Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to Eurovision

The first time I ever saw a kiwi fruit was at the Sizzler salad bar. I was 10 years old and though How did I make it this long in life without knowing about these? When I was 12, I had the same reaction when I learned about manatees, and again in college when I learned about Kwanzaa. 

Last weekend I had a similar experience when I learned about Eurovision - Europe's 40 year old talent competition that gave ABBA and Celine Dion their first big breaks.

Eurovision is basically American Idol on a continental, trans-cultural scale. Fourty-two countries are represented with Israel, Turkey and Azerbaijan included. There are semi-finals and finals. Afterwards, you can call in by country to vote for your favorite act. Calls are reported country by country.

The first half of the show is the singing and dancing, and the second half are representatives from all 42 countries calling in to report their country's Top 10. 10th place gets you a point, 9th gets you two points, etc. 1st place get's 12 points, 2nd gets 10, and 3rd gets 8.

Countries can't vote for themselves, but the all vote for their neighbors. The Scandinavian countries vote for Scandinavian countries. Former Yugoslavian countries vote for other Former Yugoslavian countries. But ala the Wisdom of Crowds, and the bonus points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, a few performers begin to rise to the top.

It's amazing what a huge deal this is, and how I have never heard of it. The UK contestant sang an Andew Lloyd Webber song...accompanied by Andrew Lloyd Webber on the piano! And the UK still wasn't in the Top 3.

So if you're interested in who the next European superstar is, it's Norwegian Alexander Rybak who almost double the points of runners up Iceland and Azerbaijan . Trust me. The Europeans went nuts for this guy.

But if you want to see the real trainwrecks of Eurovision, check out the very low scoring Germany and Finland. Please note these are actual contestants and NOT skits from Saturday Night Live. (Yes, the German guy's silver pants are awesome, but you've got to watch until 2:18 when the dominatrix arrives.)

I don't know about you, but I would not want to run into that gangsta in a Helsinki back alley. The fact that Finland has nights that are six months long make it especially dangerous. 

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