Eurovision: Telling Another Story
By David Jo Murphy.
Each year in Ireland we get our hopes up, thinking this will be our year again; we’ve won it more times than any other country, surely this year will be a triumphant return to form. Then, as has become routinely usual, we crash and burn out of the semifinals and the bitter recriminations begins. Of course there are the usual targets in RTE and that alleged secret occult cabal who conspire to prevent a democratic selection of Ireland’s Eurovision singer. Or there is the other bogeyman: alleged ‘block voting’ between the Slavic countries and the Balkans. Even though they’ve had a decade of bitter ethnic warfare during the nineties, they still manage to put their differences aside and vote for each others’ singers. Yet we Irish have long bitter memories and although the UK normally gives us top marks, some of us we gleefully revel in our ‘hatin’ the Brits’ attitude and, some years, give “nil points” to the UK. each year. Mind you we’re not the only ones in the English speaking world to have sent a few turkeys to the Eurovision. Can you remember the UK entry ‘You’re Not Alone’ by Joe and Jake? (No, I can’t either).
Since the beginning of the refugee crisis a few years ago Hungary is a country, which has been hitting the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. From electing a right-wing government under Victor Orbán which has treated refugees appallingly, to one of the camera persons from the Hungarian TV station being seen kicking and tripping refugees trying to cross the border. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Hungary was a harsh intolerant place. That’s why I was delighted when I noticed that Hungary’s’ Eurovision entry was a well-known Roma musician Josi Papai, singing the song Origo. Origo, which is a very catchy tune that mixes contemporary Gypsy music with pop and hip hop. Papai first shot to fame in a Hungarian TV show called Megastar (similar to X Factor) and since then he has collaborated with some of the country’s most well-known pop stars.
So while it’s tempting to dismiss the Eurovision as a camp but obsolete throwback to the 1970s, (and indeed my better half was feeling distinctly less European after Ireland didn’t qualify and was talking about IRexit); it’s important to remember that while the world seems to be in chaos (if you believe the tabloids) and European politics is lurching between a Neo-Liberal nightmare and a Right-Wing hate-sphere being ruined by religious nutters; there is still a place where the fun, tolerant, musical, frivolous side of international competition can take place, without the need for a gun or a football.