The “new monsters” at the Eurovision Song Contest

The “new monsters” at the Eurovision Song Contest

We're almost there now. The Eurovision Song Contest has reached its 68th edition: the competition, in the 2024 edition, will take place at the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden, from 7 to 11 May. To get into the spirit of the event we wanted to retrace the history of the event through ten kitsch performances. Ten “new monsters” who, in their own way, have left their mark.

Verka Serduchka – “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (2007)

All you need to do is see the clothes of the dancers, who arrive on stage for the performance, to be catapulted into another dimension. The single by Ukrainian singer Vjerka Serdjučka is hallucinogenic, a mix of dance and music with a traditional appeal complete with ballet and choreography. Sparse text and enveloping rhythm allow the Ukrainian voice to even come second in that edition of Eurovision also thanks to an audience unleashed and perhaps hypnotized by those ballets that are as absurd as they are fun.

Dustin The Turkey – “Irelande Douze Pointe” (2008)

It's as if Italy had sent Dodò from “L'arancio” to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. Dustin The Turkey, in fact, was a famous Irish puppet: from 1989 to 2020 he was the mascot of The Den, a children's program broadcast by the state TV Rté. In 2008 he represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Irelande douze pointe”, stopping in the semi-final and arousing much controversy for the lyrics, which covertly denounced the alleged block-vote of Eastern countries. The performance, with the puppet at the center of the stage in total adrenaline rush, is unforgettable.

Buranovskiye Babushki – “Party for Everybody” (2012)

A group of women dressed in traditional clothes who, after having baked biscuits, go wild. Yes, all true. At the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the song took second place representing Russia. The Buranovskie Babushki folk choir is made up of “grandmothers” and is based in Udmurtia, one of the internal regions of Russia, in the city of Buranovo. All together they mix typical Russian sounds with pop or, as in this case, fifth-rate dance music.

Achille Lauro – “Stripper” (2022)

Passing through the amusement park of “Una voci per San Marino”, Achille Lauro arrives at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Turin that year, with a song that placed fourteenth. The performance is highly over the top, with a mechanical bull at the center and Lauro trying to tame it by winkingly singing words like “Cowboy, my heart is his sex toy, my bad boy”.

Dschinghis Khan – “Dschinghis Khan” (1979)

Pure avant-garde. In 1979 West Germany sent this curious ensemble which owes its name to the famous Mongolian leader to Jerusalem, which hosts the event. The members, six in total, are two Germans, a Dutchman, two Hungarians and a South African. They show up dressed like the protagonists of “Flash Gordon” (in anticipation: the film will be released the following year) and also thanks to the pirouettes of the performer Louis Hendrick Potgieter they reach fourth place in the rankings. Eurovision would never be the same again.

Lordi – “Hard rock Hallelujah” (2006)

Real monsters, not like those in the 1977 film directed by Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi and Ettore Scola. Arriving from Finland, in 2006 Tomi Petteri Putaansuu – this is the real name of the frontman, Mr. Lordi – and his partners appeared on the stage of the Olympic Indoor Arena in Athens, which hosted the event that year, with their foam rubber masks inspired to the creatures of horror films: the monstrous heavy metal of their “Hard rock Hallelujah” triumphed.

Conchita Wurst – “Rise like a phoenix” (2014)

They're not just songs. Eurovision has always been ahead in terms of commitment and social messages. In 2014, gender fluidity is not yet a trending topic in Europe, but that year an artist appeared on the stage of the event who caused a lot of talk about himself. It is the Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst, an identity under which is hidden that of the singer Thomas Neurith, long straightened hair and beard. With the song “Rise like a phoenix”, 007 soundtrack style, she triumphs. In Russia they write: “The future is a woman with a beard”.

Pirates of the Sea – “Wolves of the sea” (2008)

From Latvia, dressed as Jack Sparrow and his crew in the record-breaking film saga of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, a phenomenon of the 2000s with almost 3 billion dollars grossed with the first three films, “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, “The Dead Man's Chest” and “At World's End”. The Latvian group, however, did not win at Eurovision: it ranked just twelfth. There is a limit to everything.

Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana (2022)

For this Eurovision Song Contest 2022, Norway relies on the Subwoolfers: a duo of yellow wolves named Keith and Jim over whom the mystery hovers regarding their identity. They represent the country in Turin with the song “Give that wolf a banana”. The text is clearly inspired by the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood but, between Martian wolves and distant galaxies, many have picked up references to the pandemic situation. In particular, among the verses of the song there is an invitation to vaccination, with the wolf representing the virus, the grandmother embodies fragile subjects while the banana is the vaccine. Is that enough of a dose of trash for you?

Gipsy.Cz – “Aven Romale” (2009)

Between Super Mario and Freddie Mercury, with that mustache and that cape. The song, “Aven Romale”, is sung in the Romani language and talks about gypsies: “They call me a gypsy, but there are no problems / as long as I have a microphone, I will love to be considered that way”. The Czech band ranks in last place, with zero points.