Sunday, June 14, 2015

6 things we learned from watching Eurovision 2015

Saturday night saw Austria stage the continental celebration of mediocre songwriting and perma-grins that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

Now – incredibly – in its 60th year, the appeal of Eurovision is that nothing really changes from year to year: the music doesn’t improve, the UK (the land that gave the world The Beatles, David Bowie and Rick Astley) comes close to last, and the hosts’ scripted chat is tortuous.

But, aside from the fact that Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow won with his animation-aided performance of ‘Heroes’, what else did we learn?

1. Russia can’t escape the boos

Polina Gagarina
Despite putting forward a singer who looked like a Disney princess, singing a happy-clappy ballad that – ironically – extolled the virtues of open democracy (sample lyric: “We are the world’s people / Different yet we’re the same / We believe / We believe in a dream”), Russia are still the baddies of Europe in many’s eye.

It might not have been as loud as last year, when the superpower’s intervention in Ukraine was a live news story, but the boos were still audible in Vienna during the voting process, with the country’s stance on homosexuality still a source of huge controversy. All that despite reports of Eurovision using unspecified “anti-booing technology”.
Singer Polina Gagarina can console herself with coming second overall.

2. Nigella Lawson stole the show

Every dad’s favourite TV chef showed her linguistic credentials when she read out the UK’s voting results, indulging in a spot of German and French and generally winning the whole night.

3. Serbia had the most belting anthem


Just when everyone’s eyelids were getting a little heavy, Serbia knocked it out the park in true Eurovision style. Bojana Stamenov belted out ‘Beauty Never Lies’, a song penned by Charlie Mason, who wrote last year’s winning song ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ for Conchita Wurst.

4. Lithuania won praise for including a double same-sex kiss


On the same day Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage, Lithuania made a bold LGBT statement of their own: Monika Linkyte and Vaidas Baumila choreographed a pause into their performance, allowing time for them – and their backing dancers – to kiss. See it at 1:34 in the video above.

5. Eurovision saw its first performer in a wheelchair


Poland’s Monika KuszyƄska made history by becoming the first ever Eurovision entry to perform in a wheelchair. She is paralysed from the waist down after being involved in a car accident with her previous bandmates in 2006. She has since relaunched her solo career, and her rendition of ‘In the Name of Love’ was certainly a bit different from the attention-grabbing Polish milk-maids of last year.

6. No-one could explain why Australia were there

Australia Eurovision

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