So the unthinkable has happened: a country has decided to NOT take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. I remember hearing comments in Dublin after multiple wins that it was costing too much and that Ireland couldn’t afford to win again. But to not take part at all is quite dramatic. Why the fuss?
The Austrian channel ORF cited “issues” about how the contestants are being organised into pools for the semi-finals. They are anxious to avoid the pools splitting Europe into East and West voting blocks (with the East inevitably winning). As the rules have not yet been announced, Austria is desisting.
I happen to think last year’s winning entry from Serbia was quite good, actually – not really my style but an honest song. Many people have been underwhelmed by Austria’s recent contributions, which inevitably means that there are calls of sour grapes. Jonathan King, who has organised British selections had this to say about “political” voting. “That’s what everyone said when I took over in 1995. It took me two years but I brought the UK a winner in 1997 with the largest points margin ever at that time [Katrina and the Waves, “Love Shine a Light”]. They will all vote for you if your entry is any good. Losers always blame others.”
But the quote that is being remembered comes from Lorenz, “As long as the Song Contest is a political parade ground and not an international entertainment programme, ORF has no desire to send more talent out of Austria to a competition where they have no chances.”