The Eurovision Song Festival...
BIG thing in Europe.
NOT so much a thing pretty much everywhere else.
Which is kind of crazy if you think about it. I mean, it is how ABBA got their start, after all.
A sort of "Europe's Got Talent," the Eurovision Song Festival takes place each year, broadcast live from the home country of the previous year's winner.
Each of the European countries selects a vocal artist to represent them at the contest. It might be a band, a group, or a soloist. A new song is written for them to perform. A rigorous rehearsal schedule ensues. Then, off they go to compete with the rest of the continent.
From there, judges narrow the contestants down to roughly 30 countries, which are then divided between two semi-finals nights. The contest culminates in the grand finale: the Grand Finals. That's the television-worthy stuff.
For those at home, it's mostly a time to get together with your friends and copious amounts of alcohol and poke fun at the melodramatic performances, the hideous costumes, the crappy songs, and (quite often) a decided lack of talent. Just do a Twitter search for #eurovision and you'll see what I mean.
However you feel about the performances or the contest in general, you can't help put get swept up in the voting that occurs at the end of the Grand Finals.
Each country is allotted a certain number of points. During the voting, they award those points (however many they choose) to the country they think deserves to win. The country with the most votes takes home the title and gets to host the contest the following year.
There's no denying that the Netherlands has had a rocky history where Eurovision is concerned. The Dutch have been competing since 1956, and they started out with a bang. That first year, they took home second place. In 1957 and 1959, they walked away with first place.
They hung out in the top 15 between 1960 and 1984, coming in at #1 twice more during that time frame. The Netherlands bowed out in 1985 and 1991 and was relegated in 1995 and 2002. Between 1976 and 1993, they were only able to crack the top 5 twice, but held onto their top 20 record. In 1994, however, they hit an all-time low of 23.
From 2005-2012, the Netherlands failed to qualify, but last year, they bounced back with Anouk's "Birds," which earned the country a solid 9th place.
But, last night, during Eurovision 2014, the Netherlands scored 2nd place... almost four decades after their last contest win and almost 60 years since they were last awarded 2nd place.
The artist that secured 2nd best for the Netherlands? The Common Linnets.
The song that won it for them? "Calm After the Storm."
The group (which was formed in 2013 for the sole purpose of representing the Netherlands at Eurovision 2014) is made up of country darling Ilse de Lange and singer Waylon. On May 9th, they released their first album; a self-titled affair featuring their Eurovision hit.
While country-western probably isn't the style you'd imagine coming out of the Netherlands, the song is simple, pretty, catchy... and very country. An overall enjoyable listen.
But, most likely, the Netherlands will heretofore be known as the country who lost to the bearded lady.
Congratulations to Austria and Conchita Wurst for their Eurovision 2014 win!