It’s that time of year again, the competition we *delete as appropriate* love to love – love to hate – hate to love – or are forced into watching (really?).
Once the brainchild of European broadcasters who wanted something entertaining and celebratory to come out of the destruction of the Second World War, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 60th competition in Vienna this year, with Sweden winning for the second time in three years. Singer Måns Zelmerlöw’s visually enhanced Europop song ‘Heroes’ out muscled a powerful Russian ballad to take the top spot, as many European countries defied suggestions of Russian unpopularity due to political tensions.
As usual, the show offered a unique stage full of glitz, colour and glamour where almost anything goes. Even Australia joined in the party this year, finishing a highly credible and somewhat extraordinary fifth place, keeping eyes across Europe blinking as the voting results came through.
The perennial groans continued over the United Kingdom’s recent results, with British duo Electro Velvet gaining a miserable five points. But at least they avoided the stand out ‘nul points’ from 2003. A national embarrassment. It was humourous enough that the European press struggled to understand the Jemini band’s Scouse accents. Fitting though, that their entry that year was called ‘Cry Baby’.
Eurovision’s strongest critics always point the finger at ‘political voting’. In the last few years, the organisers have tried to address this by going back to the system of using national juries made up of musical professionals. They determined half of the votes, while the other half still came from viewers at home. Following this change, there is a general consensus that the best overall songs have come through to win in the last few years. A good example is Sweden’s previous winner the universally popular ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen from 2012.
There’s no reason to think of the European public as callous villains on any Eurovision night. No shambolic British display should endear us to watch with our arms folded, letting the sausage rolls go cold. National popularity and song quality play equal parts in this. Whilst Britain just isn’t that popular on the continent, the Scandinavian countries send their best talent and generally have a monopoly on the latter. It shows. Sweden and Denmark are also the only repeat winners in the last fifteen years. You only have to think back to ABBA’s victory with Waterloo in 1974 and the songwriting tradition carved by Benny and Bjorn, that has been emulated once again this year.
Here are the Top 5 that BurnFM predicted before the final:
Sweden‘s entry this year is sung by Måns Zelmerlöw, a man who has a dog called ‘Messi’, and has played the lead roles in both Romeo and Juliet and Grease. Tell me more?
The song is rooted in classic cheesy Europop vibes, while Måns has few handy visual tricks up his sleeve:
If popularity is a pertaining factor, then it is hard to see Russia winning. Voting in symphony for Conchita Wurst last year was widely seen as a statement against the struggle for LGBT rights in the country, compounded by the military situation in Ukraine. But expect Polina Gagarina to deliver a powerful performance. This is one that grows on you:
The country’s last win was in 2008, with Russian heart throb Dima Bilan who’d finished second the year before. One seemingly more popular nation which could improve on recent near-success is Italy. Having re-joined the competition after a fourteen year absence in 2011, they’ve always taken the contest seriously, and have done well singing in their native tongue. So why discount this opera-inspired classic from former TV talent show trio, Il Volo?
Or perhaps a more left-field choice takes your fancy? Lyrics, musical arrangements, stage directions and more – Belgium‘s Loïc Nottet has put this electro pop concoction together himself. Not bad for a nineteen year old. Depressing, too. ‘Rhythym Inside’ is sharp and edgy, but unhelped by an awkward, slow beginning, is it the sort of song that does well in Eurovision?
Next up, here’s a chance for One Direction fans to get a glimpse of what Louis Tomlinson will look like in ten years time. Stig Rasta is joined by Elina Born on stage saying ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’. The chorus sees a lot of repetition of the phrase ‘why didn’t you wake me up?’. You’d imagine the bookies have Estonia as the country most likely to sleep through the final.
Photos and videos courtesy of offical Eurovision website and YouTube channel.