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Eurovision 2014: Polish porn and bearded ladies

Eurovision 2014: Polish porn and bearded ladies

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After a self-imposed hiatus of more than a decade I felt ready, on Saturday evening, for a night of over the top costumes, dubiously talented performances, pyrotechnics and awkward host banter. I got all of the above and so much more: Eurovision 2014 didn't disappoint!

For any of my worldwide Warriors who may not be familiar with the annual singing spectacle that is the Eurovision song contest let me bring you up to speed. It is, in a nutshell, a singing competition held between a number of European nations which has been broadcast annually since it's inauguration in 1956. This makes it one of the longest running t.v. programmes in the world as well as, according to Wikipedia, one of the most watched non-sporting events on the planet. So despite it's reputation for all things camp and kitsch it has, over the years, garnered what could only be described as cult status and pulls in hundreds of millions of viewers from all around the globe. 

Copenhagen played host to this year's Eurovision extravaganza since Emmelie de Forest, a Danish gal, won the title last year. That's how it works: you win this year, your country hosts the following year. I'm betting there are budget-conscious governments out there desperately willing their countrymen/women to fail.

I was glad I came out of Eurovision retirement as I found myself thoroughly entertained from start to finish. The trick with Eurovision is to go in with an open mind and a sense of fun and to take the vast majority of what you view with a pinch of sequinned salt. 

Here are my Eurovision 2014 HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS! 

Ginger Warrior, over and out.

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The spell-binding performance of Austrian drag Queen Conchita Wurst and her bondesque ballad Rise like a Phoenix was a double triumph: she not only ran away with the winner's trophy but in doing so gave a massive and metaphorical two fingers up to her critics.

In the run up to the show petitions were launched in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus calling for the removal of Conchita, real name Tom Neuwirth, from the show. The Russians, in particular, appeared to be mightily riled up:

“Austria will be represented in the Eurovision 2014 by the transvestite contestant Conchita Wurst who leads the lifestyle inapplicable for the Russians.... The popular international competition that our children will be watching has become a hotbed of sodomy at the initiation of the European liberals.

Hot bed of sodomy?  WTFF??  (Which, by the way, stands for what the frickety frick). So a man dressed in an elegant and modest evening gown, according to our Russian compatriots, is the very personification of sin and immorality. I'm assuming it's the facial hair that's pushing them over the edge. Shame on you, Russia!  (In more ways than one). No mention of the prancing polish princesses and their very loose hips (and morals)? Try explaining that one to Vlad and Anoushka.

Wurst, whose name not only means sausage but perhaps even more appropriately "who cares?" rose above the contention and controversy as she accepted her trophy: 

"For me, my dream came true. But for society it showed me that people want to move on, to look to the future. We said something, we made a statement."

My baby blues had already filled with tears by this point but she wasn't finished there.  

"This is for all those who believe in the future of peace and freedom – you know who you are. You are unity and your are unstoppable." 

Damn right, Conchita, you go girlfriend! The Russians call your lifestyle choice inapplicable. I call it diversity. The world is full of short-sighted, ignorant bigots and if a simple singing competition can raise awareness of social injustice and prejudice and remind us of the need to love and accept our fellow human beings in whatever form we find them, then I'll be tuning in each and every year.

Conchita's captivating performance

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Speaking of prancing polish princesses..

It has been a few years since Poland graced the Eurovision stage but this year they were back with a performance very few will forget and it had nothing to do with the quality of their singing. 

We were presented with undeniably beautiful and scantily clad girls some of whom appeared to dressed in tartan. This really got my proverbial goat.  Leap around on the stage like hoochie mamas by all means but don't take the good name of my great nation down with you!! This flesh-feast might also explain why the Polish entry came top with UK voters. WHO IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY VOTED FOR POLAND?? I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume members of the male sex were voting for their BREAST act.  Sorry. Just had to get that off my CHEST. 

Then there was the milk maid with her milk jugs straining to be released from the confines of her already plunging neckline as she churned the butter, all the while biting down on her lower lip and staring into the camera with "come to bed" eyes.  (You don't find many of them down on the farm.) In any case, she needn't have wasted her time with the churning since the rising heat in the auditorium did the job just fine.

And before anyone says it, no, I'm not jealous. I've got a pretty decent set myself, and they're real.  There are just some situations in life where less is most definitely more and this was one of them. Case in point:

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 Fortunately the UK jury didn't agree with the public vote and ranked them as their lowest scoring act.  For once sex didn't sell.

The provocative Polish entry

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If there were any vestiges of doubt concerning Graham Norton's ability to replace Terry Wogan in our Eurovision commentary affections then surely they have been laid to rest for once and for all. His highly amusing one-liners and never-ending stream of sarcasm kept me throughly entertained and laughing out loud throughout the show. Some people (kill joys!!) did not find his particular brand of humour quite so diverting. These people were none other than the Danish hosts and towards the end of the show, as votes were being counted, they were graciously thanking the presenters from all the different countries when suddenly the camera panned to a unsuspecting and very much taken aback Norton. This was the hilarious exchange that took place:

"Hello Graham, we want to thank you for helping present the show tonight and we also want to thank you about the fun jokes you made, especially the ones you made on my behalf," said host Pilou Asbaek, before launching into some kind of tirade in Chinese and then admonishing Graham to: "Google it baby."  

"Yeah, I'm still not getting that Chinese thing", replied Graham. "I'm trying my hardest."

"Nevertheless Graham, we're sorry that you have to sit all the way up in the back so we decided to help bring you the Eurovision atmosphere as close to you as possible. This is for you," declared Absaek before multi-coloured confetti filled Norton's commentator box. Out of Graham's mouth came my favourite line of the entire show: 

"It's like the gay wedding I'll never have".

Flippin' fantastic!!  This American journalist blogging the event live thought so too:

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I can't decide whether the Danish presenters descended upon Norton in the spirit of good fun and friendly banter or if they were genuinely irked by his snarky commentary and wished to teach him the lesson of humility. HERE is the clip so you can make up your own mind.  Let me know what you think. One thing's for sure - it makes for compelling viewing!

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Jan Lagermand Lundme, Head of Show for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, cooed: "I am thrilled with our host team of Nikolaj, Pilou and Lise – they are a huge addition to the shows. They each bring – in their own unique way – a lot of charm and very high qualifications to the role, and I am sure they will handle the job to perfection. It is a match made in heaven for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.” 

Erm, I beg to differ, Janny baby and am rather more inclined to agree with Ed Power of The Telegraph:

"the presenters were a triumph of teeth and hair over personality: their smiles gleamed even as their jokes shrivelled in front of you."

Well, if no-one else is laughing, you may as well laugh yourself. Fills up the echoing and agonising void of silence around you. Nope, they just didn't do it for the GW in the slightest.  If I had to pick three adjectives to describe their lacklustre performance I'd choose:

1) wet

2) dull

3) uninspiring

 

Without the frequent interjections of cynicism from Graham in his soon-to-be-filled-with-confetti commentary box I would have shrivelled up and died from boredom and/or embarrassment.

All hail Graham Norton!

If you can bear to sit through some footage of the Three Amigos then be my guest. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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My friend Clare, a.k.a Little Mouse, joined Craigy and I for our Eurovision festivities.  To ensure we gave the plucky performers our undivided attention at all times (ahem...) we engaged in a game of Eurovision Bingo. Instead of ticking off numbers you score off events as you seen them happen.  A magnified view of the bingo card and all will become clear:

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We had a distinct feeling from the very outset that we may be fighting a losing battle since in order to win you must secure a full house. Look at the second row from the bottom, two in from the left. We didn't have a hope in Helsinki. (Nor did the Fins for that matter - they came 11th). It was jolly good fun all the same and opened my eyes to the fact that Craigy Boy's heart is not as pure as I had thought: he cheated.  More than once.

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Seventeen year old identical twins Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy were the Russian hopefuls. Hopeful that they would win the trophy or hopeful that they would receive a warm reception from the multi-national audience before them?  Turns out they didn't get either and were repeatedly booed when the points were being handed out. Goes to show that all the glitz and glamour in the world can't hide underlying political tensions. But it also goes to show that people are unforgiving, ignorant and insensitive. We're all aware of the current unrest between Russia and Ukraine but what that has to do with these young girls is beyond me. I felt sorry for them. Graham Norton felt sorry for them. I'm sure you felt sorry for them. So massive props, kudos and respect to these brave young women for getting up on stage knowing that a frosty reception could be in store.

As for their actual performance? It involved intertwined ponytails and a giant see-saw with no harnesses.  Risky business.  But I actually quite liked this song and the girls can really sing.  Some nice key changes too.

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Eurovision is renowned for moments ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and as such nothing should shock or surprise us. Particularly bizarre, however, was when, during an interlude, surprise snacks were bestowed upon the unsuspecting acts by host, Lisa Rønne in the Green Room.  UK act Molly Smitten-Downes was presented with a curly wurly cake from Borough Market (which apparently she loves) and by the look on her face was less than smitten and decidedly more freaked out by the random act of kindness.  Eventually she does admit that she is partial to a slice or two and graciously accepts her gift before insisting that she will be sharing it with no-one, excpet, perhaps, her 91 year old grandmother.

Rønne then proceeds to hijack the French contingency with Asian food from their alleged favourite restaurant. They have actually flown the chef in from Paris and he appears with platefuls of food for the now very excited group of half-naked Frenchmen.

One of those moments where you look at the person next to you in complete bewilderment and say: Did that just happen?

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We came, we saw, we cringed. Eurovision would be incomplete and utterly devoid of that which makes it watchable (and unwatchable at the same time. It's a paradox I tell ya!) if we didn't find ourselves wincing and recoiling in embarrassment at events unfolding before our eyes.  Here are just a few little nuggets that had us all burying our heads in our hands:

1) Instead of reading out the points as is expected the Finnish judge launches into a painful 10 second rap which lasts 10 seconds too long. Everyone wants their moment of glory, I suppose.  Shame there was nothing glorious about it whatsoever.

2) The Lithuanian judge rubbing his hands together like a total weirdo. Russia - don't let Vlad or Anoushka out of your sight. Men in beards are the least of your worries.

3) The Danish presenter, Pilou Asbaek's, frequent and baffling commentaries in Chinese. I didn’t get it, Graham didn’t get it. Did you get it??

4) One of the interlude acts which involved an old man and several others precariously balanced on the top of neon ladders whilst offering a bizarre rendition of Ode to Joy. Memorable for entirely the wrong reasons but you might want to watch it for yourself.

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For the first time in years we, the UK, were in for a shot. The bookies even had her down as fifth favourite to win. In the end UK hopeful Molly Smitten-Downes amassed a total of 40 points coming in 17th place, her self--penned song "Children of The Universe" failing to win over European voters.

It wasn't the most explosive performance of the night, granted, but my own personal feeling is that it was deserving of more and our Molly can go back home to Leicester with her head held high. I just hope she's left her shiny metallic lion outfit in Copenhagen. Best place for it.

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40 Comments

  1. I must admit I didn’t watch all of Eurovision but I did watch most of it on & off. Like you GW I feel it’s kind of a love / hate thing. I genuinely don’t think you’ll ever see anything like it anywhere else on TV or even in the world. Some of the acts are amazing, some horrific. The thing that does upset me the most is the political voting, you could have the best or the worst act but it’s not down to the music it’s down to what country you’re representing & who’s friends with who that year.

    Still I’ll more than likely tune in next year for more fun & laughter at the dodgy costumes, dance routines & of course the fantastic commentary from Graham. x

  2. As a life long Eurovision fan I was very upset that I had to attend a wedding on Saturday rather than stay at home and, as is tradition, have a mini Eurovision party. It’s all taken very seriously in our house… We have score sheets and everything! I did sky plus it though, made my get away at 9pm (I had the excuse that I’d been up for work at 5am so it didn’t appear rude!) and went home to watch and fast forward. It was the first time since I began watching it (from about the age of 3) that I have ever ‘missed’ it and I am gutted! I even managed to watch it in a bar in Valencia last year! My personal favourite was the French entry. Very catchy and I still keep humming it! The best best best entry though was Latvia but it didn’t qualify for the finals :( if you haven’t heard it google it, it’s called ‘Cake to Bake’ – sounds fabulous already doesn’t it?!! The Spanish entry, unfortunately, was unusually rubbish, slow and boring! I wasn’t a massive fan of Conchita’s song, a bit slow for my liking, but I quite like Austria. It’s a life dream to go to Eurovision… Perhaps 2015 will be my year! I hope so!

  3. Excellent! Thanks for that GW! I’m almost sorry now I missed it! Definitely all hail Graham Norton…and all hail The Ginger Warrior for another great post! Love frickety frick btw! xxx

  4. I love watching Eurovision, it is everything you said! Terrible hosts, some great songs but some complete rubbish, and best of all, Graham Norton! We had a Eurovision party once where you had to drink when you saw over-the-top pyrotechnics… It got interesting pretty quickly.
    I think one of my favourite moments after France’s moustache song was when that guy did the rap and Graham said “well, that wasn’t embarrassing at all, well done”. Absolutely love him :-)

  5. I love this post and I still love Miss. Wurst. Thanks for having me! Definitely think we should up our game next year and have a full on Eurovision party with fancy dress and food to go with the theme. What do you think?! xxx

  6. Graham Norton made my Eurovision 2014 with his awful yet amusing banter :-)

  7. Great post! Eurovision is like nothing else on TV! It seems that anything goes which makes for a highly entertaining and as you say diverse evening combined with the sharp humour of Graham Norton. Without him though, frankly the evening would have been a combination of bizarre and tedious. Our fast forward button was a necessary part of the evening I’m afraid – especially during the presenters air time!!
    Personally apart from UK entry which is the closest we’ve got to the “Eurovision Sound” for decades we particularly enjoyed the Netherlands entry.

  8. I was (thankfully) out when the show was on but enjoyed your video clips and engaging synopsis of the show.

    Your comment on the Polish girls wearing tartan sparked my curiosity, so I did a little research and they do indeed have their own :/

    http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails.aspx?ref=5852

    Who would have thought??

      • You (and the Irish) definitely do, but for some strange reason all and sundry want to get in on the act these days – mind you, not many people knew that Yorkshire folk used to wear wooden clogs either and thought it was only the Dutch who had no sense of style! :-)

  9. Loved Eurovision this year – except the wooden female presenter and the old man on ladder bit! My personal favourite was Denmark – Cliche Love Song, by the Bruno Mars soundalike. Graham Norton, as ever, was fantastic! Didn’t like the British entry tbh, and really due to political voting we don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning! It’s this very same political voting that makes the whole thing a hoot – we in the “Glass House” are all screaming at the TV, guessing who’s votes are going where hahaha

    • The Ginger Warrior

      The British entry could have been more explosive BUT it has been stuck in my head the past couple of days so must be quite catchy!

  10. All hail Graham Norton indeed, he never puts a foot wrong. But three cheers also for Pilou (the cool spin-doctor from Borgen), Nicolaj (he plays the piano!) and (ok, slightly wooden but cheery) Lise, the three Danish hosts. They weren’t afraid to take the p*** out of themselves and didn’t come across as over-the-top, plastic or creepy, prerequisites for Euroviz hosts since time immemorial. And hooray for Conchita and the Icelandic rainbow warriors :-)

    • The Ginger Warrior

      I wasn’t overly enamoured by the hosts,to be honest, but there has been worse, for sure! :) And “Icelandic rainbow Warriors” Lol! Love it!

  11. I’ve found out why the host kept throwing in comments in Chinese! One of my students told me it’s because this year is the first time Eurovision has been aired in China. I just hope and pray they don’t think Eurovision is a good representation of what they’ll find in Europe if they ever visit!!!

  12. me and izzy love eurovision woooo

  13. Never was interested in watching Eurovision, but your post was perfect and we enjoyed ( cringed on) the videos. Now I feel like I can understand what the whole buzz on the bearded lady is about. You made long tedious hours enjoyable indeed, thank you ! ( graham Norton is such an iconic British icon, wish we had a Gra-ame Noreton in France 😉

  14. I loved your highlights and lowlights on the Eurovision broadcast. We don’t see it on Canadian TV so looking at the video clips you included provided much amusement.

  15. I used to be a keen Eurovision watcher but have missed the past few years – however instead of Bingo, it was a drinking game that accompanied the party. But as they say – don’t do this at home! Being far more sensible now I am little older, then bingo definitely is the way forward. And your summary of the weekend really brought the occasion home to me and so I may return to the fold next year.

    Oh, and a tip, having the subtitles on during the show adds an additional element of amusement. They used to translate the songs into English – or tried to – giving an insight to the lyrics if you do not possess the GW multilingual talents.

  16. am i right in thinking that conchita has more than one meaning in spanish?!!!

    • The Ginger Warrior

      I think you may be right, Livvers. Not for repeating on this blog though, it’s a family show round here! 😉 xxxx

  17. Best Eurovision of all time! So glad you watched it! Previous years have been painful to say the least!

  18. Norton is an odious man, with no understanding of music and a snide sense of humour.
    The Bbc seem to think its amusing to have someone treading all over the Eurovision Song Contest with idiotic comments. It’s as if they are saying ‘these Europeans are not good enough for us so we will make fun of them instead.’
    This moronic behaviour makes me ashamed to be British.
    It’s the way this island country of ours has always behaved to Europe.
    It’s pitiful.
    In this digital age anyone around the world can watch the bbc coverage of Eurovision.
    Obviously the Danes knew what to expect.
    Let’s not forget the Danish hosts are multilingual unlike norton and his likes. Casper Juul and his buddies rendered norton speechless in his own language.
    Norton was made to look a fool, he was merked, mugged off. And it is about time too.
    And btw. Any country that has brought ‘selfie ‘ by the chain smokers into the charts has absolutely no right to criticise any song in Eurovision

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