A Euro Vision of the Future

May 28, 2014

Eurovision has long been an annual patriotically celebration of music and Europe since 1956 but in recent years, more and more viewers have been switching off their TVs. Has this fun and supposedly harmless event became less about the music and more about politics?

Eurovision 2014 saw the BBC praise the competition for bringing in 9 million viewers this year although the estimated amount usually is 125 million watchers a year. The Simon Cowell Show aka Britain’s Got Talent overtook the Eurovision with even more ratings according to the Guardian. This would seem that British people would rather watch a dog jump around a stage then supporting their own country in a singing competition. It may be the rise in singing and talent competitions that may be to blame for the Eurovision’s downfall with shows like X Factor, The Voice and rival, Britain’s Got Talent.

This year saw Molly Smitten Downs take to the stage for Britain singing ‘Children of the Universe’ and came 17th place with 40 points. Sadly, many people weren’t aware of who was representing the country and only knew of a certain Austrian contestant.

Although people are watching less, the ratings were higher than when Blue performed in 2011 and much higher this year than the rest of the decade. It could be making a comeback for the people of Britain although some may have tuned in to see the political debate that was stirring amongst Europe.

Britain has felt the backhand from Europe in a previous Eurovision in 2003 when we entered the hall of shame with zero points. People and commentator Terry Wogan, speculated that rather than the British duo, Jemini being a more imperturbable version of Steps with their song Cry Baby, that it was the current Iraqi war was to blame. Throughout several attempts after that fateful day, the UK has never been a game player ever since.

Similarly, after a recent upheaval between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian entry was booed and received very few points. But should the 17 year old singers that represented their country, deserve to be heckled for their country’s politics? After all, isn’t it supposed to be about the music?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAh9NRGNhUU?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Eurovision also seems to be more of a celebration of individuality with a handful of recent winners. Examples like the notorious Lordi from Finland who dressed as scary monsters that resembled Lord of the Rings characters to perform a heavy metal song which won them the crown in 2006. It seems that unique people are favourites to win and it may not necessarily about the music they make. Before some of the artists have even sung, they become the booky’s favourites for their quirky style and look. But again, has the event became more about fashion than the music?

Russia was particularly upset with this year’s winner, Conchita Wurst. The Austrian singer was called an ‘abomination’ by the Russian Orthodox Church for dressing in women’s clothes with a perfectly trimmed beard. This unusual look made Conchita look a lot like Russell Brand imitating Kim Kardashian.

But now, Russian president has spoken out about the bearded lady. Vladimir Putin, who believes in ‘traditional values’ told a dinner in St. Petersburg that people can ‘live how the want but shouldn’t be aggressive or put it up for show’. Even a petition was signed by Russian Conservatives to stop the show from being aired because of Conchita’s appearance. None of this is a reflection of the artist’s music or performance but more a whirlwind of controversy about the singer’s lifestyle choices.

Currently Eurovision votes are influenced by individual style and politics. It seems a shame that the artists aren’t judged by their talent but by their personalities and their government. Although it’s hard to ignore striking aspects such as a bearded lady, there may have been better songs in the competition that were overlooked because of it.

And even though Britain had pulled out all the stops with previous contestants like Blue, Bonnie Tyler and Englebert Humperdinck, it seems that the rest of Europe doesn’t want to back our artists. Are our songs really that bad or is it just our status is in Europe that effects the voting? Sadly, Eurovision doesn’t seem to be about the music at all anymore.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToqNa0rqUtY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]