Long before American Idol--before Star Search, even--there was the Eurovision Song Contest.
The United Nations of all talent competitions, held every year since 1956, Eurovision features aspiring talents from across Europe competing over five days, with each country submitting an original song to be performed on live TV. It's actually one of the most-watched non-sports broadcasts in the entire world, in case you didn't know.
Many contestants sink into obscurity after their Eurovision victories, but the most notable Eurovisionary won in 1974, when a then-obscure Swedish combo called Abba rightfully took home the prize for "Waterloo":
Other Eurovision competitors of note have included Israel's Ofra Haza (RIP), who came in second in 1983...
And Celine Dion in 1988 (she won for Switzerland, not her native Canada, for some reason)...
With the exception of monster-costumed Finnish hard rock band Lordi, who somewhat shockingly won Eurovision in 2006, traditionally Eurovision song entries have tended to be somewhat hokey pop, thus making for fine family fare. Hence this year's Eurovision winner, Norwegian fiddler Alexander Rybak (and a former semi-finalist on Norwegian Idol), who was crowned Saturday night at the 54th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at the Olympic Indoor Arena in Moscow.
Alexander's peppy little tune "Fairytale" received 387 points, the highest total score in Eurovision history. Alexander thus beat out the previous record held by...Lordi! Here is the pride of Norway's performance of 2009's prize-winning ditty, backed by the modern folk dance company Frikar:
I still prefer Lordi, personally:
- Eurovision Song Contest