Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Euro Sceptic?

Rarely are Eurovision Song Contest entrants self proclaimed celibate vegetarians who have been accused of flirting with fascist imagery. However the 2007 Great Britain (GB) entrant in the competition may just be this. If the media is to be believed, ex ‘The Smiths’ front-man Morrissey is currently in talks with the BBC with regards to negotiating a place in the competition. Of course to do this he would first have to win ‘A Song for Britain’ – which already established celebrities such as Blue’s Antony Costa and model Jordan have failed to do in the past against unknown opposition.

The Eurovision competition began in 1956 when the Swiss based European Broadcasting Union came up with the idea of each European nation submitting a singer to a competition that would be broadcast across European nations. At the time this was a groundbreaking project as satellite technology did not exist, and the European broadcasting network consisted of mainly microwave transmitters. However, televisions were far and few between so the largest audience were radio listeners. The GB, who through the BBC are now a major backer of the competition, did submit an entry for the 1956 competition, however the entry was late, and the entrant disqualified. The winning country was Switzerland, however the win for one (minor) hit wonder ‘Lys Assia’ was marred by a controversial voting system that allowed countries to vote for their own songs, and hosts Switzerland to vote on behalf of Luxembourg.

Since these humble beginnings the competition has risen to a global TV and internet audience that goes into hundreds of millions. The competition has predominantly produced winners that have gone on to do very little outside of their own countries, with of course exceptions such as Abba, Bucks Fizz and Brotherhood of Man. After a lull in the late eighties and early 1990s, the competition has seen a recent resurgence in popularity based upon a ‘cheese’ and ‘camp’ reputation. That said it still fails to attract high profile British acts – which is allegedly the reason for Morrissey’s interest.

Morrissey through his time with The Smiths was known for his strong anti-establishment views, and was once questioned by Police for claiming to have an executioner’s outfit to kill Margaret Thatcher, as well as producing songs such as ‘The Queen is Dead’ and ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’. After leaving The Smiths, Morrissey’s solo career took off with a number one album ‘Viva Hate’, the singer still managed to court controversy though, when he was the support act to Madness at the first Madstock (1992) at Finsbury Park in London. Morrissey came on stage draped in a Union Jack with a photograph of a woman skinhead as his backdrop. The singer left the stage early due to persistent coin throwing at him from the audience. In more recent years Morrissey has made clear movements away from fascist association, by denying that he is racist and signing the Unite Against Fascism statement.

Having a man who once sang ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ representing the GB in a competition associated with often bad, and camp music may seem slightly surreal, but that said, the singer can hardly do any worse than some of Great Britain’s more recent woeful entrants. Good luck Mozzer.

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