Vote for the Wurst: 'Bearded Lady' Conchita Wurst Wins Eurovision 2014
photo: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz
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 talents from across Europe competing over five days, with each country submitting an original song to be performed on live television. It's one of the most-watched broadcasts in the entire world, with an average annual audience of 125 million viewers in 45 countries, and about 180 million viewers in 2013 and 2014. Compare that to the 111.5 million people who watched the Super Bowl this year, and you get an idea of Eurovision's popularity.
It's also one of the cheesiest broadcasts on the planet. Eurovision is seemingly untouched by time or taste, with the contestants wearing Spandex 'n' sequins outfits and executing variety-show dance moves that wouldn't have been out of place during ABBA's historical 1974 Eurovision number. And Saturday's newly crowned champion at the Copenhagen-based 2014 competition, Austrian "Bearded Lady" Conchita Wurst (aka 25-year-old drag queen Tom Neuwirth), is one of Eurovision's most unique, wild — and polarizing — winners yet.
Tom Neuwirth was a 2007 runner-up on the "Idol"-like Austrian talent show "Starmania," and debuted the Conchita Wurst persona in 2011 on another TV talent competition, "Die große Chance," also placing second. But now Conchita Wurst has triumphed at Eurovision with 290 points.
Singing the fittingly titled, Bond-theme-reminiscent "Rise Like a Phoenix" (written by Charley Mason, Joey Patulka, Ali Zuckowski, and Julian Maas), Conchita wowed with her Bassey-esque pipes, dramatic camera eye contact, glittery gold gown... and full face of scruff, of course.