From Undoing My Sad To Rising Like A Phoenix: Musings From This Year’s Eurovision Song Contest

Before going on ahead to describe the competition, I want to say that while there were three hosts this year they just weren’t Petra! I only liked Nikolaj because he was hot and the Borgen guy was a bore (no pun intended)! Can someone please tell me who designed that fungi top the female hostess was wearing in the second semi so I can slap them? Also what the fuck was with their interval song? What did China have to do with anything? Can somebody please tell me?

Can I also mention that the parody in the second semi nearly made me want to renounce my Australian citizenship?

Moving on!

Figuring out the favourite of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was tricky. And that’s a good thing!

The contest gradually changes a little bit every year ever since it began in 1956. In more recent years we now have immediate access to the contest’s songs through YouTube and various social networks.  It’s all well and good for networking and speculating performances. It’s especially great for those betting! However, it also allows people to decide who the winner is long before the contest has even started – leaving very little to be surprised with by the time the voting happens.

Last year it was clear that Emmelie de Forrest was going to win it for Denmark and Loreen for Sweden before that. The only slight exception was Azerbaijan with their sleepy song in 2011 which was a bit of a surprise. In saying that, they had consistently been in the top 10 finalists since their debut into the competition in 2008, so perhaps not. I could unpack this further but I’m afraid it will turn into a thesis.

This year was too hard to pick a favourite because of most of the songs were of a mediocre quality. Even the better songs did not seem strong enough to be declared the winner.The lack of dance numbers and hand-swayers was also a huge minus.

For a long time this year, it looked like Armenia could have been in the lead with their unconventional mid-tempo and cross-genre song. It was clear however that the EBU was not keen on an Armenian win. Placing him first in the running order of the first semi-final was a strong indication of that. For those who aren’t aware, most countries that perform first don’t tend to do well. And result is worse when they perform second! Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city is small and has very few hotels for tourism, the press and other delegates. From the EBU’s perspective, it was probably not the ideal place to hold the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest. The artist’s homophobic remarks towards the Austrian contender didn’t help either.  Russia loved him though!

But in the end, his performance on the night of the final left a lot to be desired. It simply wasn’t going to be enough to win.

So who else could have taken the contest home?

I was incredibly pissed off that Latvia’s “Cake to Bake” didn’t qualify for the final. While I thought the Swiss entry was amazing, I couldn’t help but think that he only really got through because half a continent of women wanted to sit on his face (including me of course). I wasn’t keen on Sweden’s “Undo My Sad” coming third—though I have been singing it in the shower since I first watched it on Melodifestivalen (the Swedish pre-selection for Eurovision) in February. I loathed the idea of another Azerbaijani victory. It was the same dramatic ballad formula they perform every year and I was tired of it. Ukraine would have been a favourite if they kept the nonsense lyrics (Tick Tock Tricky tricky tock tock tock). I did like what was inside that “manster wheel” very much but, let’s face it, that dress would have looked better on me! The “Dutch meets Nashville” attempt from The Netherlands nearly damn well anesthetised me. I started to panic seeing that over-actor from Hungary doing well in the leader board. Norway was just not charismatic at all. I had to gag at Denmark’s love banner and I can’t say I was a fan of the poor man’s Bruno Mars either. I do have to say Poland was the breast performance ever! It was a real tit but it was not a winner.

 

Also, while Russia’s song was a shocker, booing at a pair of 17 year old girls is not the way to get back at Putin. I only booed because I thought the song was less “Shine” and more “Shite”.

You probably know by now the eventual winner of the competition was Austria’s Conchita Wurst.

I had fallen in love with Ms Wurst since the announcement was made back in September. But I feared that she would be too polarising to win (see “hotbed of sodomy” comment from disgruntled Belarussians http://wiwibloggs.com/2013/10/20/will-belarus-remove-conchita-wursts-performance-eurovision-broadcast/32965/). Not to mention that Austria has not won since 1966 and its historical support strength has been very poor.

But this was not the first, nor will it be the last time that a gender fluid performance has done well in Eurovision.

A notable example is Israel’s Dana International from 1998. She was the first transwoman to win the contest despite attempts from Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views to void her participation.

The participation of Ukrainian drag character Verka Seduchka in 2007 was also not without controversy. Some Ukrainians and even members of the Ukrainian Parliament expressed their disapproval with Serduchka’s participation in the contest, because they saw it as “grotesque and vulgar” (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6516927.stm). The song would go on to be awarded 2nd place in 2007 and has been dubbed “the best song to never win” (see http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/may/10/six-to-watch-eurovision-song-contest).

Ms Wurst was, to me, the true epitome of a diva. Beautiful, talented, and could grow a beard that would put most of the male ANU population to shame. Her presence on stage was so captivating that she did just fine on her own. Backing dancers would have detracted from the performance. The song itself was a mixture of Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand – music I’m quite fond of. People have made Bond-theme comparisons and I can definitely understand where they’re coming from.

I don’t agree that she only won because “viewers wanted to make a point”. I think Conchita Wurst wanted to be herself and she didn’t want to be pitied. She had a song to sing and she sung it exquisitely.

It is okay if you did not like the song or how the performer handled it. You probably might say there were better songs and maybe there were (considering this line-up, I’d say doubtful). Your opinions are valid and I hope considering the enlightened population at ANU, I’m probably preaching to the choir.  Though considering the backlash over the past couple of days, I do want to make the point that the hate (with or without Ms Wurst) goes against the values of Eurovision — to bring nations and people together regardless of their background.

What are your thoughts on this year?

Bring on Vienna 2015, I say!