An American’s picks for Eurovision 2014

 

As I’ve said before, Eurovision Season is always a bit lonely for American fans. Here in the US, few people know about the contest. Even when I try to explain it, it’s hard. I’ll talk about how much I like the Maltese/Moldovan/Cypriot/Armenian entry and I find myself met with a blank stare. Not everyone knows where these countries are, much less that they even exist.

Everyone likes to poke fun at Americans for not knowing about other countries and I was no exception to this stereotype. In our defense, though, I will say that having to keep track of 50 states and a handful of territories gives us a lot of news as it is. Although some people don’t care one way or the other.

Admittedly, I was the same when I began watching Eurovision. But as I watched it, I learned so much about geography, international relations and politics and even history. Whoa, Moldova was a country? Azerbaijan too? Why can Turkey and the like participate? It was exhilirating and I felt like I was learning so much and connecting myself to Europe in some way.

Regardless of it being a bit lonely, I love following Eurovision every year. The past few years have been a bit difficult for me to watch because I lived in Japan. Last year, I commandeered my poor boyfriend’s computer and forced him to watch it with me. Needless to say that he did not enjoy it as much as I did.

I think that, being an American, I am somewhat out of the loop of the whole political side of Eurovison. Sure, I know about bloc voting and how X country always gives Y country 12 points etc. But I don’t invest myself too much in this and I think it makes for more of an objective viewing. I mostly just care about the performances and songs.

And so, here are my picks as an American looking in on this wonderful annual event!

 

MY TOP TEN ACTS FOR EUROVISION 2014

(in no particular order as of yet)

 

 Greece – Ever since that old guy danced with those gogo boys in 2010 (OPA!), I have been a fan of the Greek entries. Last year their song was catchy and fun and this year they’ve brought that same energy with the catchy EDM-infused ‘Rise Up’. I wonder if he’ll actually sing the super-fast repeating part, though? “Ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-riririririririririririr”. Nevertheless, I hope Greece does well.

 Israel – Another country that always puts out great songs. Israel’s song this year is a definite contender for the trophy, I think. Mei Finegold’s voice is powerhouse in both English and Hebrew. The song definitely grabs your attention and keeps it. I don’t know what everyone else is saying, but I’m betting that Israel is ranked pretty high on winning this year.

 Malta – Year after year (at least as far as I’ve been watching the contest), Malta has sent some solid acts to the world stage. Year after year, though, they never seem to do very well. I really feel for this little island, though. They’re the underdog that I like to root for. I loved their entry last year and I hope to see them do well this year. They deserve it.

 Hungary – This song is pretty damn heavy for a Eurovision entry. Maybe that’s why I like it. It’s something different, the vocals are strong and although I didn’t like the beat at first, it’s grown on me. I don’t know how it will do, but I’d like to think that it will make it far. The topic of child abuse might not appeal to Europe and the judges, though.

 Poland – I love ridiculous entries. The Polish entry this year is just that. At first, I was a bit horrified by how bad this song sounded in English but I think it’s mostly in Polish. I think the oversexualization of it is intentionally comical. Overall it’s a fun song and I find myself liking it the more I hear it.

 Switzerland – The song is cute and the whistling gets stuck in your head for days. The band is seemingly composed of male models, which I’m completely fine with. I wonder if they’re going to be able to do the whistling gimmick as effectively when they perform it live.

 Armenia – Armenia is another country that I find consistantly sends good acts. This year’s act is pretty great as well. Although it takes a while for the song to get started, Aram Mp3’s vocals and the epic instrumentals effortlessly guide the audience to the wub wubby climax. I’m definitely not a fan of dubstep, but I’ve grown to accept a wub here or there. I dig this song for a number of reasons and I think it could do well.

 Italy(!) – My god, I really love the Italian entry this year. Emma Marrone is fantastic. I love her voice, the instrumentals and overall badass-ness of this song. After watching a live performance of this song, though, I’m a bit scared of seeing her in the final. Italy just recently re-joined Eurovision after a long period of not participating. I think a win for Italy would be great but…I don’t know if Europe feels the same way that I do.

 Montenegro – I don’t know why but I really like this song. I’m not one for ballads, but this song just really appeals to me. It’s beautifully sung with a gorgeous instrumental. I don’t understand it at all but, for me, that’s not necessary in order to enjoy a song. That’s actually part of why I was so drawn to Eurovision – songs in different languages. I have no idea how this song will do, but it’s in my Top Ten because I think it’s very pretty.

 Austria – Conchita Wurst is badass. I’ll say it right now. The fact that she is performing in drag is not anything that Eurovision hasn’t seen before (Verka Serduchka, I’m looking at you). What is unique, however, is that she’s not doing it as a caricature that mocks the LGBT community. Her striking appearance has earned her a lot of publicity, both good and bad. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus being the bastions of acceptance and tolerance, have petioned the EBU to ban her performance. Luckily, it seems to be against the rules of the ESC to censor or ban any part of it. Her fishy body with full-on beard plus the empowering song have no doubt made her one of the most talked-about acts this year. Putting herself out there and promoting tolerance is an incredibly brave thing for her to do and I hope she does well.

Honorable mentions:

Denmark – I don’t think that Denmark will win (has any country ever won Eurovision two years in a row?) but I quite like their entry. It’s catchy as hell, the dance is cute the whole thing reminds me of The Jackson Five and Bruno Mars.

Netherlands. 2013 was the first year that the Netherlands qualified for the Final in seven years. This year, their song is nothing incredibly special, but I find myself really liking it. It reminds me of Fleetwood Mac and it’s very calming and emotional.

 

 What do you think?! Agree? Disagree? Are you an American who likes Eurovision as well? Let me know I’m not alone! Thanks for reading and, as always, comments are welcomed! 

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