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US ‘airheads’ rule at Air Guitar World Championships

This year’s Air Guitar World Champion is Eric "Mean" Melin. He earned the title on Friday night in Oulu, northern Finland, where the tongue-in-cheek contest has been held since 1996.

Video: Eric "Mean Melin" Melin voitti Ilmakitaran MM-kisat vuonna 2013.
Video: Yle

Launched as part of the Oulu Music Video Festival, the event was won by Finnish bedroom rock stars – who identify themselves as ‘airheads’ – for the first four years. Since 2001, the title has been captured by foreign ‘artists’ hailing from as far away as Japan and New Zealand.

This year’s winner, Kansas native Eric "Mean" Melin is the fifth American champ. He charmed the jury with his energetic, straight-ahead rock style, exhibited to the tune of indie rock band Weezer’s “Hash Pipe”. Melin narrowly edged out the more flamboyant headbanging style of silver medallist, Doug "The Thunder" Stroock.

Four of the top five finalists were American, with Britain’s Thom "W!ld Th!ng 37" Wilding taking the bronze. Last year’s winner, Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard, was close behind in fourth.

1st prize: Handmade real guitar

The jury included three Finns as well as the directors of national competitions in Germany and the US. The internet stream of the final on Oulu’s Rotuaari Square attracted a large following worldwide.

The main prize was a transparent, hand-made Flying Finn electric guitar. It was designed by Matti Nevalainen of Finnish Guitar Works, a small firm based in Ylöjärvi, near Tampere.

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