Tomorrow night (Saturday) the annual Eurovision Song Contest will reach it’s much expected finale in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. After an entire week of semi-finals the ultimate 26 songs have been weeded out from a total of 37 contestants to compete for the coveted trophy and title as winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.
One of the finalists is Thomas Neuwirth from Vienna, Austria, whose drag persona Conchita Wurst, a bearded drag queen whose last name literally translates into sausage, has become the most talked about contestant of this year’s singing extravaganza. The publicity surrounding the bearded lady has been predominantly positive as the hosting country of Denmark has seized the opportunity to showcase the country’s inclusive and open attitude towards everyone – including sexual minorities. On the negative side participating countries Belarus and Russia have petitioned to have Conchita Wurst removed altogether from the contest as they found the very concept of an openly gay drag queen offensive to their countries’ moral codex.
The Eurovision Song Contest is not – as the name falsely suggests – a European song contest, but rather a singing competition for members of the Eurovision broadcasting association, which is why non-European countries like Israel and Russia can compete (who are not in in the European Union either). It started out in 1956 as a very Western European song contest, but has over the years evolved to include Eastern European countries and countries not considered European. What was considered a very important music contest launching careers of the likes of ABBA and Celine Dion has over the years become less of a platform to propel a promising music career. In fact, what is mostly noted today is the vast difference between entries from Western and Eastern parts of Europe that span from suggestive milkmaids (Poland) over rainbow color-coordinated rock bands (Iceland) to the staple grand ballads (Norway, Ukraine, Montenegro and Austria).
And then there is Conchita Wurst who has drawn some sort of line through Europe dividing it into West and East when taking into account how nations have reacted to her presence at the singing fete. It’s not the first time there has been transgender controversy in The Eurovision Song Contest because already back 1998 Dana International won the contest with the song “Diva” after she had undergone gender reassignment surgery – so technically she was a girl when competing.
Now the finale awaits and according to Conchita Wurst’s popularity and the bookmakers who tip her to be the hottest favorite, she could be taking the trophy home to Austria with her. And with it maybe no longer the title as “the bearded lady” but the Queen of Eurovision.
We wish Conchita Wurst all the luck in the world – and if you want to see some of the Eurovision Song Contest extravaganza, you can stream it live from right here – the massive show starts at 3 p.m. Saturday Atlanta time.
And please take a look and listen to Conchita’s performance from a semi-final show of her song “Rise Like A Phoenix” – a power ballad of James Bondesque proportions.