Eurovision finals: Serb your enthusiasm

We Yanks like to think that the success of reality-competition shows like American Idol reveals something very special (good or bad, take your pick) about our national soul. I won’t argue with that. As so often happens, though, Europe got there first. Not only is our own Idol a knockoff of the U.K.’s original Pop Idol, but both of those shows are mere upstarts compared to the venerable Eurovision Song Contest. Every year since 1956, artists from across the continent have come together to vie for voters’ hearts. Each country fields a single band or singer to represent it; only one can win.

Hundreds of millions of Europeans watch every year, and they take this stuff pretty seriously. In this year’s contest, which wrapped up last weekend in Helsinki, 22-year-old Marija Serifovic took home the gold for Serbia with a solid if boring ballad. The night’s sore losers, thankfully, were far more entertaining. The U.K. and France shared a stinging tie for next-to-last place; the notoriously intemperate British press immediately fell to heaping abuse upon their national representatives, the campy (and fairly lame) disco act known as Scooch. Germany, meanwhile, beat the Brits by three places, but they felt like complaining, too — and how. "It is obvious that eastern European countries engage in dirty trade with points every year," hissed one German singer; another newspaper suggested that "western Europeans are losing their enthusiasm for the Eurovision Song Contest because the East has become triumphant." Yikes!

Variety reported yesterday that a team including longtime Sacha Baron Cohen associate Dan Mazer is planning to film a comedy about Eurovision, though the story was tanatalizingly vague as to whether this would be a documentary or a fictional feature. Given Mazer’s previous oeuvre, I’m hoping it’s closer to the former. If results like this year’s have shown us anything, it’s that you hardly need to add a thing to get pure comedy gold. I personally think Ukraine’s second-place entry (see below) was robbed — and just tell me you wouldn’t want to see Verka Serduchka’s trippy transvestite dance-off joined by one Borat Sagdiyev.

So what do you think, PopWatchers? Any brilliant performances I missed on YouTube? Would you pay to see Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Contest of Eurovision in theaters?

Comments (24 total)
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  • Valerie

    Didn’t Celine Dion win that contest somewhere in the 80’s ?

  • ZF

    I was shocked the Russian girls didn’t win. Theirs was the only act that didn’t seem like a throwback to 1981.

  • theBigE

    Didn’t Father Ted win this one year? Singing about a “Lovely Horse?” Does anyone understand my reference?

  • Maggs

    What? Ukraine was robbed! I can’t stop singing this song even though i dont know what it says. zeebin zeebin i lou loo!!!

  • pete

    i thought the winning song was fantastic and the background girls were HOT!
    celine dion, abba, patrick swayze, katrina & the waves, etc won/were discovered at eurovision

  • wagonmaker

    Celine Dion. I rest my case.

  • Russophile.com

    I was hoping that Verka would win. You can share your thoughts on the results by voting for your favorite at russophile.com

  • Virginia

    I watched the whole thing and I liked Belarus, Hungary, France, and yes – Ukraine was entertaining. Serbia was not one of my favorites – very boring.

  • AuntieEm

    How was Patrick Swayze discovered at Eurovision?
    I’ve watched it the past two years and think it is fabulous. I wish they aired in the states for complete enjoyment for everyone! This year’s winner was good, but not as much fun as some of the other contestants. I thought Germany was pretty good, too, and was surprised at how low they scored. I think the scoring is unfair because people vote based on geography. More Eastern European nations compete and, therefore, get more votes.

  • Dame

    To Maggs: Verka sings a mix of German (“Tanzen! Sieben, sieben … eins zwei drei…” Dance! Seven, seven… one two three…) etc.), Russian and English among others. By the way, Verka isn’t the first transvestite in the history of the contest. Some years ago a “girl” from Israel participated. To Valerie: Yes, Celine Dion did win this contest, but I can’t remember the exact year.

  • Nix

    further proof Europe, as civilization, died in 1945.

  • mich

    more Eurovision Trivia: Olivia Newton John represented the Unite Kingdom in the 1970s, and the Dean Martin song ‘Volare’ was and Italian entry in the 1956 contest!
    I love Eurovision, its camp and mad!!!

  • No Brand Woman

    To theBigE:
    My lovely horse running through the field,
    Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?
    I want to shower you with sugarlumps,
    And ride you over fences,
    Polish your hooves every single day,
    And bring you to the horse dentist,
    My lovely horse,
    You’re a pony no more,
    Running around with a man on your back,
    Like a train in the night,
    Like a train in the night.

  • No Brand Woman

    Eurovision is so great. This is something we really couldn’t have in the US. If we did something similar, it would have to be state by state and states like my state of TX would pretty much always be represented by country songs. Ugh…
    I thought Marija Serifovic’s song was beautiful after hearing it just now. I wanna know when and where I can get that on my iPod in the future.

  • miri

    I adore Eurovision. I watched the whole thing streaming online. Ukraine was definitely robbed, as they were the most Eurovision-y entry. I did like the Serbian entry a lot, though. She has a great voice! Also loved the Russians, Hungary, Germany and Sweden. Dame- the Israeli in question is Dana International (her winning song was Diva), who is actually a female post-op transsexual. Verka, on the other hand, is a male comedian who appears in drag as that character.

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