The Eurovision Song Contest is back, bringing with it all the high melodrama and quasi-scandals that are bound to erupt when musical theater types from many nations come together with the sole quest of outshining each other on stage.
If you’re not familiar with Eurovision, you’re a bad gay, but Google is your friend. Suffice it here to say that the songfest was born in 1956, introduced ABBA to the world in 1974, and fearlessly returns every May to fill the European continent with (often horrendously-lyriced) three-minute pop ditties and (often fiercely campy) national musical pride.
This year is, as they say, no exception. Two semifinals earlier this week have helped narrow the field a bit (sending home the likes of Montenegro’s spacesuited dubsteppers), but tonight’s final in Sweden’s Malmö Arena will still feature a whopping 26 contestants from across the European continent. We couldn’t possibly tell you about them all, but we’ve got you covered for the highlights – and a few lowlights.
The Favorite: Denmark
With the best betting odds ever for a contestant going into a Eurovision final (about 4/6 at the moment), Emmelie de Forest’s Celtic-tinged “Only Teardrops” has been the bookies’ strong favorite for months.
The Challenger: Norway
With the uncharacteristically edgy (for Eurovision) “I Feed You My Love”, Norway’s Margaret Berger is, say the bookmakers right now, the closest thing to a clear challenger facing Denmark.
Unicorn Horse: Ukraine
Eurovision bookies somehow often underestimate the voting power of the former Eastern Bloc countries, and Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich could easily pull off an upset with her Disney-esque but lovely and uplifting “Gravity”.
The Really Dark Horse: Greece
With a smolderingly hot lead singer, kilts, and an upbeat boozy anthem, Greece’s Koza Mostra may have some surprises up their skirts with “Alcohol Is Free”.
Farthest Over the Top: Romania
Vlad the Impaled? Not unlike a castrated Dracula, Romanian opera singer Cezar gives you eardrum-popping megadrama with “It’s My Life.”
Most Scandalous: Finland
Surprising that such an cheery ditty would prove to be this year’s most controversial Eurovision entry, but Finland’s Krista Siegfrids courted scandal by planting a big wet smooch on one of her female backup singers at the end of her semifinal performance of “Marry Me” on Thursday.
It’s A Heartache: United Kingdom
The poor UK has fared terribly in recent Eurovision memory, and has resorted to pulling out long bygone heavyweights like last year’s Engelbert Humperdinck and this year’s Bonnie Tyler, who begs “Believe In Me”. Alas, we just can’t.
Most Likely to Chart Internationally: Germany
Club music fans may remember Cascada from their 2009 hit “Evacuate The Dancefloor”. They represent their native Germany at Eurovision this year with a catchy track, but one that sounds just a bit too much like last year’s winner (Loreen’s “Euphoria”, for Sweden) to take the prize this year.
Debbie Downer: Netherlands
We’re still not sure why, but Holland’s Anouk wants everyone to know that “Birds” are falling from the rooftops.
Don’t miss all the pompy Europop action of the Eurovision Song Conest final, live online today beginning at 9 p.m. Central European Time (3 p.m. US Eastern Time).