Reasons why we love the Eurovision Song Contest

May 10, 2019 10:53 pm

As the late Terry Wogan once said, “There’s not enough silliness in the world. Eurovision helps to keep it balanced” – and the popular/controversial contest is back on our screens this month, with the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest coming to us from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Having been inaugurated in 1956, we are now in the contest’s 64th edition, making it the longest-running annual international television contest, as well as one of the world’s most watched non-sporting events. But what is it about Eurovision that makes it so popular and why do we love it so much?

The characters

While some countries go down the route of a stereotypically-attractive young male or female singing a pop song or ballad, others go for your archetypal cheesy-pop or indie band. However, there have been some fantastically wacky (or cringy, depending on how you look at it) acts in the past that have made us think “What?”

In 2012, Russia gave Europe true grandma appreciation with their act Buranovskiye Babushki. The sextet were in matching traditional dresses and merged traditional Russian folk music with Europop dance, resulting in a second-place finish.

Back in 2007, the Ukraine entertained us with the wacky comedian and drag queen, Verka Serdyuchka. Another late-noughties act comes from Latvia, who tried to channel their inner-Captain Jack Sparrow with Pirates of the Sea. If their 2008 attempt was to cash in on the popular film franchise, they failed miserably – finishing in 12th.

But sometimes the weird and wonderful win, as we found in 2006 when heavy metal band Lordi won the contest for Finland with Hard Rock Hallelujah. The aesthetics and costumes, while impressive, were pretty unnerving – and it was barely a song, mainly shouting. But it did the trick!

The costumes

We immediately return to 2007 and Verka Serdyuchka who attempted to bring back the metallic trend. The bright silver outfit was completed by an eye-catching star headdress and dark glasses. In 2012, Jedward jumped on the metallic trend with their matching garish outfits that made them look more like the tinman out of The Wizard of Oz. They could only finish 19th. More recently, in 2016, Croatian Nina Kraljic dazzled us with a dress that can only be described as unique, or Disney villain – again, very silver.

Maybe not a weird costume choice, but one that remains an iconic moment in Eurovision history and not just in terms of fashion. Yes, we are talking about Bucks Fizz in 1981. Midway through their performance of Making Your Mind Up, Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston had their midi-skirts pulled off, to reveal mini-skirts underneath. It was enough for the quartet to win the contest.

We wonder if the 2007 act for the United Kingdom, Scooch, were inspired by Slovenian act, Sestre from 2002. The Eastern European trio wore red sequin jackets with matching skirts and shoes, white tights and even red-sequinned headwear. It was very air hostess-esque – but we can’t imagine Virgin catching on to this look any time soon.

The song choices

There’s no doubt when songs are written and performed in the country’s native language that we are going to end up getting lost in translation. But that’s part of the beauty of Eurovision, as some of these examples prove.

Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia, 2012): “The cat is happy, the dog is happy, the cat is happy, the dog is happy, we are in a wonderful mood and very happy, we are in a wonderful mood, oh joy.”

Schmetterlinge (Austria, 1977): “Boom Boom boomerang up in the sky, kangaroo, boogaloo, go out and buy. Ding dong, sing the song, hear the guitar cry. Kojak, hijack, don’t ask why.”

Netta (Israel, 2018): “Hey! My ‘Simon says’ leave me alone. I’m taking my Pikachu home. You’re stupid just like your smart phone.”

Ira Losco (Malta, 2016): “I’ve been painting bitter blue. Always hitting walls.”

Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz (Georgia, 2016): “Ten hours are missing. From memory I vaguely can recall. A pain and pleasure mixing in one bowl”

The sarcasm and wit of the late Terry Wogan (and since 2009, Graham Norton)

Of course, the commentaries of both Terry Wogan (1980-2008) and Graham Norton (2009-present) have added some extra comedy to proceedings. You just need to put either name into a search engine and you’ll find hundreds of articles and videos on both. For example, this article shares their 50 most scathing Eurovision comments and in case you’re yet to read it, we’ve listed a couple of examples below:

Wogan: “It’s supposed to be bad. And the worse it is, the more fun it is.”

Wogan: (on Belgium’s 2003 entry): “They’ve got four languages in Belgium… and they’re singing in an imaginary one. The very essence of Eurovision.”

Norton: “It’s a grey, damp night outside, so there is a slight smell of wet dog in the arena.”

Norton: “This year’s theme is celebrating diversity. Let’s see who they’ve chosen to host. Oh. It’s three white men.”

Think you can predict who will win it this year? Check out Paddy Power (Eurovision betting) for all the latest markets.

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