Like American Idol, The X Factor and pretty much every other music-related TV talent competition, the Eurovision Song Contest, whose 2011 edition ends with the final round this Saturday, May 14th, seems to generate the most extreme feelings from the general public, be they positive, negative or guilty pleasure, or the most paradoxical and fascinating of them all, that almost militant level of indifference.
There’s a specific love-hate relationship with Eurovision, particularly having to do with the cheese factor. There’s the crazy outfits. The bad production and sometimes unbearably tacky lyrics. The presence of Jedward. And let’s not forget the year (2008) that Ireland, taking the piss out of everything that Eurovision has become, entered a techno-singing turkey puppet into the competition.
So yeah. It’s a big kitschfest. But there’s also some interesting strands at work, as with any situation where a bunch of countries get together and compete against one another. Rivalries form. Politics come into play. It’s the World Cup, essentially, but with MOAR GLITTER.
This year will also be of interest to those who follow issues of trans* visibility in pop culture, as it marks the return of Israel’s Dana International, one of the world’s first — and probably best-known — transgender pop stars, who won the contest in 1998 with her song ‘Diva.’ Despite attempts from the Religious Right in Israel to stop her career, not only did Dana rise to fame in her own country (there were street parties in Jerusalem the night of her Eurovision victory), but all over the world. This is huge when you think about it, because think about how much trans issues have evolved in the past 15 years, and even now America still isn’t even ready for an attractive gay man to win Idol. Dana will compete again for Israel this year with her song ‘Ding Dong.’
That’s not to say it’s always a complete musical blight either. Last year’s winner, ‘Satellite’ (by Germany’s Lena Meyer-Landrut), is actually a great pop song, and the contest has spawned a few memorable hits, like ABBA’s infectious ‘Waterloo,’ Gina G’s ’90s-tastic ‘Ooh, Aah.. Just A Little Bit,’ the Serge Gainsbourg-penned, France Gall-performed Parisian pop classic ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ and ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu,’ a.k.a. ‘Volare,’ one of the most covered, remixed and recognized pop songs of all time. OF ALL TIME.
So whether you love it, hate it, or still couldn’t give a hoot either way, here’s the ultimate Europop party playlist, featuring Eurovision classics and other European club bangers (and related tracks — Ricky Martin and Kid CuDi are obvs not from Europe, but just seemed to fit, and no, Daft Punk and A.R. Rahman aren’t cheesy, but again, still seemed fitting) for all your kitschy dancefest needs. So crank up the stereo and enjoy the biggest celebration of cheese outside the Wisconsin State Fair.
Cheesetastic Eurovision Finals Party
Technologic – Daft Punk
Add your favorite Europop party tracks in the comments below.
Want to suggest a playlist theme? Hit up Crystal on Formspring and someone on the team will make it for you.
Do Americans/Canadians actually watch this? I’m sorry, from Europe.
Not sure. A few probably follow it, I’d imagine. As a Yank living in England, I find it fascinating and guilty pleasure-inducing.
I think it’s one of those things that I’ll pretend I’m way too cool for, and then end up watching it, and loving it.. (i.e. the royal wedding)
I totally have, but only because a number of my favourite Ukrainian/Russian pop artists have represented their respective countries.
On a similar vein, one of my fave Ukrainian pop duos did a song with Dana International, which spun rumours that they themselves were transwomen. One of them actually went on a famous talk-show with a story about how she was a little boy and felt so sad because she wanted to be like her big sister. And at the end of the really long and sincere talk, she just smiled at the shocked audience and said that in fact, she was born female and that the rumours are false. I know that a lot of people here are going to explode with rage at her tactic, but I thought it was a clever ploy in a trans/homophobic society – I’m not trans, but if I were, it shouldn’t be something to hide and deny. At least that’s how I interpreted the interview.
I know we’re a colony but Eurovision gets quite a big play down here in Australia. People often have parties and watch it together. Just sucks due to the time difference.
I don’t follow it too closely (I’m Canadian), but I do subscribe to Eurovision’s YouTube channel just to see the entries trickle onto the internet when spring begins to roll around. Just out of curiosity.
I watch particularly for Ukraine’s entries, as I’m Ukrainian. I get a visceral reaction like no other while watching a Ukrainian music video. They’re the most ridiculous, trashiest, rapiest music videos you will ever see.
Prvit!! I guess we must share the same joy with Ruslana and the heartbreaking defeat with Ani Lorak. I still hate Dima Bilan because of that lol
Ruslana incurs my wrath…I hate her nasal voice, and her tacky William Schimmel-gasm videos. Still…I may have like 10 of her songs on my iPod…
Jamala should have been this year’s representative for Ukraine! Her voice took me a while to get used to, but it’s really different. She seems really quirky and cute (not a fan of her Gaga-esque getup in some videos though; it doesn’t suit her music AT ALL). And while her videos aren’t groundbreaking, at least they’re pretty tasteful!
Haha, I know, but it’s like a rallying point having a Ukrainian on an international stage (but hospody, do not get me started on her having a song with goddamn T-PAIN!! Ugggggggggggh). I remember being at Folklarama a few years and being enraged that they had Ruslanaon the Wall of Achievement, but nobody knows who Ani Lorak is. Or Verka Serduchka…but that’s probably a good thing…
I don’t know Jamala – I’ll look her up. I’ve lost interest in keeping up with Eurovision because I don’t know anybody that’s up for Ukraine or Russia.
Man, I feel like I could just rant here for pages with you… This makes me so happy =P
I was going to post the video for “It’s Me, Jamala”, but YouTube is being really sketchy, right now. :(
Really? Dancing lasha tumbai is in my top 5 Eurovision songs of all time. Sure I wouldn’t want them representing my country but that performance was classic.
Yeah, Verka’s fame has mixed results in Ukraine… She’s super-loved in Russia, but a lot of Ukrainians find her an embarrassment (because of Eurovision). I just thought the song was stupid.
I think I like it because it’s a stupid song. It’s like what, 5 languages and some gibberish thrown in? Yet it almost won. :)
Yessssss. VERKA. I kind of feel like “Dancing Lashai Tumba” changed my life a little, and gave me even more warm feelings towards Ukraine than I already had. Verka can represent my country any time.
My friends sometimes call me “Shady Lady” – I feel like I introduced Ani Lorak to half of NYC. :) You are not alone. I’m ukranian also. I’m don’t follow ukranian music outside of eurovision/what my dad listens to, but I like to know the basics.
Verka Serduchka is the best thing in the world! He’s like Elton John + Lady Gaga + Crack.
So you’re gonna strike like thunder? If so, I am, ready.
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh I dunno. Still not sold on Verka. I prefer her over Andriy Danylko though. Although…hmm…she is pretty funny in Zolushka and Vecheri na khutore bilya Dikanke… I guess I just don’t care for her music, but as a comedienne, she’s good.
My fav is Gop Gop, cause everyone in that looks like my grandmother or one of my grandmother’s friends in Brooklyn.
and yes. I do strike like thunder. I am loud, but I cause little actual damage. :)
’08 was a weak year in general but I think Bilan’s win was more for Never Let You Go than Believe.
And for ripping off his shirt. UUUUUURRRRRRRGGGGHHHH although I didn’t like Shady Lady either. I think my actual favourite song was that duet from Azerbaijan. That girl was all kinds of hotness.
Yes, the Azerbaijan duet is nice! Not my taste at all, but the duo’s nice to look at, the video’s simple and sweet, and you don’t have to struggle to understand what they’re saying.
*giggles* Oh Sveta. She tried so hard…and ended up almost as the worst result EVER for Ukraine. I think Ponomaryev’s Viva La Vida did even better.
Svetlana looks like friggin’ Charo. She reminds me of the middle-aged Eastern European women who shop at the stores their pre-teen daughters shop at.
lmao! Yes. So FOB it hurts. ‘kay, I’m going to PM you because otherwise, I’m going to just take over this thread and be even more spam-obnoxious than usual.
I live in the U.S. and I’ve been a crazy ESC fan since 2003 when I started watching it on a Greek language TV station on my parent’s satellite dish. Nowadays you can watch it streaming live on their website. I’m not guilty about watching it anymore though – it’s truly addictive. And for what it’s worth, douze points for Jedward.
Whoa this is AWESOME! totally needed this!
I’m from germany and so can not avoid watching it tomorrow I think — so time to join in!
Eurovision is how I bond with my little brother.
(We watch via Youtube, every year.)
I’m not sure whether that makes me a good big sister, or a very bad one. (I also got him into Lady Gaga, Kate Bush, and S.J. Tucker.)
This is an AWESOME mix–eurodance is my biggest guilty pleasure.
showing all of this to your little brother makes you an amazing sister
SJ Tucker! I love her! I have nothing of substance to say, I’m just excited to find someone else who’s heard of her.
Since it’s such a big deal in Germany I kinda have to hate it.
But your mix looks good so I’ll definately check that out!
I’ll be watching this 14th… I bet my american neighbours won’t understand why there’s so much noise coming from my apartment.
Neat Euro Fact: Ireland has won the Eurovision more times than any other country (7)..
..but we haven’t won it – or even gotten close – in over 10 years, so the fact that Jedward are being touted as favourites has plunged the whole country into a Eurovision frenzy. It’s exciting, actually!
Be that as it may, I came pretty close to renouncing my citizenship after the Dustin incident. I mean really. Even by eurovision standards that was horrific.
I feel Dustin was Ireland’s way of desperately lashing-out at a cruel, indifferent Europe who bestowed years of unchallenged Eurovision success then snatched it away!
Dustin entry was the deranged action of a damaged national psyche.
Eurovision on Autostraddle? Whaaa? You never cease to amaze me!
I can’t believe this didn’t feature the 2007 Serbia performance. Can SOMEONE talk about this? Makes my Eastern European lesbian heart giddy.
Also, Elena Paparizou entertained me during my eurotrip ’05 at the height of my late teenage escapades…
Ooh ooh, I can!! I love that song! So moving and beautiful, and the best part – native language! SERIOUSLY can we go back to that?? What’s the point of having a multi-national and multi-ethnic contest if everyone’s singing in English?? Or, you know, at least have something with meaning again! (Prayers are usually deep and emotional, so that was a good start, Serbia) I don’t want any more “Ooh baby you’re so hot dance with me la-la-la” music; that’s why I stopped listening to English music.
Mostly I was referring to the singer and the ladies ;) because I assume 99% of people can’t understand the lyrics. and because TGIF I can turn my brain off for 24 hours.
Having said that, it IS an amazing song and I agree with everything you said!
meh – the one thing that’s annoying me is that I’ll have Lena’s/Germany’s song stuck in my head forever afterwards.
Aaaah Eurovision… Here in France I have a longtime tradition of getting drunk with friends and make fun of the 80’s clothes some “singers” still wear… It’s an institution
GO ICELAND!!! If you’ve heard their song, which they have done in Icelandic and English both, it’s particularly mushy and whimsical. And I think the theme (in my head at least) this year was “love the world” or something like that so that explains the overwhelming urge to vomit out of my ears.
Also, it’s hard to top a man humping a saxophone:
Last year my friend’s and I performed Dancing Lasha Tumbai for a drag show and it was perhaps one of the most bizarre experiences of my life, but after that, the song kinda swept the campus and whenever the LGBT group at school does any sort of social event, it is requested. After that, I became hooked on the Eurovision’s particular brand of weird.
“the most paradoxical and fascinating of them all, that almost militant level of indifference”
I like this
I will be watching live for the first time tomorrow instead of just laughing myself silly over YouTube videos (I mean, where else can you find lyrics like “Manboy, manboy, you can call me manboy, I don’t care, I’ll show you how to love” or “only Mr. God knows why”?) and I am So Excited.
Duude, manboy might be the best song of all times. SWEDEN REPRESENT AUTOSTRADDELRS!
I am actually really excited because Blue is playing. Im a weird American I know Eurovison is basically a joke to the UK but I hope they get somewhere in the top five because those boys at least have some singing talent.
Dustin the singing turkey is going to haunt my dreams. Holy fuck.
I’ve always been fascinated by Eurovision because of the outfits, but never watched it. Only seen some random clips on youtube.
Eurovision is so delightfully cheesy, it’s actually reason #162 why I can’t wait to move to Germany. I want to talk about it IRL with other people who know what the hell I’m talking about!
Love the Eurovision Song Contest and it’s not only very cheesy it’s also extremly gay … especially this year
I’m going to a Eurovision party tonight amd I can’t wait. The host has printed out scorecards for us and everything. I’m pretty sure its going to be the gayest few hours of my life.
i am so jealous. enjoy, seriously.
I watched it, but only for Ukraine’s performance because a friend tweeted that Kseniya Simonova (sand artist) was featured in the performance, didn’t think much of the song – but Kseniya’s work never ceases to amaze me.
Lena is hot! :)
Jeward must be gay but I love them so so much.
I’m pretty sure this sentence only makes sense if you replace “but” with “because”.
God that was a gay old night, I loved how everyone at the Eurovision party I was at got really into it whenever Jedward got some points, twas nice that people had a bit of national pride for once! I did think they’d do better but there’s nothing you can do about Eastern European block voting unfortunately.
Jedward are the shit, I love them so much (Irish person right here!!). They should have won too, damn block voting.
Yes, yes, yeeesssss I need more of this in my life. The costumes! The hats! The dancing! Not enough !!!! in the world to explain my happiness when it comes to Eurovision. It’s beyond ridiculous. Wish I was actually in Europe (or European at least) to have a country to root for but it’s still so much fun to watch.
How do you have a playlist like that and not have AQUA?!
Also has anyone here watched EUROBEAT the Musical? It’s a parody of Eurovision and you get to pick a country and vote for your faves and everything. SO FUN.