Editorials & Opinion

BLM and the fallacy of ‘celebrating diversity’ in the Eurovision Song Contest

BLM and the fallacy of ‘celebrating diversity’ in the Eurovision Song Contest

This has been an incredibly painful few weeks. Attempting to crystallise my thoughts has been equally painful. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests has prompted a broader discussion of the ideas of privilege and a reappraisal of popular culture. It has also unearthed some toxic and problematic mindsets in a number of individuals within the fandom. Of course, for a handful of us, we already had a hunch… BLM within the Eurovision fandom We need to be prepared for uncomfortable conversations and questions. These discussions are thought-provoking, eye-opening and enriching… but they are also hard. It is difficult to explain to colleagues and peers why they might be allocated more privilege than someone else. To illuminate systematic inequality, or the violence that has knowingly or unknowingly occurred through our language or actions. Similarly, it is difficult recognising that you may enjoy systemic privileges over others, the stages of privileged racial identity development. It is equally difficult to relive the violence of racism to those who ‘don’t get it’ over and over to try and help them understand. I hope the widespread peaceful protests of BLM leads to positive change and enables these conversations. I also hope that the BLM movement …
Editorial: BLM and the Eurovision fandom – Committing to long-term change

Editorial: BLM and the Eurovision fandom – Committing to long-term change

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that we as Eurovision writers sit among a range of sites, representing fans from across the continent and beyond. Many of these sites, us included, have spoke about issues around diversity and representation at the contest before. For example, Eurovision podcasters Isobel Chillman and Roland Bodenham spoke to this on a segment for ESCInsight. Ellie Chalkley also published a phenomenal piece around Mahmood’s journey to Eurovision last year that included similar themes. More recently, as we stand in this moment of increased discussion around issues faced by Black communities in the West (and beyond), a number of fellow Eurovision sites have used their platforms to speak out on this issue. For example, Connor from ESCUnited published an editorial about why Eurovision fans should care about the Black Lives Matter movement. Wiwibloggs also published an incredible editorial about Black artists’ contributions to the contest throughout its history. We of course must note that a number of these came in response to a Eurovision fan posting a thread of sites featuring Your Face Sounds Familiar on Twitter. This show frequently features blackface as a form of light entertainment for European audiences. In 2020, I personally do not …
🇭🇷 Slideback Sunday: When Croatia weren’t ours anymore

🇭🇷 Slideback Sunday: When Croatia weren’t ours anymore

As many countries in Europe being lifting lockdown, we are continuing our weekly slidebacks to look back at a memorable song in Eurovision history! Today, we’re off to Croatia and looking at their 2003 entry. Claudia Beni was sent to Riga to fly the Croatian flag with the song “Više nisam tvoja”! I’m not yours anymore! With Croatia, at the time, being on a run of five top 11 results in a row, they were determined to select another strong entry. It fell to the national final, Dora, to select Croatia’s 11th entry for the contest and many names, now famous to the Eurovision world, took part. Among the participants were pop-opera superstar Jacques Houdek, Nebo’s Nina Badrić and also Maja Blagdan who had already finished 4th at Eurovision in 1996. After two semi-finals and a 12-song final, 16-year old Claudia Beni was selected as the winner with “Više nisam tvoja”. In the years before the semi-final, Croatia competed against 25 other countries in what was the biggest Eurovision song contest to date at the time. Performing eighth in the contest, Claudia performed her pop number straight after Portugal’s dreamy ballad and before the Cypriot entry, “Feeling Alive”. The result …
🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday: Moldova’s dynamic debut

🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday: Moldova’s dynamic debut

As the Euroverse slips into the most surreal spate of PED, let’s alleviate some of the symptoms with a slideback to 2005 and a country making its bold Eurovision debut. Zdob și Zdub had the honour of being the first Moldovan representatives, performing ‘Boonika bate doba’ in Kyiv. About the song The entry was written by two of Zdob și Zdub’s founding members, vocalist Roman Iagupov and guitarrist Mihai Gîncu. Translating to “Grandma beats the drum”, there was no mistaking how this folk-punk song would be represented on the Eurovision stage. The band went full throttle with the latest chapter of the Eurovision handbook, hurling traditional culture into the mix, something instinctive to this band who had already been blending Moldovan folk with punk and ska for a decade. Despite being drawn to perform fourth in a 24-song semifinal, Zdob și Zdub qualified in second place, ultimately finishing in sixth place in the grand final. This strong debut remained Moldova’s highest finish at Eurovision until Sunstroke Project’s second attempt reached third place in 2017. Full of energy and never letting your attention slip. ‘Boonika bate doba’ was worthy of its top six finish and has stuck in my mind and …
XTRA Opinion: Our running order for semifinal 1

XTRA Opinion: Our running order for semifinal 1

Tonight, we will finally see what the running order for the first semi of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 would have looked like. However, like in previous years, we’ve also given this a go ourselves. Below you can find our train of thoughts and the running order we would have chosen! No “Euro Neuro”… Opening the show is a big task and when you’re producing the show, you really want something that makes an impact here. You want something powerful enough to keep viewers interested. That also means it needs to be a relatively okay song, otherwise you start off with a bit of downer. Just think about “Euro Neuro”, the Montenegrin entry in 2012. How many people will have turned off after that? That is why you want something upbeat, interesting and captivating. So we will go with The Mamas for Sweden as our opener. After that, we often see songs that aren’t expected to make a huge impact. In 2019, D Mol and Sarah McTernan were given the #2 slot. Looking at this first half, we therefore only see one option: Belarus. To make sure we spread the genders evenly as well, we will then opt for North …
🇮🇹 Slideback Sunday; Soldi! Soldi! Clap-clap!

🇮🇹 Slideback Sunday; Soldi! Soldi! Clap-clap!

For the past (almost) 20 years I’ve been (almost) 100% sure no Eurovision song would ever knock my favorite entry down off the top of the podium. I mean; It’s been there since 2001, and though quite a few songs have come close, it was still there 18 years on. Of course I’m talking about the masterpiece that is “Lady Alpine Blue”, performed by the best band ever; Mumiy Troll! But last year, the (almost) unthinkable happened. Stop, don’t say that it’s impossible… It might not come as a huge surprise that it was an Italian entry that did it. It seems a certain Swede was right when he said he knew it was possible. I have loved so many of the Italian entries, both before they took their upsetting break from the contest and after their return. “Nel blu dipinto di blu” (the David Bowie cover is even better!), “Per Lucia”, “Gente di mare”, “Madness of Love”, “L’amore è femmina”, “L’Essenziale”…just to mention a few. However, it took until 2019 for a new song to take over 1st place on my “Eurovision top 10 (or top anything, really) in the history of ever” list. Soldi + Mahmood = 1st …
🇦🇩 Slideback Sunday: Andorra made a decision

🇦🇩 Slideback Sunday: Andorra made a decision

Slideback Sunday this week takes us to Andorra’s last entry. The hapless microstate never qualified for the grand final and after ‘La Teva Decisió (Get A Life)’, they ‘got a life’ and left, never to come back. What does ESCXtra think of this entry? If you only ever watched the finals or came into the Eurovision fandom in 2010, like me, or later, then chances are good you’ve never seen an Andorran entry live. Perhaps you didn’t even know they used to enter. But they did, for six years between 2004 and 2009. Sadly none of those entries made it to the grand final. This probably played a major part in why they haven’t entered since. From 2009, ‘La Teva Decisió (Get A Life)’, performed by Susanne Georgi is to date, the most recent Andorran entry. This pretty cute guitar-pop song failed to win over Europe, coming in 15th in its semi-final and with only 8 points, half of which came from fellow Iberian nation Portugal. As was becoming normal for Andorran entries, it’s a mix of Catalan and English. Catalan is the national language of Andorra and is present in all six of their Eurovision entries. Susanne and her …
🇩🇰 Slideback Sunday: The world keeps turning!

🇩🇰 Slideback Sunday: The world keeps turning!

For this week’s Slideback Sunday, we’re going back to 1983 for a song that feels very apt for the current situation in the world: Gry’s Kloden drejer! What does our team at ESCXTRA think of this entry? I’ll admit, I haven’t watched a lot of the pre-90’s Eurovisions. Eurovision was just a very different thing back then and unfortunately most of what was in there just wasn’t to my taste! This though – this is so catchy and enjoyable that I have to put this down for my slideback. It’s one of the few songs from pre-90’s Eurovision that I listen to regularly! The fact that this came 17th out of 20 is just wrong. Okay, her vocals may have been….shaky…and with the orchestra the song didn’t really……ok fine this kind of deserved 17th out of 20 with the live performance BUT the song itself is so much fun and you can’t help but dance along (and that dance is iconic)! Let’s instead listen to it through the preview video rather than the live Eurovision performance, much more pleasing to the ears! About the song ‘Kloden drejer’ was written by none other than Flemming Gernyx, Christian Jacobsen and Lars Christensen…(I …
From also-rans to Eurovision superpowers: How Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel transformed their fortunes

From also-rans to Eurovision superpowers: How Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel transformed their fortunes

Bulgaria. Cyprus. Israel. What do these nations have in common? Three of the most south-easterly participating nations at the Eurovision Song Contest? Tick. They all have wonderful weather and beaches? Tick. Three nations that show that you can turn around Eurovision fortunes with some clever thinking and direction? Big tick! Making a change in selection process Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel have all experienced a run of at least four consecutive non-qualifications. Bulgaria achieved six-in-a-row between 2008 and 2013 whilst Cyprus and Israel suffered a run of four consecutive non-qualifications between 2006 to 2009 and 2011 to 2014 respectively. Yet, since 2015 these three nations have qualified for the Eurovision final on every single occasion they’ve participated. Just how does a nation manage to bounce back from a poor run of results? If you ask BNT, CyBC and IBA/KAN, it’s all about making a change in your selection process and perhaps taking a bit more control in proceedings to steer the ship back onto the right tracks. Bulgaria: Only one final appearance in ten years Bulgaria had one of the most dismal records in the contest up until 2016, with just a solitary qualification with “Water” by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan …
🇬🇧 Slideback Sunday: A pop song with a message

🇬🇧 Slideback Sunday: A pop song with a message

Another Sunday, another slideback. Today we’ll revisit United Kingdom’s 1991 entry “A Message to Your Heart” and see what the team thinks of this topical plea wrapped in a catchy pop song package. I’ve followed every contest obsessively since I first became a fan, but I think a lot of Eurovision fans can relate to having less exposure to entries of the past. “A Message to Your Heart” is one of the few pre-2000 UK entries that I’ve listened to, but it’s always stuck with me. Is it the best vocal performance? Definitely not. Is the song original? Not in the slightest. In fact, it might be ticking the most Eurovision boxes thematically in its cry for a better world. It’s catchy though, and that’s all I really need in a pop song. Samantha looks every bit the Popstar Barbie and the performance isn’t bad. The disconnect between the lyrics and the vibe of the entry may throw some people off but we’ve forgiven much more questionable decisions in the name of Eurovision, haven’t we? About the song “A Message to Your Heart” was written by Paul Curtis who previously penned the country’s 1975, 1984, and 1990 entries. It finished …
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