Every year, an international song contest brings together citizens across the world to celebrate Europe – Eurovision!
The television show is not just a site of cultural exchange; it's also a place where governments engage in cultural diplomacy and people come together to celebrate Europe and its diversity. Since 1956, it is the longest running television programme featuring a music competition. This year, in the 65th song contest, 39 countries are taking part in the competition.
Eurovision represents a celebration of Europe and its diversity. Even during the Cold War, Eurovision functioned as a stage that brought together singers from countries across Europe. The song contest is all about inclusivity, showcasing the diversity of life and pro-Europeanism. Its message of unity has been a core part of the show. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that there are many Eurovision fans among the Green family!
Eurovision shows that we can identify as European and come together to celebrate our shared history, while at the same time taking the best from our local heritage and culture. The wide variety of music genres at the event showcase the true diversity of the continent: it includes fado from Portugal, chanson from France, turbo folk from the Balkans, and much more. The show's ridiculously overproduced performances, flashing lights and europop musicality has made it a light-hearted celebratory event.
Eurovision has also had a significant impact on LGBTI rights across Europe. The show has platformed songs that promote equal rights and share the experiences of LGBTI people. Its celebration of queer people and hyper-camp aesthetic has turned the show into a major event for the community, who call it their 'World Cup'. From Dana International's legendary performance of Diva in 1998 to Conchita Wurst's Rise Like a Pheonix win in 2014, Eurovision has played a role in establishing gay and trans icons. This year, Jendrik sings "I don't feel hate, I just feel sorry," a message to all those who discriminate against queer people. Transgender Dutch YouTube star Nikkie de Jager (aka NikkiTutorials) is also one of the hosts of the show.
The Greens have always ardently supported the LGBTI community and have worked with Eurovision stars like Conchita Wurst on Pride. Today, Green MEP Terry Reintke, a huge fan of Eurovision, is fighting to protect and guarantee equal rights for the LGBTI community.
Ahead of the finals, we're sharing our favourite Eurovision songs
Toto Cutugno, Insieme 1992 – Italy, Eurovision 1990: "Insieme, unite, unite, Europe"
With Insieme 1992, Italy obtained its second Eurovision victory. The song is about bringing the nations of Europe together; insieme, in Italian! 1992 refers to the year in which the EU was set to be inaugurated. The song won Eurovision 1990, which was hosted in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Ethnic conflicts, wars of independence, and insurgencies greatly impacted the region between 1991 and 2001, but we're relieved that there is now peace, and that Slovenia and Croatia are now EU members. The hope for peace and solidarity illustrated in Toto Cutugno's song led the way to the EU project, and the Greens remain committed to doing the work to truly unite Europe.
Paradise Oscar, Da Da Dam – Finland, Eurovision 2014: "I'm going out in the world to save our planet, and I ain't comin' back until she's saved"
Eurovision has featured many songs touching on the climate crisis, and our responsibility for environmental breakdown. Perhaps the most illustrative is Da Da Dam by Paradise Oscar, which tells the story of someone going on a quest to see his king and parliament and save the planet! His message was for people to go beyond the music performance; to take action on climate change!
Alicja, Empires – Poland, Eurovision 2020: "Hoping for change, but we do the same"
Alicja powerful and emotional track Empires tackles the question of why humans are continuing to disregard planetary boundaries. Her soulful voice describes how humans build empires that rise and fall, too unaware of the broader impact we have on earth. On the song, Alicja stated that:
"Empires is an important song, not only for me, but also in terms of how we treat our planet Earth and life itself. We pose a threat to the planet. The song talks about the mechanism of destruction and difficult issues in our present world. People build empires, become obsessed with power and are distracted from what is really important."
Jamala, 1944 – Ukraine, Eurovision 2016: "We could build a future where people are free to live and love"
Jamala's 1944 is one of the more serious performances of the camp and pop-filled song contest. Her harrowing song talks about the mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea under the orders of Joseph Stalin during World War II, which is now recognised as a genocide. The performance and lyrics were inspired by the experiences of the singer's great-grandmother and are a reminder of our common humanity. Her triumphant performance is a testament to the importance of peace.
Marija Šerifović, Molitva – Serbia, Eurovision 2007: "I can't lie to God as I kneel down and pray, you're the love of my life"
We can't miss including a heart-wrenching love song in our list. Marija Šerifović's passionate rendition of Molitva in 2007 tells the story of same-sex love. The word molitva itself means prayer in Serbian, a fitting title as she describes the internal conflict she deals with to reconcile her religion with her sexual orientation and identity.
Nina Sublatti, Warrior – Georgia, Eurovision 2015: "Wings are going to spread up, I'm a warrior"
Nina Sublatti's Warrior represented Georgia in Eurovision 2015. The dark synthpop track took her three hours to write and was made in the middle of the night. Sublatti was inspired by Georgian women as she wrote the lyrics:
"If we look at the history of Georgia, we see that women have always been important figures. They simply sought to be good women, good mothers, good teachers. The Georgian woman has to be able to control her temper and raise her child as a warrior. So, she became a warrior."
What Eurovision 2021 tells us about Europe today
Eurovision 2021 has many empowering messages. Malta's contestant Destiny has proved to be a crowd favourite with her female empowerment anthem Je Me Casse featuring one liners like 'excuse my French'. Her punchy lyrics 'So if I show some skin, does it mean I'm giving in? Not your baby!' tackle slut shaming and consent. Manizha's Russian Woman is a testament to strong, confident and brave women. She calls out: 'Are you ready for change? Because we are!' This year's Eurovision also continues to celebrate diversity. Ugandan refugee Tusse from Sweden calls out to Europe during his performance: 'Can you hear a million voices calling out in the rain?' Born in Bologna to Eritrean parents, Senhit combined her African roots with Italian style and a European electro-pop attitude in Adrenalina featuring Flo Rida. Representing Portugal, The Black Mamba brings together blues, soul and funk in Love Is On My Side.
The pandemic doesn't feature in many songs, but the emotions expressed in the tracks reflect collective feelings as vaccine drives pick up speed across the continent. The music that the contestants have chosen is noticeably more upbeat and featured themes of unity, celebration, love and family. In one of the most wholesome and funky performances of Eurovision, Iceland's contestant Daði og Gagnamagnið chose a song about the lead singer's wife, 10 Years. In Technicolor, Montaigne admits that she wants to be 'closer to the world'. The song expresses a sentiment much reflected not only by today's youth but also most Europe's citizens whose lives have been affected by the pandemic: "I want to know that there's a future that I can move towards", she sings. In Amnesia, ROXEN tells the audience that they're 'not alone'; a message that reminds us of the importance of mental health as COVID-19 waves continue to rock the continent. The message is also reflected in VICTORIA's Growing Up Is Getting Old as she sings 'know that you're worth saving'. Eden's cry for liberation in Set Me Free makes us want to jam with her into a post-pandemic Europe.
We look forward to seeing the grand final this Saturday. Who are your favourite contestants so far? Tell us on social media!
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