How Eurovision is making Europe sexy again – POLITICO

At 66, the Eurovision Song Contest is suddenly a magnet for young people despite – and because of – the silly songs, outlandish outfits and over-the-top performances.

The annual TV extravaganza has become a youthful hit for the European Broadcasting Union and its struggling public broadcasting members as their core audiences age. If voters are cool about the political project of the EU, the success of Eurovision is uncanny proof that there is a European audience for convoluted votes and impassioned statements in more than a dozen languages. Perhaps to the envy of Brussels leaders, the show does not know Brexit and the UK continues to participate in it, and there have been no problems with the eastward expansion of the former Soviet bloc and as far as Australia.

“No other cultural project unites Europeans as much as Eurovision,” said Dean Vuletic, Eurovision historian at the University of Vienna, who has devoted the last 10 years of his career to studying the spectacle. musical.

Nearly 200 million people tuned in last year, a massive audience for live TV in the age of Netflix. More than half of 15-24 year olds watching TV during the 2021 broadcast switched to a public media channel to watch the final, four times what the BBC or France Télévisions usually attract. Eurovision even draws crowds online, with some 50 million people watching the official YouTube channel last year. Online viewers are young: around 70% of viewers of the live broadcast were between 18 and 34 years old.

Vuletic points out that the show has shifted to “greater linguistic diversity” in recent years with more performers singing in their native language. Last year, Måneskin’s rock number in fast Italian won the popular vote to “become the most successful product to come out of Eurovision since Celine Dion in 1988”, he said.

Eurovision is also a progressive crusader with songs calling for action on climate change, criticizing unrealistic beauty standards and championing LGBTQ rights.

Singer Maro performs on behalf of Portugal in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 on May 10 | Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

“This year… a lot of the songs that play with gender and sexuality in a very creative way are being sung by men and I think that highlights a new genre and sexual fluidity in content,” Vuletic said.

The visuals are important for Europeans who watch a program in 16 languages ​​from 40 countries. Artists pay a lot of attention to the look and attitude of the performance, perhaps more so than the music where most listeners won’t understand the sincere lyrics. Entries are vetted by a community of dedicated Eurovision fans.

This visual focus and huge fanbase make the show a good fit with the TikTok short video platform. The Chinese social media site scored 1.4 billion views on #Eurovision videos last year and it loves the show so much that it has become a special social media sponsor this year. Sam Ryder, the UK entry this year, started singing on TikTok during the pandemic and now has 12.4 million followers on the platform.

And like any big European gathering, there has to be a big ending. The national Eurovision vote has always made it a competition where politics reigns. Friends and allies usually distribute twelve point towards each other.

Members of the group “LPS” perform on behalf of Slovenia during the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 on May 10 | Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

But the introduction of a popular vote helped eliminate some of that. Last year, more traditional efforts by Swiss and French artists were chosen by national professional juries before the results from viewers arrived via phone and apps. The winner was a real pan-European popular vote for Italian rather than French-speaking rock songMåneskin building on this to win radio shows and sold-out concerts outside of Italy.

This year, how can Ukraine not win? The people have already voted; the song has had over 6 million views on YouTube. Twelve points from the European Public Jury.

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