Another Eurovision approaches, and commentators here in the US are, if they talk about Eurovision at all, will often bring up the “campiness” of the proceedings, and go on in a snarky attitude about how silly the whole thing is.
While it’s true that the show has been campy in the past (thanks in part to scoring rules that tended to favor spectacle), and still gets there occasionally, the acts you see are more like those who would appear as the musical guest on a late night talk show. The performances aren’t really different than what you’d expect to see for an act with a similar career arc (a few years in the business with an album or two under their belt) at a similar venue.
If you insist on watching the show for the campiness and not for the great number of fine performances, here’s a handy 1 – 10 scale for judging the Camp Factor of a performance (with examples from the past five years of Eurovision). There’s no “zero” score (or “nil points”, to use the Eurovision term) for campiness. Simply by association, you get a bit of campiness rubbed off on you.
(lots of embedded videos after the jump)
1: No Camp at all, just a straightforward performance of a fine song by fine artists.
The Common Linnets, “Calm After the Storm”, The Netherlands, 2014
With over two dozen acts in the Grand Final, you’ve got to do something to get noticed. You’ve got just one shot at it…..
2: There’s some unusual or interesting staging.
Loic Nottet, “Rhythm Inside”, Belgium, 2015
3: There’s someone on stage – a dancer or a gymnast – who is doing something totally unrelated to the song.
Mariya Yaremchuk, “Tick – Tock”, Ukraine, 2014
4: The performer is wearing an unusual outfit.
Poli Genova, “If Love Was A Crime”, Bulgaria, 2016
Now we start getting closer to “camp”. Again, you’ve got to do something to get noticed!
5: It’s probably a novelty act.
Pollapönk, “No Prejudice”, Iceland, 2014
6: The performance, while appropriate for the song, is *almost* over the top:
Krista Siegfrids, “Marry Me”, Finland, 2013
7: The performance is, at least in part, over the top to the point where you think there’s some satire involved:
Donatan & Cleo, “Slavic Girls”, Poland, 2014
Now we leave the more “normal” – well, nothing that you wouldn’t see in a typical concert performance – behind.
8: Okay, now it’s definitely campy:
Cezar, “It’s My Life”, Romania, 2013
9: You can’t get much campier than a drag queen. At least she/he didn’t overdo it:
Conchita Wurst, “Rise Like a Phoenix”, Austria, 2015
10: Maximum Camp:
Jedward, “Waterline”, Ireland, 2012
What puts this as the absolute campiest is not the obvious homoeroticism in the performance, but that they are twin brothers…… ewww……
Given the contest’s reputation, you’d think every single performance was at least a 5 or 6. Actually, if you watch an entire show from the past few years, the average Camp Factor is closer to a 3 or 4 – and that’s usually because there’s a single 7 or 8 in there skewing things. Even so, there’s likely to be one performance that will just blow you away and by itself justify watching the contest: