To even a first time reader of this blog, it is clear that I am addicted to the politics of Central Europe, but some long-time readers might also know that I also have a minor (but still unhealthy fascination) with the Eurovision song contest– coming up in less than two weeks, by the way. These two things came together for me in a new way when I read SME‘s nice nice piece on Slovakia’s campaign songs from seasons past (http://volby.sme.sk/c/5376090/najlepsie-predvolebne-piesne-od-hzds-po-obamu.html), a follow up to their piece last week on the new HZDS theme song for 2010 (http://volby.sme.sk/c/5368283/hzds-nakrutilo-vivat-slovakia-ii.html).
Watching Vivat Slovakia again (alternative version here) and listening to the other political songs included by SME, I am struck at the degree to which Slovakia’s political songs bear resemblance to some of its Eurovision songcontest, which should not be taken as a complement to either. This raises interesting possibilities for new mashups and co-op marketing opportunities: Eurovision already has strong political element and a much-debated electoral system so why not complete the circuit by formalizing the role of entertainment in politics. Ladies and gentlemen, I present:
Next round to be held in 2014, finals in Strasbourg.
Finally, I cannot let a discussion of political songs go by without what is, in my mind at least, Slovakia’s best political song:
Douglas Muir at A Fistful of Euros has interesting things to say about a Radio Free Europe report that “Azerbaijani Authorities Interrogate Music Fan Over Eurovision Vote For Armenia” So maybe my unhealthy interest in Eurovision isn’t completely irrevant. (Update: even the New York Times finds this interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/arts/television/31iht-eurovision.html?_r=1)
In any case, it is an odd coincidence that an article about this particular interest should come to me on the same day (I’m a bit behind in reading my RSS feeds) that my inclination toward graphic design blogs led me toVisual Complexity’s article about Baris Gumustas’ visualization tool for Eurovision voting. The static images are quite striking but the animated visualization is even more remarkable, far more beautiful than the show itself:
I could not bring myself to watch last night’s semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest (the finals will be enough, thank you) but I was amused to find this morning that virtually my entire region of study was wiped out in the voting over the last several days. Thanks to a Wikipedia map (wow, that was fast) it’s graphically apparent that not one country from the Visegrad 4 made it past the semifinals. Slovenia also didn’t make it and Austria (on the map in non-participant yellow) didn’t even bother. The only other Euroregion to be similarly shut out was Benelux.
As a social scientists, I must ask why? The Danube appears to have something to do with this, and already yesterday Pravda prepared Slovaks for their unfair defeat by pointing out the non-musical charms of semi-final rivals and the academic qualifications of Slovakia’s participants. But I’m putting my money on a different causal factor:
Past visits by Mozart (see above) appear to inoculate a country against selection to the Eurovision finals (Germany, France and England have automatic bids) and in some cases (Luxemburg, Italy, Austria, even from desire to enter.
Regardless of the causal factors, this spares everybody the awkwardness of having Slovakia’s 12 points go to Hungary and for that everybody can be grateful, except maybe Jan Slota of the Slovak National Party (who could use a national distraction from other troubles).
It is nice to see that my rather painful obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest (other people’s tragedies are always more palatable) has some relevance for my profession:
Nice to see, too, that Slovakia will finally have an entry so that I can see who likes the Slovaks (and watch the excitement as Slovakia’s Hungarian minority votes the whole country’s 12 points for the Hungarian entry (on the odd chance that the Hungarian makes it to the final round): http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=1989