Before I dive into my Eurovision 2015 experience, here’s an overview of this mind-blowing annual event for the newbs:
Eurovision is an international song competition that’s the most watched non-sports event in the world. Recently celebrating its 60th anniversary, it’s one of the longest-running annual television broadcasts. Think: American Idol meets the World Cup, where every country performs a song with more pageantry than you can possibly imagine. Songs must be original, the performance must be shorter than 3 minutes, and no more than 6 people are allowed on stage. Past years have included rapping astronauts from Montenegro, techno vampires from Romania, and my favorite twin brother Irish duo named Jedward. It’s all for ultimate European glory because the winner gets to host the next year’s competition. We can thank Eurovision for introducing us to artists like ABBA and Celine Dion.
Eurovision 2015 was held in Vienna, thanks to last year’s moving performance by Conchita Wurst, who hosted the green room this year. I got insider info from my Austrian friend Elaine, who told me Vienna turned into a Eurovision haven for the month, complete with a Eurovillage and Euroclub. All public transit announcement featured Conchita’s voice, and the crosswalk signs were modified to feature same-sex couples. They even attached speakers playing old Eurovision music to the gutters. All in the spirit of Eurovision!
The final competition aired on Saturday May 23 at 9pm in Vienna, so we Americans made a day of it. As I left my apartment, Gwen grabbed a camera for the equivalent of parental prom photos, only this time I was dressed in metallic, had crimped hair, and in my late 20s.
First stop: MAC Cosmetics to get Eurovisioned! Erica had the foresight to sign us up for free makeovers MAC was doing, as promotion for a new line of eyeshadow. I misunderstood this to mean that MAC was doing Eurovision makeovers and shared this with everyone I know. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Lincoln Center location that I realized most of the MAC staff had never even heard of Eurovision. Despite their confusion about our early morning Euro glam, we all became fast friends.
Then we migrated to Hibernia in Hell’s Kitchen. It was PACKED.
There were raffles. There were brackets. And there was non-stop cheering.
In the end, Serbia rocked it, Israel rapped it, and Belgium got its rhythm back. The UK’s light-up costumes reminded me of that time I went to the Holidazzle Holiday Parade in Minneapolis, and for a country of amazing talent, they once again let the rest of Europe down (or up, depending on how you think about it). Although Australia was denied future hosting rights, they took at stab at the crown this year for the first time ever; I was an insta-fan because I love Guy Sebastian’s Lupe Fiasco solos.
After each of the 27 performances were over, we watched all 40 countries announce their votes with building anticipation.
I stared at my Eurovision app, feeling jealous that the US was left out.
Eventually, the Eurovision executives got on the screen and announced they had done the maths.
WE HAVE DONE THE MATHS, AND THEY CANNOT BE BEATEN. SWEDEN HAS WON THE 2015 #EUROVISION SONG CONTEST!!!!!!!!!
— Eurovision (@Eurovision) May 23, 2015
Swedish singer Måns Zelmerlöw won the gold, which meant he got to sing “Heroes” again, with the exact same set-up and choreography as every other time he’d performed that song in 2015.
The balloon drop at Hibernia was easily as epic as the one going on in Vienna.
Other awards and observations were noted by my friends:
Man sipping wine just shouted “WE LOVE UKRAINE” #Eurovision2015
— erica (@futt) May 23, 2015
Just when I thought the excitement had ended, the University of Melbourne announced that they’re adding a course on Eurovision this fall. The syllabus is amazing. The subject looks at Europe through the powerful prism of the Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s all I can do not to move to Melbourne right now. Until then, guess I’ll just listen to this Eurovision playlist on repeat. See ya in Sweden!