Eurovision Song Contest is a hot mess of geopolitics, rogue glitter, questionable costume choices and awkward choreography. It is the most watched music broadcast in the world and an important part of my well-being. No joke. The annual kitsch-fest has been instrumental in turning me into a runner in 2016 and it keeps my mental wheels greased as it’s ripe for informed cultural criticism. In honor of the first post-covid edition, here are my six Eurovision favorites of all time!
Darja Švajger – For a Thousand Years (Slovenia)
1999. As noted on #TuesdaysWithTimbul, this is the-one! A quintessentially Eurovision ballad: the minor falls, the major lifts, the works. It finished 11th and I blame that canary dress. In the music video Darja channels Holly Hunter in Piano on the Adriatic shore. This is my default drunk lip-synch jam. I hope one day to upgrade to drunken karaoke.
Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix (Austria)
2014. I watched this in a packed gay bar in Athens/Greece and the place went silent. Do you know what kind of alpha-energy it takes to hush a drunk crowd of Greek (or any) queers? It was the best win. Best. Win. They could’ve cancelled the entire competition afterwards and folks be like, “Well, that makes sense. How do you top that?!” BEST WIN.
Farid Mammadov – Hold Me (Azerbaijan)
2013. A wonderful one hit wonder. Farid finished a close second (I finished a not too distant first, uff) and then… he just vanished. Allegedly, he moved on from music and moved away to USA without a social media trace. This remix is still on my running playlist. “It was going to turn out complicated.” Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
Voltaj – De la capăt (Romania)
2015. A proper rock ballad with a searing, soaring social message. Nearly a quarter of Romanian adults pursue work abroad, leaving behind a generation of children with severed or strained parental bonds. I think the song’s spirit got lost in the live staging and miscalculated switch to English. It finished 15th, but made my heart’s top six.
Alekseev – Forever (Belarus)
2018. It did NOT qualify for the final. In my defense, I fell in love with the Russian video (below) before I saw the English cut. The vocals, the delivery, cringe, cringe. It’s a case study in how some performers get lost in live-translation. And, Eurovision ain’t going to Minsk anytime soon: this year’s entry was banned for propaganda.
Valentina Monetta – Maybe (San Marino)
2014. I’m obsessed with San Marino, a literal cliffhanger of a country. Monetta represented this nation of 33,000 people 5 times (!) in the Song Competition. This is Eurovision at its tastefully kitschiest: the Botticelli Venus Shell allusion, the Roman amphitheater gesticulation, the drag-queen-ready lyrics. Maybe?! It’s a YES for me!
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