This Saturday is the Eurovision Song Contest, and we couldn’t be more excited. Logo is broadcasting it again this year, after the success of last year’s American debut. Logo’s broadcast will be hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite Michelle Visage and host extraordinaire Ross Mathews.
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If you’re a long-time Eurovision fan, you can just skip below to the next sections where we talk about Eurovision 2017 — but if you’re a newbie, here’s a quick primer.
What is Eurovision?
Eurovision is the largest and longest-running international singing contest in the world. It was launched in 1956 as a way to bring together war-torn Europe. However, it wasn’t until 1965 that Eurovision went pop and set the formula that’s still used today.
Basically, think of Eurovision as a huge version of American Idol. While most of the countries participating are European, there are a few exceptions: Australia entered Eurovision two years ago, and Morocco’s been in the contest since 1980. In the beginning, there were only seven countries — but since then over 52 different countries have participated.
Winners are determined by a phone poll. People in the participating countries can call a number to vote for their favorites. However, people cannot vote for their home country, so sometimes proxy-wars are fought, with people voting in blocs for their countries’ allies. Americans can’t vote — so we just get to put our feet up and watch it all play out.
A number of famous acts got their start in Eurovision — ABBA and Céline Dion, just to name two. And, besides, even when there aren’t any big names competing, it’s super fun to watch because it’s campy as all get out!
If you want to know more, our article “10 Facts to Make You an Eurovision Know-It-All” has you covered.
Our Favorite Songs for this Year
If you’re a die-hard, chances are you’ve already watched all the official music videos and have your list of favorites all ready:
However, if you’re a casual fan, you may prefer going into the finals blind. It’s your call, but if you want a few spoilers, we’ve include a few acts to keep an eye out for.
Francesco Gabbani — “Occidentali’s Karma” (Italy)
Italy is the bookmakers‘ pick to win Eurovision. The song’s title translates to “Westerners’ Karma” and looks at the West’s desire to look East for easy answers in watered-down philosophies. The song itself is bouncy and catchy, though Gabbani’s raspy voice is a little Smashmouth-esque — which could be a hinderance.
Dihaj — “Skeletons” (Azerbaijan)
Dihaj’s “Skeletons” is a great pop song. It sounds a little like previous Eurovision winners t.A.T.u., most famous for the faux-lesbian anthem “All the Things She Said.” The English-language lyrics are a little wonky: “Bad boy, fuss and fight won’t get you tons, bad boy.” Given that the Eurovision rules say songs must be performed only in the country’s native tongue or English, that’s part of the fun. Besides, how can anyone not love lines like “Have my lungs, my millions / Talk is cheap, don’t speak in tongues, bad boy”?
Artsvik — “Fly with Me” (Armenia)
The modern-sounding “Fly With Me” combines pop with traditional Armenian music in a great goulash. The song may be mellow, but with its opening that brings to mind musicians like Regina Spektor that flows into the EDM-inflected body of the song, we can’t help but love it.
Tamara Gachechiladze – Keep The Faith (Georgia)
Georgia’s pick, Tamara Gachechiladze isn’t likely to rank particularly high in the final contest, but we have to say — we love the pro-Islam lyrics. When Islamophobia is at a high around the world, it’s always nice to hear someone singing for equality. And the song’s pretty good too.
Who’s the Sexiest in 2017?
Eurovision isn’t just about the music and the international togetherness, it’s also about the eye-candy. Each performer is groomed as a sexy, consumer friendly pop-star that’ll appeal to your audio and sexual senses. So, of all this year’s performers, there are five that caught our eye:
Joci Papai of Hungary
Papai’s father ran a big gypsy orchestra when he was a kid and as such, Papai is the first ethnic gypsy to perform at Eurovision (and one of this year’s only bears too, opposite Croatia’s Jacques Houdek). Papai lived a mostly poor life until his big break in 2005 when he released his first album which scored several top-charting hits. His Eurovision song combines electronic beats meet with Hungarian and gypsy styles.
Isaiah of Australia
Isaiah is only 17-years-old, possibly the youngest Eurovision performer this year and the first indigenous male ever to represent Australia. He comes from a family of 11 brothers and sisters from the small Australian town of Moama (population 5,000) and has previously won The X Factor Australia reality singing competition. His video features him looking all sensitive and forlorn while belting out a song about achieving your dreams no matter who you are.
Nathan Trent of Austria
Trent looks like Archie from the Archie comics if Archie was a bearded hipster. He started practicing violin and piano at the age of three, began writing his own songs at 11 and has since become a musical composer. He does “some pretty untypical vocal warm ups” and usually drinks two bottles of sparkling water and meditates for 30 minutes before going on stage. His Eurovision video shows him looking adorable while running in the snowy mountains in a bomber jacket.
Timebelle of Switzerland
Why choose just one sexy performer when you can have three? Timebelle’s beautiful lead singer Miruna Manescu is a trained musician and actress from Romania and her piano player Emanuel Daniel Andriescu and drummer Samuel Forster are both scrummy as well. Manescu reportedly centers herself before each performance — we love a grounded, independent woman — and Emanuel and Samuel hug each other before going on stage — yassss! Hug it out, boys! Their video has all three looking stylish in tuxedos for the boys and a sparkling gown for the lady.
Slavko Kalezic of Montenegro
Kalezic is a composer and dancer who has had 30 stage roles, six film ones and has participated in a version of the singing reality show competition The X Factor. He recently released his debut album,The Dream of Eternity</em> speaks English and Italian, is a vegetarian and says a secret personal mantra before performing. His video for this year’s Eurovision also has him shirtless and swinging his long braid ballroom-style.
Who are the Most WTF in 2017?
One of the most fun parts of Eurovision is when you get an act that’s just a headscratcher. This year isn’t quite as weird as some of the other acts — where have you gone, Dustin the Turkey? — but it wouldn’t be Eurovision without at least one oddball.
Ilinca feat. Alex Florea — “Yodel It!” (Romania)
Despite being a favorite of the bookmakers, we’ll be surprised if Romania’s entry this year gets very far. But you have to give them credit for deciding to combine mediocre rap with yodelling? At least the singers are cute.
Jacques Houdek — “My Friend” (Croatia)
This one’s more interesting than truly odd — but it’s still worth mentioning. In the song Houdek does a duet with himself. One Houdek sings in the traditional pop idiom, while the other Houdek sings with a beautiful operatic baritone. While Romania’s “Yodel It!” is an inexplicable favorite — bookmakers have it coming in sixth place overall — “My Friend” definitely deserves a decent showing.
Past Eurovision Favorites
In amongst the camp and crap, there’ve been some truly amazing Eurovision winners. Here are but a few of of our favorites. (We already mentioned “Waterloo.”)
Svetlana Loboda — “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)” (Ukraine, 2009)
Svetlana Loboda didn’t win in 2009, but you’ve got to hand it to her — this is some of the best staging we’ve seen. And when she sits behind the drumkit it’s just awesome.
Sébastien Tellier — “Divine” (France, 2008)
As mentioned — the rules say that songs must be performed in English or in the native language. Tellier decided to take the piss with an exquisite pop song with (deliberately) gibberish English lyrics.
Måns Zelmerlöw — “Heroes” (Sweden, 2015)
No wonder this song won Eurovision in 2015. A beautiful pop song sung by a dreamboat? It was a shoo-in. And, of course, we loved it when he came back last year as a host and performer in “How to Win Eurovision.”