Thursday, April 26, 2007

Showbusiness Ethnopolitics (Or Not): Eurovision 2007

From an ex-Yugoslav perspective, the Eurovision Song Contest has come around quietly this year - compared to 2006's ethnomusicological controversies in Croatia and the collapse of the last joint Serbia-Montenegro entry. For a proper Severina-style row over visions of national identity and the right image to present to Europe, one has to turn to Ukraine and drag queen Verka Serdyuchka, whose character of a kitsch village housewife resulted in protests - although further Verkanalysis is the province of the experts.

Potential scandal two involves the Israeli entry, Teapacks' Push the button (another song channelling the overworked spirit of Gogol Bordello), depending on whether it's taken as referring to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinajad or to a generic nuclear madman of one's choice (after all, there are a fair few around): however, the lyrics have been approved by the European Broadcasting Union, despite its rules against 'political propaganda' which caught out Ukraine in 2005 when they entered the anthem of the Orange Revolution.

Climate change being the nuclear disarmament of the noughties, it's no wonder the theme seems to have made its way to Eurovision. Apparently in the green corner: Andorran teen skate-pop band Anonymous (result of a school trip to An Inconvenient Truth?), and possibly Ireland's Dervish (They can't stop the spring), although the Gazette might be thinking of Rachel Carson there. Inadvertently in the other one: the Easyjet-worshipping, innuendo-loving Brits. (Britons who don't agree that Scooch are a perfect snapshot of the national character may have an alternative, for once: Wikipedia currently states that Greek representative Sarbel was brought up in London.)

While Romania has high expectations after several years of showstoppers, Croatia's low-key rock entry by Dragonfly and Dado Topić hasn't attracted the euphoria that surrounded Severina in 2006, but not very much would: indeed, the suspense this time round isn't whether Croatia might win the thing but whether the country will maintain its perfect record of qualifying for every final since its debut as an independent state in 1993. More HTV heads may roll if Vjerujem u ljubav breaks the chain, but otherwise the most newsworthy thing likely to happen in Helsinki from a Croatian point of view would be for the public televote to give maximum points to Serbia again (the Croatian dvanaestica to Željko Joksimović in 2004 made headline news).

This may be immortalising a hideously bad prediction, but the Gazette won't be surprised if the Croatian public develop a sudden affection for Montenegro instead, or rather, for Stevan Faddy's Ajde, kroči. Whatever the European public at large may think of the formula of folk-song-style lyrics plus electric guitar, it's tended to do well in Croatia: ask SiniĊĦa Vuco, or Marko Perković Thompson, or for that matter Bijelo Dugme, who started it all in the first place.

Especially after the Severina case, though, it's hard to picture Croatia selecting it for Eurovision...

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