Episode 9: Visions of Europe! Politics and Identity at the Eurovision Song Contest

11.5.2021
The longest-running international televised event in the world, the Eurovision Song Contest is famous for dramatic key changes and fiercely competitive bloc-voting. But what does it have to do with European cooperation and identity? How do European and national identity play out on the musical stage? How can a contest that claims to be ‘non-political’ also claim to be part of the intrinsically political narrative of common European identity? And what is Australia doing in a competition for Europeans? This episode explores the history and politics of the ESC since it started in 1956, unpacking its dual roles in perpetuating narratives of Europe’s common heritage and in nation-branding, with plenty of the glitz, glamour and ridiculous costume changes of the contest along the way.

EuroStorie Podcast Episode 9

 

You can also listen to the episode on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Pocket Casts, and Radio Public.
An accessible transcript of the entire interview can be found here:

 

Contributors

Keshia Jacotine

Keshia Jacotine is an editor of the 2019 volume Eurovisions: Identity and the International Politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956. She has a Master of Philosophy in political science from Monash University, and a background in the UK and Ireland’s relationships with Europe.

Picture of Dr Emilia Mataix-Ferrándiz.

Emilia Mataix-Ferrándiz

Dr Emilia Mataix-Ferrándiz is the host of the EuroStorie Podcast. She is a postdoctoral researcher in subproject 1, Law and the Uses of the Past. She is a legal historian and classical archaeologist whose research focuses on management of cultural heritage and its political and social impact, maritime archaeology, ancient law and legal anthropology. 
@mataix_ferrandiz

Zoë Jay

Picture of Dr Zoë Jay.

Dr Zoë Jay is the host of the EuroStorie Podcast. She is a post-doctoral researcher at EuroStorie in subproject 1, Law and the Uses of the Past. She has a background in international relations and political science, and her research focuses on European politics and culture, human rights, and the politics of international law and institutions.
@zoecharlottejay

References in the episode

Jess Carniel, Understanding the Eurovision Song Contest in Multicultural Australia: We Got Love, 2018, Palgrave Macmillan.

Catherine Baker, ‘“If Love Was a Crime, We Would Be Criminals”: The Eurovision Song Contest and the Queer Politics of International Flags’, in Kalman, Wellings and Jacotine (eds) Eurovisions: Identity and the International Politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956, 2019, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.175-200.

Catherine Baker, ‘The “gay Olympics”? The Eurovision Song Contest and the Politics of LGBT/European Belonging’, European Journal of International Relations, 2017, 23(1), pp.97-121.

Marta Blangiardo and Gianluca Baio, ‘Evidence of Bias in the Eurovision Song Contest: Modelling the Votes Using Bayesian Hierarchical Models’, Journal of Applied Statistics, 2014, 41(10), pp.2312-2322.

Chris Hay and Jess Carniel (eds), Eurovision and Australia: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Down Under, 2019, Palgrave Macmillan.

Julie Kalman, Ben Wellings and Keshia Jacotine (eds), Eurovisions: Identity and the International Politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956, 2019, Palgrave Macmillan.

Ivan Raykoff, ‘Queer Patriotism in the Eurovision Song Contest’, in Fred Everett Maus and Sheila Whiteley (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Music and Queerness, Oxford Handbooks Online, 2018.

Peter Rehberg, ‘Queer nationality at the Eurovision Song Contest’, SQS: Journal of Queer Studies in Finland.

Lisanne Wilken, ‘The Eurovision Song Contest as Cultural Diplomacy During the Cold War: Transmitting Western Attractiveness’, in Oscár Joseph Martin Garcia and Rosa Magnusdottir (eds), Machineries of Persuasion: European Soft Power and Public Diplomacy During the Cold War, 2019, De Gruyter, pp.171-190.

Conchita Wurst, speech to the European Parliament, Brussels, 8 October 2014. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5ZrylUoaU

Songs and artists mentioned in the episode

Jemini (UK), ‘Cry Baby’, 2003
Donatan and Cleo (Poland), ‘My Słowianie’, 2014
Petra Mede (Interval act), ‘Swedish Smörgåsbord’, 2013
Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia), ‘Party for Everybody’, 2012
Jamala (Ukraine), ‘1944’, 2016
Céline Dion (Switzerland), ‘Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi’, 1988
Hatari (Iceland), ‘Hatrið mun sigra’, 2019
Conchita Wurst (Austria), ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’, 2014
Loreen (Sweden), ‘Euphoria’, 2012
Daði Freyr and Gagnamagnið (Iceland), ‘10 Years’, 2021
Pàll Oskar (Iceland), ‘Minn hinsti dans’, 1997
Dana International (Israel), ‘Diva’, 1998
Verka Seduchka, ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’, 2007
Duncan Laurence (The Netherlands), ‘Arcade’, 2019
Ryan O’Shaughnessy (Ireland), ‘Together’, 2018
Poli Genova (Bulgaria), ‘If Love Was A Crime’, 2016
Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden), ‘Heroes’, 2015
Alexander Rybak (Norway), ‘Fairytale’, 2009
ABBA (Sweden), ‘Waterloo’, 1974
Dami Im (Australia), ‘Sound of Silence’, 2016
Lordi (Finland), ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’, 2006
Blind Channel (Finland), ‘Dark Side’, 2021
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake, Island Records, 2011

Credits

Episode no: 2.3
Date recorded: 16 April 2021
Release date: 11 May 2021
Episode production, recording and editing: Zoë Jay and Emilia Mataix-Ferrándiz
Music: Antonio Lopez Garcia
Transcript: Emilia Mataix-Ferrándiz
Web content: Maria Erma
Banner: Tuomas Heikkilä
Banner photo: Unsplash/Jakob Braun