Eurovision 2014: “I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance…”

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Well, perhaps…  A bearded Austrian man in a dress, Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on Saturday night with “Rise Like a Phoenix” – the title quote was his line from the winner’s press conference.  The 25-year-old singer also told reporters in Vienna

On the theme of tolerance, Wurst told reporters in the Austrian capital: “This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime. It will be my life’s worth and I gladly take it on”.

“It was not just a victory for me but a victory for those people who believe in a future that can function without discrimination and is based on tolerance and respect”.

Fans waved Austrian fans and rainbow signs and banners reading “We love you!” and “Conchita Queen of Love + Tolerance”, the news agency AFP reported.

Asked if she felt vindicated against her critics, Wurst said: “I don’t really feel vindicated. I believe everything happens for a reason.”

After performing her winning song for the final time in Copenhagen, Wurst had held the Eurovision trophy aloft and shouted: “We are unity and we are unstoppable”.

In Vienna, she explained: “That was obviously meant for certain politicians whom we all know”.

Asked if it was directed at Russian president Vladimir Putin, who last year signed a law banning “gay propaganda”, Wurst replied: “among others”.

The audience in Copenhagen would probably agree – they booed when the Russian entry, 17-year-old twins the Tolmachevy Sisters, received high points, and when the votes from Russia were being announced.  Russia finished in 7th place, on 89 points.

But if there was a political message being delivered, it came courtesy of the national broadcasters’ specially selected juries.  For the most part, the public were voting for something completely different…

A breakdown of the voting competition organisers revealed that Poland’s song, We Are Slavic, featuring a group of scantily clad young women dressed as milk maids, was the runaway favourite of the British public.

But the UK’s expert jury – headed by former Fame Academy judge Carrie Grant – ranked it last in 25th place. It had Malta’s entry Firelight in first place on average, slotting the eventual overall winner, Austria’s drag artist Conchita Wurst, in third.

The final score from each country is weighted 50/50 between the public vote and the five-member panel so Conchita ened up being allotted the UK’s top marks of 12 points.

The gulf between popular and expert opinion was not limited to the UK. Irish, Norwegian and Ukrainian voters also placed Donatan and Cleo first while their panels gave the Poles a low ranking. They also proved popular in the Netherlands, Iceland, Austria, Macedonia, France, Germany and Sweden, where voters placed them in the top three.

Despite their popularity the duo came 14th in the final voting on 62 points, which was three places above Britain’s Molly Smitten-Downes.

As the BBC report also notes

The UK phone vote gave Poland’s Donatan and Cleo top marks but the jury thought they were the worst act of the night.

Their combined score meant Poland ended up with nil points from the British.

Most of the countries’ voting power is split 50/50 between a jury and the public. Austria’s Conchita Wurst won the contest in Copenhagen on Saturday.

Other discrepancies included Germany, whose public vote put Greece in fourth place but whose jury ranked it fourth from bottom at 22nd. Again, this resulted in nil points overall.

Ireland also gave Poland top marks in the telephone vote but the song We are Slavs was given bottom marks by the jury panel.

Poland’s act was accompanied by a number of attractive female performers who suggestively churned butter and washed laundry on stage.

Indeed…  For the record, Poland topped the phone vote in the UK and Ireland, while the juries placed them in 25th and 26th place respectively – out of 26 acts.  Austria was 3rd in both phone votes, placed 3rd and 1st by the two juries, topping the combined votes and gaining 12 points in each case.  You can see the breakdown of national public votes/jury selections here.

Ireland RTÉ failed to progress beyond the semi-finals, and are going back to the drawing board.  But not that drawing board…  [I blame Louis Walsh! - Ed]  Doesn’t everyone?  [Just don't mention the turkey.. - Ed]  I won’t! Austerity. *cough* *cough*

ANYhoo… here’s your winner!

And the [UK, Ireland, Norway, Ukraine] public favourite…

And a more than honourable mention to the runners-up, from The Netherlands, The Common Linnets[They was robbed! - Ed]  Indeed.

[Bring back Lordi? - Ed] They’d never be allowed to win now…

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  • Zig70

    Bearded ladies have been part of show business for years. Nothing new.
    Does this mean that the jury panels are also guilty of biased voting? The Euro is a better measurement of the immigrant population than it is a song competition

  • Turgon

    Well that’s Putin and Russia shown then. They may have almost 1 million soldiers, loads of tanks, military planes etc. but Eurovision chose a bearded drag queen. We need not worry about him taking over any more of Ukraine now.

  • Framer

    A lot of Poles in the UK are plainly not interested in German sausage.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Turgon, not sure how accurate it is, but according to wikipedia, the Russian army is 285,000 (including 80,000 conscripts).

  • boondock

    Morale of the story is dont bother voting as quite clearly it is a waste of time as 5 people on a panel ultimately decide the points

  • Turgon

    Occasional Commentator,
    Although I sometimes doubt the BBC it is a bit more believable than Wikipedia: the BBC suggests 845,000 (8seconds in).

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Poland top the phone vote in these parts because…… wait for it………..there are loads of Poles living here.

  • boondock

    TS
    It happens everywhere. Turkey always do well due to large number of migrants throughout Europe and then alot of the ex soviet countries still give Russia a good mark. At least now the qualifying has helped break up some of these voting blocs, I mean Greece must have been perplexed as to who to vote for as Cyprus wasnt there, same goes for countless others. Eurovision is a bit of fun but the voting has always been farcical

  • gaygael

    Russia, Belarus and Ukraine all raised petitions to have the Sustrian performed excluded from the show, or the broadcast censored so as not to offend the sensibilities of their respective populances. The Euro broadcaster rightly said no, and there followed fresh inventive from some dangerous homophobes and transphobia in these countries.
    I wonder, did the Russian broadcaster technically break the ‘gay propaganda’ laws of the state?

    In the popular vote, these countries respectively placed Conchita Wrust, third, fourth and fifth. Seems the elite are well out of step with popular opinion.
    Here is a link to the votes by popular, jury and final votes.
    Seems Frau Wurst was the rightful winner. And a solid two fingers up to those that try to censor media and expressions of gender and sexuality.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/05/eurovision-continent-divided-sexual-attitudes-or-perhaps-not

  • Mark

    When it was held in Dublin back in the 80s ( can’t remember which yr ..86 ? – they’re were so many ) it was already decided that Celine Dion representing Switzerland were to win it . She was 5/4 on with the bookies however someone’s granny’s sister’s cousin who knew some bloke from RTE was told on the friday night and some customers of the Burlington Hotel managed to get to the bookies the next day and made a nice few punts . She won it with the last phone call beating the UK into second place by a point or two . ….. thought I’d share that !

  • Taoiseach

    Voting for the freak with beard from Austria doesn’t prove you’re tolerant – it just shows you have no ear for music.

  • gaygael

    I think describing someone as a freak suggest you are intolerant. Eh?

  • gaygael

    Particularly as that person expresses themselves outside traditional gendered norms. And you know well that freak is a casual term used to denigrate trans people.
    But sure, you fire away.

    And I think voting for someone that expresses outside traditional gendered norms suggest that you are at least not intolerant.

    The music is very subjective discussion though. I was torn between Netherlands and Austria. Austria for the symbolism. Netherlands for the tune, despite not usually liking county..

  • Taoiseach

    OED: Freak – A person regarded as strange because of their unusual appearance or behaviour.

    I think the Austrian Eurovision entry certainly fits that definition.

    It was clear that Netherlands was the actual musical winner; the vote for Austria was like voting for a disabled child or a kitten with a broken paw.

  • tuatha

    All the zing & zest has been homogenised out of the exSov
    ‘Stans – which in the last 5-10yrs of the emergence had drums, verve drums, excitment and..did I mention drums?
    Now the entire show was a melange of pap & dross as one indistinguishable bluir followed the last.
    However, those Polish wenches did at least make the eyelids flicker.