Gimmickry and Showmanship in Eurovision 2014

In the musical “Gypsy,”  three world-weary strippers give a young Gypsy Rose Lee the following advice:

 You can pull all the stops out
Til they call the cops out
Grind your behind til you’re banned
But you gotta get a gimmick if you want to get a hand.

This showbiz wisdom, anchored in 1920s burlesque and vaudeville, still applies to modern day Eurovision. Giant Greek staplers, a man in a box, latex monster suits with bat wings, convertible sailboats…many a creative gimmick has been deployed at Eurovision to make a country’s 3 minutes on stage more memorable.

Azerbaijan 2013

This year, which has many decent but few outstanding songs, many countries have felt a need to give us that something extra. Most countries have adopted some type of gimmick to support their song presentation. Here is an at-a-glance summary of the Eurovision gimmicks for 2014.

We don’t claim that the best gimmick wins you the contest, but it’s hard to imagine wowing folks without one. After all is said and done, we’ll be curious to return this list to see how those that failed to come up with anything special fared. We’re guessing not well. (We’ll fill in Denmark and the Big Five after they perform their first rehearsals.)

Country/Song The Gimmick The Lemurs Say
Albania: Hersi Matmuja, “One Night’s Anger” Singing beautifully on a plinth. (read: no gimmick)
Has the advice of jaded striptease artists in an American musical meant nothing to you?
Armenia: Aram Mp3, “Not Alone” Man alone on stage, in a cage of light. Promising, though a little on the nose.
Austria: Conchita Wurst, “Rise Like A Phoenix” Bearded lady. Conchita knows exactly what she’s doing.
Azerbaijan: Dilara Kazimova, “Start a Fire” Trapeze artist. Azerbaijan are masters of making  over-the-top concepts seem classy. However, the acrobat-echoes-singer idea is similar to last year.
Belarus: Teo, “Cheesecake” A song named “Cheesecake.” Work that samba, Teo!
Belgium: Axel Hirsoux, “Mother” Interpretive dance, by mother. Effective staging, as it ever was.
Denmark: Basim, “Cliché Love Song”  A huge flag that says “Love.” Really, Denmark? As the host country, you could’ve just stuck with the Danish flag.
Estonia: Tanja, “Amazing” Pitch perfect singing and difficult modern dance. See, because Tanja is, herself, amazing.
Finland: Softengine, “Something Better” A youthful band, doing rock things on stage. (Read: no gimmick)
Ruh roh.
France: Twin Twin, “Moustache” A song named “Moustache.” Not nearly enough gimmickry, considering the source material.
Georgia: The Shin and Mariko Ebralidze, “Three Minutes to Earth” Drummer with a parachute, video backdrop of a skydive. Concisely illustrates what Georgia’s bonkers song is about.
Germany: Elaiza, “Is It Right?” Umm, there’s some good singing? (Read: no gimmick) Ruh roh.
Greece: Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd, “Rise Up” Trampoline. Genius interpretation of “Rise Up,” if it works.
Hungary: Kállay-Saunders András, “Running” Interpretive dance about child abuse. It’s good storytelling, but will it be an audience buzzkill?
Iceland: Pollapönk, “No Prejudice” Color coordination, synchronized side steps. They’re charming.
Ireland: Can-linn featuring Kasey Smith, “Heartbeat” Dancers commemorating the 20th anniversary of Riverdance. Blech.
Israel: Mei Feingold, “Same Heart” Legs, legs, legs. Doth Beyonce-inspired writhing a gimmick make?
Italy: Emma Marrone, “La Mia Cittá” Bad girl rocker chick realness. Oh sure.
Latvia: Aarzemnieki, “Cake to Bake” Precious amateurness. Fine, if this sort of thing floats your boat.
Lithuania: Vilija Matačiūnaitė, “Attention” Star Wars-meets-The Fifth Element. With a tutu. Why?!?
Macedonia: Tijana Dapčević, “To the Sky” A diva points, to the sky. (Read: no gimmick) Tijana has sass and attitude to spare, but has the minimalist staging sealed the fate of this otherwise unremarkable song?
Malta: Firelight, “Coming Home” Selfies, selfies, selfies. Malta’s concept is a great use of the stage to underscore the song’s theme.
Moldova: Cristina Scarlat, “Wild Soul” Hair extension reveal. I’ll admit it, I laughed.
Montenegro: Sergej Ćetković, “Moj Svijet” Ice skating. Been there, done that.
Netherlands: The Common Linnets, “Calm After the Storm” A dual microphone stand, amongst the corn fields and the open road. Ay-yup.
Norway: Carl Espen, “Silent Storm” A line of violinists, piano, and dry ice.  It’s all classy and shit. You can dress the bear up, but can you take him to dinner?
Poland: Donatan and Cleo, “My Slowianie” BOOBIES!!! Well, duh…
Portugal: Suzy, “Quero Ser Tua” Flag waving dancers and big drums. Yawn.
Romania: Paula Seling and Ovi, “Miracle” Chroma key image of Paula, a doughnut piano for Ovi. YAAAAASSS!!!!
Russia: Tolmachevy Twins, “Shine” A giant, convertible seesaw, conjoined hair extensions. File under “jumped the shark.”
San Marino: Valentina Monetta, “Maybe (Forse)” The Birth of Venus. It’s art! You bring your preconceptions to it!
Slovenia: Tinkara Kovač, “Spet (Round and Round)” Flute playing. Yawn.
Spain: Ruth Lorenzo, “Dancing in the Rain” Rain lighting effect. On the nose, but lovely.
Sweden: Sanna Nielsen, “Undo” Yodeling Ice Queen Realness. It’s Yodeling Ice Queen Realness, people!
Switzerland: Sebalter, “Hunter of Stars” Mugging, whistling fiddle player. Yawn.
Ukraine: Maria Yaremchuck, “Tick-Tock” A guy in a hamster wheel. SM…love it!
United Kingdom: Molly, “Children of the Universe” Fire curtain. I know what we could do, we could use a fire curtain! It worked for Denmark last year!


 …Do something special, anything that’s special…