Eurovision Song Contest 2014 review

Her song was called Rise Like a Phoenix and bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst did exactly that in Copenhagen on Saturday night, when she swept to victory at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, says Russell Iliffe.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 13 May 2014
  • min read
Conchita, the onstage persona of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth, gave Austria their first win since 1966 with a powerful and dramatic performance of the Bond theme-esque number.

This year’s most talked about contestant had proved controversial, particularly with Belarus, Armenia and Russia, where there had been petitions for her to be removed or edited out of their national broadcasts.

However, even before the last few juries had given their points, it became clear that the diva had triumphed in front of an estimated global audience of 180 million people in 45 countries.

The 48 hours prior to the final had seen the title of bookies’ favourite changing regularly with The Netherlands and Sweden being the other two main contenders.

The Common Linnets’ understated performance of Calm After the Storm stood out from all the wind machines, glitter and strobe lighting, allowing the Dutch act to finished second, while Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen took bronze position.

As for the UK, it was, sadly, business as usual. Molly Smitten-Downes was widely expected to secure a top five placing with her song Children of the Universe.

Unfortunately, despite a strong performance, Molly appeared last in the running order at a time when some viewers are experiencing Eurovision fatigue!

With the expected political voting seemingly also a factor, Molly finished in seventeenth place out of 26 countries, only two positions higher than Bonnie Tyler managed last year.

The spectre of politics loomed large this year with Russia booed at pretty much every opportunity during the voting, due to the situation in Ukraine and their controversial stance toward the LGBT community.

However, Soviet siblings The Tomalchevy Sisters still managed to finish a respectable seventh.

Meanwhile, Ukraine finished one place above Russia, after opening the show strongly with Mariya Yaremchuk and dance-pop song Tick-Tock, complete with a man in a giant hamster wheel!

Generally though, the pacier tunes were overlooked, with Denmark’s Basim and his catchy Bruno Mars-style Cliché Love Song only placing ninth.

Elsewhere, Switzerland’s jaunty Hunter of Stars by Sebalter (including the lyric ‘I'm the hunter, and you the poor prey, tonight I'm gonna eat you up’) finished thirteenth.

Bafflingly, Greek floor-filler Rise Up by Freaky Fortune ft Risky Kidd limped into twentieth position despite getting a deservedly big reaction in the house.

Of the quirkier entries, Poland’s risqué milkmaids divided viewers while Iceland’s colourful No Prejudice by Pollapönk deserved far better than fifteenth place.

And it was a bad night for France with novelty dance track Moustache by Twin Twin finishing last with just two points.

The scoreboard climax of course featured a few of the voting announcers building up their part or bursting into song, indicating that all is well in the world of Eurovision!

With the contest celebrating its sixtieth birthday next year, it continues to age spectacularly well and though often derided, Eurovision remains a robust and hugely entertaining musical extravaganza.