EUROVISION 2014: Austria Scores a Surprise Win with Conchita Wurst

To all the Americans out there: Eurovision was this week, held in Copenhagan (let it be known I'm actually a little bit Danish so yay for ethic pride?). While the selection of songs wasn't as dazzling as last year (it should be said -- so many ballads, ain't nobody got time for that!), there were some really stellar tunes to be heard and some exciting introductions to performers from around the world. For those of you who missed the competition, I've handily provided this Cliff Notes version to catch you up on what you missed:

THE FINALISTS:
The overall standing was like this: Ukraine, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Spain, placed sixth through tenth respectively. The Ukraine/Russia placement was particularly interesting if you follow politics at all, as was the overall winner (but we'll get to her in a second). I have no qualms telling you that I only really enjoyed two of these jams -- Ukraine's offering in Mariya Yaremchuk's dancey "Tick-Tok" (no, not a Ke$ha cover) and (unsurprisingly) Denmark's "Cliche Love Song" by Basim, which was downright Bruno Mars-esque.

Mariya was a finalist on the Ukrainan version of "The Voice" (titled "Holos Krayiny" or "Voice of the Country") in 2012 and had also participated in Eurovision that year. Meanwhile Basim was a finalist on the Danish version of "The X Factor" in 2008. He released a handful of albums since then and participated in the Danish "Dancing With The Stars" in 2009. In the top five, finishing fifth was Hungary with Andras Kallay-Saunders with "Running". Armenia placed fourth with Aram MP3's "Not Alone". 

THE RUNNERS UP:
Then we have a truly remarkable Top three with three tunes and identities that couldn't be more different. Taking Bronze, everyone's favorite popstars Sweden entered Sanna Nielson, a familiar face for decades since beginning her career as a child in the early 90's. She's a popular act at Melodifestavalen (a Swedish pre-cursor to Eurovision), appearing several times over the past decade and finally taking home top prize with her single "Undo".


In second place was my overall favorite song from the competition this year: The Common Linnets and their single "Calm After The Storm", representing The Netherlands. You can think of them as a Dutch version of The Civil Wars -- a male/female duo with an arresting, bluegrass-inspired sound. Its the antithesis of what I was expecting, both from The Netherlands and from Eurovision on the whole. The two formed specifically for Eurovision and there is no word on whether they will continue on together or not (although they have been close friends for a long time prior to the competition).


THE WINNER:
This year's overall winner truly stunned the world. Conchita Wurst, born Thomas Neuwirth, representing Austria, did the entire LGBT community a solid and pulled out a shocking and controversial win with her song, "Rise Like A Phoenix" (appropriate). Wurst is a drag performer whose path isn't altogether that different than that of Adore Delano (currently a finalist on "RuPaul's Drag Race" here in the States who got her start on "American Idol", as Danny Noriega), in the public eye since 2011 with a message of tolerance and respecting people's differences.

Her image is instantly recognizable, choosing to perform in full makeup and facial hair. Basically, she brings a whole new meaning to the term "Bearded Lady" -- and it inevitably led to intense scrutiny during the competition. So much so that, while I was rooting for her, I wasn't overwhelmed by her choice of song (although it certainly shows off her pipes) and never would have expected her win to happen! Yet, win she did and by a rather large margin over my beloved Common Linnets. 


THE BEST OF THE REST:
In addition to these mentions, I was also quite partial to a few others fun tunes that should at the very least be blips on your radar:

Belarusian singer Teo and his song "Cheesecake" (yes, you read right) deserve mentioning simply because there is a line in the song where he compares himself to Patrick Swayze and the woman he's singing about to Jennifer Grey a la Dirty Dancing. The chorus sings "I'm tired of being just with cheesecake." So we're going for an American Pie kind of thing, huh? So many jokes. So many.

Tinkara Kovac represented Slovenia with her dancey number "Round and Round". She's an old hat at Eurovision and has repped for her country on four other occasions. Not only did she sing, she also played some wicked flute. Nice.

France came in dead last and this has never happened to them before so you know they're feeling salty about this. They literally only recieved two points. Two. That's it. While I'd like to make some kind of stuffy French joke here, I'm kind of shocked they did so poorly as their entry song, TWIN TWIN's "Moustache" (or as they say in France, "moose-tesh") was comical and ridiculous and super catchy, complete with a synthy warble a la Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)" or Nicola Roberts' "Beat of My Drum". TWIN TWIN looks to be a bit like a French answer to LMFAO in a trio of cartoony dudes. And here I was thinking France had actually lightened up! Look where it got them! Oh well, it's still a fun song.


Polish heavyweight producer Donatan and vocalist Cleo (yet another "The X Factor" alum, this time from the Polish version -- I guess she's a bit like the Polish Cher Lloyd) brought the nationalistic chanty anthem "My Slowanie" to the competition, full to capacity with camp (complete with Polish dancers washing clothes suggestively on the side of the stage with some serious cleavage) in a risque bit of satire that obviously didn't quite connect with the viewers. The song itself was ridiculously catchy in that tongue-in-cheek kind of way. Points to Cleo & Poland for getting the joke about the Polish barmaids. A+.

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