Rejoice! It’s time for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, one of the strangest, most amusing and campiest European traditions around. Begun in 1956, Eurovision was meant to broker peace, unity and uh, joy among members of the European Broadcasting Union. Over the years, the contest has helped discover some major musical talent — like Abba! and Celine Dion! — but it’s also just an amazing over-the-top show, filled with spectacle and showmanship and amazingly bad pop songs. And absolutely no irony.
How It Works: Each country submits one musical act to represent it. Fans then vote for their favorites over a series of rounds. Right now, we’re in the semifinals. The frontrunners? Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Russia. Russia’s entry is Buranoskiye Babushki, a team of six grandmas who sang “Party for Everybody.”
Yes, there is no rhyme or reason to who or what gets submitted to Eurovision — or who wins. A few years ago, Finnish rock band Lordi took home top honors. This is what they look like:
Some of it is earnest. A lot of it is not. Making a return trip to Eurovision this year, representing Ireland, are creepy, plucky twins Jedward. Here they are in their semi-final alien silver suits. These guys are the living, breathing embodiment of annoying.
Then there’s these spunky kids from Moldova, Pasha Parfeny. I always associated Moldova with crushing poverty and human trafficking but that’s all changing now!
Sadly, one contestant who’s already out of the semifinals is Austria’s terribly named Trackshittaz, whose track Woki Mit Deim Pop was apparently about shaking your ass. Here they are. Auf Wiedersehn!
All photos courtesy Getty Images.