The Slovenia Times

Euro - what?



Those were the golden days of the contest; the days of Abba, Johnny Logan, Toto Cutugno, Brotherhood of Man with their legendary tune "Save Your Kisses for Me", Celine Dion for Switzerland; the days the times when this contest was a festival of the best in the business. We would sit down in front of the TV with our families and wait with our baited breath for the best new songs in Europe, the new trends in music and fashion. Yes, those were the good ol' days, when presenting your country on the contest was a matter of prestige. So, what went wrong?

Abba are no longer on friendly terms, Johnny is probably nursing his grandchildren, Italy keeps sending people to represent them who are nowhere near the top of their field, and Celine and the likes of her now wouldn't be caught dead performing on Eurovision, afraid it might damage their careers. If you compare the charts and the selection of songs seen at this Eurovision, one cannot help but ask what the contest is good for. It has become a self-sufficient contest, a musical genre of its own - dated and almost always content-less.

If you are a performing artist and want to compete in EMA - the Slovenian contest to select a song for Eurovision - you have to be invited by the board of EMA, or by a performer who has been invited. It's all about a crew of songwriters who keep sending their songs to Europe, without much success. Like Matjaž and Urša Vlašič, who have written five EMA-winning songs but without much of a result at the main contest. Still, every now and then, someone who is actually successful agrees to participate as a songwriter or a performer, like when EMA got lucky and Magnifico somehow said yes to the invitation and produced a hit for the transexual trio Sestre, the only song that has had any real success abroad. But that was almost a decade ago, and since then a lot has changed for the worse. Now we have raging vampires, hellish creatures from the Scandinavian countries, opera singers, feministic male singers or she-males singing with angelic voices that are the only thing that determine the artist's sex, and no hit songs, whatsoever. If you compare the pop charts in Britain with the people it sends to represent them in Eurovision, the difference is huge. In short, this is a contest which is a pale shadow of its former self because for years now, the winning song is usually forgotten after a month. So what's the point?

Even though I like Maja Keuc and her refreshing talent and enthusiasm, and the Vlašič couple's catchy song that she sang - catchy because it was a very crafty mix of various vocal lines and musical themes "borrowed" from at least four hit songs, but none of them provable - it again didn't work. They sent Maja along with an incredible four back-up singers, all too young and dressed as cheap gogo dancers, instead of using the attractive Maestro dancers. The result was this: Maja looked uncomfortable in the latex and stripper boots, resembling a girl who has raided her porn star aunt's wardrobe with her gal-pals and run away from home to try her luck as a singer. I bet she concentrated more on keeping her balance in those heels than on performing and the image overshadowed her obvious talent and vocal abilities. Sound familiar? Try watching Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguillera - Maja's too obvious singing idol.
And the winning Azerbajan song? I guess it was their time to bring home the prize. Eurovision is in its Eastern European phase, increasingly clinging to the musical taste of the ex- Soviet Union countries who have just discovered the meaning of the words TV Show. What of Ireland, Great Britain, Sweden and the old trailblazers? Is it possible that they have trouble finding good performers and songwriters? Probably. It's sad. It was a great idea, once. A dream of Europe, united in its love for music and art, now turned into a chaotic kitschy nightmare.


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