If Netflix’s new comedy movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is the first you’ve heard of the real-life Eurovision Song Contest, it’d be easy to think the antics Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and company get up to have been exaggerated for comic effect. In fact, the acts in the film pale by comparison with the real acts from past years of the contest. Eurovision, which has been held annually since 1956, invites European countries to submit musical acts to compete, and it’s known as one of the biggest, most fabulous events of the year.

Some of the references in Eurovision Song Contest are explicit, while others are a little more nebulous. We’ve linked the most obvious examples together here, for a crash course in the contest’s most colorful acts.

“Double Trouble,” Fire Saga

The song Fire Saga submits as its Eurovision act, “Double Trouble,” ends up featuring a giant hamster wheel. It’s an outrageous prop taken directly from a 2014 competition performance by Ukrainian singer Mariya Yaremchuk. In Eurovision, the wheel act ends badly, but Yaremchuk’s performance didn’t involve any accidents. The hamster wheel rolling off the stage is all comic exaggeration, though Yaremchuk does climb on top of the wheel while singing.

“Running With the Wolves,” Moon Fang

One of the most colorful acts Fire Saga faces in competition is Moon Fang, a band whose members are covered in heavy prosthetics that make them look like ghouls. Their look and their metal sound are both taken directly from Lordi, the Finnish heavy-metal group that won the 2006 contest. Arguably, the only difference between the two is that Moon Fang has one band member whose face isn’t entirely covered.

“Lion of Love,” Alexander Lemtov

Dan Stevens plays Alexander Lemtov, a Russian singer whose trademark is his operatic singing voice. Romania’s 2013 entry, Cezar, is similar not only in terms of how he sings (admittedly in a higher range than Lemtov) but in his similarly dramatic chest-baring outfit and his writhing cadre of backup dancers.

“In the Mirror,” Katiana

One of the biggest cameos in Eurovision is Demi Lovato as Icelandic singer Katiana. Her powerhouse performance in the Icelandic pre-selection for Eurovision could be compared to any number of divas who have competed in the real-life competition in years past, but it’s most reminiscent of Loreen’s performance of “Euphoria” as Sweden’s 2012 entry. Though Katiana’s song is a little more pop than Loreen’s, the reliance on dramatic sleeves and a wind machine to up the oomph factor of a single performer are clear parallels.

“The Singing Viking,” 21st Century Viking

Though 21st Century Viking doesn’t make it all the way to Eurovision, his act in the Icelandic competition is a clear reference to Denmark’s 2018 entry, Rasmussen. Rasmussen has five members, rather than a lone singer, but the group’s vibe — long hair, big beards, much chiller music than you’d expect — is the same, especially as the wind machines ramp up and hair starts flying in earnest.


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