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Somewhere across the sea, a whole lot of people are in the middle of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, a global phenomenon that most of us in North America are fairly tuned out of. The mother of all televised song contests is one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world. But, somehow not many Canadian families are crowding around the television or computer to watch.
This is totally our loss. Eurovision is way more surprising and way more unusual than any of our North American singing competitions. See: last year’s winner Conchita Wurst.
Plus, the songs are really what is being judged. The singer and the performance help sell the song but it is the country’s song pick that is on display.
To get you on board with Eurovision and help you hold up a convo with the tuned in, here is our guide to this cultural giant.
What’s The Deal:
Eurovision Song Contest is an annual song competition held primarily among European countries that has been held since 1956. It is HUGE! It is one of the longest-running television programs in the world. The recent contests have earned between 100 million and 600 million viewers worldwide. Each country who is part of the European Broadcasting Union submits a song to be performed and as the contest goes on, they cast votes for the other countries’ songs to pick the best tune in the competition. This year is the 60 Years of Eurovision celebration.
The patron saints of disco, ABBA won the contest for Sweden in 1974 for the song “Waterloo”.
Celine Dion won for… Switzerland..? for the French song “Ne partez pas sans moi” in 1988. Look at that tutu!
Papa of Enrique, Julio Iglesias was a competitor but not a winner in 1970, losing to Irish singer Dana.
The latest winner Conchita Wurst has become a role model for outsiders worldwide after winning the contest in 2014 with her song “Rise Like a Phoenix”.
Where Are We Now:
The semi-finals started on May 19 and wrap up today. After the votes have been cast in each semi-final, the countries that received the most votes will proceed to the grand final on Saturday. Since 2000, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have automatically qualified for the final because they are the largest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union as does the host country, this year it is Austria. Plus, the ten highest-placed non-Big Four countries in the “grand final” were guaranteed a place in the following year’s grand final, without having to qualify. Gosh this is confusing.
The Ones To Win:
“Tonight Again” by Australia’s Guy Sebastian
This is the first year that Australia has been invited to compete in Eurovision. Oz is not a part of the EBU but they have been welcomed to the show because of Eurovision‘s huge fan base down under. To make this one off appearance count, they are sending one of their biggest pop stars, Guy Sebastian. Guy won the first Australian Idol in 2003 and is a judge on Australia’s The X-Factor. But, today the rumour mill has been churning with word that his dreams may be dashed by a bout of the flu.
“A Million Voices” by Russia’s Polina Gagarina
Polina the beautiful Russia is expected to do very well and is definitely going to end up in the top-five. Russian contestants have had an interesting past in Eurovision. Last year, every time the Russian singer earned points, the audience booed for various political reasons. Some Eurovision experts predict the same this year. But, Polina’s song is exactly the type of song that does well at Eurovision, dance pop that you can imagine remixed for the club.
“Heroes” by Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw
The Independent spoke with a professional better to find out who has the odds to win Eurovision this year and this is what he had to say about “Heroes”. “It’s a very strong song, well-produced, and very well performed by a good-looking male. It ticks every box.” Soooo… yeah. All of those things. Måns also has a cut out paper doll that you can dress in lederhosen.
The Ones To Watch:
“Beauty Never Lies” by Serbia’s Bojana Stamenov
We are soooo into this performance. After her semi-final success, she shot up to be the sixth favourite in the competition. The Independent posited that she may be this year’s Conchita Wurst because she is an underdog with real spunk. Her song is uplifting with a message of acceptance. Plus, they both have songs written by the same songwriter.
“Don’t Forget” by France’s Lisa Angell
Lisa Angell hasn’t performed yet but this clip from the dress rehearsal made us excited for the performance. It has a post-apocalyptic take on Beyonce’s epic 2011 Billboard performance vibe. Also, this illustrates another reason why Eurovision is superior to your American Idol-ish shows. A 46-year-old woman can win based on her chops.