by Irvin K

Austria won the 59th Eurovision Song Contest with Conchita Wurst’s performance of “Rise Like a Phoenix.” Watch the performances here!

Bringing Austria its second ever victory, and first since 1966, is drag queen Conchita Wurst, popularly known as “the bearded lady.” It was not even close, with Conchita being declared the victor before the last three countries even voted. As she was overcome with emotion, Conchita managed to declare that “this is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom!” And despite some protests in Eastern Europe about Eurovision becoming a “hotbed of sodomy,” all but four countries (Belarus, Armenia, San Marino, and Poland) awarded Austria some points.

The runners up were the Netherlands, with The Common Linnets singing “The Calm Before the Storm.” This was their best result in four decades, since winning back in 1975. This is only the second time in the last ten years the Netherlands even qualified for the final, so they must be feeling pretty good!

Third place went to Sweden, with Sanna Nielsen singing “Undo.” Against a backdrop of very elaborate performances, I really liked this simple one – just a girl with a powerful voice singing a good song, surrounded by spotlights. Sweden has been quite successful as of late, placing in the top three in three of the last four years.

Armenia landed in fourth place with Aram Mp3’s “Not Alone.” Is there something I’m not getting, or was this not particularly good? Sounded pitchy to me, and certainly not on par with many of the other songs. This ties 2008 as Armenia’s best finish in the concert.

Rounding out the top five was Hungary, with Andras Kallay-Saunders singing “Running.” This is Hungary’s second-best finish to date, after getting fourth place in 1994.

Proving that Eurovision just can’t be entirely apolitical, no matter how hard it strives to be, boos were heard in the crowd every time Russia was awarded points. (Ironically, Ukraine landed just ahead of Russia in sixth place). This is a shame, because I thought Russia’s performance was very good, and the Crimean crisis certainly not the Termachevy sisters’ fault.

Eurovision this year was all about tolerance and acceptance. To that effect, Iceland’s entry “No Prejudice” is worth viewing – one of the most LGBT-friendly numbers out there!

There were plenty of other great performances this year, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the underappreciated Montenegro. On the whole, this was one of the best years in recent memory, with plenty of great songs and very few terrible ones. However, some countries experienced a fall from grace. Azerbaijan finished outside the top 8 for the first time, landing in a terrible 22nd place. But that’s not as embarrassing as France’s finish in dead last with only two points (Sweden and Finland both put France in twelfth place, the other thirty-four countries ignored it completely). Host country Denmark did not do too badly, managing to land in the top ten with Basim’s “Cliché Love Song.”

Did you enjoy Eurovision 2014? If European, whom did you vote for? If not, who do you think should have won?

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