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A song contest left in the shadow of a massacre: Eurovision

I would like to say that we passed the 68th Eurovision contest in Malmö, Sweden, but the repercussions of the last Eurovision, where we talked more about the events than the competing countries and their songs, continue even after the contest.

This year it was not music that was talked about at the Eurovision. In the shadow of the war, the EBU, which embargoed Russia a few years ago, embraced Israel, and the musicians had actually expressed their discontent with this situation before the contest. Despite this opposition, they still participated in the contest. At the time of the contest, there were a considerable number of musicians who expressed their discontent with Israeli singer Eden Golan’s statements in support of the war and her general attitude, and who did not hesitate to publicly show their support for Palestine. In fact, many believe that Joost Klein, representing the Netherlands, who was announced to have been disqualified from the contest due to a judicial matter, was actually a victim of the Israeli lobby.

While Israel was on the stage during the final, details such as the use of fake applause to drown out the protest voices in the area caused an increase in criticism.
In my first article before Eurovision, I had wished that Israel’s participation would be focused only on music; my wish did not come true. In this process, it seems that the Israeli delegation did not hesitate to be provocative against the musicians of other countries.

Sweden was also apparently very tired during this process because they made a clear statement that if they win again next year they don’t want to host the contest, they are too tired and it is too costly in terms of security.

The backlash continued both before and during the contest. For example, Alessandra Mele, who was to announce Norway’s scores, withdrew from the contest, and Belgium’s VRT Television interrupted the Eurovision Song Contest broadcast to announce a message condemning Israel’s violations of human rights and press freedom and demanding a ceasefire. Disqualified, the Netherlands did not present the jury votes. Last year’s Swedish winner Looren informed the organization that she would not present the prize if Israel won the final. The contestant musicians made their responses clear. All this was reflected in the votes from the countries and the jury did not give Israel the votes they expected. In fact, it was Israel that was being voted for, not the song. But then Eden’s song, which was advertised all the way to Times Square, made it to the top 5 by popular vote. The song was good, but both those who voted and those who didn’t voted did not vote for the song, but for their own pro- or anti-war sentiments in the general environment. Although we are used to politics in Eurovision, I don’t think we have ever experienced it in such a visible form.

My political conclusions from the contest could actually go on for pages; I would like to thank all the contestants who did not compromise their stance at the expense of being disqualified from the contest for all their efforts against injustice, for world peace, for the understanding of rights, equality and justice; and I will move on to the music part of the contest, which is what it should be about.

Nemo, representing Switzerland, was a contestant who truly carried the spirit of the contest and balanced the tense atmosphere with his love. He communicated and interacted with almost all the countries. He was such a sweetheart on his social media with videos of him covering other countries’ songs and having his own song covered by musicians from other countries. His interactions and the friendships he made with all the countries made Eurovision relive what it was all about.

Nemo has a very good voice: He did well with his song, which is made up of different styles such as pop, rap and opera. The song was already very good in terms of both meaning and musicality. Apart from the video being the most challenging, Nemo’s stage act in the finale was also spectacular.

During the voting, even the closest rival countries gave 10 or 12 points to Switzerland without hesitation. I think this is also very meaningful :)))

Bambie Thug, representing Ireland, was one of the best of the contest. She performed very well in the part of Eurovision that also appeals to the performing arts. I also think that she encouraged the other delegations to speak out with her statements and stance in favor of Palestine from the very beginning of the contest.

Sweden, as the host, did exactly what the EBU told them to do, and completed the Eurovision hosting with a broadcasting approach that ignored the reactions. In any other country, this year’s Eurovision could have been canceled and that would have been a much more meaningful message. Speaking of the EBU, its president Martin Österdahl also received his share of reactions. Especially when the disqualified country, Netherlands, did not present the voting, he was left with the task of presenting the votes, and at that moment there was an intense outcry.

By the way, the Eurovision agenda is still heated: According to the latest reports, Slovenian public broadcaster RTVSLO has filed a complaint with the EBU over the behavior of the Israeli delegation, while Serbian public broadcaster RTS has filed a complaint with the EBU over the unfair disqualification of Joost. AVROTOS, the Dutch public broadcaster, continues to protest during and after the competition, stating that they were unfairly disqualified. In my opinion, these appeals and objections would have been more effective if they had been made before the final, or even if the countries had filmed their contestants instead of filming their presenters and blacking out the screen. Maybe they didn’t want to harm the music, maybe they are now giving such feedback based on the information they received from the teams returning to their countries; I don’t know.

And the people of Turkey, who had stayed away from Eurovision, were somewhat consoled by Sertab Erener’s appearance on the Eurovision stage this year. Sertab, who was among the most watched videos on social media, achieved another great success with her stage.
As I come to the end of my article about 2024 Eurovision; I wish for the whole world a life where there are no oppressed, no injustices and no civilian citizens are killed.
Have a lifetime of music.

Translation of the article written for NouvArt after the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest.
Translation: Ufuk Sagin
Link to Original Article:

BEYZA CUMBUL – Music Editor

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