Your Eurovision 2012 Preview Spectacular!

Oskars Bartulis left his pawprint on our Eurovision-inspired shirt. (photo by LVHokejs)

Thank you, Travis, for actually letting me do this. Dreams do come true.

As you will know if you've been around here long enough, Broad Street Hockey has a special place in it's heart for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ever since jumping on the Latvian bandwagon for the 2010 Olympics and adopting their 2008 Eurovision entry "Wolves of the Sea" as our anthem, Broad Street and Eurovision have gone together like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Nothing will ever tear us apart, so don't bother trying.

Confused? Once you watch this aforementioned slice of Eurovision bliss, you'll understand (or you'll be far, far more confused).

If that was Eurovision in 2008, just imagine what 2012 has in store! Actually, don't imagine, just keep reading and I'll show you.

What is Eurovision, you still might ask? Like the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eurovision is an annual rite of spring, a competition for greatness that brings people together across a continent. Unlike the Stanley Cup, Eurovision has only existed since 1956, which still makes it one of the oldest television shows in the world.

Unlike the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is a competition in which almost every European country submits a song to compete for votes from the other countries. Along with points from a jury panel in each country, viewers call into vote for whichever country they want (though they are not allowed to vote for the country they are calling from), and the top ten vote getting nations for each country are then awarded 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points. The voting winds up being fairly predictable once you account for preferences in voting toward neighbors or countries with large immigrant populations from a given country. The whole system sort of works out live like this:

The winning nation of Eurovision gets not only glory, but also the right to host the next year's contest. Last year the contest was won by this dull ballad from Azerbaijan, which means that the 2012 contest will be in their capital city of Baku.

Baku as host is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the longstanding Azerbaijan-Armenia tension that forced Armenia to withdraw from this year's contest over fears for their safety.

Like the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eurovision is a cutthroat, winner-take-all world. Several entrants later became hugely successful (such as ABBA and Celine Dion), while most are never heard from again. What will the future hold for the 2012 field?

Here's a look at seven of this year's 42 entries:

LATVIA

Let's start with our favorite country, because why not? Despite a fairly catchy melody, the Latvians aren't especially likely to win this year, because it's lyrics make absolutely no sense in a very meta way, and the backup dancing is likely to be just as bad live as it was in this video. Will we be rooting for them all the same? Of course we will.

IRELAND

One of the biggest Latvian populations outside Latvia is in Ireland, and so the Irish points reliably head in Latvia's direction. The Irish were the only country to give it's top points to Wolves of the Sea, so we think quite highly of them as a people. In a rare move, Ireland is sending the same performers two years in a row, picking a pair of irrepressible twins named John and Edward Grimes (aka Jedward) for the second straight year. Their 2011 song was far better. So was their bizarre performance of Oops, I Did It Again as contestants on British X-Factor. But they seem to really like Eurovision, so we really like them.

SWEDEN

In no small part due to the infusion of Swedish defensemen on the Flyers this year, morale in Sweden has never been higher. Their song Euphoria performed by Loreen is the betting favorite to win Eurovision 2012. It's definitely out of the Eurovision mold and wouldn't be out of place on actual modern radio, so it should be a force to be reckoned with in Baku.

NORWAY

Sweden's rival Norway is a perennial contender, and should be a lock for the top 10 this year. Their song is decidedly more formulaic, and the guy looks like a knockoff of the guy who got third for Sweden last year, but lack of originality is rarely a problem in Eurovision.

UNITED KINGDOM

Far older than the young buck from Norway is the United Kingdom's Englebert Humperdinck, who you may not have heard of but your parents almost certainly have. He drew the first spot in the running order of the final which is historically a huge disadvantage, but it's a nice song and old people like Eurovision. The Eurovision cliche key change is decidedly unnecessary, but it's nice to see Englebert trying so earnestly to fit in.

RUSSIA

Englebert will be 76 when Eurovision rolls around in late May, but he's a toddler compared to the combined age of the sixpack of babushkas Russia is sending. Old people are adorable and their adorability goes up exponentially if they're in matching outfits. Don't be shocked to see this in the top five or even winning.

SAN MARINO

What is probably the worst song in the 2012 contest is sent by the smallest country in the competition, tiny San Marino of less than 40,000 people. The original version used the word "Facebook" so much that the Contest disqualified it for being an advertisement for the product. Trainwrecks are often the most fun Eurovision entries live, so San Marino will be one to watch in Baku all the same. That does it for this mini-preview of Eurovision 2012. If the Flyers wrap up the second round quickly there will be more.
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