Americans can only enjoy the bejeweled beauty and pageantry of the Eurovision Song Contest from afar, but that doesn't mean we can't take part in our own, sad little way. This is your guide to watching the Saturday finale of this year's Song Contest, when one act will bring glory, honor and 2015 hosting rights to its home country.
Choose a Venue
To watch the competition outside of Europe you'll have to watch the livestream, available here at 3 pm eastern time. If you want to be fancy about it, Denmark's Washington D.C. embassy is having cocktail viewing party. If you want to be slightly less fancy about it, some bars have caught on to the trend and are holding viewing parties, too.
But your best bet is to just stay at home and watch. It's more convenient, cheaper, and probably cooler. To get a sense of how a real European would go about this, I reached out to Theresa Schnöll, an Austrian photographer. "There are some of these Eurovision Song Contest parties, but organized by friends and in a more private setting, not in bars etc.," Schnöll said via email.
Adopt a Country
This is key — whether you vote for the best artist, the campiest artist. or the underdog, you need to become emotionally invested in this. Depending on which country you choose, you might even want to adopt their general demeanor over the competition. "Austria's history with the song contest is a really sad one," Schnöll said. "We are a small country and the general tone in Austria is to complain a lot and feel sorry for ourselves."
This isn't the same as picking a song. Like with the Olympics, you can and should root for your country even if you think its representative sucks. "I think she's quite original," Schnöll said of Austria's Conchita Wurst, "although I am not into her music (but that's not what the song contest is about, right?!)"
- Watch every single entry and choose your favorite one, if you have a lot of free time.
- Choose the country you did your study abroad in, and vote for them. Don't do this if you studied abroad in England. No one ever votes for them.
- Vote based on global politics. Ukraine made it to finals, as did Russia, even though their song was about crossing a line to take something.
- Be controversial. "I don't care about Russia's anti-gay laws or the whole Crimea thing, I just really like their song," a rebel might say.
- Vote for the country with the worst, or one of the worst, records. Austria, for instance, has only won once, possible because its contestants "always try to do what everybody likes and drown in a sea of mediocre artists," Schnöll said. But given the rise of Conchita "there is a hopeful mood in the streets that WE ARE GOING TO WIN THIS YEAR."
- Vote for who is likely to win. The Wire estimated the odds of some contestants, but Armenia and Sweden are the safest bets, especially if you're actually going to bet money.
Figure Out How to Vote
As an American you can't vote for Eurovision, as telephone votes are counted based by country. But if you have a sense of the voting blocs, outlined here, then you'll know which votes your adopted country should be hoping for. "We keep trying and trying and also trying to find allies like Germany," Schnöll said. "We always tried to convince Germany to vote for us and in return gave Germany many points but they usually don't do us this favor."
Do not let yourself be swayed by online voting campaigns, especially from Tumblr:
For a few brief hours you'll take part in one of the Old World's greatest, glitziest and campiest musical traditions. After all the artists have performed, announcers from each country will reveal how their country voted (it takes a long time), which is when you'll mutter things like, "oh, nul points to Russia." Then someone will win, that act will perform again, and Eurovision will be over until next year and Americans will have to go back to watching The Voice.