He’s the former Head of Delegation who took the singer-songwriter Joci Pápai and metalcore band AWS to Eurovision. Now, after leaving the Hungarian broadcaster following ESC 2019, Lőrinc Bubnó has given an in-depth interview about the challenges he faced and given his assessment of Hungary’s withdrawal from the contest.
Bubnó made his remarks when speaking with former Czech HoD Jan Bors, as part of his Humans of Eurovision interview series. Bors is speaking with several different people from the world of the song contest, from Iceland’s HoD Felix Bergsson to Wiwibloggs editor William Lee Adams. You can watch the full interview with Bubnó below. The text that follows highlights the key points.
Hungary: Former Head of Delegation on Eurovision withdrawal
After leading the Hungarian delegation for three consecutive seasons, Bubnó left the broadcaster citing personal reasons. Nowadays, he’s both the manager and a member of the eight-piece vocal ensemble called “St. Ephraim Male Choir“, and he also runs his own solo looping project called Nomique.
Asked about his experience as an HoD, Lőrinc said that he didn’t follow the contest beforehand, but really enjoyed being involved once he got stuck in.
“Funnily enough, I didn’t have a TV background, I have a radio background — I was producing radio shows for years, before being transferred to the international relations department of the broadcaster MTVA. Funnily enough, the producer of the national selection show isn’t the head of the delegation as well, even though in my opinion it should be. Initially, I was not supposed to be involved in the creative process, as head of delegation there was perceived as a managerial job, but of course, I couldn’t handle myself.”
“In 2016 I was just closely following the selection show, as I didn’t know anyone yet, and because it’s obviously also teamwork, it’s never up to one single person. So the big thing for me was getting to know the people who make things happen and designing the product that’s put on the Eurovision stage, and also the people working at Eurovision itself, as it’s much easier to harmonize your ideas with your own team and with them as well if you have a good connection.”
“So overall, it was a big learning experience for me, because I’ve never worked on such a huge production before, and although I obviously had my own prejudices about Eurovision, when I was put in the middle of the whole thing, I was like, ‘you can say anything [about Eurovision], but this is television at its best.'”
Regarding the aforementioned biases, Bubnó said the prevailing public opinion in Hungary — among musicians in particular — is that “Eurovision songs mostly suck”.
“That is also the reason why not too many great bands from Hungary entered the national selection because they didn’t view the contest as something that could change their career for the better. I don’t agree with it anymore because Eurovision songs don’t suck as people think. There are more than 40 songs each year, and listening to them all I have always found a lot of great ones.”
Lőrinc also highlighted the Czech Republic’s 2019 representative Lake Malawi as an example of an alternative pop band being true to themselves and doing well at Eurovision, similar to AWS the previous year: “We didn’t want to turn them into a ‘Eurovision act’ — we just let them do their own thing, and it worked.”
Asked about A Dal, Lőrinc said that he would change many things about the show if it were up to him, including giving the public more say in the result and involving the international audience as well.
“One element I would change is that we wouldn’t pair performers with songwriters — we’d opt for singer-songwriters instead, which would be better at Eurovision itself too. I’d also hire a PR company to give the entire thing decent marketing, to make musicians believe that this is an opportunity which is good for their careers, showing their own songs to an audience of 200 million people, and they should go and take part regardless the result, and bloody forget the stereotypes and biases about the contest.”
“I would also add a camp where we would prepare these people for the live arena show setting. It would be good to involve a show with live instruments or a chance for the acts to alter their songs during and even after the show, instead of performing the same song the same way three times in a row.”
Bubnó explained his personal reasons for leaving MTVA: “I decided to leave because my son was born the previous year, I did the same amount of work at the St. Ephraim Choir as well, where we had 120 concerts per year, so although I loved being head of delegation, I had to save my family life. I wanted to see my son growing up, and to make more music, so I had to choose.”
Why did Hungary withdraw from Eurovision?
Regarding Hungary’s absence from both the canceled and the upcoming editions of Eurovision, Lőrinc hinted that there could be two main reasons for Hungary withdrawing from the contest: Money and attitudes toward the LGBT community.
“I didn’t know that we won’t continue taking part when I left, since I didn’t talk to anyone from the management. Honestly, since I didn’t talk to the management ever since, I’m not sure about the reasons, but I think it’s two-fold.”
“One reason is the money, since taking part at Eurovision costs a lot of money, and as we’re not too rich as a country, if there’s something to cut that they don’t think that it does good for the country’s image, then it’s pretty sure that they’re going to cut this.”
“On the other hand, and this is not just the broadcaster, but Hungarians still need some time to be ready to accept the LGBTQ community. And personally I think it is a big deal nowadays in Hungary, like people do give a sh*t about your sexual orientation, and I don’t agree with it. It’s really not a big deal, like, the fact that someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer has nothing to do with how they think, what kind of people they are. Of course, not everyone shares my opinion, but that’s rather the older generations of Hungarians. But I think that this is a stigma in most of the post-Communist countries and we all are struggling with it, and it might take some time until people will be more open about this topic.”
What do you think about Lőrinc’s thoughts? Is he right about MTVA’s absence from Eurovision? Do you like his looping project? Sound off in the comments below!