Eurovision has nothing to do with music

3 mins read

Every day the pandemic endures, we go a little crazier in the knowledge that normality has turned upside down, and we ignore the virus at our peril.

The lockdown has eased with all schools opening within the next two weeks, while one-on-one downtime is allowed at the gym if you can afford a personal trainer.

Dwelling in the here and know is too much to bear; our minds wander to the summer when freedom to travel or socialise will be returned.

We don’t need our noses rubbed in the grim reality of every day counting down vaccine deliveries, daily COVID-19 cases and how to spend our rationed SMSs for movement.

Amid the new normal, you should expect some light mood music would be a harmless form of escapism to get us through the long COVID nights.

Things aren’t what they use to be, apart from the Eurovision Song Contest.

Musical bad taste has a party in several different languages and indecipherable dress code.

Cypriots love a good old Eurovision ding-dong singalong with the rest of tone-deaf Europe in homage to a kitsch culture that nobody should ever take seriously.

Sitting through the songfest marathon with your ironic hat on is an annual tradition.

An event tinged with nationalistic fervour when giving Turkey zero points or any of its political allies.

Much to Nicosia’s chagrin, Turkey has actually won the competition, which Cyprus has failed to do since entering in 1981.

That may be down to Cyprus entering dodgy songs in Greek until it tried to become hip with Euro trash-pop, opting for English lyrics in 2002.

Since then, there have only been three entries in Greek; guess what? They all failed to qualify.

So why the big fuss about Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam?

Cyprus is not expected to light up the show with a thumping beat you can whistle to in an Estonian pub.

The El Diablo song entry has shown that Cyprus would rather stay hidden in the Dark Ages, burning people at the stake for being lovers of satan.

It would be churlish to judge a Eurovision entry on its musical merits; rhythm, sound and innovation are not common denominators.

Eurovision stands out as an anomaly because of its tenuous links to music.

It is a competition where the single market does not exist.

It’s a platform where you can go to war waving the flag, throwing every national stereotype into the mix to see what comes out.

More recently, it has been a safe space for challenging gender stereotypes, but for Cyprus, the controversy is more mundane.

It is under pressure to withdraw its ‘scandalous’ Eurovision entry after an anonymous caller threatened to ‘burn down’ national broadcaster CyBC.

At the same time, religious teachers blasted the tune ‘blasphemous’.

The song ‘El Diablo’ (Spanish for the devil), performed by Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou, was lambasted for its title and ‘satan-loving’ lyrics.

Police were alerted after someone threatening to “burn CyBC down” in protest against the song going to Europe.

School teachers of religion said they were “abhorred” over a song “praising Satan” with a love-struck woman dedicating her life to him.

High morals

They demanded CyBC select a song of high moral fortitude that spread the word of Cypriot cultural heritage.

As you can imagine, that would make for an all-time classic with ancient Greeks pondering the secrets of life to the soothing sound of a harp.

We are in trouble if the righteous become arbiters of what we should listen to, although Cyprus has had a counter-culture bypass.

The Greek Orthodox faithful feel undermined by a woman calling her loser boyfriend, El Diablo, for no better reason than he “melts my icy edges”.

And should the pious be offended by the chorus: “I fеll in love, I fell in love
I gavе my heart to el diablo, el diablo.”

Pop culture has been around for three score years and ten.

Due to the furore, CyBC had to defend the song before the Spanish Inquisition.

Its bizarre explanation of the song’s merits disclosed that El Diablo was inspired by the “eternal struggle of good versus evil”.

I suppose that’s one way to explain relationships since the beginning of time.

There was more from the CyBC enlightenment panel.

It said the song tells the story of a “problematic relationship where the victim is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.”

I’ve read the lyrics, watched the video (professional curiosity), not a hint of Stockholm Syndrome or kidnapping by Beelzebub.

Unless, of course, you need to play the song backwards or use code-decyphering techniques to unlock the meaning of: “I gave it up, I gave it up/Because he tells me I’m his angel, I’m his angel/
Oh-oh-oh, el diablo, el diablo.”

And the beats goes on.