Eurovisionary

Eurovisionary
08
October
2017

Catalonia crisis in Eurovision – how Spain blocked Catalan from victory

Catalonia crisis in Eurovision – how Spain blocked Catalan from victory

The flags of Spain and the region of Catalonia.

The current independence controversy brings to mind how the politics surrounding Catalonia had also been exposed due to the Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, it is not unusual for the contest to unintentionally offer a glimpse into wider political and cultural issues around Europe. 

Though rules forbid songs to contain political lyrics, politics have a way of finding their way into the Eurovision Song Contest nevertheless. In 1968, it was not the content of the Spanish entry, but the fact that the lyrics were in the Catalan language, that had triggered political controversy.

Contents

  • 1 The Catalan controversy
  • 2 Massiel wins the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest for Spain
  • 3 More recent allegations of Franco vote rigging
  • 4 Spain hosting the 1969 contest
  • 5 In more recent years

The Catalan controversy

Back in 1968, Spain had chosen the song La La La to represent it in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The song was to be sung by Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat. Wanting to make a statement of support for the regional languages of Spain, Barcelona-born Serrat wanted to sing the entry in his native, Catalan language.

Even in its Catalan version (YouTube video), the song sounds very inoffensive to an international audience, what with its chorus consisting entirely of non-lexical ‘la la la’s. However, the central government of Spain would only allow the song to be sung in Spanish. The official line of the then ruling Franco dictatorship was that Spanish was the official language of all regions in the country and, as such, it would be the only language acceptable for the song to represent Spain as a whole in the Eurovision Song Contest.

I sing to the morning which sees my youth
And to the sun that brings us new hope day by day.
Everything in life is like a song
Which is sung when you were born and also on your farewell. 
            
La lalala lalala lalala…   
    
I sing to my mother who gave me my life
I sing to the earth which has seen me growing.
And I sing to the day when I felt love
Walking through life I learned this song.
            
La lalala lalala lalala…   
    

English translation of the Spanish lyrics of La, La, La (by Amancio de Navarra & Martínez-Leal for diggiloo.net).

Massiel wins the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest for Spain

As a result of neither side backing down, it was decided that Joan Manuel Serrat would be replaced and that La La La would be performed in Spanish by Madrid-born singer Massiel. The singer was only twenty years old at the time and, decades later, she would describe how excited she was at the prospect of representing her country at the Eurovision Song Contest.

I want to go to Eurovision and I promise you I (will) win!

Massiel on her response to being chosen for Eurovision (interviewed for British documentary ‘Eurovision: Top Ten’, Channel Four).

Indeed, Massiel kept her promise. The contest was taking place in the United Kingdom, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The UK was also favourite to win with celebrated pop star Cliff Richard and his entry Congratulations. After an exuberant performance (YouTube video) and a total of 138 separate ‘la’s sung, Massiel managed to beat Richard and the UK into second place by one point.

Massiel representing Spain at Eurovision 1968 in London.

More recent allegations of Franco vote rigging

In 2008, there were allegations on Spanish television that General Franco had in fact rigged the 1968 Eurovision so that a Spanish win would boost the country’s image abroad. Massiel passionately denied that there had been foul play, accusing television channel La Sexta of sensationalism.

The instigator of the allegations, Bilbao-born TV and radio presenter José María Íñigo, later took them back. His explanation was that he had only repeated rumours he had heard circulating at the time and that his words had been taken out of context by the same channel.

The initial allegations lacked historical accuracy, too. Bulgaria and what was then Czechoslovakia were said to have been approached for bribing though, in fact, none of the countries involved were competing in the contest at the time.

Spain hosting the 1969 contest

Controversy was not quite over for Spain after its 1968 Eurovision win. The country had now to host the 1969 edition and, for a start, Austria withdrew from the contest citing its opposition to the Franco regime.

What is more, cynics may be tempted to see politics in the 1969 results. For the first time in the contest’s history, there was a four-fold tie at the top spot and, for the first – and to date last – time, there were four winners declared: host Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France.

There was only one trophy available, which Massiel had to pass from joint winner to joint winner. The results also meant that Spain was the first country to have back-to-back victories in Eurovision history.

Massiel (centre) with the four winners of 1969 (from left to right, Lulu for the UK, Salomé for Spain, Frida Boccara for France and Lenny Kuhr for the Netherlands).

The somewhat surreal situation has since prompted commentators to point out how appropriate it was that the set and publicity graphic design for the 1969 contest had been created by renowned (Catalan) artist Salvador Dalí, a surrealist.

Norway, Sweden and Finland as well as neighbouring Portugal joined Austria in boycotting the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest as a way of protesting against the 1969 result and voting system.

In more recent years

Catalan finally made it to the Eurovision Song Contest’s stage thirty-six years after the Franco regime had forbidden Joan Manuel Serrat to sing in the language. Jugarem A Estimar-Nos (We’ll Be Playing At Loving Each Other) was the first Eurovision entry to be sung in Catalan. However, the song was not representing Spain, but neighbouring microstate Andorra, which was debuting in its short Eurovision stint in 2004.

Like its neighbouring France and Portugal, Spain has remained somewhat reluctant to stop using its official national language at Eurovision. To date, this only occurred in 2016, when the country was represented by an entry exclusively in English, Barei’s Say Yay!. For this year’s entry, Do It For Your Lover, English was used for the choruses with the rest of the song in Spanish. At the grand final, the song finished last overall with 5 points. It was sung by twenty-one year old Manel Navarro, a… Catalan singer.

In the following videos you can watch Manel Navarro performing Do It For You Lover as well as answering to our Would You Rather questions during Eurovision in Kyiv last May.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

08
October
2017

Slavko splits the judges in Bootcamp audition (video)

Slavko splits the judges in Bootcamp audition (video)

Slavko feels like he is one step closer to becoming the next Beyonce as his fate was being decided by the X Factor judges. His second audition divided opinion this evening as auditionees had to impress not only the four judges but also the live audience at Wembley Arena.

Slavko took to the stage again this evening as the UK saw his second audition for The X Factor UK. This time, Slavko joined the second group of auditionees for Bootcamp. The Eurovision semi-finalist performed Rihanna’s Where Have You Been in front of judges Simon, Nicole, Sharon and Louis, as well as a live audience at Wembley Arena in London. In true Slavko style, the Montenegrin also gave an energetic dance routine, which Simon Cowell branded as “nuts”. However, former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger, leaped to Slavko’s defence calling him “an entertainer”.

See alsoSlavko auditions for X-Factor UK

The connection between Slavko and Nicole throughout his performance had been quite evident. In fact, he appeared to be looking straight into her eyes as he was performing. At some point, Slavko left the stage and walked towards the judges, finishing his performance in front of them, literally singing to Nicole the lines “looking for you babe, searching for you babe.” In amongst all the excitement, his trademark braid had detached itself at some point. When Slavko realized it had fallen off, he ran back to the stage to pick it up, draping it over his shoulder in the end!

There was some deliberation among the judges. Nicole could be heard that she could see the entertainer in him, whereas Simon could be heard saying that he didn’t. In the end, it was down to Nicole to announce that their decision was that they would send him – long pause, Slavko looking tense -… to the next stage of the competition. Slavko had received enough support from the judges to win a place in the dreaded Six Chair Challenge!

Nicole asked Slavko which judge he would prefer to be his mentor. Without hesitation, Slavko said “Nicole”, to which she replied: “good answer.”

In tomorrow night’s show, the judges, will have to judge the Six Chair Challenge alone. This change comes after some people felt that judges were influencing each other’s decisions. The Six Chair Challenge is no easy feat. Each contestant must perform again in front of their category’s mentor and the studio audience. If the judge likes what they have heard, they will be given one of the six seats. If they don’t like what they hear, the contestant will be going home. Once all six seats are full, the mentor in charge of the category must then decide who to swap and replace in the seats if they want to take any further acts through. If a candidate is removed from their chair, their X Factor journey is over.

The judges categories were confirmed this evening and Slavko’s wish came true, he will be mentored by Nicole.

The video below is from The X Factor UK official channel on YouTube – watch Slavko’s performance from tonight!

Categories: Eurovisionary

07
October
2017

Slavko splits the judges in Bootcamp audition

Slavko splits the judges in Bootcamp audition

Slavko feels like he is one step closer to becoming the next Beyonce as his fate was being decided by the X Factor judges. His second audition divided opinion this evening as auditionees had to impress not only the four judges but also the live audience at Wembley Arena.

Slavko took to the stage again this evening as the UK saw his second audition for The X Factor UK. This time, Slavko joined the second group of auditionees for Bootcamp. The Eurovision semi-finalist performed Rihanna’s Where Have You Been in front of judges Simon, Nicole, Sharon and Louis, as well as a live audience at Wembley Arena in London. In true Slavko style, the Montenegrin also gave an energetic dance routine, which Simon Cowell branded as “nuts”. However, former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger, leaped to Slavko’s defence calling him “an entertainer”.

The connection between Slavko and Nicole throughout his performance had been quite evident. In fact, he appeared to be looking straight into her eyes as he was performing. At some point, Slavko left the stage and walked towards the judges, finishing his performance in front of them, literally singing to Nicole the lines “looking for you babe, searching for you babe.” In amongst all the excitement, his trademark braid had detached itself at some point, with Slavko draping it over his shoulder in the end!

There was some deliberation among the judges. Nicole could be heard that she could see “the entertainer in him”, whereas Simon could be heard saying that he didn’t. In the end, it was down to Nicole to announce that their decision was that they would send him – long pause, Slavko looking tense -… to the next stage of the competition. Slavko had received enough support from the judges to win a place in the dreaded Six Chair Challenge!

In tomorrow night’s show, the judges will be allocated their categories and, unlike previous years, will have to judge the Six Chair Challenge alone. This change comes after some people felt that judges were influencing each other’s decisions. The Six Chair Challenge is no easy feat. Each contestant must perform again in front of their category’s mentor and the studio audience. If the judge likes what they have heard, they will be given one of the six seats. If they don’t like what they hear, the contestant will be going home. Once all six seats are full, the mentor in charge of the category must then decide who to swap and replace in the seats if they want to take any further acts through. If a candidate is removed from their chair, their X Factor journey is over.

The judges categories have yet to be officially confirmed, but the rumour mill has been working overtime and it is believed that Slavko and the ‘overs’ will be mentored by Nicole Scherzinger.

Categories: Eurovisionary

07
October
2017

Greek final 2018 – Idol winner Panagiotis Tsakalakos to enter the race (update)

Greek final 2018 – Idol winner Panagiotis Tsakalakos to enter the race (update)

Panagiotis Tsakalos was the winner of Greek Idol 2011

It has been reported that Panagiotis Tsakalakos, winner of the second season of Greek Idol, is in talks with the Greek public broadcaster for its 2018 Eurovision national final.

As reported earlier, the Greek public broadcaster ERT has already contacted record labels asking for entries and talent regarding its plans for a 2018 Eurovision national final.

After folk musician Areti Katime, it was revealed today that Panagiotis Tsakalakos is in talks about submitting an entry for the consideration of ERT.

Born in the USA, Panagiotis shot to fame after participating and winning the second season of talent show Greek Idol in 2011. With 53.8% of the vote, his was somewhat of a surprise win over runner-up Malou Kiriakopoulou that had caused a sensation at the time.

Having done postgraduate studies in music, the artist is also an accomplished guitar player. He has so far released three singles and his musical style can be described as alternative pop/rock.

See alsoGreece update – 2018 Eurovision entry to be 'exclusively' in Greek

Update – it was earlier reported that Panagiotis had already submitted a song to the ERT. According to his own statement just released however, the singer is still in talks with the Greek public broadcaster.

The truth is that we are in talks with the ERT regarding our participation in the Greek national final for Eurovision, without our entry having been submitted yet. The song with which we are participating is completely different to our to date entries in the event, with ethnic elements, and I reckon that it would offer very good chances for a high place for Greece in this year’s Eurovision. I cannot wait for you to hear it!

Panagiotis Tsakalakos

The deadline for submitting songs to the Greek broadcaster is 20th October. Songs will have to be sung entirely in Greek and preferably contain Greek musical elements.

Below, you can watch Panagiotis Tsakalakos’ music video for 2012 single Tha Me Vreis (You Will Find Me).

Categories: Eurovisionary

07
October
2017

Greek final 2018 – Idol winner Panagiotis Tsakalakos enters the race

Greek final 2018 – Idol winner Panagiotis Tsakalakos enters the race

Panagiotis Tsakalos was the winner of Greek Idol 2011

It has been reported that Panagiotis Tsakalakos, winner of the second season of Greek Idol, has submitted a song to the Greek public broadcaster for its 2018 Eurovision national final.

As reported earlier, the Greek public broadcaster ERT has already contacted record labels asking for entries and talent regarding its plans for a 2018 Eurovision national final.

After folk musician Areti Katime, it was revealed today that Panagiotis Tsakalakos has also submitted an entry for the consideration of ERT.

Born in the USA, Panagiotis shot to fame after participating and winning the second season of talent show Greek Idol in 2011. With 53.8% of the vote, his was somewhat of a surprise win over runner-up Malou Kiriakopoulou that had caused a sensation at the time.

Having done postgraduate studies in music, the artist is also an accomplished guitar player. He has so far released three singles and his musical style can be described as alternative pop/rock. Panagiotis will be representing the label Oxygen Music.

See alsoGreece update – 2018 Eurovision entry to be 'exclusively' in Greek

The deadline for submitting songs to the Greek broadcaster is 20th October. Songs will have to be sung entirely in Greek and preferably contain Greek musical elements.

Below, you can watch Panagiotis Tsakalakos’ music video for 2012 single Tha Me Vreis (You Will Find Me).

Categories: Eurovisionary

05
October
2017

Greece update – 2018 Eurovision entry to be ‘exclusively’ in Greek

Greece update – 2018 Eurovision entry to be ‘exclusively’ in Greek

Demy (Greece 2017)

Greek public broadcaster ERT has sent a letter to leading record labels regarding its national final for Eurovision 2018. Requesting songs, the letter makes clear that lyrics ought to be ‘exclusively’ in Greek and that the entries should preferably have a native sound, too.

As reported earlier, Greece’s ERT is working on putting together a national final for 2018. The public broadcaster is in the process of communicating with record labels, seeking entries for the selection.

The letter sent to these labels (seen in full below) makes clear among other things that the broadcaster wishes to make a change and select a song that will be typically Greek – both in regard to its lyrics, which will have to be in the native language, as well as to its musical style, which is encouraged to have a Greek sound to it.

A wish for quality is also evident in the letter. Last year’s representative, pop sensation Demy and her dance entry This Is Love, was internally selected and the decision had received a warm reception by the public. This year, it will be down to the record labels to come up with artists and songs and ERT stipulates that high musical quality and vocal ability are required.

See alsoGreece: ERT receives entry sung by Areti Ketime

There are more details about the national final itself mentioned in the letter. The deadline for submitting songs is 20th October. It appears that the songs submitted to ERT will be initially adjudicated by a specialist committee acting as a jury. The qualifiers will make it to the national final where the winner will be chosen solely by the public.

You can read a translation of the ERT letter below:

ERT, as in previous years, will participate in the pan-European Eurovision Song Contest, which will this year take place in Lisbon from the 8th to the 12th May 2018.

The target of the public broadcaster is to participate in this year’s event with a strong, quality song, performed by an artist of high vocal ability. This year we wish to make a difference, using exclusively Greek lyrics, in a song with a Greek sound. The candidate songs will be examined by the arts committee of ERT and those that qualify will be put to the judgement of the public in the context of a contest procedure (Greek Final), through which will emerge the one that will represent our country in this year’s Contest.

For this reason, we request that you send us – in so far as you consider that there is such opportunity and willingness on your part – until Friday 20th October, songs that you believe will meet the standards described above.

In the following videos, you can watch Demy in Kyiv, performing the 2017 Greek entry This Is Love as well as answering our Would You Rather questions.

For updates on exclusive videos like the above, you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Categories: Eurovisionary

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