This year's Eurovision Song Contest — the annual, sequin-filled, frothy pop music competition — reaches its climax Saturday, but current world politics are once again casting a shadow over the annual extravaganza.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has leaked into the 2014 Eurovision contest, with audiences in this year's host city of Copenhagen booing contestants from Russia.
"This was perceived as nothing against these two 17-years-olds who were singing this song, but the country that they represent and the fact that the current aggressions in Ukraine are frowned upon ... and that the anti-gay sentiment that has been expressed by Russian elites this year are not shared," says Canadian academic and Eurovision devotee Karen Fricker.
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The unabashedly over-the-top contest was initially conceived in the 1950s as a fun way to unite Europe following the Second World War. Still going strong, the pioneering TV singing contest (now also seen online) continues to draw an audience of more than 125 million viewers every year.
It's also been an early stage for some high-profile performers — such as Swedish group Abba, Canadian crooner Céline Dion (who sang for Switzerland in 1988) and British pop band Katrina and the Waves — as well as a platform for the songwriters behind winning or memorable tracks.
However, because of its basic premise — artists perform on behalf of participating countries, citizens of which cast votes for their favourites — current events and geopolitical controversies can muscle their way into the contest. In 2012, for example, there were protests against the host country, Azerbaijan, over the government's persecution of opposition voices.
Click on the attached video and audio files for more on the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.