Eurovision faces new call to cut the politics

Hair story: Eleni Foureira, representing Cyprus, is the favourite to win this year. © Getty

Is the world’s favourite and most bizarre singing contest becoming too political? Amidst the silliness, this year there are songs inspired by #MeToo, terrorism and the global refugee crisis.

This year’s French entry into the Eurovision Song Contest is by a duo named Madame Monsieur. They wanted their song to send a simple message. See if you can translate its opening lines: “Je suis née ce matin / Je m’appelle Mercy / Au milieu de la mer / Entre deux pays, Mercy.”

Yep, it is about a baby who has been born at sea. And it is based on a true story: Mercy is a refugee, born last year while her mother crossed the Mediterranean.

“It’s a very soft and kind way to start to talk about migrants,” explained singer Émilie Satt.

The contest will have its grand final tomorrow in Lisbon, and it is more popular than ever. Last year’s final was watched by 183 million people.

Technically, songs with a political message are banned. But you might not know it from looking at this year’s line-up. Italy’s entry is about defiance in the face of Europe’s terror attacks. Israel’s song was inspired by the #MeToo movement. Ireland’s song features two male dancers playing out a gay love story.

Eurovision was always partly about politics. It was created to bring European nations together after the Second World War.

But its songs seem to be becoming more political. Is this a bad thing?

Nul points!

Yes — Eurovision should stick to generic messages about love, say some. Immigration is one of the continent’s most divisive issues. The contest should be about putting aside our differences and enjoying music. If Europe cannot do that for one night, it really is in trouble.

Wrong, argue others. It is refreshing to see artists raising awareness of important issues. And anyway, the message behind all of these “controversial” songs is that we should see each other as human beings, rather than statistics or problems. That is what all good art is about — we should be pleased to see it at Eurovision.

You Decide

  1. Is Eurovision too political?

Activities

  1. Without using Google, translate the French lyrics in the first paragraph of this article into English. The answer is found in Word Watch below.

Some People Say...

“There’s not enough silliness in the world. Eurovision helps to keep it balanced.”

Terry Wogan

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
This will be Eurovision’s 63rd contest. In the UK, the final will be broadcast at 8pm on BBC One with Graham Norton commentating. Britain’s entry is called Storm and is sung by SuRie.
What do we not know?
Who will win! Cyprus is the favourite, but Israel easily has the most views on YouTube (a whopping 22 million, around three times more than the second most popular song.)

Word Watch

Translate
In English: “I was born this morning / My name is Mercy / In the middle of the sea / Between two countries, Mercy.”
183 million
This was down from over 200 million in 2016, probably because Russia refused to broadcast the contest when its contender was barred from entering the host country, Ukraine.
#MeToo
A movement protesting sexual harassment that began last year with accusations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

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