The 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, a musical competition between member countries of the European Broadcasting Union that is scheduled to take place in Moscow in May, has sparked several controversies over the past weeks.
Georgia announced on Wednesday that it will pull out of the contest after refusing to choose a different song or change the lyrics of its entry, the disco-funk song “We don’t wanna put in.”
Considered a swipe at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin over the five-day war between Russia and Georgia last August, the tune ran into trouble because of rules against political lyrics and was disqualified.
Watch a video of the song from YouTube user EurovisionPL:
Blogger “Anna Ershova,” a Russian student at Yale University, weighs in on Georgia’s pop protest:
I can see why the Georgians are so tongue-in-cheek regarding their behemoth neighbor, but that’s a petty way to deliver a protest, isn’t it? Georgia, if you are still mad over Abkhazia and Ossetia, go to a court of law, not the performance stage.
Russia’s own entrant to the contest has created a separate debate. Ukrainian singer Anastasia Prikhodko was selected on Tuesday to represent Russia after she had been disqualified from Ukraine’s contest.
Andy Young blogs at “Siberian Light” about her song, “Mamo,” and the uproar it is causing:
The controversy? Well, Prikhodko is Ukrainian, and Mamo is sung partly in Russian and partly in – gasp – Ukrainian. Oh yes, and Prikhodko only entered the Russian qualification contest after she’d been kicked out of the Ukrainian qualification contest.The biggest complaints about Prikhodko’s victory came, not too surprisingly, from Yusif Prigozhin the husband of the singer who finished second. “It’s a disgrace… A song performed in Ukrainian can’t have anything to do with Russia.”
Finally, singer Mira Awad will be the first Arab to represent Israel in the song contest. She is slated to perform a duet in Arabic, Hebrew and English with Israeli Jewish singer Achinoam Nini.
The news has been criticized by Arab artists in the wake of the Gaza conflict, and the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called on Awad to refuse to participate in the contest:
To represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest will serve to polish the international image of an aggressive occupying state that has long been engaged in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It will communicate to the rest of the world that Israel’s war crimes and violations of international law are acceptable to us as Palestinians! […] You may feel that it is important for you to represent Israel to demonstrate the full spectrum of Israeli society, which includes Palestinians living in Israel. This is utterly misguided. Until Palestinians living within Israel have full rights and do not suffer systemic discrimination and violation of their human and political rights, Israel has no right to portray itself as a healthy, multicultural society.