The Eurovision Song Contest, which we have been covering for many moons now, is an annual explosion of the very most mediocre that global music has to offer: some good, some terrible, some INSANE, many nonsensical. And it has this amazing power of NEVER being on at a time when I can stream it live. So it’s taken me a while to get through all the acts, but I AM HERE NOW, and I am sorry, and I hope to make it up to you by covering all of them — which I will list in the order that they finished, from best to worst, and TRUST ME, you will want to stick around for the worst (oh, France). I have linked to all the performances so that the Eurovision site gets some love; the graphics at the top of each one, where the country’s flag is depicted via objects (like puzzle pieces, or rows of Rubik’s Cubes), are really unusual and lovely. But mostly, some of these demand to be seen. If you are at work, consider whether your office needs — on a celluar level — a hot Eurovision dance party. Otherwise, plug in your headphones and LET’S DO THIS. The bottom thirteen will go up later.

1. WINNER: Austria, Conchita Wurst, “Rise Like A Phoenix.” 290 points.

Per The New Yorker:

Conchita Wurst is the alter ego of the twenty-five-year-old Tom Neuwirth, who created Wurst in response to the discrimination he faced growing up gay in a small Austrian town. (Wurst means both “sausage” and “it’s all the same” in German, and stands, in Neuwirth’s lexicon, for acceptance: “It’s all the same, at the end of the day, how you look or where you come from, because the only thing that counts is the person you are.”)

The same piece said her victory is seen by some as a rejection of Putin’s anti-gay policies (and Russia, for its part, gave all its top marks to acts from former republics). Belarus even apparently tried to get her cut out of its state broadcast, per The Daily Mail I KNOW, by claiming that “the performance would turn Eurovision ‘into a hotbed of sodomy.'” To which I say COME ON, BELARUS, AND ALSO, YOUR SONG WAS ABOUT FREAKING CHEESECAKE.

Anyway, Conchita’s full outfit:

The backdrop was all fiery Phoenix imagery — Dear Fawkes: Everyone misses you — and the whole thing sounded like a Bond theme. For a movie called An Ellipsis of Fire, or something. There we go.

Moving on:

2. The Netherlands: The Common Linnets, “The Calm After The Storm.” 238 points.

This was folk-rock — think Mumford & Zonen — and the first line is “Driving in the fast lane,” so of course, the floor turned into a highway. The two of them stared at each other at close range the entire time they performed. Maybe I’m just negative, but I feel like that’s a very fast way to start hating someone’s face. They were good, though. Like, real-world good. Not Real World good. They would be TERRIBLE on that show unless they actually DO hate each other’s faces. Fun fact: The dude named himself after Waylon Jennings, and the band formed just for Eurovision.

3. Sweden: Sanna Nielsen, “Undo.”  218 points.

Sanna chose to perform in the cone of silence.

Her song was, sadly, boring, although sung well enough. Give me a man in a hamster wheel or a bunch of computerized mustaches on the wall any day. And I will give that to YOU, all in good time.

4. Armenia: Aram MP3, “Not Alone.” 174 points.

Apparently this guy gets his name from the fact that he used to perform “hilarious covers” of pop songs. This song is not a hilarious anything. It’s all about how you’re all alone WAIT NO YOU AREN’T and he sounded shouty and off-key and I really wanted him to just sit down. I’m shocked this came in fourth when there were some other actually catchy songs later. I CRY SCANDAL.

5. Hungary: András Kállay-Saunders, “Running.” 143 points.

Listen, Hungary. We have to talk.

I understand that stopping child abuse is an important social issue. But this is Eurovision. Nobody wants a song describing a frightened child, and nobody wants CHILD-ABUSE INTERPRETIVE DANCE (at one point the guy chases the woman under and around a piano and then drags her off-stage like a sack of potatoes). I mean, the song itself was thoroughly mediocre, also, and I can’t figure out, again, why it rose and others did not, but COME ON. We want fire cannons and insanity and songs in disjointed English about, like, how world peace is just a farmer’s landlord, or whatever.

6. Ukraine: Mariya Yaremchuk, “Tick Tock.”  113 points.

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. CRACK GAS.

Let’s say you have a dance song that includes the phrase, “My heart is like a clock; you wind it with your love.” CLEARLY, your first impulse is to whip out a human hamster wheel. Frankly, I was hoping for a clock where each hand was a different man. Think bigger, Ukraine. Although I feel like this is Ukraine being like, “YOU GUYS. WE ARE RUNNING AND GETTING NOWHERE. HELP US OUT. I PROMISE WE’RE SUPER FUN.”

7. Russia: Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy, “Shine.” 89 points.

“Hey, y’all, I know everyone hates us right now, SHOUT OUT to everyone who made sure Ukraine finished right ahead of us, hey-heeeeeeey, but I promise WE ARE ALSO FUN.”

“Look! See-saws! We are like the playground of our world! Also, we’re twisted:

“Just kidding, the only thing twisted is our sense of humor, and our ponytails! See? FUN!!! SORRY ABOUT SOCHI.”

[Real talk: Russia’s leaders are apparently going Full Douchehole about Conchita Wurst winning, saying all kinds of hateful things about how there needs to be a “straight” Eurovision, like, among MANY OTHER REASONS why that is appalling, do you REALLY think there are no other gay people at Eurovision?!? On the flip side, Conchita had a sausage named after her when she won, and apparently showed up to help shill it. I sincerely feel that there needs to be a Fugwurst someday, and if that happens, I will have fulfilled my life’s purpose.]

8. Norway: Carl Espen Thorbjørnsen, “Silent Storm.” 88 points.

This song was terrible and he was not very skilled, to my ear. But he tried so hard to make up for it by making sweet love to you with his eyes.

Like, he was REALLY pretty sure he knocked up at least three of you from his smolder alone. Oh, Carl. The refrain is, “There’s a silent storm inside me,” and indeed, he kept that WAY inside him, and way silent.

9. Denmark: Basim, “Cliche Love Song,” 74 points.

Okay, we’ve reached our first robbery of the night. I defy you to listen to this and NOT have it in your head.

This thing is just full-on catchy, fluffy pop, full of intentional gibberish, and I love that even all the burly, patriotically face-painted Danish dudes are singing along to it like it’s the national anthem. It’s way better than Emmeline DeForest’s winning song last year, and I suspect nobody was going to vote it much higher than this because Copenhagen was like, “Please, guys, we can’t afford to put this on TWICE IN A ROW.” And Ireland, which won it three times in a row in the 90s and four times total that decade, was like, “WE FEEL YOU. WHY DO YOU THINK WE KEPT SENDING JEDWARD.”

10. Spain: Ruth Lorenzo, “Dancing In The Rain,” 74 points.

Eh. This was fine but the fake rain was too literal and not catastrophic enough for me to feel true Eurovision thunder.

And someday she’s going to look back on this and regret letting anyone convince her to go out there and look damp.

11. Finland: Softengine, “Something Better,” 72 points.

I am moving us all to Finland, because apparently dudes there look like a cross between Chord Overstreet and Austin Butler.

I assume this didn’t do well because his vocals were kind of shaky, but the song itself, once it gets going, is kind of good. If you watch and you are impatient, just slide ahead to the part where the thumbnail shows a bunch of bright lights, because that’s the chorus. His lyrics are also deliciously disjointed, like, “Vis-a-vis // Estranged // And we got close // Trust full of lies.” Maybe just sing it in your native tongue! You do you and we can deal, Austin Overstreet. Otherwise it sounds like fridge-magnet poetry. It’s okay, though — the song says he found something better, so everything is going to be fine. However, last year Finland’s song ended with two ladies kissing and I begged them to write a better song this year and win the whole damn thing. It didn’t happen. But I think the Wurst Train was uncatchable anyway.

[Note: I just looked then up on this blog and collectively they look tremendously four lost, goobery Von Trapps and one exploitative manager who is actually their long-lost brother in a really bad disguise, who keeps them high on glue. Maybe we won’t move to Finland. No offense, Finland. You probably don’t want us anyway.]

12. Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi, “Miracle,” 72 points.

Ovi is saying, “You know who doesn’t Need A Bracelet? THIS GUY!”

These two churned out a very generic piece of dance-pop, but they did not half-ass the staging. In addition to the piano halo, they used HOLOGRAMS:

If you want to watch, go to the 0:45 mark of the video. It’s worth it. She turns around and starts doing herky-jerky gesticulating that may or may not match the words to the song — think the way they dance to “Hold On” at the end of Bridesmaids, although isn’t that how everyone dances to “Hold On”? — and then she slowly erases… and walks out behind him. O THE WONDER. It’s computers. SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES.

She kept it up for the rest of the song, too. At around 1:20, I think, she does all kinds of limb convulsions. I mean, who twists their arms up like this in the course of singing, unless their song is about a pretzel?

They also, FINALLY, brought out the flame-throwers.

I mean, come on, it should not have been this hard to get some controlled fire up in here. These two repped Romania in 2010, and came in third, and ALSO utilized fire. You could say they have a signature.

13. Switzerland: Sebalter, “Hunter of Stars.” 64 points.

This song begins with a whistle solo, which is pure delight. That is so hard to do when you are trying not to laugh — an affliction which I assume affects everyone at Eurovision, all the time. Although maybe I assume that unfairly, because this guy seemed very earnest.

His song talks about evil satellites and things, as you do, and then takes this turn: “It’s raining outside // I would like to storm in, roar like a lion, roar like a lion // I fear your judgement, I fear your judgement, I’m so wet, I’m dirty // I fear your judgement, I fear your judgement.” Son, take my hand. Our judgment is that, at the very least, we can fix the wet-and-dirty thing, and that your hair is buoyant. That is a compliment.

He also whips out his fiddle AND assists in the drumming, which means he’s very versatile, even if he’s threatening to “be [my] candidate” and then eat me.

Also featuring Vaudeville Josh Brolin on the banjo. That’s how you know this sucker is corrupt: Vaudeville Josh Brolin should never place outside the top ten, just on principle.

The bottom 13 are going up next. I promised cheesecake and mustaches, AND THERE WILL BE CHEESECAKE AND MUSTACHES.

Tags: Eurovision