Eurovision update: Russia out, new artists selected and Australia Decides

(courtesy (c) Jordy Brada)

It has not been the world’s finest week … and that’s putting it mildly.

Even as the COVID pandemic continues to stalk the world, Russia invaded Ukraine after weeks of military posturing at the border, plunging the emerging Western liberal democracy into a hellhole not even remotely of its making.

They may seem grim words to begin a Eurovision update with but the truth is, all of the event’s laudable goals aside to promote peace and European unity, even a contest as august as this cannot stay apart from the geopolitical mess swirling around it.

So, despite initially confirming that Russia could stay in the contest, citing the fact that the competition is a “non-political cultural event” and “they were ‘currently planning’ to host entrants from both Russia and Ukraine [in Turin, Italy ] this May” (BBC), about 24 hours later the European Broadcasting Union had changed its mind, following pressure from a number of the member broadcasters, including notably Finland who said it would not participate in Eurovision 2022 if Russia remain in the contest.

“Russia will no longer be allowed to compete in this year’s Eurovision song contest, with organisers saying its inclusion could ‘bring the competition into disrepute'”. (The Guardian)

The full statement from the EBU reaffirmed the Eurovision Song Contest’s commitment “protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage” while acknowledging that in the current circumstances “the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s contest would bring the competition into disrepute.”

It is, of course, a small thing against the backdrop of much unnecessary loss and grief for the Ukrainians at the hands of a wanton aggressor but it does send an important signal that peace and inclusion are not wholly unconditional and that for them to persist and endure, all parties must subscribe to the spirit and tenets of the ideal in order for them to become, and stay, a reality.

In happier news, more nations confirmed their acts this week including Poland (“River” by Krystian Ochman), San Marino (“Stripper” by Achille Lauro), Malta (“Out of Sight” by Emma Muscat) and Ukraine (“Stefania” by Kalush Orchestra), although the replacement act for the country was announced two days before the invasion so the exact status of their participation remains unknown at this time.

Finally, Australia is deciding who will represent it as the 2022 event at an event aptly-named Australia Decides, held on the Gold Coast in Queensland, 11 acts will compete to get the public nod to go to Turin and make their home country proud.

So, who are the Eurovision hopefuls? Let’s leave it to Australian host broadcaster, SBS, to give us the lowdown …

“The 2022 contenders are pop newcomer Charley, the fabulous Seann Miley Moore, Perth’s metal quintet Voyager, singer-songwriter Jude York, avant-garde performance artist Sheldon Riley, six-piece girl group G-NAT!ON, charismatic pop star Andrew Lambrou, powerhouse entertainer PAULINI, multi-media artist Jaguar Jonze, duet partners Isaiah Firebrace and Evie Irie, plus TIkTok competition winner, singer-songwriter, Erica Padilla.”

While the frontrunners depending on who you ask, and as always opinions are diverse, the two that have captured my attention are as follows (though word is PAULINI’s song is doing amazing things live) …

We can only hope it will be a hopefully buoyant night in a week in which we have seen terrible war and violence enacted upon a peaceful nation, dimming the light and peace that the Eurovision Song Contest always seeks to bring to an often fractious world.

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