Seven Eurovision Videos You May Enjoy

Before there was American Idol or The Voice or whatever it is that my mom watches on TV, there was Eurovision. Eurovision is a 56-year-old annual contest held among the members of the European Broadcasting Union; each country sends a performer or group to perform one song for judges and a huge crowd, and by a mystical system of judging which I do not understand, one country is chosen as the winner each year, and may return victorious to their native land. You may have heard of ABBA and/or Celine Dion, who have both competed in years past and had their careers jumpstarted by the magic of Eurovision.

I am a newcomer to Eurovision, by which I mean I never knew or cared about until last year, when I lived with someone who did, and watched prodigious amounts of the contest in our sweaty unairconditioned apartment in the summer of 2011. I still feel like I do when watching football, which is confused and a little anxious, but also there are many very enjoyable things about Eurovision! Some fun activities include hearing languages spoken/sung in that you’ve never heard before, or alternately hearing people sing in English who clearly don’t understand the lyrics they’re performing, really incredible outfits, really incredibly ridiculous outfits, incredibly ridiculous outfits that are either totally unrelated or extremely literally related to the subject matter at hand, intense choreography, and sometimes pyrotechnics. The songs below do not combine all these elements, but they address many of them, and are also awesome. They do not encompass the entirety of awesome Eurovision things, either; for instance, I know there was at least one performance where the vocalist was dressed as like a robot or maybe the Tin Man in super shiny silver costume and also two shiny metallic backup dancers behind her had like jersey numbers on their backs?? Does anyone know what that one was? Because God damn.

Eurovision 2012 is happening this week, from Tuesday to Thursday. Do your research beforehand to discover where your allegiances lie, and then watch for yourself!

Serbia, 2007

“This sort of butch lady singing with a bunch of hot ladies may seem gay, but she is mostly singing about Jesus.” — my friend Batia

Turkey, 2011

I don’t even know what this is. It makes me scared but also excited?

Israel, 1998

Dana International is a two-time contestant for Israel, and transgender. This song won Eurovision in 1998! She also competed last year, with the catchy and enjoyable song “Ding Dong.”

Belarus, 2007

This feels to me like a commercial for conditioner? Like I want to buy conditioner or something after watching it. Apparently it is actually about curing cancer though!

Moldova, 2010

The internet is still talking about the “epic sax guy.” Four for you, sax guy! Also, furry shoulder pads!

Estonia, 2011

This song is very entertaining without making any real sense to a native English speaker whatsoever, which is mostly what I look for in a Eurovision entry, so.

Russia, 2012

Okay, so this hasn’t actually happened yet. But it will, and also, singing grannies. Look at their necklaces! WINNERS. I’m calling it now.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1136 articles for us.

63 Comments

  1. Cat

    I love Eurovision a lot, mostly because I also love the Eurovision drinking game.

    Having said, I will never forgive Ireland for the Dustin incident. I almost renounced my citizenship after that.

  2. RACHEL YOU HAVE LEFT OUT THE BEST/MOST RELEVANT TO OUR INTERESTS VIDEO OF ALL TIME.

    Women. Leather. Inexplicable fires. Ruslana.

    • RUSLANA!!! This explains the weird girl and the three boys with pipe-y horn-like things at a talent show circa 2006 held at my school. We just assumed they were trying to envision Shakira back in Medieval times or trying to turn Xena into a musical. These thoughts mostly impeded me from cringing in horror.

    • stef2

      YES YES AND YES

      i will NEVER forget the moment that ruslana appeared on my screen. and that was already 8 years ago, after all. oh how my little homogay feelings got confused. ah, memories…

  3. Paula

    The time span you have mentioned only covers the pre-competition, the real thing is on Saturday.

    Also this event is religiously watched by gay men in Germany. My friend attended last year and they closed the bar that served beer like 30 minutes into the show and they had to get drunk on Prosecco all night long.

    I also thought the winner was only determined by people calling in but I might be mistaken.

    • They recently added a panel of judges that make a fraction of the vote, which is a good move, as voting does get political and certain countries vote in blocs.

    • This event is watched religiously by all young people in need of something to laugh and get indignant about in Germany. I was at a birthday/Eurovision party last year where a huge portion of the conversation was dedicated to criticizing the body condoms worn by Lena’s back-up dancers, and the lyrics of her song.

      • Paula

        Not to forget her ridiculous fake British accent.

  4. ems

    This. The super shiny silver costume. Best performance of them all. xD

    • bustedsneakers

      Verka Seduchka was ROBBED that year! ROBBED. Go Ukraine!

  5. I CANNOT WAIT until it’s on! There is nothing better than ridiculous dance routines and songs I can’t understand put together with commentary from a TV host who gets steadily more drunk as the evening goes on.

  6. I can never un-cringe at my hipster-y attitude of ‘i liked them for over a year before this’ to when Lordi were in this competition… 6 years ago… stupid 14 year olds.

    Britain always has terrible entries…

  7. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!!!!

    I love Eurovision !

    !

  8. Okay, Estonia’s has got to be my favorite. Not only for the “1, 2, 7, 3” part of the chorus, but also because it’s supposed to be about New York City and yet the London Eye is a major part of the set! Yes! Yes good.

  9. Tia

    This article is fantastic!

    I was previewing the new song entries last weekend and stumbled upon this AWESOME 2012 entry from San Morino: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqwBh9hq9PE

    I try to make it my mission to get more Americans to watch Eurovision since someone introduced it to me 5 years ago. Soooo much more entertaining than any other music competition on tv. It’s on my bucket list to travel to one of the competitions one year…Maybe when Jedward wins after their 15th try, I’ll get my wish. By that time, the voters may be so tired of seeing them in the competition that they’ll be compelled to vote for Ireland.

  10. Nothing beats Lordi in my opinion. It was the puns. “Arockalypse” needs to find its way back into my daily vernacular.

    • I just had to listen to it again… I may be listening to lordi for a while now. I have not heard this stuff for like 5 years, i’m actually getting chills remembering it… So glad they won, got this video…

      I have no idea how they play in those suits…

  11. If Russia doesn’t win Eurovision this year I’m calling bullshit on the whole operation. SORRY I’M NOT SORRY, JEDWARD FANS.

  12. Jamala is a Ukrainian singer who ended up withdrawing from the Eurovision finals a while back.

    Her shrill voice takes some getting used to, but damn is it strong! She’s got mad pipes.

  13. “‘This sort of butch lady singing with a bunch of hot ladies may seem gay, but she is mostly singing about Jesus.’ — my friend Batia”

    This is why Europe is secretly the most confusing place on the entire planet.

  14. AJS

    So, like, my dad has two Bucks Fizz albums *runs and hides*
    (Random: according to Mark Ronson, his dad is responsible for discovering Bucks Fizz, but nobody has ever confirmed it outside of him)
    I absolutely loved Israel’s 1995 entry ‘Amen’. It made me proud.✡
    Dana International is quite a big celebrity in Israel now, all these years later. Certainly the most recognized trans* celebrity.

  15. I’m in loooooooooooove with a fairytaleeeeee even thou it hurrrrrrrtsssssss

    • Congratulations, that guy is now ruined for you forever because of how creepy this entire thing is

  16. molitva

    That sort of butch lady is not singing about Jesus. :)
    She sings about praying for somebody she broke up with. She tries to pray but all she thinks about is her/his name.
    Also she might be gay there was a lot gossip in tabloids but she never sad she was gay.

  17. TimeInvariant

    Every year for a decade I’ve had a Eurovision party, followed by an epic hangover.

    I’m in the UK – who (god bless em) rarely get a decent amount of points – mostly I’d imagine due to the political voting that goes on. The other factor I think is that they take it slightly too seriously and put in pop songs that are vaguely acceptable. That’s the wrong approach, you need to put in completely appalling songs that are hilariously bad – these are the ones that win.

    Still though, I do like Engelbert Humperdinks song this year. As an Irish person, I apologise to the world for Jedward.

  18. Nicky

    Dutch singers try to sort of copy the over the top performances (since the last time we won was in 1975!), this year the singer is wearing a Native American headdress… This makes so much sense, it’s like Garth Brooks wearing clogs with tulips.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot–fvEq8ts

    • Nicky

      Also, we should win the prize for most offensive performance.

      • Top this i dare you. Well you may be able to, but in sheer creepiness, this guy takes it.

    • wow i was unimpressed by the song lyrics, but watched on and she has such a cute way of bopping/grooving (and also she is beautiful) :D

    • That’s funny ’cause just 2 days ago I watched a TV report about ESC.
      It’s so interesting, how completely unpolitically and shallow it may seem, but how much inpact it had on eg. the Soviet union, DDR or even gay visibility!

      And by the way..coming weekend in Düsseldorf will be public viewing of the ESC in collaboration with Christopher Street Day :)

      • Damn, actually I wanted to comment on the Lena-Video first!
        Because 2 years ago I had a maaajor crush on her ;)

  19. This might be sort of weird to say since I don’t know you Rachel, but I DO know Batia, and my first thought when I saw this article was, “I bet Batia got her in to this.” She did it to me, too! I’ve never met anyone so enthusiastic about Eurovision, before or since.
    Though when I lived in Spain I watched it with a whole bunch of Spaniards who all pretended to think it was stupid, but were all suspiciously invested in debating about the performances and ranking them. Hmmm…
    Thanks for reminding me it’s coming up!

  20. Youtube gave me Sweden’s entry, which is not half as ridiculous as some of the Eurovision’s best (or as offensive as the Native American-themed one) but she can somewhat sing and she is her own backup dancer?

    • Loreen has an awesome voice and also a pretty catchy song! This is one of the rare cases when I actually like the song Sweden sends to Eurovision. Last years contribution was… well popular, but not really any good.

      Also she is a feminist!

  21. Oh my. I didn’t know Americans watched Eurovision :P the Polish contestants were never good so I never liked it… :P

  22. Meyrin

    I truly feel as though nobody should go through life without having seen this 1979 Eurovision entry about, well, Genghis Khan.

    There’s also this adorably bizarre J-pop cover?

  23. Bekah

    Is there anywhere to stream this online? I watched it last year in Europe and it was the silliest, and I’d love to watch it again this year.

  24. Armando

    AMAZING.

    But let’s not forget the wonderful amazing weirdness of 2007 Ukraine! SILVER. LEIDERHOSEN.

    There’s some inexplicable footage of santa playing chess with what appears to be a hippo, but it’s worth it, trust me.

  25. What are peoples thinking for this year? I know Sweden is tipped to win, and it’s damn good, but i want Iceland. Theirs is damn cool.

  26. Tali

    The Genghis Khan people also did this fantastic song and dance.

  27. Tia

    IMO, Albania’s “Suus” is this year’s answer to Serbia’s 2007 “Molitva.”

    Vocals, performance, costume, staging, passion…so great.

  28. Although i’ve never been to a Eurovision party or participated in any drinking games whilst watching it (on my checklist for this year!), it used to be the holiest of nights for this tiny (mostly european of course) forum i’m part of.
    Damn i sort of wish we didn’t have jobs/lives as attendance in the Eurovision thread has recorded all time lows the past couple of years.
    Anyway.

    I have to say, i usually love Ukraine’s entries (looking at you Verka Seduchka!). Here’s another one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA-HL-EfUbI

    The belt she’s wearing looks like a strap-on belt.
    And i appreciate the Gay Spartan Hamsters. I do.

    • Hannah

      Oh, Svetlana Loboda…I always appreciate the sluttiness of Eurovision.
      The Ukrainian entry this year is pretty fabulous as well, she’s got a great voice:

  29. OOH yes, a medleyy!!!! omg waterloo my little swedish heart beats so fast right now! watch out for hostess leyla though, the daughter of the (lil’ bit evil) president ilham aliyev…

    • Oh crap I didn’t realize she’s the daughter of the president! She’s super cute, though ;)

  30. i’m literally peeing my pants but i can’t leave the tv, tooooo excited!

  31. Oh brilliant!
    I shall use your description to finally explain to my girlfriend why I love Eurovision in all it’s glory!
    Funny how the Brit’s go on all year how rubbish it is, then they get a shitty score, come last or near to last, and then analyse the crap out of why they did so badly! Bless ’em!
    I renounce my citizenship temporarily while Jedward are on stage, but at least Ireland are guaranteed to never win with them. (We can’t afford to host it… Oh the heady days of the 90’s 3-in-a-row! Did the Celtic tiger launch Riverdance? Or did Riverdance launch the Celtic Tiger?)

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