At Eurovision the song is important, but so is the staging. Big or small, over-the-top or totally subdued, you gotta be daring to be memorable. During this year’s grand final several contestants obviously understood that. We saw men running in hamster wheels, trapeze artists hanging upside down by their legs, and singers bouncing on a trampoline while shouting “Rise Up.” But in the end our readers thought that one act was more memorable than all the others. After counting 3,277 votes, we are pleased to announce that Poland’s Donatan & Cleo have won the 2014 Verka Serduchka Award for Most Daring Staging.
Cleo, who rapped about the physical attributes of Slavic women, parodied stereotypes of Polish culture. As we’ve discussed countless times before, she deliberately sought to portray Poland as a nation stuck in the dark ages, and a place where women have two duties: to be angels in the kitchen and wantons in the bedroom. It was all the more ironic because Poland, one of Eastern Europe’s economic success stories, celebrated its 10th anniversary of EU membership this spring.
Cleo’s staging really brought her message to life, with a washer woman putting her back (and her cleavage) into it, and a butter churner who worked that big stick like no other. Tradition was there, too. They used the LED flooring and backing screens to honour classic Polish textiles.
When we spoke to Cleo and her backing dancers in Copenhagen, they got playful and just had to talk about Slavic Girls (the people, not the song).
Verka Serduchka Award for Most Daring Staging 2014 — Results
1. Donatan & Cleo: 1,170 votes, 35.7%
2. Mariya Yaremchuk: 1,101 votes, 33.6%
3. The Common Linnets: 459 votes, 14.01%
4. Freaky Fortune ft. RiskyKidd: 458 votes, 13.98%
5. Dilara Kazimova: 89 votes, 2.72%
Donatan & Cleo follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Cezar Ouatu from Romania.
The Verka Serduchka Award honours Ukraine’s 2007 contestant who ran around the stage in tin foil in what remains one of the most bizarre—and thrilling—Eurovision performances of all time. They wore “69″ on their backs with pride, and provoked and pushed boundaries like no other. Their song ”Dancing Lasha Tumbai” angered Russians who heard “Russia goodbye” in the chorus and took it as an attack on their country’s influence in formerly Soviet Ukraine. Serduchka claimed lasha tumbai was a Mongolian phrase for whipped cream (it was actually gibberish). The drag queen’s over-the-top dance performance won her fans in Europe and earned her second place. Russian officials didn’t get the joke, and banned Serduchka from performing in the country for one year. Oops.
This award is just one of a dozen awards that make up the second annual Valentina Monetta Awards. Our 12 categories—from best dressed to most most wronged at ESC—identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.