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The 57th annual Eurovision song contest occurred earlier this month in Baku, Azerbaijan. Like every year, the 2012 competition was a predictably showy camp-fest that featured prominent artists from a host of European countries competing within the realm of song and dance. The elected winner was Swedish songstress Loreen whose capoeira inspired act brought Sweden the honor of hosting the competition next year.
Despite the escapist themes of many Eurovision submissions, however, the event does not take place in a vacuum. This year, the financial crisis of the European economy had a noticeable impact on the purely European song contest.
Rambo Amadeus, the Montenegrin entry and a popular musical satirist, brought the economic situation to the fore with his song “Euro Nero” whose chorus features lyrics such as “give me chance to refinance” and “monetary break dance.” While the middle-aged performer and his symbolic trojan horse did not make it to the final stage of the competition, his witty rapping hinted at some of the considerations that would constitute the majority of the scandal surrounding the show as a whole.
In its preamble to the broadcast of the annual show, the international media doggedly introduced and reintroduced the question of who, should they win, would be fiscally capable of hosting Eurovision next year and whether this would effect the quality of contestants. One of the greatest conspiracy theories leading up to the competition was the rumor that the Spanish contestant, Pastora Soler, had been instructed to lose. The Herald Sun reports that Soler allegedly said “I think it is not the moment, neither for Spain nor for the Spanish public, to win Eurovision.” This claim was later denied by the singer herself.
Many felt that the participation of Eleftheria Eleftheriou for Greece, the country that has perhaps been most affected by the devaluing of the Euro, demonstrated a lack of economic responsibility on the part of the country’s politicians. Others argued that this was a necessary boost to Greek moral. Still others felt that the voting aspect of Eurovision would be used as an opportunity for countries to ally themselves. In particular, many believed that Greece might use Eurovision to influence Germany’s decision to spearhead an economic bailout.
Post-Eurovision, it is clear that the motivation for individual country’s voting was vastly more complicated than had been suspected. While many countries, including Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland, did vote along the lines of natural economic and political alliances, both Greece and Germany awarded each other zero points. Far from their original hypotheses of mutual understanding expressed through song approval, theorists now view the peculiar voting habits of this pair of countries as a kind of complicit revenge tactic or, as Charles Robinson explains in the Wall Street Journal, a form of “protest”.
Fortunately, Sweden, the eventual winner, appears to be fully capable of hosting Eurovision 2013 and has managed to escape relatively unscathed from the political furore that has surrounded some of its compatriot countries. What social changes might occur between then and now to reshape the complexion of this contest remains to be seen.
Image Courtesy of http://www.eurovision.tv