hands. I started putting memos in my calendar but then I would forget to request off work and have to watch the contest silently on my computer on the sly while reading Twitter comments. It took about 5 years before I learned my lesson and a) had a computer alert b) marked the day as a can't work for my employer c) stirred up enough interest in my friends that we got together to watch… AND I COULDN'T GET A WORKING FEED TO WATCH!!!!
WHY WAS I EUROVISION-CURSED?!?!
I refused to give up and last year I went hard!! It was the 60th anniversary of Eurovision and I was playing to win. My comrade in arms, Megan, and I planned the event of the century. We had food dishes from as many competing countries that we could find. In some cases enlisting my father to pick up snacks while traveling overseas for work. All this advance planning and I still almost had to cancel because my mom was rushed to the hospital the night before and a party was the last thing on my mind. (She ended up being released in time to make it to the party herself)
The winner last year was Sweden with Måns Zelmerlöw song Heroes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sGOwFVUU0I . Sweden have plenty to brag when it comes to Eurovision. I've already mentioned ABBA but with 6 wins they are also the country with the second most winners in the contest. (The country with the most is Ireland and let me tell you I’m a bit shocked since the last couple of years they’ve had a weak couple of entries). With this latest win they got the honor of hosting the event and they pulled out all the stops!! (The host had me in tears with the best Eurovision entry to ever have been performed but unable to be judged explaining the best way to win the Eurovision Song Contest).
But was I still cursed? How would this year's Eurovision attempt go? Can there be a Eurovision party without drama? Turns out no. With all the planning Megan and I put into the contest inviting scores of people to drink and be merry we still wound up hitting snags due to unforeseen and unfortunate problems for our friends.
Big shout out to my friend Lauren who was not into the contest but put up with us and Megan's fiance who had no say in whether he was coming or not 😜
Also my Polish loves who joined us via FaceTime
Eurovision Curse or not, this year the show was full on amazing. The LGBT network Logo got the rights to air the contest for the U.S. and they enlisted two commentators to keep us Americans in the loop and throw some grade A shade at the competitors. In a beautiful and fitting turn of events for me they had chosen Carson Kressley and my Eurovision Fairy Godmother MICHELLE COLLINS!!! I nearly had a moment when I found out an hour before the show was set to begin.
The food was all cooked and set up. The drinks had been poured and the live stream from Logo was being pushed into my TV through an Ethernet cable. We were ready for the battle. It's a long siege for sure. The finale takes about 4 hours to run its full course and with no commercial breaks!! This includes the 24 songs from all the countries who made it through the semi finals, time for judges and the general public to cast their votes, performances and videos from the hosting country to kill time and make political statements. This year they included a really moving interpretive dance piece dedicated to the refugees around the world and the current crisis in Europe.
Now was the big money though: WHO WILL WIN?!? Before the contest we all picked names out of a hat to see who would have the winning team. We each agreed to put 5 dollars in a pot for our bet.
I had these countries:
But, personally, these were my top favs:
To be honest with you it seems like the last two years the real crazy performances get weeded out before the final (see Belarus’ naked wolf guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4jpi0ho1Q0) but some sneak through the cracks (Poland:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj95aWw1T0E who had already become a internet meme before the show was even over, or Germany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-Z7pKopP9s who was wearing every stuff animal she could find in her hair)
It still was better then last year when nearly every song was a ballad... aka snoozefest. You might be wondering why I have Australia up there. No I didn't miss spell Austria. For the 60th anniversary the European Broadcasting Union decided it would include Australia who had been able to view the show but never enter competition. It was so fun they let them compete again… EXCEPT THIS YEAR THEY WERE JUST ABOUT TO WIN THE ENTIRE COMPETITION AND SH*T GOT REAL. The voting normally is set up so the phone votes from the public are combined with the official judge score ranking the countries and awarding the competitors with points from 1 to the most coveted 12 points. This year they separated the scores so with the judges Australia was leading the pack with a solid 100 extra points over the nearest country Ukraine! And then the most nerve-racking 10 minutes of my life began: The Telephone Votes. It was anyone's game! The points given to each country felt like they were being picked for them out of the host’s ass. Dead F***ing last countries (POLAND) suddenly were awarded 211 point catapulting them to 8th place as if by magic.
Down to the last second it looks like Australia is going to win (creating an uproar online because it's all fun and a laugh letting Australia play the game until a non-European country is going to win Eurovision) but then UKRAINE came in second for the people vote with 323 giving it just enough to overpower Australia but who would be Number One for the people?!?!
The answer??? RUSSIA!!! Who just like last year was robbed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVJW9ImpiWc ) because everyone in Europe ain't happy with the shenanigans in Russian politics no matter how awesome the song… Number one for the phone vote but not enough to beat Ukraine which means UKRAINE ARE THE WINNERS!!
(AND SO WAS I!! Except everyone conveniently said we never actually took out the money from our wallets so no one aka Me was coming away with that jackpot >:(
They now have the honor of hosting next year but they have big shoes to fill this year ‘cause Sweden was just an absolutely phenomenal host. Hopefully my Eurovision Curse will be lifted but we won't know until next year! I hope you’ll all join me and give this contest a try!