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Everything Non-Europeans Need To Know About Eurovision

A guide to the annual WTF event that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

Once a year, the internet becomes flooded with ridiculously strange/awesome images, GIFs, and music videos that resemble nothing so much as American Idol on LSD.

Europeans on the internet tell us that this is something called the "Eurovision Song Contest," although most people just call it "Eurovision."

Non-Europeans have absolutely no idea what's going on.

It's obviously a competition of some sort between European countries...

And Europeans take it quite seriously.

It appears to be some kind of musical war.

But Eurovision also apparently ended war in Europe?

Points are involved in some way, as is voting.

Politics can get involved...

And no one likes the United Kingdom.

So what exactly is Eurovision?

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual singing competition among members of the European Broadcasting Union. Each country submits a song to be performed live on television and then votes for other countries' songs to determine the most popular tune.

Eurovision started in 1956 as a way to bring the EBU nations together after the devastation of World War II. The idea was to "rally the countries of Europe round a light entertainment programme." It's now one of the longest-running programs in history.

Any active member of the EBU can enter the competition. Because of this, eligibility has nothing to do with membership in the European Union or whether a country is actually located on the continent of Europe (Israel and Morocco have both competed).

Qualification is determined by two semi-finals, since there are now more countries that wish to participate than there is time to air every performance.

Many musicians have launched their careers on the Eurovision stage, like ABBA, who won the competition for Sweden in 1974.

The country that wins the competition hosts next year's contest, so countries incapable of financing the event sometimes send particularly ridiculous acts to Eurovision. Greece appeared to take that strategy for this year's competition.

Of course, some countries' performances are ridiculous for the sake of being memorable.

Examples include Turkey in 2012...

Ukraine in 2007...

And Moldova in 2010.

Each country's votes and awarding of points are determined by a 50/50 combination of viewer votes and a jury of music professionals. After the performances are over during the final, the host country performs an act while votes are tallied.

Voting on a winner is always a controversial process, as old alliances, grudges against neighbors, and current political tensions can factor into each country's decision.

After the interval performance ends, a representative from each voting country will appear on-screen to present the country's votes. Everyone has 10 votes. Countries award 1 to 8 points and then 10 and 12 points to their favorite songs.

Denmark won Eurovision 2013 with Emmelie de Forest's song "Only Teardrops." The country scored 281 points — 40 points higher than the second-place winner, Azerbaijan.

Eurovision makes North Americans feel left out.

And Europeans actually kind of enjoy that America's not included.

Ultimately, Eurovision appears to bring Europeans closer together.

When Eurovision ends, European countries return to normal.

Until next year!

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