Friday, 4 May 2018

I won’t give in to the motions

Russia
Julia Samoylova
I won't break

For people who started to enjoy the contest in the 80s, the quintessential Eurovision winner is probably Sweden's definately heterosexual "Herreys" with their 1984 thriller "Diggi loo Diggi ley".  What a song. "Lightning and Thunder, Magic and Wonder" they sang, white trousers round their nipples, cheesy choreography over a cheesy bed that sounded like it had been lifted direct from an 80s cartoon series whilst a clever green screen projection video of the boys in a cube played behind them. It was brilliant.

Yes- here we are in awkward superpower Russia, the home of the Russian grannies! It's easy to forget, but were it not for Loreen in 2012, "Six Susan Boyles" would have won the whole contest with their baffled baking pensioner disco act. They do this, you see. They either throw suitcases of laundered money at it, or hot boys, or cute Grannies- anything to both soften their image and give them a chance of proving that even in this silly song contest they can dominate whilst being unbelievably hostile to the EU and everything it stands for.  More often then not- the cheeky bastards- they really take the piss and hurl in a peace anthem.

In 2013 they sent this brilliant, mesmerising, emotionally manipulative slice of balladry with singer Dina Garipova singing things like "what if we chose to bury our guns?" just as the Russian airforce was conducting a mock nuclear strike against Sweden. In 2014 the Tolmachevy Sisters were sent out to sing things like "sending out a message up above, telling all the world to show some love" just as Putin was prepping up an intensive movement of troops and equipment into separatist controlled parts of eastern Ukraine. In 2015 we got an all time classic in the form of the amazing amazing amazing Polina Gagarina belting out lines like "we believe in a dream, praying for peace and healing" just as NATO reported that Russia was deploying nuclear-capable weapons in Crimea.

And then in 2016, having been booed by the crowd for a few years, they cleverly sent definitely heterosexual Sergey "Sir gay" Lazerov with his thriller "You're the only one". "Thunder and Lightning, it's getting exciting" he sang, nothing round his nipples, cheesy choreography over a cheesy bed that sounded like it had been lifted direct from an 90s cartoon series whilst a clever green screen projection video of the boy in a cube played behind him. It was a masterstroke move in the propaganda wars. But then it lost to Ukraine.

So the burning question last year was whether they would even take part in a contest in Kyiv, and after much speculation eventually they announced that they were entering a woman called Julia Samoylova singing a.... peace anthem. Samoylova had used a wheelchair since childhood and scooped runner up in season 3 of Russia's X Factor, her Molitva audition for which is probably the most manipulative piece of television I've seen since Cheryl Cole put Katie Weasel through to the lives instead of Gamu. One-nil to Russia.

It then emerged that Samoylova has previously performed in Crimea and so her entry to Ukraine would "break Ukrainian law". So Ukraine then banned her as a security risk, the EBU offered to beam her in via satellite, Ukraine said no, they wrote a letter to the Ukrainian government condemning the decision, and boom! Ukraine looked like the aggressor! The meanies! Julia Samoylova! A security risk! The Ukrainians and their so called "Celebrate Diversity" contest are horrible! ALL HAIL MOTHER RUSSIA.

The trouble is, by then they'd announced that Julia would get to perform this year- and they've given her one of the worst mid tempo inspirationals I've ever heard and plonked her on a mountain, with several camera shots bafflingly hiding the wheelchair. It's not at all clear whether this was just poor planning, whether Putin's playing a long game or whether they're just proving a point. But whatever it is, if you want to understand modern geopolitics and the propaganda wars being waged between East and West, worry not about Iran or Skripal- keep your eye on the EBU.