Eurovision 2015: A Primer for Saturday Night Viewing

We are hosting our annual Eurovision party this weekend! For our guests and for anyone else engaging with the Contest in time for the Grand Final, here are our notes to get up to speed on this year’s competition.

Vienna is hosting Eurovision on the heels of Conchita Wurst’s victory last year. Conchita is our green room host this year and frankly, we’re wondering why she isn’t hosting the whole damned thing. Expect some delightful bon mots from the world’s reigning drag superstar.

The big story coming into this year’s Eurovision is that in honor of the Song Contest’s 60th anniversary, Australia has been given a one-time chance to participate. Australia took their opportunity seriously and picked one of their biggest pop stars, Guy Sebastian, as their representative. His song for Europe, “Tonight Again,” is cheeky fun and has kept Australia one of the odds leaders even after the novelty of their participation wore off.

The bookies’ (and our) top tip to win the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is Måns Zelmerlöw of Sweden. His song “Heroes” is a David Guetta/Avicii-influenced pop song. It goes into the Song Contest with momentum thanks to a groundbreaking animated staging that wowed fans and juries alike during the Swedish national final. Seriously, it’s really cool.

Sweden’s closest rival appears to be Italy. They are represented by Il Volo, a youthful pop-opera trio who are more known internationally than in their home country. Their song “Grande Amore” is strongly aligned with their brand and seems custom fit for their next PBS pledge drive special.

Rounding out the other favorites, Russia has sent “A Million Voices,” a well-executed example of their standard plea for peace, love and understanding. Singer Polina Gagarina has been so good thus far that she was hardly booed after she sang in the Semis.

Meanwhile, Estonia has sent an atmospheric retro number evocative of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s duets. We’re not big fans of the song, but we have to say it is helped greatly by a gorgeous, heartbreaking staging.

We’ve always said that as more countries enter Eurovision, the harder it is for anyone to get the dreaded nul point at the end of the evening. The United Kingdom has decided to challenge that theory this year. Their song is in the genre of electro swing, which the UK delegation heard was popular with the kids.

Other story lines:

  • Romania’s entry Voltaj is performing the song “De la capăt” (“All Over Again”), which highlights the plight of Eastern European children who are left behind when their parents go to Western Europe for work.
  • Monika Kuszyńska of Poland was the singer for the band Varius Manx when she was paralyzed in a car accident. Her song “In the Name of Love” tries to tow the line between being autobiographical and universal.
  • Armenia caused a bit of a ruckus with their song “Face the Shadow.” It was originally called “Don’t Deny” and is a not-too-veiled statement about the Armenian Genocide. They changed the title before the Song Contest to avoid political backlash.
  • Latvia and Belgium are vying for the title “Song That’s Too Cool for Eurovision.”
  • The most interesting pre-selection story this year came out of Germany. Ann Sophie finished second in the German national selection show, but the winner Andreas Kümmert declined to represent Germany on live television immediately after he won.
  • Be prepared for a lot of ballads, particularly in the second half. Also, be on the lookout for trees and warrior princesses.