Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our First Eurovision

A few weeks ago, Matt was flipping TV channels over dinner and, quite by accident, stumbled on Eurovision, an annual European music competition. Participating countries each submit a song and performer(s) to compete in a live, televised, three day event. Rounds 1 and 2 introduce each country's song and audience voting results are combined with scores from a panel of judges determine which countries move on to perform in the finale, during which, top acts perform once again, and live voting and judges scores name an annual winner.

We were immediate sucked in by Eurovision's truly bizarre mix of music, from polished pop ballads to strange "modern" takes on traditional folk music. I have no idea how countries select their performers or the talent level of their pool of contestants, but some of their submissions were... ill advised, to say the least... making for very amusing television.

Adding to the amusement are the local commentators. Eurovision is conducted in English, but each country airs Eurovision live on their local television station with commentators narrating the event in their country's language. We watched Eurovision on BBC1 out of the UK. Yes, the UK speaks English, but they still had their very own commentator talking over hosts and sharing amusingly snarky anecdotes and lots and lots of opinions. Few performers were spared from his scathing reviews. It was hysterical.

Here are a few of our favorite performances from Eurovision 2014.

Winner Conchita Wurst with Rise Like a Pheonix.

It's pretty amazing that popular vote selected Conchita, as well as judges. Her beautiful performance of a James Bond-esque pop ballad was well-deserving. Interestingly (and unsurprisingly) Russia has been quite vocal in their disapproval, suggesting a new Voice of Eurasia "straight" competition.  Russian church leaders have claimed the severe flooding in the Balkans (killing 50 people) as "divine punishment" for Conchita's win. Really, they're just bitter over the embarrassing loss of their own contestants. ABBA called. They want their outfits and dance moves back.

Another excellent performance came from The Netherlands, Calm After the Storm.

Reminds me of one of my faves, The Lone Bellow. Who knew there are country musicians in Europe?

Cover your children's eyes! The next video is Poland's shocking and terribly catchy submission, We are Slavic. For the love of god, do not get this one stuck in your head! It will never leave.

Most hipster-influenced submission: France's Moustache by Twin Twin.

Quirkiest and most likely to be stuck in your head for weeks. Specifically, stuck in MY head for weeks: Latvia's Cake to Bake by a band whose name I cannot pronounce.

And finally, if the most awkward performance of Eurovision 2014 goes to the aging hippies in Georgia. I'm fairly sure the lead singer is the love child of Stevie Nicks and a leprechaun.

"[Three Minutes to Earth] describes the last three minutes of a long walk back to Earth, back home."


Edit to original post:
How could I forget our home country of Switzerland? Sebalter' Hunter Of Stars is a classic example of a Eurovision English language translation fail.

There you have it: the Sleachmour highlights of Eurovision 2014. Want more? All contestant videos can be found at the Eurovision website. Lucky you!

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