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Eurovision 2019 Concludes


KATE MILLER-HEIDKE: (Singing) Hey, you, it's me again.


It's time now for the Eurovision Song Contest again - Europe's most popular, controversial and musically dubious competition. Forty-one countries competed, 26 made it to the finals. Later today, there'll be a winner. Here with the latest from Tel Aviv, Israel, the host country, is William Lee Adams. He's a semi-professional Eurovision fan and the founder of Wiwibloggs, a Eurovision fan site. Thanks so much for being with us.

WILLIAM LEE ADAMS: Oh, thank you for having me.

SIMON: So the oddsmakers say that the Netherlands is favored. But Sweden and Australia have a lot of fan support. And by the way, Australia is in - as much in Europe as Singapore is in Nebraska. But tell us, what acts are you watching?

ADAMS: (Laughter) So the Netherlands is such a quality song. It's very radio friendly. It's very much cutting across borders, a man searching for love that's always out of reach.


DUNCAN LAURENCE: (Singing) I've spent all of the love I saved. We were always a losing game. Small-town boy in a big arcade. I got addicted to a losing game. (Vocalizing).

ADAMS: It's a timeless message that everyone can identify with. And he looks good on camera.

SIMON: Let me ask you about the artist from Moldova who sang accompanied by a sand artist. Now, I saw the video of this. The sand artistry was beautiful.

ADAMS: Yeah. It really was. And it was there to kind of hide the fact the song was not quite as good. Ukraine did this trick in 2011. They had a bad song. So they brought the exact same sand lady. And they made the final. But sadly for Moldova, it didn't work out. And in fact, the sand lady has faced backlash. The Ukrainian singer from 2011 said, you copied the idea in 2019.

SIMON: The sand lady faces a backlash. My word, you'd think it's hard enough to be a sand artist without getting that kind of backlash.

ADAMS: (Laughter) Absolutely.

SIMON: Listen, what finales are you looking forward to the most?

ADAMS: I think Australia is just amazing. You know, there's a woman on a six-meter sway pole. So that's a pole that elevates you. And you can literally control it and swing around. But you don't see the pole because there're digital graphics on the screen. And then two minutes in, it's revealed. They remove the graphics, and you see just how this woman is doing it. Strangely, she's singing popera, like pop meets opera. But the song is about her postpartum depression and how she overcame it. So the fact that she's in this starscape, this universe, reflects the lightness of coming out of a depression.

SIMON: Any continuing controversy about Israel as the host country?

ADAMS: Yeah. The call for boycotts continue. And artists have said on the ground to me that they've felt sort of pressure, that it's very awkward for them to be participating in a contest, known as a fiesta, really, while there is such a difficult situation going on. But all of the artists have also reiterated they're here for music, not for politics, and that they're not interested in discussing politics. They want to focus on the music.

SIMON: What is it about Eurovision? I mean, we cover it every year. What keeps it going?

ADAMS: It's a window into all these European countries. The fact is, Europe is a very strange amalgamation of cultures. You drive an hour, and you're in a totally different place. And that's reflected in the music, as well. It's sort of the United Nations meets the Olympics meets American Idol, if you will. And it's all done through music.

SIMON: William Lee Adams, Eurovision fan, founder of the Wiwibloggs fan site, thanks so much.

SIMON: Thank you so much for having me.


MILLER-HEIDKE: (Singing) You're so heavy. I have got to let you go. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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