Monday, March 19, 2007

Eurovision and politics

Just to clarify and expand on what I wrote yesterday, in case it seemed inadvertently trite or naive. Some (or even lots!) of people may think the Eurovision Song Contest is a load of crap not worth taking any notice of, or barely register its existence. It does, however, occasionally become embroiled in international political issues or reflect a national mood in its voting patterns or performances.

For example, the 1969 contest, when Austria refused to enter a contestant in protest against the competition being held in Spain, under Franco's dictatorship.

Or the recurrent problems reflecting political conflict in the middle east... In 1978, during the performance of the Israeli entry, Jordanian TV suspended the broadcast and showed pictures of flowers (!) instead, later announcing the winner as Belgium (who came second), rather than acknowledging that Israel had won.

Or the current entry from Israel, 'Push the Button', controversially singing about 'demonic' and 'crazy rulers', in their allegedly well-supported musical response to Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Islamic republic's president's apparent call for an end to the state of Israel.
(BBC Online)

So when the UK got zero points in 2003, it was widely regarded over here as an international protest against 'Britain's decision' to go to war in Iraq, regardless of whether it was a crap song or not.

Against this seething background of political turbulence and Euro-pop, this year's rather camp UK entry by Scooch, masterfully incorporating the British flag into an airline-themed song and choreography, seemed a refreshingly kitsch spectacle. I'd rather the UK was represented by a camp pop song apparently not taking the the whole thing too seriously, as it seems infinitely preferable to a jingoistic, ego-fuelled attempt at global domination via dodgy music and beyond. I know pop music (good or bad) and the Eurovision Song Contest is absolutely no solution to the world's problems, but I'm afraid it is inextricably linked. And a very strange visual and aural experience too, if you've got nothing better to do.

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