I also discovered Eurovision.
I was previously unaware of the fact that every year, all the countries in the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) participate in an international song contest whereby each country sends a representative to perform an original song to compete for the title of Eurovision champion.
Eurovision began in 1956 and has become one of the longest-running, and most watched programs in the world (not including sporting events or pornographic materials). Ever heard of ABBA, Céline Dion, or Julio Iglesias?
Well guess what, they're all former Eurovision winners (for Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain, respectively.
Many of the people I met around Europe discounted Eurovision as something that nobody really cares about and that has become a joke in recent years. However, it was obvious that indulging in the watching of Europe's biggest song contest was a guilty pleasure that many people lacked the will to abstain from (I heard the words “Eurovision viewing party” quite frequently).
Despite people's refusal to acknowledge their closeted love for the Eurovision song contest, word on the street is that it is huge in Eastern Europe, and that “everyone up in Scandinavia really likes it too”.
This year, Austria's Conchita Wurst (the bearded lady) took home the victory from Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen (the winning country hosts the contest the following year). Take a look at her winning performance/song:
How she beat the musical masterpiece that was Greece's “Rise Up”, I will never know (I mean, c'mon, they had a trampoline!).
Contestants can sing in any language they wish, but most of the songs involved the repetition of some generic and unimaginative lyrics on a backdrop of badly choreographed dancing (and most are sung in English).
Voting for a winner is calculated by combining the viewing audience vote with an “expert panel” vote from each country (and no, you are not allowed to vote for your own country (or at least for whatever country you happen to be in when you vote)).
Here is a quick explanation of the voting process:
At the end of the show the hosts video conference with a representative from each country to have that country's voting results read aloud. This year, every country read their results in English except for France (thanks for playing along, France), but they may have just been upset since they placed last with only two total points).
Wondering which country has been most successful in the history of Eurovision? It's Ireland with seven victories (including a three-peat in the nineties).
Each country also has to create a “postcard” for their flag (at least they did this year). I think my favorite came from Finland:
Already excited for next year's contest?
Check out the following videos of this legendary contest of vocal mediocrity to satiate your thirst: