The main story of this year’s Air Guitar World Championships, emanating from Oulu in Finland, was the domination of the female entrants, and the crowning of only the second female winner in the Championships’ fifteen year history.
The Championships have been running in Finland since 1996, and this year saw entrants from thirteen different countries, including eleven national champions from across the globe, last year’s world champion Günther Love and six competitors who qualified via a final qualifying opportunity the night before – the ‘Dark Horse’ competition.
Each competitor had a exactly a minute in the first round to play along to the track of their choice – the ten highest scores in this round went on the second round, where they had a minute to play along to a ‘mystery’ track – an excerpt from ‘Without a Face’ by Rage Against the Machine, a difficult track for the contestants to get a handle on (read: a track that was quite dull to play air guitar to).
The contest was judged, as it is every year, using ‘Olympic’ style judging, as a panel of five of the world’s air guitar elite judged each competitor and gave a score between 4.0 and 6.0. The median three scores would be added together to produce each entrant’s total score for each round.
There were numerous highlights in the first round, such as Belgium’s Airgus, a madman who entered in a straitjacket, blasted through some death metal and committed air-suicide by shooting himself in the head with an air-gun. Also of note was Ireland’s Lose Control, who began his performance by engaging Buzz Lightyear-esque wings from his lime green jumpsuit. However, only ten competitors could make it to the second round and cement their places among the top ten air guitarists in the world.
In 10th place was the UK’s own The Bandit, an impossibly Australian-looking new entrant who appeared and took the UK championships by storm last weekend. In defiance of the elaborate and over-the-top nature of most of the other contestants, The Bandit took the stage shirtless, and gave a furious rendition of ‘Painkiller’ by Judas Priest.
The judges liked him enough to put him through to the second round, but his straightforward unpretentious attitude and performance seemed to count against him, netting him an overall score of 31.9.
In 9th was Narvalwaker of Belgium, with a score of 32.3. Narvalwaker’s first round performance began with a burst of air-acoustic wizardry, before bursting into some rock ‘n’ roll and ending with an explosion (and real pyro!)
In 8th place was Zero Prospects, from Scotland! She was the only Dark Horse qualifier to place in the top ten, with a spirited performance of ‘Any Way You Want It by Journey. She had the dubious honour of being the first performer in round 2, but she was able to strut her way through it with style, and finish by taking her shirt off, always a crowd pleaser. She got a total score of 32.4.
Your Daddy of Russia was in 7th place. Your Daddy had a great outfit that made him look like a 17th century aristocrat, with a highly metal rendition of classical music to match. Despite falling on his arse during the first round (the stage was drenched with rain) and doing more air-punching than air-guitaring in the second round, he put on a good performance and earned a score of 32.5.
Günther Love, the world champion of the previous two years could only make 6th place this year, with a score of 32.9. However, he did manage to show off his gold leotard, execute a great back somersault and become the first entrant in AGWC history to successfully propose to his girlfriend on stage.
L-Bird of Malaysia was the only Asian entrant this year. L-Bird made up for for the lack of Japanese entrants by dressing in an outfit that made him look like one of the more generic characters from Tekken. He demonstrated a tonne of charisma throughout, particularly in the first round with a backing track medley that included Limp Bizkit and Metallica. L-Bird finished in 5th place with 33.0.
Eva Gina Runner was one of three girls in the top four this year, and one of two girls in the top four to have a groan-worthy pun in her name. Eva Gina, reigning French champion and 2010 AGWC runner-up has the look and countenance of an air-guitaring Amanda Palmer. She put in a couple of great performances, the highlight occurring at the end of her first round performance as she finished by air-shooting an air-duck, complete with sound effects. A worthy 4th place contestant, with a 33.6.
3rd place on the podium went to Like Ever Gin, of the Czech Republic. Ms Gin entered the arena in a ballerina outfit, before turning in a great performance to Steve Vai’s ‘The Audience Is Listening’. Halfway through her first round performance, Like Ever Gin threw her air guitar high into the air and caught it again without missing a beat, incorporating some of the wackiest Looney Tunes sound effects in history. Her second round performance saw her perform a one handed cartwheel and throw her bra into the crowd. She should have won. She got 33.8.
In 2nd place was the USA’s own Nordic Thunder, who did indeed look very Nordic, down to swigging from a goblet made from a large animal tusk. His two great performances culminated in a mighty powerslide straight off the front of the stage. Nordic Thunder was a highly worthy runner up, with a score of 34.1.
Finally the winner, The Devil’s Niece! Hailing from Germany, she had appropriately devilish attire, as well as displaying the finest crazy eyes of all the girls in the competition (and there were some doozies). Some neat shades and some apparent air guitar humping during her second round performance were enough to give her an overall score of 34.4, and the Air Guitar World Championship!