Saturday night saw the much-anticipated live finale of the 59th annual, much loved, Eurovision Song Contest grace our television screens up and down the country. Last year’s winner, Emmelie de Forest, who won with her song ‘Only Teardrops!’ represented Denmark, where this year the competition was as loud and over the top as ever.
This year, the win went to Austria’s entry, Conchita Wurst, earning her the title of ‘Queen of Eurovision,’ despite some adversity, which she had to overcome to give her performance. The most notable part of her act, apart from some incredible high notes she reached during her performance, was perhaps her facial hair. Conchita Wurst performed on stage in a beautiful ball gown, and with a beard. What appeared to be a gimmick on behalf of Austria, with the notoriety of their ‘bearded lady’ growing weeks before the competition arrived, has now proven itself to be a winning combination as they secured their first victory in the competition since 1966. The 25-year-old’s winning anthem was a powerful ballad entitled ‘Rise like a Phoenix’; carrying with it a story one could easily relate to the songstress herself.
Behind the dress, the hair and that infamous beard, is Tom Neuwirth, who rose to fame on Starmania, Austria’s version of The X Factor, back in 2007. The man behind the drag act wowed the audience enough to make it to the final, however, luckily for us and for Austria, he came in as a runner up. Neuwirth returned to the screen in 2012, where Conchita Wurst made her debut appearance on ‘Die Grosse Chance’ (‘The Big Chance’), another TV talent show, yet was knocked out in the pre-selection stages of the competition.
Now Conchita’s act has sparked controversy, and she had to work through her fair share of criticism from the less accepting citizens of Europe, both before the event and during the aftermath of the competition. Yet this victory seems to be promoting a greater amount of awareness and acceptance across Europe, something which Conchita must certainly be proud of.
When crowned the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, Conchita had an inspirational message ready to deliver to the rest of Europe. In her acceptance speech she told the crowd: “This night is dedicated to those who believe in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are – we are unity and we are unstoppable.” A powerful delivery, coupled with tears. The emotions of Conchita’s speech were clearly felt, as the crowd proceeded to erupt into cheers of support.
On returning home to Vienna on Sunday, Conchita was greeted with over 1,000 delighted fans and a press conference at which she discussed her victory. She spoke to Austrian reporters in the capital about discrimination, saying: “This will remain an issue for a long time … It will be my life’s worth and I gladly take it on.”
“It was [a victory] for me [and] a victory for those people who believe in a future that can function without discrimination and is based on tolerance and respect.”
It is moments like this, affording the opportunity to people from all walks of life to come and perform and gain recognition, for which the Eurovision Song Contest should be hailed. Another stand out act was Iceland’s Entry, Pollaponk, a colourful band featuring one of their members of parliament. Their song about equality and eradicating prejudice was a true musical highlight, and very reminiscent of the Hives.
And although our representative, Molly, came a little lower down in the rankings than we may have aimed for, it is still a testament to her performance and song writing skills that we finished with 40 points – a vast improvement on our ‘nil points’ of the past!
What is the greatest adversity that you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?