When I was asked to pick an entry from San Marino for this weeks feature, there was only one option: ‘The Social Network Song’. The song formerly known as ‘Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh’. It’s a peculiar three minutes, but unbeknownst to Valentina Monetta and Ralph Siegel this Eurovision entry is arguably one of the most prophetic in the history of the contest.
‘The Social Network Song’ in 2020
For the vast majority of us, we have witnessed a radical overhaul of how we interact with one another. Bars, clubs, schools and places of work have been closed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 edition of our beloved contest was cancelled. Instead of physical interactions – social media platforms and video applications like Zoom and Skype have become the new normal. We have all been forced to become more glued to a screen than before in an effort to stay safe. Given that, it seems striking we have only had the one Eurovision song dedicated to the potential and perils of social media. But, of course, it feels right that one song would be from Valentina.
‘The Social Network Song’ represents the power of communicationValentina Monetta
‘The Social Network Song’ is an entry of many firsts. The first time a social media platform – Facebook – was directly referenced within a song. Of course, song title and a handful of lyrics had to be changed to avoid advertising a commercial message which would have breached the rules. Notably the reference to ‘googling’ was seemingly given the green light… Is she using that as a verb or adjective? Pedantic, I know. But fascinating to see where the lines are drawn with the rules! Anyway: The first time audiences see a musician, doctor, cheerleader and pilot on stage at the same time. The first reference to cybersex? However, it is NOT the first Eurovision entry to have a computer on stage. That accolade goes to Gina G. Probably the first laptop though…
Having trouble connecting to this device…
However, that probably marks a negative I have with the performance in Baku. It’s a tall order to try and encapsulate ALL the things social media has to offer in three (3) minutes. The lyrics, which out of context are utterly bizarre, do a good job to hint towards what we could see on stage. And yet I’m not convinced the staging helps convincingly convey the message of the song:
There are few camera shots give a clear image of the laptop. Similarly, the different characters joining Valentina on stage do represent a broad selection of society. But in the same breath, there is little interaction between them and some of the characters aren’t clearly defined enough to be immediately recognisable. It took a few rewatches to realise one of the backing singers is an influencer! The Pilot has dark shades, so much so you have no reason to connect with him (is this intentional or a comic irony of trying to replicate cyber connectivity?) The overall effect makes me feel a little unfulfilled and disorientated: much like excessive Skype/Zoom calls…
You’re loggin’ in with just a friend
But soon the Internet’s beeping and peeping around the bend
We used to greet friends on the street
But now it’s googling, giggling, gaggling when we meetThe Social Network Song
Although this is probably not my favourite of Valentina’s entries, it’s quite quickly become the most topically relevant. Too often the contest feels as if its lagging behind in pop culture and/or general advancements of music and society. Yet in this case, Valentina was not only relevant in 2012 during social media’s boom in popularity, but she was also ahead of her time. Similarly, the removal of ‘Facebook’ in exchange for the generic term ‘Social Network’ is even more striking. Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat are all powerful mediums that shape and in many senses dictate our life. These tools help form, consolidate and sometimes destroy connections between people. For all its philosophical and Cassandra-like merits, 12 points from qualifying seems probably fair.
Beep beep, ooh oh oh…
How about a little chat?
Oh, oh, network fans…
Meet you on the internet!The Social Media Song
Tagging the team to comment and react
What an introduction to Valentina Monetta! While I would probably never listen to this song voluntarily on a music app, I do enjoy watching the performance on YouTube every now and then. There is so much to unpack: the song itself with its interesting “beep boops” and “oh ohs” provides for an easy singalong; the background singers mysteriously dressed as different occupations; and of course, the computer with angel stickers on it. While it was for the best that this song stayed in the semi-final, I secretly would have enjoyed seeing it in the final, just because Valentina deserved it.
San Marino returned to Eurovision in 2011 after a two year absence with a soft, inoffensive ballad by the lovely Senhit. Who could have thought how much of a radical change in style they would take for 2012? Initially when it was released, the song was known as the ‘Facebook Song’, which 10 year old me found hilarious. Of course the EBU censors put a stop to that and we got the ‘Social Network song’ (but all on-stage performers dressed in the colours of a specific social network )
I feel if it had been the only novelty act in Eurovision 2012 (there were 3 in her semi final alone) it might have done better but unsurprisingly it failed to qualify. While someone might have clicked her with their mouse, nobody seemed to pick poor Valentina for their vote!
Maybe she will get her justice one day…
Queen Val made less than regal debut at Euroh-uh-oh-oh-vision with The Social Network Song. Amazingly, that is not the worst of her entries (looking at you, Spirit of the Night…). The performance was fitting to the song, all kinds of nonsense but it did mark the beginning of the love affair of the fandom with La Monetta, so it’s hard to argue too much with it. Who would have told Valentina that 2020 lockdown would make her song relevant (playing fast and loose with the term here…). I guess this is one of those songs you would probably never play voluntarily but would always rage to if someone else did. Am I not making any sense? I guess it could be a good analogy for what San Marino served in 2012.
There’s something about ‘The Social Network Song’ that sits uncomfortably and has me reaching for a safeguarding concern form. But who was manipulated or misused here? The viewer who rides the three minute wave of catchy yet curious and confusing performance? The backing doctor, pilot, cheerleader etc, who must have wondered how it had come to this? Or Valentina herself? After being taken under the wing of Uncle Ralph, the 37-year-old with a penchant for jazz and funk probably didn’t expect/hope to be presented with a bubble-gum ditty extolling the virtues and hinting at warnings of the social media revolution. That said, ‘The Social Network Song’ does make me smile; and Val Mon has been installed as a Eurovision institution. Quite rightly so.
What’s your opinion on ‘The Social Network Song’? Do you agree with the team? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates!