The Eurovision Song Contest is a marvelous piece of European eccentricity that this year sees the Swedes favorite to win with their song “Heroes” performed by Mans Zelmerlow
To the casual observer the Eurovision Song Contest is an inexplicable international event of such a bizarrely over-the-top nature that it almost defies the basic rules of existence. As a rule Europeans don’t really like each other, and our attitudes to music from our neighboring nations is typically mired in cultural differences exacerbated by wholly incompatible languages, so why is it that this competition between nations has been able to persist?
Will Swedes Win Eurovision?
• Mans Zelmerlow to go to Vienna
• Australia invited to participate
• Like the gay Olympics says Wurst
Well for a start most Europeans spend their time gambling news reports won’t announce another bout of hostilities. We’re remarkably adept at all turning up somewhere inconsequential, like Belgium, digging holes and slaughtering each other in sizable numbers, and despite having managed to resist the temptation for a few decades there’s no guarantee we won’t plunge ourselves into a continent-wide conflict at any moment. It’s why we have the EU.
The European Union, akin to the United Nations, is simply somewhere for nations to turn up and be passive aggressive with each other as an alternative to the active aggression option and it’s lamentable massive body count. Wrapped up in so much bureaucracy and facing a multitude of issues the EU is the stalemate of the First World War fought by committee. Obviously whilst this satisfies the political leadership’s need for conflict the rest of us are catered for mostly by sports.
Much of the tribal urge is taken care of by football, with the Champions League being the premier competition which brings the major forces of soccer up against each other in an orgy of fanatical supporters and almost religious reverence. One of the problems, however, is that football isn’t for everyone, and indeed it’s overly macho image leaves a niche to be filled. It’s a gap that the Eurovision Song Contest fills…….fabulously.
The Gay Olympics
Created in 1956 and long languishing as a ridiculous piece of schmaltz on the television schedules it tended to be an odd collection of people you’d never heard of performing music you wouldn’t necessarily choose to listen to from countries you couldn’t locate on a blank map of the continent. That it wasn’t culled for its own good is a testament to the influence of the internet on all our lives, and particularly it’s placing of pressure on stuffy old media entities to change their approach.
Whilst in the past sombre presenters attempted to detract from the overall silliness of the entire event, the coverage now has plunged its tongue so far into its cheek that it can barely speak. With nations holding preliminary competitions in which the public can vote and touting the opposition ahead of time it has become ever more overblown, with the tabloids taking full advantage to do some mild foreigner bashing along the way.
Whilst there was always a degree of camp about the competition it went to a whole new level last year when the Austrian Conchita Wurst, a drag act with a beard whose name is an unsavory joke about sausages, won with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” in front of an audience of 180 million in 45 different countries. Wurst’s outrageous personality declared “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are – we are unity and we are unstoppable.”
This has all sorts of connotations when pronounced with victorious glee by a beared guy in a ball gown with his fist in the air, even if the fist does contain a tacky glass trophy in the shape of an old world microphone. Since that night Wurst has gone on to say that the Eurovision Song Contest is like “the gay Olympics” which is perhaps stretching a point but none-the-less it is now far more popular than it ever has been, and if you like to bet on sports in Sweden you might want to check it out this year.
Will Heroes Make A Winner Of Mans?
Sweden are firm favorites to win this year, their entry Mans Zelmerlow and his song “Heroes” having wowed the selection audience in their Melodifestivalen selection process perhaps helped just a bit by the wonderfully energetic sign language translation by Tommy Krangh on the night. ComeOn! Sportsbook Sporsbook has Mans at 2.35 just ahead of Italy’s operatic pop trio called Il Volo who are on 4.00 with Australia just behind them on 6.00.
Those of you paying attention might instantly notice that Australia, a large island nation in the Southern Hemisphere 8,000 miles away, isn’t actually in Europe. This doesn’t seem to bother anyone very much as this year’s theme is “building bridges”, and anyway, if there’s a nation that can produce a camp pop song it’s the Australians who are sending former Idol winner Guy Sebastian to perform “Tonight Again” in Vienna with the only proviso being the competition won’t be held down under if he wins.
Finland are in with a chance with their punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat that comprises of four men with learning disabilities and they’re garnering odds of 7.75 just behind Estonia who are getting 7.50 for their entry “Goodbye To Yesterday” by Elina Born & Stig Rasta. Slovenia is sending Maraaya with “Here For You” (and getting odds of 8.00 for their efforts) and the Norwegians are sending Morland & Debrah Scarlett with their haunting song “A Monster Like Me”.
Swedish gambling laws might be a tad anachronistic at this point but that doesn’t mean residents of Stockholm can’t nip over to ComeOn! Sportsbook and put some money behind their Mans, and indeed watch the contest itself on May 23rd, a night that is likely to be a combination of excruciating music, ridiculously theatrical performances and slightly uneasy tension that could at any minute snap and turn into a eye-gouging fight over who is the best looking Capricorn this week.