Europe’s not all doom and gloom. As well as high unemployment, the refugee crisis, Brexit, political extremism, terrorism, and worsening EU-Russia relations, there’s also that potent blend of patriotism, bloc voting, and “outlandish camp” that is the Eurovision Song Contest.
Founded in 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest today boasts more viewers than the Superbowl. Every year, contestants from roughly 40 countries (including both EU Member States and non-EU members) compete to garner the most public votes. There is a great deal of variety in terms of the style and tone of the performances. This year’s favourite to win is Italy, with a song featuring a man dancing in an ape costume.
It’s all a bit of fun, but that doesn’t mean politics can’t be involved. Last year, Jamala won the contest on behalf of Ukraine with her song ‘1944‘. Some have accused the song, about the deportation of Crimean Tartars by the Soviet Union, of being a dig at Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Explicitly political songs are banned according to Eurovision’s rules.
This year, the host Ukraine has banned Russia’s contestant, Yulia Samoylova, from taking part after she went on tour in Crimea. In response, Russia pulled out of the competition entirely.
The 2017 Grand Final will take place on Saturday 13 May at 21:00 CEST. You can read more about the contestants and see their songs ahead of the final on the Eurovision website.
Who do you hope wins Eurovision 2017? Will you be watching the Eurovision final? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below.