“We are asking the nations of Europe between whom rivers of blood have flowed to forget the feuds of a thousand years.” –Winston Churchill
One of the great arenas in the world that knows no international bounds are the performing arts in general, and music in particular. Some of my favorite musical innovations have come from not only foreign countries, but from mixing many different musical cultures together. This weekend, have a listen to this amazing collaboration between James Keelaghan and Oscar Lopez, whose work combines Irish, Flamenco, and Canadian influences together to create this rendition of a classic folk song,
A little over a week ago, I heard about the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time, where dozens of countries across Europe, Northern Africa and East Asia send an act to compete for the top act in the world for that year. Every year since 1956, this contest has occurred, and has launched the careers of a number of successful international acts, including Julio Iglesias, ABBA, and perhaps most famously, Celine Dion.
That said, when I first heard about it, I had no idea what to expect, other than I knew Bonnie Tyler (of Total Eclipse of the Heart fame) was competing for the UK. Little did I know what I was in for.
Imagine the best campy aspects of every semi-professional singing/dancing/costuming talent show that’s ever been created, and now imagine that you combine you combine that with pyrotechnics, a stage show, and, in Montenegro’s case, an imaginary futuristic space program.
First off, you can always watch the whole thing (no matter where you are) from Eurovision.tv’s website, although if you do, you’ll miss the hilarious Graham Norton commentary, which turns the whole experience into an MST3K-style laugh-fest, if MST3K were hosted by an Irish Neil Patrick Harris.
That said, this happened last weekend, and I feel deep regret for only finding out about Eurovision now, because I really think my life was incomplete before this. I knew to expect an international singing competition, but I envisioned more traditional music/songs from all the different competing countries, showcasing the different styles and languages of Europe. But that is not what Eurovision is all about. In fact, a week later, I think I’m still taking it all in. Without further ado, here are the top 5 most memorable performances/spectacles for me from Eurovision 2013!
But where’s the fun in that? Although it may have been the best performance at Eurovision by some standards, it certainly wasn’t the most memorable.
And the poor United Kingdom had to follow this act in the finals.
But my favorite entry in the entire contest finished only sixth, although that was the highest finish of any country who sang in a language other than English.
Seriously, this was an amazing spectacle, and I’m so glad I discovered it. Hope those of you who’ve never heard of or seen Eurovision before enjoyed these songs as much as I did! Just for the record, Eurovision also featured the Belarusian performer being born out of a disco-ball egg,
an Armenian song written by Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi,
and Eythor Ingi living up to the Icelandic stereotype of looking exactly like a certain Norse God.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience, and I think it’ll be a long time before I get ALCOHOL, ALCOHOL, ALCOHOL IS FREE!!! out of my head. (Also, do any of my μαλάκας out there know what it means when you make that thumb-grooming gesture against your mustache? It features prominently in the official video for that song. I imagine it’s at least as offensive as μαλάκας is, and I’m dying to know!) For what it’s worth, Sweden — by virtue of winning last year — hosted this year’s Eurovision, and poked great fun at themselves, having a comedienne host the show and featuring numerous references to Swedish stereotypes ranging from the Swedish Chef to IKEA.
Hope you enjoyed my redux of unforgettable moments, and may we all have Eurovision parties to enjoy this spectacle worldwide from now on!