Unite Unite Europe!

“Music makes the people come together
Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel!”

– Madonna, “Music”

For those coming outside /bigger/ Europe and Australia, Eurovision Song Contest (“Eurosong”) must be an odd concept. Many, if not all, European countries competing for a best song, since 1956. Europe has changed its visage quite a bit since then. Germany merged, Czechoslovakia split, then USSR, and then, well, my own Yugoslavia.

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All countries participating in the contest. Not all are present every year, usually due to financial circumstances. Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Cyprus withdrew this year.

The foundations of European Union were set during the same period, the 1950s. Today, EU is consisted of 28 sovereign states, Croatia being the latest addition in 2013. But the sweet thing about the Eurosong is that it has not much to do with EU. Sure, the “Big Five”, e.g. five founder countries of the song competition, whose representatives always go directly to the finals – France, UK, Germany, Italy and Spain – are also strong forces in the EU. However, the contest has recently become more about the others, especially those from outside the EU, their promotion and development. One could even speculate that the EU is somewhat using the competition to promote the good spirit of overall unity, regardless of formal borders. Or at least I like to think that.

For what are borders, if not a man-made boundaries to implement rules and control? Human spirit knows no borders, nor does music… But, unfortunately, human actions still need borders.

Eurosong is huge in Sweden, probably due to the fact that it was Eurosong that made Swedish music world-wide phenomenon. ABBA’s Waterloo was voted biggest Eurosong hit of all time, and it will remain so, likely until the end of time 🙂 Honestly, after 40 years, it’s still amazing. And, unlike many “one-hit wonders” spawned by Eurosong, ABBA continued to make wonderful music for another decade.

Due to the huge popularity of the contest, Sweden today has probably the most elaborate representative election process of all participating countries: SVT tortures us with it for six Saturdays in a row. I wrote about it briefly in one of my older blogposts.

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Clef, a universal symbol of music, and a logo of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, held in Belgrade.

Serbia won only once, and it was coincidentally my first Eurosong in Sweden, in 2007. A friend threw a Eurosong party (a common thing in Sweden), and you can imagine everyone’s surprise when my country won: I was the only Serb at the party, and not many people actually knew me.

“Was this expected?” – someone asked. I shrugged. The song was ok, but I don’t think I’d vote for it. And that’s the best thing about Euorsong: I always vote for the best song, no matter the country. Music is not really about being a patriot. Sure, I voted for Serbia once, but the song was reaaaalllyy good. That same year, Azerbaijan won, and at the party, we even organized our own voting, and it had the same outcome!

Yugoslavia won only once, too. And the next year in Zagreb, Italian Toto Cutugno took the prize, singing: “Insieme (together), unite unite Europe!”, a ballad which celebrated European political integration, and establishment of EU. Only a year later, USSR and Yugoslavia split. But the hope remains that one day, maybe… we’ll solve all the territorial issues and focus, together, on more important things.

This year, I’m of course going to yet another Eurosong party, and you know what – I’m voting for Russia. I really don’t care about the politics and the current turbulence. Or well, of course I do. But music has nothing to do with that.

To be continued…

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