As expected, Denmark delivered a terrific and entertaining Eurovision Song Contest. They employed three hosts this year, and in general they did a great job, though it paled with the peerlessly hilarious solo hosting delivered by Petra Mede last year. Musician/journalist/broadcaster Nikolaj Koppel made an effective straight man to Pilou Asbæk’s wackiness (with his non-sequitur obsession with all things Chinese), while Lise Rønne had a wacky moment backstage offering food to some of the Eurovision finalists.
Unlike the formal opening ceremony (with a choral intro) last year, the opening sequence this year was decidedly less formal–after an action-packed sequence featuring stealth agents in black riding various forms of transportation as they approached the venue, the agents then unfurled flags and ran around the stage (with some leaping above them) and then culminated with the 26 finalists walking one-by-one onstage in order of appearance as a voice-over announced the country in English, French and in that country’s native language.
As is customary before each number, there would be a video postcard. Since last year, the artists are involved in the video postcard–this year, they are tasked to form their country’s flag in creative ways. There are various resourceful methods that were done, but below are my favorites:
Ukraine – Mariya Yaremchuk strategically placed yellow post-it notes on a train platform and wait for the blue-colored train to stop then shoot a photo depicting her country’s flag.
Belarus – TEO formed his flag in a hockey rink, with hockey pucks forming the flag’s design and colors. Considering that the Belarussian flag had some intricate patterns on it, this is no mean feat.
Armenia – Aram MP3 crafted a brooch that he wore during his performance.
Poland – Donatan used a graphic of soundwaves generated by Cleo’s voice in their studio to craft their flag. (Well, this is perhaps to make up for the fact that Donatan is absent on stage).
Austria – As befitting Conchita Wurst, she and a friend set up racks of red and white ballgowns to form her country’s flag.
Germany – Elaiza and her bandmates made candy with the colors of her flag.
Sweden – Sanna Nielsen used yellow inflated rafts across a blue Olympic-sized pool to form her flag.
Italy – Emma Marrone used the raw material toppings of a Pizza Margherita (basil, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes) to form the Italian tricolor.
Slovenia – Tinkara Kovac used library books to form her flag.
Switzerland – Sebalter painstakingly placed red and white dominos, then toppled them to create the flag.
Hungary – Andras Kallay-Saunders formed his flag out of Rubik’s cubes, in tribute to the fact that the invetor of the cube came from this country.
Netherlands – In an homage to the fact that the country is famous for its trade in flowers, the Dutch tricolor is formed by The Common Linnets from colored flowers.
United Kingdom – Molly rounded up those famous double-decker buses and people clad in rain coats to form the Union Jack when viewed overhead.
After the performances (which I will discuss in the next installment of my essay as I discuss the results) came the interval acts. After a recap of the 26 entries, they started with a folkish rendition of Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy” (officially known as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) sung by people climbing atop white ladders.
After that number, the hosts then served up a pre-taped comedy routine where they sing the virtues of the Number 12–though leave it to Pilou to hijack the song mid-way to again talk about China and revealing that he’s a bit ignorant as at the number’s end, he was carrying a photo of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who Nikolaj pointed out is actually South Korean. It’s amusing enough, though of course it could not compare to Petra Mede’s performance last year.
Pilou then did another pre-taped comedy bit where he brought the audience to tour the “Museum of Eurovision History”. The fun part about this sequence were guest appearances from past Eurovision winners–there’s “Mr. Eurovision” Johnny Logan sidelining as a living statue, then 2006 champions from Finland, Lordi, frightening little kids with “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, then the obviously aged Swedish act Herreys walking and singing their “Diggiloo, Diggiley” ditty, and finally Eurovision 1996 8th placer Gina G (not sure if it was really her or a stand-in) with a silly gag where she accidentally swallowed a microphone and had to be brought to an ambulance when performing “Ooh, Ahh, Just A Little bit”.
As is customary, while the results are being tallied they featured a song number from last year’s champion. Emmelie de Forest, who performed an abridged version of “Only Teardrops” before seguing to her current single, “Rainmaker”. For both numbers, she’s surrounded by tribal-styled dancers, and the number culminated with the 26 Eurovision finalists joining her onstage to sing the catchy chant for her latest single.
COMING UP: Assessment of the results.