Why We’re Covering This: It’s Eurovision, yo! It’s the biggest, gayest television event the world has ever seen — and for the first time, we in the United States can watch it live on TV! You bet we’re covering this!
This weekend is when the battle of all battles happen in Europe, the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest (if you don’t have LOGO TV, you can still watch the live-stream at the Eurovision website). Europeans and gays alike will be watching all the gaudiness, listening to all the questionable vocals and cheering when random countries like Azerbaijan get awarded points. While all of that is effing amazing, here are a few things you should know about Eurovision if you aren’t familiar!
1. What exactly is Eurovision?
Well, it’s only the biggest/largest running international singing contest that countries among the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are allowed to participate in. It was actually set up in order to bring together war-torn Europe — and what better way but through song! Here’s the first ever Eurovision winner:
As you can tell — it’s a little bit square. It wasn’t until 1965 that Eurovision went pop and grew into the contest we know and love today.
2. Who can participate?
Countries must have a national broadcaster (like the BBC in England) that’s active in the EBU — which, despite the name, doesn’t necessarily mean only European countries can participate. For example, Australia, an associate member of the EBU, first joined last year — and came in fifth! — and Morocco has been competing since 1980. That said — not every country in the EBU is required to participate. Some countries omit entries due to a variety of issues such lack of funds — like Luxembourg, whose national broadcaster couldn’t afford it — or focusing on different issues.
Though if you want in, you better be paid up: Romania wanted to send Ovidiu Anton. Unfortunately for them, the EBU expelled Romania from Eurovision, because their national broadcaster, TVR, owes the EBU a whole lot of money — about $16 million. But if you want to hear what could have been, Romania’s entry still made it onto the official Eurovision tie-in album, since they’d been pressed before the EBU made their decision.
3. How long has Eurovision been around?
As previously mentioned, Eurovision started to unify war-torn Europe, and it all started in 1956. That means there have been 60 years of campiness going around. When it first started there were only seven countries that participated but since then at least 52 countries have participated.
4. Is the contest political at all?
Oh, you bet your tits it is. One of the most political moments happened last year when Russia cut out Conchita Wurst‘s opening numbers and would not broadcast her until she decided to stand right next to the Russian seating area. This all happened after Russia military intervened in the Ukraine and the country’s LGBT rights.
Besides — since no country can vote for themselves, Eurovision often plays out with people voting for their nation’s allies.
5. Has anyone famous been involved with Eurovision?
Unless you’ve lived under a rock your whole entire gay existence then you’ve heard at least one ABBA song. They won the competition in 1974 with their hit song “Waterloo.” Another gay icon that has won? Céline-freakin-Dion. She represented Switzerland in 1984 and won with her song “Ne partez pas sans moi.”
6. How campy is it?
Just take a look at Sakis Rouvas who represented Greece in 2009 with the song “This Is Our Night.” Girl, I’m not sure if he sniffed an industrial size thing of poppers but he had way too much energy and worked that armography better than Britney does at her Vegas shows. The only thing that was missing was him ripping his shirt off.
Also, who can forget Svetlana Loboda representing Ukraine with “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl) where she literally did some kind of stripper moves in a spinning wheel then some acrobatic choreography only to top it by playing the fucking drums!!!! These Europeans are WILD.
7. How are the winners decided?
Let’s talk about voting. This year, the competition has actually changed the rules of voting to avoid political alliances of getting in the way. In the new system, the juries of each country will vote first and viewers in all countries combined will vote and the results announced at the end. Before the top 10 places, juries and viewers will give between zero and eight points and later ten to twelve points for the top 10. What this means is that there are twice as many votes than before and it will hopefully create a more dramatic finish as the winning song will revealed at the end rather than seeing votes being allocated throughout the voting process.
8. How are the singers chosen?
You might be asking yourself, “How does a country pick its entry?” and I’m glad to answer that for you. In most countries, there are singing competitions held a few months before the actual competition with a series of semifinals and a voting bonanza. My personal favorite is Melodifestivalen, the Swedish contest, because hello, Sweden has hella good pop music!
Their system is made up of four semifinal rounds, one second chance round and the final round. A select few entries from each semifinal are voted on by telephone vote and move on to the final. Most countries use this similar format for their own entries.
9. Have there been any scandals?
No singing competition is complete without a few scandals to shake things up. There was literally a scandal at the very first contest where Luxembourg could not make it to the location to vote so the Swiss voted for them. You know what happened next? Switzerland fucking won. The votes have never been disclosed from that contest.
In most recent times, during the 2012 contest in Azerbaijan, many were forcedly evicted from their flats that were later to be bulldozed in order to build the singing contest stadium. German spokesperson, Anke Engelke made the following statement about the treatment Azerbaijan’s citizens: “Tonight nobody could vote for their own country. But it is good to be able to vote. And it is good to have a choice. Good luck on your journey, Azerbaijan. Europe is watching you.”
10. How can I watch?
If you didn’t know, you can watch the live final on Saturday on Logo but in case you don’t happen to have that channel, YouTube typically airs a live stream for you to watch anywhere you are and there are bounds to be endless streams that you can find on twitter through the Eurovision hashtag.
We covered a lot about what this contest is about and maybe it’s your first time learning about it or you’re a veteran like myself; however, the beauty of such an international event like this is inspiring during a time full of hate and fear. I think the Europeans may have stumbled upon something in unifying the country during turbulent times and that is, have a gaudy as fuck singing competition and have a gay ol’ time!
Featured image: Second Semi-Final: Jury Final Part 1 © Andres Putting (EBU)