Hypnotically Tacky, Epically Camp, It's the Eurovision Song Contest!

5.9.2014

By Aaron Hicklin

The Guardian calls it "Gay Christmas," and rightly so. Tomorrow is date night for world's kitschiest music fest.

Ahhh, Europe: medieval castles, warm beer, camembert, Socialism, Silvio Berlusconi, and the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, it is that time of year again, when Europeans put on the show to end all shows-if this was 1971, and lurid make-up and big hair was still in style. This peculiar festival, which began in 1956 as one of many post-war efforts to unify Europe (the EEC, forerunner of the European Union was launched a year later) is now a gargantuan cheese fest that encompasses over 25 countries spanning the continent, plus every genre of music imaginable from Scandinavian death metal to Balkan power ballads. Famously, it was the Eurovision Song Contest that gave birth to Abba, as well as Israel's winning 1998 entry, "Diva", by the transgender musician, Dana International. 

This year much attention is focussed on Austria's Conchita Wurst, a drag queen with a full-on beard. Amazingly, given how American networks fight over rights to screen Miss World and Miss Universe contests, this epic display in camp has never been picked up by an American broadcaster, in spite of huge ratings in the rest of the world (audience figures range from 100 to 600 million in any given year). So, tomorrow night, as our gay brethren in Europe gather around their television sets to variously poke fun at, and celebrate, the contestants, we'll have to make do with the poor live stream on the official Eurovision website, or find one of the rare bars that will stream the extravaganza. The fun starts at 3pm ET/12 noon PT. For those who need a primer, here are 10 Great Musical Moments in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest (and some truly, astonishingly bad):

1: Abba, "Waterloo" (Sweden, 1974)

2: Verka Serduchka, "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" (Ukraine, 2007)

3: Lordi, "Hard Rock Hallelujah" (Finland, 2006)

4: Telex, "Euro Vision" (Belgium, 1980)

5: Dschinghis Khan, "Dschinghis Khan" (Germany, 1979)

6: Dana International, "Diva" (Israel, 1998)

7: Buranovskiye Babushki, "Party for Everyone" (Russia, 2012)

8: Kresiraadio, "Leto Svet" (Estonia 1969)

9: Celine Dion, "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" (Switzerland, 1988)

10: Fredi & Friends, "Pump Pump" (Finland, 1976)

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