It’s that time again. And before everyone starts rolling their eyes, just remember exactly how the Eurovision Song Contest came about. It was a lighthearted solution to a serious problem- a deeply divided war-torn Europe in the 1950s.
Despite the fact that deeper divisions continued (and arguably always will), the European Broadcasting Union sought a way of bringing all nations together in voice, dance and song (if only for one night). Politically-allied and tactical voting still prevails, but isn’t it telling? Israel are unlikely to give Germany douze points any time soon, the Scandinavians stick together like glue despite the facade and the number of friends of Russia is always astounding (lest they should experience a power blackout within 24 hours of a nul points voting result).
What is the formula for Eurovision success in 2016? Personally, I rather enjoy the acid-folk numbers and the grandeur of an all-singing, all-dancing entourage with ethnic instruments and a fine specimen belting out a powerful chorus in their own language. Yet, the European public so often favour classic or quirky looks and an English language pop ballad. Thankfully not everyone goes for this mainstream recipe. But it does beg the question, is a mid-ranking actually tactical success? We’ve all heard about the exorbitant “costs of showing off to the rest of Europe for a week“. Poor old Romania has had to withdraw this year due to unpaid debts and Televiziunea Română’s impending insolvency proceedings. Perhaps an impressive-yet-forgettable entry is an optimal strategy for being a good sport and saving face.
On the other hand, Sergey Lazarev who is performing his Eurovision entry “You Are The Only One” for Russia conveyed in an interview that Russia treat Eurovision as they would an Olympic sport. This is evident from this year’s circus-like staging. But as my colleague pointed out yesterday, “Russia would likely treat an egg-and-spoon race like an Olympic sport“. It’s just how they roll. But will they come out on top this year as the bookies’ favourite?
Here are my Top 5 entries this year:
- Jamala- 1944 (Ukraine) – A controversial not-so-subtle dig at the Russian army for the deportation of the Tartars.
- Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave (Armenia) – Powerful performance and team Armenia managed to cause a bit of a stir-up in the Green Room in the lead-up by waving Nagorno-Karabakh regional flags.
- Highway – The Real Thing (Montenegro) – Metal entries always have a tough gig when qualifying unless they carry a strong novelty factor, but this is actually a quality song.
- Ivan – Help You Fly (Belarus) – Poor old Ivan didn’t qualify despite singing on-stage in the nip… with wolves… whilst continually replicating himself. The public are always hard to please.
- Gabriela Gunčíková (Czech Republic) – Catchy power ballad and could be a contender to take the prize.
I shan’t predict an actual winner as I dislike having to eat my words, but let’s hope the Azerbaijans, Georgias and other lesser-travelled states can give us a Eurovision 2017 somewhere different for a change.