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When politics rhymes with kitsch

Text by Marie Sophie JOUBERT

Latest update : 2009-05-15

A Ukranian sings for Russia, an Israeli-Jew and Arab perform a duet, Georgia is out but Turkey is in… The 2009 edition of the Eurovision music contest, taking place in Moscow, may be politically loaded but music will help soften the mood.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes to Moscow


Jewish singer Ahinoam Nini and her Arab counterpart Mira Awad sparked anger and incomprehension in their homeland Israel when they announced they would sing together at the 2009 Eurovision contest. They sing in unison for tolerance and peaceful co-existence between Jews and Arabs:  “When I cry, I cry for both of us”, goes the chorus.

But their message was not well-received, due in part to the poor timing of the announcement of their joint project, in December 2008, days after Israel launched a bloody offensive on the Gaza strip.

Arab artists denounced a shameless Israeli “PR operation”. Israeli right-wing lawmaker Arié Eldad answered by calling the artists  “the fifth column within the state”.



Turkey welcomed by Europeans, if not their leaders


The European Union may still be hesitant to integrate Turkey as a member , but that hasn't stopped Europeans from welcoming the country's singers with open arms. Singer Hadise’s hit, 'Dum Tek Tek', is one of the favourites of this year’s Eurovision selection. The young Belgian-born, Turkish woman counts tens of thousands of fans of different nationalities on social networking site Facebook, and her video clip is a hit on sites like video sites like Youtube and Daily Motion.




UK artists, your country needs you

London has gone all out to tackle the Moscow-based competition. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been particularly tense since ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned to death in London, and Russian secret services are suspected.

Britain hired famous playwright and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber – author of musical operas Cats, Evita and the Phantom of the Opera  – to concoct the syrupy ballad interpreted by Jade Ewen. Taking his new role very seriously, Sir Andrew recorded a video calling for all British artists to “do their duty” to help their “great nation reclaim the Eurovision crown”.



Banned Georgians


Georgians may well have no choice but to rally around the British patriotic effort, after they were banned from participating in the contest themselves due to the barely-veiled reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin in their flagship song 'We Don’t Wanna Put In'.


More fuel on the Russian-Ukrainian fire


Russia’s choice to be represented by a Ukrainian singer the year it hosts the contest is surprising, especially in light of the recent gas war between the two nations. Singer Anastasia Prikhodko first submitted her candidacy in Kiev with a song in Russian, much to the dismay of the Ukrainian authorities. The singer then tried her luck in Moscow, with more success. But today it’s Russia’s turn to be dismayed: her new song’s chorus is in Ukrainian.

Date created : 2009-05-15