Eurovision proves Europeans are weird, kitschy, and possibly crazy
The glitter. The lights. The key changes. If you spoke to a European over the weekend or were in Europe for the first time, you likely heard about a little singing competition called Eurovision. No?
What if we told you this is the competition that catapulted your mom's favorite Swedish pop group, ABBA, to fame in 1974? And that at 125 million viewers, it averages more eyeballs than the Super Bowl?
Alright. Well here's what you need to know: Eurovision is an absurd contest that pits European countries against one another in the form of song. The music is often terrible. The performers often worse. And the national pride -- or shame -- it elicits borders on hilarious. Think "American Idol" mixed with the World Cup, with a dash of "The Room".
Eurovision is like "The Voice" on steroids. Or maybe uppers. Who knows. But the shaky vocals, preposterous performances and outrageous outfits make this an international event of note. Really, Europeans get into it. And each year spawns some weird cultural meme. Without Eurovision, the world would never know Epic Sax Guy. And Riverdance never would have become a (unfortunate) household name.
As with most years, 2014's iteration had its fair share of winners and losers. Here are a few highlights and lowlights from Saturday's grand finale in Copenhagen.
France, TWIN TWIN -- Moustache
In the woefully misguided belief that 2014 is the year of the moustache, the French entered with this bizarre ode to lip fuzz. That bears repeating: The French thought a song about moustaches was a good idea.
By the end of the night, TWIN TWIN, ironically, scored the fewest points, with a mere deux points for their efforts. Perhaps it's because only one of the performers actually had a moustache.
Greece, Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd -- Rise Up
For its entry this year, Greece went with rappers Freaky Fortune and RiskyKidd (two Ds still don't make that pseudonym OK), aka three guys in bad tailoring who rap into the camera with wobbly voices, and fail to pump up the audience.
Save a really cool, slow motion trampoline flip (no doubt perfected after years of watching gyros being made) this performance was a bit of a mess. Of course, with Eurovision -- as with most singing competitions -- it's hardly ever about the singing.
Italy, Emma -- La Mia Città
Though this song was admittedly another mess, the performance was cute enough with the Roman theme (though the singer's toga looked more Grecian), and likely had the best outfit of the night.
And it really, aside from the costume the song was a throwback, too, as Emma performed in Italian. Few entries didn't perform in English, as many countries have ditched their national tongue to appeal to the competition's wider audience over the years.
Iceland, Pollapönk -- No Prejudice
Iceland's entry saw these guys, clad in colorful, ill-fitting suits, perform a repetitive, annoying song. It might be excusable if they were children's entertainers, but alas they are not. There's plenty of prejudice to go against bad music and bad attire.
Clearly, the nation's talent peaked with Bjork.
Poland, Donatan & Cleo -- We Are Slavic
Sex sells at Eurovision. And pretty much everywhere else, for that matter. But this cheeky song, quite literally, caused a stir at this year's contest. Cue sexily dressed Polish women washing clothes in buckets on the side of the stage, preening to the camera, cleavage first. Somehow, it only garnered 62 points. Someone must have forgotten the rinse cycle.
Austria, Conchita Wurst -- Rise Like a Phoenix
Without a doubt the performance of the night -- and the winning entry -- came from Europe's favorite drag queen, Conchita Wurst, performing "Rise Like a Phoenix", a power ballad that sounds more like a musical theater song, with what looked like a meteor shower raining down behind her.
And though her entry in the show was much contested, with petitions demanding the gender-bending performer's exclusion from the line-up, Wurst showed up her critics and made history as Eurovision's first reigning drag queen with 290 points, miles ahead of the competition.
Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. This is where she spent her Saturday watching Eurovision. Follow her to living her dream of representing the United Kingdom in 2015 on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.