неділя, 14 травня 2017 р.

Celebrate diversity: post-Eurovision thoughts

Hello, wonderful people!

If you are not from Europe (or, well, Australia), you have never heard of Eurovision. But if you are from here, you know the drill - it's a widely entertaining and controversial annual guilty pleasure, three nights of junk food and drinking games, political scandals and sometimes, shockingly, even music.


Eurovision Song Contest was created in 1956 to unite Europe, that was still recovering from the war. Now, this is the longest-running annual international TV song competition and a childhood tradition for many of us. 

Each year the competition is hosted by a country that won it the year before. And this year it took part in my home city for the second time since 2003 - the year when Ukraine started participating in the contest. The slogan of this year was Celebrate diversity and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the level of participants. And even more surprised to see the level of organisation. Kudos, Ukraine, you've done very, very well.

* I am not going to touch upon the gender balance of the hosts, just because I basically have nothing to say. Yes, one one hand it's weird and not really diverse to have three guys hosting a show of this level and with this slogan. But on the other hand, it's man and a woman each year, and each year it's the same - he is hitting on her, she is making fun of him. Is that diverse? I don't think so. But I'd love to see three women hosting Eurovision in the near future. 

But, considering this year's topic and the general atmosphere, it's very disturbing to see the things some people are writing about the winner - Salvador Sobral from Portugal.  It starts from being on drugs, having mental health issues and finishes at the "great" argument about him being "just weird".

And to me, this is just outrageous! Because (oh shocker!) diversity is not only about race, size and sexual orientation. It's also about being unique, or a bit weird, or completely, out-of-this-world weird, if you feel like it! Over the years on Eurovision stage we have seen a dancing plush turkey, a man in drag with a mirrored star on his head (hey, Vera!), a monster band and Jedward (twice!)! But yes, what's weird is a person who sings a beautiful song and puts his soul into it.

I cannot believe in 2017 a person can still be judges based on this categories! Especially when this person is a great singer, that promotes high-quality music and who won fair-and-square. Especially when this person has an active social position, supports refugees and uses his position to bring light to the sufferings and injustice that they face on EU borders. This is the Eurovision contestant that I'm very happy to see. I hope that he is the first of many to come and that the time of sterile commercial performances has passed. 

And yes, did I say that he is an extremely talented singer? 

It's so beautiful and haunting, and I agree with Salvador's winning speech about the importance of real songs in the times of disposable music. It was a well-deserved victory, and I am very happy for Portugal. 

I wasn't going to make this post about the Eurovision performances, but to make it less intense, let's speak about my other favourites. In nor particular order:

Blanche - City Lights (Belgium)

Again - a very high-quality song and performance, very visual and haunting. For some reason, I feel like it can be a wonderful soundtrack to a powerful, beautiful movie scene. Amazing, I was rooting for Blanche too. 

Dihaj - Skeletons (Azerbaijan) 

Very interesting and different. I used to work for the PR team, that promoted Azerbaijani artists a few years ago, and I am so pleasantly surprised with their participant this year. It's very different from everything we've seen from Azerbaijan before.  

Naviband - Story Of My Life (Belarus)

Very sunny and happy, but that's not even the best part for me. The best part is that they are singing in Belarusian. As the matter of fact, they are the first ever Belarusian participants, that sing in Belarusian. If you know anything about what Soviet state did to its republics' national languages, you can understand, why this is so cool. 

Thank you for reading this long-long Sunday morning post! Have a great weekend and see you around!

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