For centuries music has played an important role in society. Everyone can appreciate it. In the past music served several purposes – to recount legends and myths, worship gods, chronicle historic moments in a country’s history or sometimes simply to make work more pleasant. But times have changed. Nowadays it’s all about love, hate or alcohol. Generic rules are followed to make songs catchy and in most cases lyrics are devoid of any deeper meanings. Eurovision is no exception. If you need an example look no further than Denmark’s “Cliché Love Song” from 2014.
A key characteristic of the contest is its global, multi-cultural nature. This allows artists, in theory, to sing about pretty much anything they want. However, most choose to sing about love and so on. But there will always be some who break the mould and espouse the political views of their country or sing of world peace and freedom of speech. Of course, others sing in a language you don’t understand and therefore could be singing about anything! This is what Eurovision is all about; getting a message across and being different to what we hear on the radio everyday.
This is important. The mainstream media can be very selective with the stories they publish and tend to “forget” bad publicity. Music is different. It has the power to get people singing along, and spread virally across the internet. Chart success follows, and eventually people ponder the subject matter of the song. Let’s take a look at how some Euro-visual examples have fared. Does it pay to a send a song with a deeper meaning? Or are they doomed to fail?
“We Don’t Wanna Put In” – Georgia 2009
Sometimes it’s best not to be too direct. Georgia’s 2009 entry, “We Don’t Wanna Put In”, was rejected by the EBU for its “political connotations”. Surprisingly, it was seen as mocking the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin…
“Euro Neuro” – Montenegro 2012
In 2012, Montenegro sent a song intended to bring Europeans together to solve the debt crisis and for wealthier countries to help out the poorer ones. “Euro Neuro” tried to tackle these issues head on with the use of humour. Predictably, it went down like a lead balloon and didn’t make it past the semis.
“Come And Fight For Freedom” – Cyprus Pre-Selection 2015
Even this year in the run up to Vienna, Eva Diva failed to make it through the selection process in Cyprus with “Come And Fight For Freedom”. Perhaps the Cypriots have no intentions of living in a free world, or maybe they would just finally like to win.
“Rise Like A Phoenix” – Austria 2014
Conchita Wurst stunned audiences when she was crowned the winner in 2014. “Rise like a Phoenix” combated prejudice and highlighted the judgement of others in modern society. The impact was heightened by the fact that Conchita was a drag act created by Tom Neuwirth.
“Ein Bißchen Frieden” – Germany 1982
“Ein bißchen Frieden” written for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982, means ‘A Little Peace’”. Performed by 17-year-old Nicole Holoch, it’s a wish for world peace and describes the beauty of the natural world. It brought Germany its first victory; proving, for maybe the first time, that non-love songs could win.
“Molitva” – Serbia 2007
The 2007 contest saw Marija Šerifovi win for Serbia with Molitva. The true meaning of the song has been hotly debated. Some saw it as a prayer for Serbia after the UN sanctions and the fall of former President Milosevic, others saw it as a coded message about lesbians. Either way, its’s still a fantastically powerful ballad.
From the selection above, it’s clear that countries with “message” songs rarely do well, but this is only because they’re different. Some see different as wrong… supposedly it’s the winning that counts. The point of Eurovision should be that different is good! It represents the thoughts and beliefs of almost 40 countries. We need to embrace this and allow countries and artists to tell the world how they feel.
Eurovision is a night when a continent comes together and collectively thinks about how we see other countries. What’s your say? Should more countries speak out about politics? Or does it matter what the song is about as long as it is catchy and fun? With increasing concern about global warming and debt, 2015 could do with having a few controversial songs, but will they even come close to winning?