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
Add your favorite Europop party tracks in the comments below.
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