Mr Häggkvist, our man in Panama, is fed up with Spain’s record at Eurovision. Listen as he sounds off on all that’s wrong with Madrid’s approach.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Galaxy, Mesdames et Messieurs de la galaxie, Meine Damen und Herren der Galaxie, Damas y Caballeros de la Galaxia, even those who watch the Festival in Venus and Mars on the Intervision: After I saw one of my colleagues here on wiwibloggs talk about why the Netherlands hasn’t made the final of Eurovision in centuries, I’ve been thinking why some other countries can’t win the Grand Prix. I’m gonna start with La Madre Patria…Ole España!
Let’s be honest: Even Spanish people know that if the Big 5 (Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France & Spain) didn’t exist, then Spain would be like the Netherlands or Portugal, and never make the grand final. It’s a huge shame that a country rich in culture, folklore and musical history has been steadily sending less credible and less interesting acts to Eurovision. The Golden Years of Spain took place in the mid-60s, and then again in the beginning of the 90s. The euphoria resumed in 2002 with the nationally televised reality talent contest “Operacion Triunfo.” That gave us mega stars like Rosa Lopez, David Bisbal, Chenoa & David Bustamante. Three former contestants—Rosa in 2002, and then Beth in 2003, and Ramon in 2004—all went on to Eurovision, and each of them earned Top 10 finishes. But what we got after that…ay caramba!
The nightmare started in 2005 with the bizarre “Brujeria.” That was just a tacky take of Spanish folk music. Then we had Las Ketchup who drank too many Bloody Marys. They didn’t give us anything: just cute chairs on stage… in 2007 D’NASH were the reincarnation of the Backstreet Boys singing a generic boy band song that was totally forgettable. But the funniest part of this Spanish horror story at Eurovision is “Rodolfo Chikilicuatre”—the 2007 contestant who taught Europe to dance the Chiki-Chiki in Serbia. Bad Idea Alert. It was like a warning that said: “DON’T DO THAT AT HOME.”
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre performs in Belgrade in 2008:
I gotta be honest. I was convinced that Soraya would be able to give Spain a good place in 2009. But that didn’t happen. She sang last which is an advantage (even if my colleagues on WiwiBloggs.Com disagree), but the things just didn’t work. She admitted that Eurovision wasn’t a good experience and hid from the media after the contest. Daniel Diges in 2010 was O.K., nothing great. And Lucia Perez sang a song in Germany that she didn’t like and she was very clear about that. The Spanish reaction was: “If the singer don’t have hope on the song, why we should like it?” But Pastora Soler this year brought fresh air and hope to the Spanish people who thought, “Maybe we can win this year!” She was phenomenal and just breathtaking…
But let me say something else: What’s the damn problem with Spain? Don’t think too hard. I got a few answers for you.
1. The language is a problem. We all know that. In Europe Eurovision is an English Program Right Now. Look at those capital letters people! In this year’s contest there were 26 songs in the final, and just 9 of them were not sung in English. Spain is one of the few countries that hasn’t sent a song totally in English, which I think is great….but also puts it at a big disadvantage.
What the hell is she saying? Only Spanish speakers know…
2. Politics. I’m just repeating what you already know. The Spanish media has been very clear about The Problem with the Politics in Europe. We have some “Friendly Countries” that we all know only exchange votes with each other. Unfortunately for Spain, it only has this relationship with Portugal and Andorra, and the latter country doesn’t even compete any more. So it’s less probable that Spain can Eurovision with these circumstances. And now that Spain is relying on Europe to bail out its banks…OMG.
3. Star Quality. Taking out Pastora Soler, none of the past talents have been that great. And it’s kinda frustrating because the Spanish music industry is so big and full of talent. And it’s not just the Latinas who are saying that. People in general are asking for a mega star that can make a big impact in the contest. This is not about a lack of artists. It’s just about picking the right one.
4. National Selection. Destino Eurovision sucks. It’s one of the worst selections in Europe. The last one was in 2011 and I was wondering, “What the hell is this?” I think that maybe the Spanish television don’t give a thing about Eurovision. This is prime time yet most of the songs are bad most of the time.
5. Meaning. I think that the meaning and stories of their songs are just for Spanish people. I’m not Spanish. I’m a Panamanian-Swede with the soul of someone from Monaco. I don’t understand some of what are they trying to say. Their songs are not European anthems.
In short, Spanish television needs to change the way its sees Eurovision. Eurovision is huge in countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Their state broadcasters stage big national finals. There’s so much diversity of music and styles. But Spain lacks the Wow Factor that Loreen brought to Baku. Spain needs to create an anthem that the people of Croatia, Armenia, Iceland and all Europe will remember even if it is in Spanish!