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It is HERE! The annual spectacle of bad music and forced international relations, also known as the Eurovision Song Contest is THIS WEEKEND. The House of Sweden viewing party is sold out (this year’s edition IS in Malmo, after all), but fret-not, there is a simulcast, much like every year, and this is also a great opportunity for me to REVISIT the highlights of the years past.

Boy, do I love editorial power!
(and bad music features I am overqualified and overenthused to write)

We’re going to kick off with the last Serbian song to win this contest:
Marija Serifovic with a song called “Molitva” (as in “Prayer”) so, for all intents, balloon dancing, jazzy camera work and vaguely butch Liza Minelli references/comments look no further than her:

Now that you’ve taken that in, a mini history lesson: for those of you (unfortunately) uninitiated Eurovision song contest, the mother of all (embarassing yet glorious) song contests ever happens once a year, and every country in Europe (duh) no matter how big or small (hello Lichtenstein! totally forgot about you San Marino! ) sends a representative out to a week somewhere, where ever it is that the last season’s song winner came from into a land of sequins, personal fans attached to microphones and cheesy promo video clips intended to promote the country’s tourism industry (Malta in particular always does a super jazzy job with theirs).

Going on since 1956 and seeming indestructible (after nuclear war, Cher will be eating twinkies with the roaches and watching the Eurovision song contest), it is the music competition equivalent of beauty pageants and man oh man, do we love it.

No matter what people say (and they WILL say a lot of things), if you are from Europe (raise your hand now, with pride), YOU KNOW THAT EVERYONE YOU KNOW WEIRDLY CARES how high you score during all-important-all-Europe-tv-station-call in of scores. And while no one aside from small children and (very) old people finds the music at all enticing, I can probably sing a disproportionate amount of winning songs from the last two decades by heart.

Like this one:

Or this one:


Got All that?

Ok, but to get you in the mood, I have assembled a collage of some of the most memorable Eurovision songs and winners (OF ALL TIME! or at least, my lifetime) which showcases all the gimmicks countries employ in (not at all desperate) hopes of scoring 12 instead of 2 points from the international judging panel.

Keep your eyes out for: bastardization of English, elaborate costumes, horrible dance routines, transvestites and more glitter than a Mariah Carey movie.

Actual artistic standards very rarely come into play.
Bad taste is a present in itself.

Of course, THE single most famous contestant (and winner) of all time is ABBA with “Waterloo” in 1974.
Bonus: The conductor is dressed as Napoleon!
Oh yeah.
The bar just got set THAT high for years to come.
Before they were famous:

closely followed by a (very feathered AND CANADIAN!!!!!!!) Celine Dion in 1988 showing a penchant even then for white suits, and a mad, power hungry glint in her eye.

England and Ireland always did pretty well (though not for obvious reasons). Ever since some dude named Johnny Logan won 30 years a go, he has become an icon of the Eurovision song writing process penning what seems like, a dozen of Great Britain’s entries over the years including this winner:

Katrina and The Waves “Love Shine a Light”

though my British perennial favorite remains
Gina G with “Just a little bit” (or “Oooooh, aaaaah” as we called it when I was a teenager) whose short, disco ball of a dress still remains an ongoing source of inspiration for me and my going out attire.

On a more serious, yet politically optimistic note in 1990
Toto Cutugno won for Italy with “Insieme” and its booming “Unite, Unite Europe” chorus echoing the soon-to-happen European (and Euro) world domination.

though the contest quickly bounced back to its roots with Dana International, a tall, dark and beautiful transgender singer from Israel winning with the, very appropriately titled, “DIVA”.
“Regular” women never stood a chance.

Until Elena Paparizou showed up in early 2000s and won Greece the title (Greece never wins, btw, since the language is way too alienating to most) with “Lover Undercover”, one of the most ridiculous (“You’re malicious, AND delicious…”) and pointless songs ever to rule every dance floor in Central Europe for a prolonged amount of time. Plus, outfits that could make Britney blush.

And then, the year before last, the pinnacle cruised in: Lordi with “Hard Rock Halleluyah” which essentially amounts to GWAR entering the Eurovision song contest, AND WINNING.
Which essentially amounts to your grandmother admitting to liking GWAR.
Which essentially amounts to the world (or at least Europe) being soooooo out of balance that there is no hope for it.

and lets not forget the miracle that was Sebastien Tellier getting weird for France in 2008 with “DIVINE”, bearded lady back up singers and all.

God, I love that song.

and finally, while I am tempted to make you listen to some more Serbian music, or just close out with Scandinavian monster metal, I will throw in Ukraine’s winner from 2007 as a shout out to Maria for reminding me of this happening every year, and also because
Verka Serduchka with “Dancing Lasha Tumba” pretty much epitomizes everything this event is all about:

An Eastern European transvestite, wearing a glitter fez, dancing and SINGING about dancing.
Boy George never even had it this good.

(the next year after this gem of an entry, Ukraine caved and is sending a “half naked teenager singing in English” which is how you spell “conformity” in European. Shame on them.)

and here is who won last year, landing Sweden the right to host the contest.
and if this Ukraine clip for 2013 is anything to go by, we’re in for yet another treat:
I am not even going to go into the 43 entries for this year but mosey on over to http://www.eurovision.tv/page/home and get your download and video stream on.
Scarring AND life affirming simultaneously.