Eurovision, which sounds kind of like an ’80s horror movie, had its big finale this weekend. On the air since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is the longest-running annual TV song competition in Europe. The finals, which receive a lot of attention in Europe (and, now in the age of the internet, in the U.S. too), include 26 countries (27 this year, as Australia participated for the first and only time, “in honor of the Aussies’ love of the camp glitterfest”). Each country must play one original song (no covers) performed by up to six people, all of whom must be over the age of 16. The “Big Five” countries — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain — are the five biggest economic powers in the contest and consequently get automatic spots in the finals each year, as does whatever country is the current host. There were occasional language restrictions in the ’70s and ’80s, but since 1999 countries can perform in any language. Ireland has the most wins of all time, with seven, while poor Portugal has never cracked the top five in 60 years.
This year, 28-year-old pop singer Mans Zelmerlöw of Sweden won the contest with a song called “Heroes” (not the Bowie one), which ended up winning 365 points. Austria, who hosted the event, tied Germany for last place, earning a total of zero points for their representative group's flaming-piano power ballad. France earned four points, and the U.K. got five. While ABBA and Céline Dion remain the most successful acts to perform at Eurovision, the heavy metal-playing Orcs from Finland are a fan favorite.
Here is Zelmerlöw's winning performance:
And here is Austria's bad-hair piano flame-out:
And if five and a half hours of European wannabe-pop sounds like fun, watch the whole finale here.