• Austria's news in English
 
Eurovision 2014 Review
A victory for bearded men in dresses
Conchita Wurst celebrates victory for Austria. Photo: DPA

A victory for bearded men in dresses

Published: 11 May 2014 11:33 GMT+02:00

Sometimes they use these mad props – a fire extinguisher, for example – for literally no discernible reason. Samuel Johnson said a man who is tired of London is tired of life – well, a person who is sick of Eurovision is either lying to themselves, or in the midst of some kind of nervous breakdown.

Speaking of people who don't like Eurovision: apparently the neo-Nazis hate it, my German friend told me so. And you can kind of see why, I thought, as I watched the winner of last night's show singing away.

Nobody who loves Conchita Wurst – and Europe really loves Conchita Wurst – could hate black people, or Turkish people, or gays or anyone else the neo-Nazis want us to hate.

I don't think this is specifically to do with Conchita being a beautiful skinny man in a glorious dress with a huge beard and skinny men in dresses with beards being something which requires a lot of tolerance, although that surely plays a role.

But there was an even greater, almost spiritual vulnerability about Conchita, I thought. You couldn't really hate anything or anyone while Conchita was singing.

This year was actually, for Eurovision standards, surprisingly non-camp. First up were Ukraine, with a cheerful song called Tick-Tock, followed by Belarus with Cheesecake.

Eurovision really does have educational benefits too – if it weren't for the song contest, I'm sure most people would never have realized that Azerbaijan, who were represented by Dilara Kazimova singing a slow number and had a person wriggling about on a trapeze in the background, is (kind of) in Europe.

Iceland came on with a jolly, rocky little song with a nice anti-prejudice message. And then Norway went for melancholy and moving – Carl Espen, a former UN soldier in Kosovo who works as a doorman at a heavy metal disco and was incredibly sexy sang “Silent Storm”, a song that had been written especially for him, apparently.

It was a bit depressing, violins and sadness are usually a bad combination. They could've done with a few props, I felt, to liven things up a bit, distract us somewhat. Maybe someone in a tiger costume on a fire extinguisher or something?

Romania sent Paula and Ovi, who, by the way, came third the year Lena won for Germany in 2010. All the Germans who were so snide about sending Lena twice, take note.

The duo's song was called Miracle, and it kind of sounded like a Tampon advert soundtrack, although my best friend and viewing companion claimed that tampon ads sound catchier.

Armenia's was a bit boring, Montenegro had ice-skating. But I was just starting to think that this year's Eurovision was the least camp, the least gimmicky, the least fabulous of all the years I'd ever seen when along came Poland.

Their song was in Polish but the title was “We are Slavic!” It was a rumptious, bombastic number involving very beautiful women with gorgeous figures doing housework chores in an almost painfully arousing way.

It was brilliant. They used props. They used props very well. They had old-fashioned washing implements and everything. It was everything your heart could ever desire.

Next up was Greece, with Freaky Fortune performing Rise Up, featuring a rapper from London. I thought this was genuinely quite good, almost like a normal song, possibly just the London connection shining through though.

Austria's Conchita Wurst performed Rise Like A Phoenix and the whole of Europe fell in collective love. Germany followed Austria with a nice enough song from a nice enough girl – not the worst thing anyone has ever sung, but nothing special.

Sweden were my favourites to win with their generic love song and Celine Dionny vocals. I bet my son ten cents they'd win. France's song was – yay! In French! Almost absolutely everyone else sang in English.

“Is it racist that the only black guy is half-naked and has tribal stripes on his face?” The best friend asked. I chewed thoughtfully on my lip. “Surely not?” I said. “Maybe it's meant to be sending up racism in French society!” The best friend said generously.

Russia sent along two ridiculously tall 17-year-old identical twins who did a mirror-performance and had their hair stuck together. It was fairly high on the fabulous-o-meter. Also at one point it sounded like they sang “Shine into my tardis!” This is exactly what it sounded like, and probably the first Doctor Who reference in Eurovision history.

Italy's entry was fairly boring, she had an incredibly short skirt on, though. Slovenia's was barely worth mentioning. Spain sang in Spanish – a soaring ballad. Switzerland performed a cheerful, bouncy number – Hungary, though, offered up a sad song called “Running”, telling the tale of an abused child. The lyrics were depressingly detailed, I quite liked it though.

Malta's entry wasn't very catchy or interesting – but next up was Denmark, my favourites of the night. I bet my son 20 cents they'd win and stood up to dance to their Cliché Love Song – the only song I stood up to dance to, by the way.

The Netherlands followed with a duo on guitars, singing a country ballad and staring lovingly into each others' eyes. I was majorly bored but the German commentator really, really loved this song, he was a huge fan.

Eurovision's educational benefits continued when San Marino performed. “I have literally never heard of this country,” I told my best friend. “I have,” she said, knowledgeably. “It's in Italy. It's about the size of Neukölln in Berlin.” Geographical discoveries led to me not taking any notice of the song whatsoever, but they ended up coming third, so looks like Europe agreed with me.

And last but not least: the United Kingdom. I really think they don't want to win. Every year they send the worst song of the night, or thereabouts: Children of the Universe. A total embarrassment. Even more embarrassing: I voted for it twice, purely on patriotic grounds.

The voting was totally exciting, because although Austria zoomed into the lead, it was pretty close almost all the way through.

Lots of booing for Russia – I was a bit surprised at that. Was there booing in the 90s during the Yugoslav Wars? I'm too young, I can't remember.

The Netherlands came second and Sweden, my second favourites to win, came third. France came last – maybe they'll sing in English next year? Germany came in at Number 18 – one place behind the UK. Not bad.

Austria won, and they deserved to, too – it was a victory for vulnerability, emotional songs and also for the right of men in beards to wear dresses if they want to.

By Jacinta Nandi

SEE ALSO: Relive Eurovision with The Local's live blog

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Third building evacuated as collapse feared
Photo: APA

Third building evacuated as collapse feared

For a third time in as many weeks, an apartment building in Vienna has had to be evacuated by rescue services due to fears of its imminent collapse, according to a report from the Austrian Press Agency (APA). READ  

Austrian entertainer Udo Jürgens dead at 80
Photo: DPA FILE

Austrian entertainer Udo Jürgens dead at 80

The 80-year-old Austrian entertainer Udo Jürgens died on Sunday from heart failure while walking in Switzerland. READ  

German skier dies on Salzburg mountain
Obertauern North. Photo: Robert Burwood

German skier dies on Salzburg mountain

A 24-year-old German man from Bavaria died on Saturday morning while skiing the slopes of Schönalmbahn, in the Untertauern valley near Salzburg. READ  

Special streetcar operating this weekend
Photo: Wiener Linien

Special streetcar operating this weekend

The special Ströck Christmas Tram is operating this weekend around the Ring in Vienna, and will donate all proceeds to a charity for children with heart disease. READ  

Couple intercepted at airport with machine gun
Photo: APA

Couple intercepted at airport with machine gun

An Austrian man and a Turkish woman were arrested on a plane about to take off from Vienna for Istanbul after a machine gun was found in their checked-in luggage, authorities said Saturday. READ  

Missing Austrian hiker rescued by copter in NZ
Photo: Royal New Zealand Air Force

Missing Austrian hiker rescued by copter in NZ

An Austrian hiker who went missing in a forest in New Zealand after being separated from the group he was with has been rescued via helicopter after being spotted in a valley on Friday. READ  

Police rescue kittens from illegal smuggler
Two of the rescued kittens. Photo: Burgenland Police department

Police rescue kittens from illegal smuggler

Police conducting a routine vehicle inspection in Nickelsdorf, Burgenland near the Hungarian border made a surprise find on Friday when they discovered four kittens being illegally transported, according to a report in the news daily Heute. READ  

The Local List
Top 12 German sayings
What's that about a beard? Photo: Thaddaus Zoltkowski

Top 12 German sayings

The Local List shines a little light on some of the charming eccentricities of the German language. READ  

'Girl power' for Austria's Eurovision
From left to right: Mirjam Weichselbraun, Conchita Wurst, Arabella Kiesbauer and Alice Tumler. Photo: ORF

'Girl power' for Austria's Eurovision

The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest - to be hosted by Austria in May - will be presented by three women, with this year’s winner Conchita Wurst in the Green Room. READ  

Austria seeks €3.5 billion from BayernLB
Photo: Andreas Gebert/dpa

Austria seeks €3.5 billion from BayernLB

Austria has filed a lawsuit against BayernLB on the grounds that it believes it was misled by the German lender over the true financial state of the Hypo Alpe Adria bank, which had to be nationalised in 2009. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Top 12 German language idioms
Travel & Tourism
Top mistakes tourists make in Austria
Society
Afghan refugees get integration help
Society
Waiting to be smuggled into Austria after a tortuous journey
Culture
Facing up to death over coffee and cake
Gallery
What foods did Austrians search the most in 2014?
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Culture
Our pick of Austria's best Christmas markets
Society
Vienna's Ring is about to celebrate its 150th birthday
Travel & Tourism
A slice of Austria in northern California
International
An Austrian surgeon is working to repair broken bodies in Ukraine
Travel & Tourism
Tales of Couchsurfing in Vienna
International
Nuclear incidents show dangers of weapons
Gallery
Ten things to know before you party with an Austrian
Society
The Congress of Vienna revisited
Society
New museum houses memories of Kindertransport children
International
Is Vienna at the heart of a possible new European war?
Gallery
Images from the ice storm which hit Lower Austria on the weekend
National
Returning home after 20 years away and starting a business
National
It's the most wonderful time of the year, but can be hazardous for kids
Gallery
Get ready for Christmas like an Austrian. Here's how.
National
Holocaust survivors' family retrace grandparents' steps in Vienna
International
An alpine village welcomes asylum seekers
Culture
Painting is a journey of discovery for Russian artist in Vienna
Gallery
Top 10 mistakes Austrians make in English
Culture
Guide to Austrian coffee
Gallery
Ten of the most delicious Austrian desserts you shouldn't miss
Features
No picnic with Italian bears
Features
Building a new life in Austria
National
12 etiquette tips to help you make friends in Austria
Features
The Austrian ski school churning out champions
Features
Expat life: Learning German and making music in Vienna
Society
Radical Islam in Austria is active and growing
National
The Austrian female priest who is defying Catholicism
Gallery
Top ten photo winners from the World Bodypainting Festival
Culture
Austria celebrates a film icon and brilliant inventor
Features
Why Austrians believe they are at the centre of a new Europe
National
Ideas for where to source unique children's gifts in Vienna
Culture
Funeral museum rises from the dead for Halloween
Business & Money
Advertising value with The Local
Culture
The Lowdown on Austria's goose eating season
Society
Left behind in 1939 - a tale of loss
Travel & Tourism
Ten things to never say to an Austrian
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

251
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply