Cheat Sheet for American Viewers of Eurovision
The multitudes of gay Eurovision fans around the world are of course in love with the glamour, big hair, choreography, involved sets and bizarre costumes in each year’s new edition of the Contest. But they share another appreciation with the kids, grannies, bar patrons and everyday viewers that make up the worldwide viewership, and that is for the circus spectacle of wild, over-the-top and frequently hilarious entries that spice up the annual broadcasts.
This year doesn’t disappoint. Where else but Eurovision can you revel in such antics as a rapping paean to yodeling (from Romania), a reggae tune from Moldova with a backup dance chorus of brides and an overenthusastic Epic Sax Guy, or a pop/opera hybrid featuring one plump singer doing two voices as a duet with himself? Welcome to this year’s crop of wacky and ridiculous attentiongetters vying to rake in the votes.
Montenegro has had a tough time getting noticed and voted into the finals in the past, and this year’s approach seems to be centered on appealing to a campy homoerotic sensibility. Slavko is outfitted with a huge braided ponytail that he whips around madly while projections of hunky male dancers strut and pose to make sure no one forgets their dancey “Space”:
Croatia has a highly regarded history in Eurovision, and rarely goes out on a limb to present a thick slab of Eurovision cheese. Until this year. Jacques Houdek’s “My Friend” has the portly singer emoting as a light pop tenor and a barrel-chested operatic baritone on the Kyiv stage. Well-performed, and Croatia have thrown in everything including fireworks showers to make this cheesefest unforgettable. Here’s the official video, but you’ll have to wait to catch the OTT stage presentation:
Moldova has a long history of adding crazy fun to the ESC mix, including a group called the Sunstroke Project and their Epic Sax Guy that took the internet by storm several years ago. Now they are back for another crack at the competition, and the press is salivating at their antics onstage (first rehearsal snippet):
Romania is another Balkan powerhouse that has never shied away from presenting such refined entertainment as flaming pianos and a preening Dracula-like countertenor swirling around stage in a gigantic cloak. This year they’ve brought us a yodeling duet that should mop up telephone votes (and might scare off jury professionals).
Azerbaijan is one of the most successful recent additions to ESC, having consistently placed near the top of the board and winning the whole shebang in 2012. This year they’ve gone arty and weird, with the extremely theatrical Dihaj singing about her personal “skeletons” while being glared at by a menacing man with a horse head from the top of an onstage ladder:
And to top it off, the big favorite to win this year is Italy’s Francesco Gabbani with his satire on Westerners’ search for Eastern sprituality, “Occidentali’s Karma”. His final chorus finds him dancing a kooky duet with a man in a gorilla costume. If it’s musical, big and wacky on your tv, it must be time for Eurovision again.