National anthems

A short history of Eurovision hullabaloos
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  March 30, 2009

French tickler: Voulez-vous coucher avec Sébastien Tellier? By Daniel Brockman.
Around this time last year, Sébastien Tellier caused some degree of tumulte when it was announced that he'd be going to Belgrade to perform "Divine" as the French representative in the Eurovision Song Contest. Pourquoi? Because he dared represent France with a song sung en anglais!Sacré bleu!

For those of you thinking "Eurowha?": since 1956, participating European nations have duked it out annually for cheese-pop supremacy. The contest is noteworthy not just for having jump-started the careers of Abba ("Waterloo," 1974) and Céline Dion ("Ne partez pas sans moi," 1988) and birthed Riverdance (it was an intermission act in 1994) but also for embodying the Eurotrash æsthetic while elevating it to a degree that seems preposterous to us reg'lur 'Mur'cans, who wouldn't be able to tell any of this year's entries from "What Is Love?"

Pop dominance aside, it's controversy that is the — how you say — raison d'être of Eurovision. Here are a few polémiques from recent years:

2006 | In 1981, French broadcaster TF1's head of entertainment, Pierre Bouteiller, deemed Eurovision "a monument to inanity." He'd have taken that back if he'd known that 25 years later the award would go to Lordi — a Norwegian deathmetal band dressed in Gwar-esque regalia who pummeled judges with their bludgeoning-yet-chipper "Hard Rock Hallelujah." They didn't spray blood or disembowel a pope doll or anything, though you'd think they had to judge from the religious protests outside the Athens event that year.

2007 | Israel is no stranger to Eurovision controversy, having given the contest its first-ever transsexual winner (in 1998, "Diva," by Sharon Cohen, née Yaron Cohen, a/k/a Dana International — who famously fell over on stage the following year while presenting the award). Oh-seven's entry was arguably more ballsy (no pun intended): the rap-rock group Teapacks and their incendiary "Push the Button," a thinly veiled jab at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The song failed to reach the final, possibly because of its political daring, more likely because of lame rhymes like "I wanna see the flowers bloom/Don't wanna go kaput kaboom."

2009 | What, you mean you don't have your calendars marked for this year's Moscow blowout, May 12-16?! This is going to be nuts, what with the whole world going down the toilet and the national borders of former Russian republics being redrawn hourly. Georgia's official entry looks to be the clunkily titled "We Don't Wanna Put In" (get it, "put in"?), which will be performed by the impressively poofy-maned Stefane & 3G. Just the thought of this tune being sung by Georgians in a Moscow stadium is enough to make one's logic sensors fry.

Related: French tickler, Throwback throwdown, Dungen | 4, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Celine Dion, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sebastien Tellier,  More more >
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