It's that magical time of year again, you guys! Eurovision! The Flyers may have lost in the first round of the playoffs, but it's totally okay because Eurovision came early this year! Everything is okay now!
With lots of countries (Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Serbia) pulling out for financial reasons, Eurovision 2014 was down to its smallest number of entrants (37) since 2004. But proving that size doesn't matter or something, this year's show has actually been one of the best in years. The host country of Denmark invented Lego, and they've built something pretty cool this year. It's not necessarily the best year in terms of being top-heavy, but there's tremendous depth that made it harder than usual to narrow down what to share this time.
Here we go, in order of appearance in Saturday's final, which you can stream on Saturday at 3 pm EST here.
The final gets off to a running start on a human hamster wheel! I'm not sure what more humanity could have hoped for. Ukraine is obviously a huge sentimental favorite in Europe nowadays because they're getting F'd in the A by Russia, and it will be interesting to see how that translates to votes.
Armenia was the betting favorite going into the semifinals, but their song doesn't have much going for it besides being loud and flashy and loud. Which are great qualities in Eurovision, don't get me wrong, but it's not the most captivating thing to watch. Also going this early in the show is pretty much a death knell for hopes of winning--no song in single-digit range of the running order has won since 2003.
BOOBS. After sitting a couple years out to recuperate from the financial burden of co-hosting the Euro soccer, Poland's song this year seems to want to restimulate their economy through advertising sex tourism. Polish people have assured me that the song is actually meant to be ironic and make fun of the stereotype that Polish women are slutty or something (is that a thing?) but I have to say that I've never once in my life encountered ironic cleavage, nor a Eurovision entry that wasn't meant to be taken completely literally. Embrace your boobs, Poland. Europe probably will.
Here's the even less subtle preview video, which has racked up over 42 million views on YouTube already. Because, again, boobs.
This may just be the most Eurovision thing ever to Eurovision. Bearded lady extraordinaire Conchita Wurst (whose dad makes a sausage in her honor by the same name, no joke) was clearly the fan favorite in the semifinals, and while easily dismissable she's got to be the most polished bearded lady performer ever. This song has both gimmicky memorability and legitimately showcased singing, and we could wind up in Vienna next year, quite possibly.
2012 champion Sweden is the current betting favorite with this ballad by Melodifestivalen (Swedish pre-selection) veteran Sanna Nielsen. Swedes speak better English than anybody in Europe (British and Irish people included), and yet there's an intentional decision to blaspheme grammar with the line "undo my sad" that I can't help but respect. Wouldn't be the most exciting winner, and I'm not sure I see this winning, but it's a safe pick.
It's clearly a big year for facial hair at Eurovision. While this song might seem like a complete joke, it's actually also supposed to be some sort of commentary on rampant consumerism and materialism in today's world. It also makes me want to have a mustache. This will probably flop, but it's my favorite track of the year.
Russia is not the world's most popular country nowadays, if you haven't heard. Thoroughly unphased, they have pulled out all sorts of stops this year, despite the odds of Russia winning over the European voting public being at an all-time low. The Tolmachevy twins are the first Junior Eurovision champions to enter the senior show, and they have brought some pretty spectacular hairography and a seesaw and clear rods that I don't quite understand the point of. Some have said the lyrics are about invading Ukraine or something, and I'm not going to argue with Eurovision conspiracy theories ever, so let's go with that.
The hosts bring a shockingly derivative knockoff of Bruno Mars, who himself is essentially only around to mimic the styles of others. It's a moebius strip of unoriginality that makes my head hurt.
24. The Netherlands
If the Eurovision voting public suddenly decides to reward quiet musical competency over entertainment value (which would be a first), the Dutch, who ended an eight-year final drought last year, could suddenly be winners. Weirder things have happened.
25. San Marino
There's nothing remotely remarkable about this song or performance itself, and it's a pretty safe bet for last place. It is, however, remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, the composer Ralph Siegel (who is on stage playing piano), is the most prolific Eurovision competitor ever. This is the 40th anniversary of his first entry into the show in 1974, and his 21st entry overall (he won once, in 1982). But more excitingly, this is San Marino's first time in the final, on their fourth attempt (Montenegro is also a first-time finalist). San Marino has a population of only 31,000, and still their singer Valentina Monetta (who is representing them for a third straight year) claims not to be famous in her home country. She's doing something very wrong.
26. United Kingdom
The British haven't won since 1997 and while they act like they're above Eurovision they secretly want to win, desperately. This song is kind of nonsensical and intentionally made for the contest in a way that usually backfires, but she's a good singer and going last is a huge advantage.
BONUS: RIP, Latvia
For the sixth straight year, our dear Latvians have failed to reach the Eurovision final, not making it since they sent this buccaneering masterpiece. This latest attempt was one of their funnest in recent memory, but Europe wasn't in the mood for cake, sadly. Assholes.
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That's it. Enjoy, folks. You're awesome and you deserve Eurovision.