The first signs of a hum-drum event include flies hovering over the taramosalata, a room of guests glued to ‘Candy Crush’ on their smart phones and audible yawning instead of patriotic barracking. They say that music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. But what then, when the music (and the wine) fails?
Take a hint from the 2016 Eurovision slogan “Come Together”. The Eurovision Song Contest was conceived after World War Two to bring Europeans together. But Eurovision has never been just about the music… minor controversies, political dramas and zany on-stage antics appear throughout the annals of Eurovision history and can prompt some fierce debate!
So if you’re looking to loosen things up, don’t spike the punch! Simply drop a few of these icebreakers and wait for the Euro-banter to ignite...
If at first you don't succeed...
Recognise any repeat entries in this year's contest? There's Malta's Ira Losco:
This year sees her return 14 years after only just missing out on winning by a whisker in 2002 - but this time she's not alone, there's someone else up on there on stage with her - because she's pregnant!
Watch her 2002 entry here.
Then there's Lithunia's Donny Montell
With his curly hair and tattooed bod, he looks almost unrecognisable from his 2012 appearance with his very literal performance of his song 'Love is Blind'. Watch below
Mention the surprisingly good entry from Team UK
Each year rumours circulate around the wildly unpredictable UK Eurovision entrant. For the nation that has produced The Beatles, Spice Girls and One Direction, expectations are high.
This year's Joe and Jake look almost like a professional boy band. Or do they? Discuss.
Viva la divas
Bearded ladies the world over, rejoice! Austria’s Conchita Wurst won the 2014 contest – whiskers and all!
Conchita’s inclusion bent a few Euro-fans out of shape, with several social media pages calling for her to sashay away… Luckily, like many of the foremothers before her, Conchita chose to ignore the haters.
What’s all the fuss ABBA-out?
If you’ve lived under a rock for the last 40 years you might not know ABBA. Check out the song that gave Sweden its first Eurovision Song Contest win on 6 April, 1974 and discuss amongst yourselves. What made this Swedish Supergroup the poster band for Eurovision Song Contest Superstardom? Then have a round of shots and try saying that again five times fast.
'We Don't Wanna Put In'
On first listen, the 2009 song from Georgia, 'We Don’t Wanna Put In', sounds like a tune lamenting the pain of restaurant bill-splitting, but on closer inspection it reveals something more subliminal. The song, by Stephane and 3G, was a not-so-carefully disguised attack on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (pronounced Poot-In) hidden amongst disco beats and a bubble machine.
The European Broadcasting Union ordered the lyrics be changed or a new song nominated in its place. Georgia chose not to, instead withdrawing from the competition.
This year has not been without it's controversies either, see below for inspiration!
The young and the restless
Eurovision has had a chequered history with minors. In 1969, Monaco’s Jean-Jacques was just 12 years old when he climbed onto the global stage to sing 'Maman' – a song that spoke of innocence lost, child soldiers and remaining overly close to maternal figures for a prolonged amount of time. The overall effect was… disturbing.
In 1986, Sandra Kim became the youngest person to win Eurovision with a song about loving life at the tender age of 15. For reasons still unknown, Sandra lied about her age, telling everyone she was 15, but in actual fact she was only 13.
Not as impressive was Russian teen duo t.A.T.u’s 2003 performance. The band’s manager Ivan Shapovalov alluded that – on the back of the girls extremely racy film clip showing the pair making out – the girls would be performing sexual acts in the nude as part of their Eurovision entry. They didn’t.
Ah yes, this ol’ chestnut. Eurovision conservatives can be a bit of a stick in the mud when Australia sashays onto the stage. Although Australia is special entrant, it surprises many people to learn that participation in Eurovision has nothing to do with whether or not you live in Europe. Eligibility is determined by whether or not you are an active member of the European Broadcasting Union. Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and even Israel are members.
Somewhere over the rainbow
In 2009, Moscow officials denied gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev’s request to move Moscow Pride to overlap with Eurovision celebrations. The decision sparked a furore, inciting many Eurovision artists to speak out against the blatant discrimination towards the LGBT community. Among them was that year’s contest winner, Norwegian Alexander Rybak, who likened Eurovision to a “big gay parade”.
Other controversies and scandals:
There's been a host of other scandals already in the lead up to Eurovision 2016, including Romania's disqualification, Ukraine's politically charged tune and Russia's onstage fumbles and tumbles in the lead up to the main event. Read more about them below:
Or course, Eurovision is no stranger to controversy. Read about some of the other biggest scandals of all time below: