11 May 2018

Eurovision 2018: Politics, pop, peace and priceless outfits

From Nine To Noon, 9:38 am on 11 May 2018

Politics, pop and priceless outfits will be on show at this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on Saturday.

The second of two semi-finals wrapped up on Friday and honorary European nation Australia has made the final with Jessica Mauboy’s ‘We Got Love’.

Aucklander John Egan is a self-described Eurovision obsessive and he's on the ground in Lisbon as an editor for escinsight.com - the unofficial podcast of the Eurovision song contest.

Egan says Mauboy soldiered on through a technical glitch.

“The audio failed for Jessica Moubay, she ripped the earpiece out of her ear and belted the song out and brought the stadium to its knees.”

Eurovision started in 1956 with the post-war utopian vision of stopping Europeans killing each other – make songs, not war.

Nevertheless politics infuses the competition.  

“Even though it has an explicit no politics rule, people are quite good at skating right up to the line of politics versus culture,” says Egan.

This year the competition’s favourites are split between its traditional bangers and ballads.

Cyprus has high hopes for its high-tempo 'Fuego’ performed by Eleni Foureira.

“Cyprus put a lot of resources into picking a really great song and shopping around until they found a great singer,” says Egan.

Ireland, a many-time winner but winless since 1997, has gone the ballad route.

Ryan O'Shaughnessy is hoping to add Ireland’s seven previous wins with ‘Together’

One of the quirkier performers this year include a Dutchman performing country rock as Waylon with ‘Outlaw In ‘Em’.

Then there's Denmark’s Rasmussen, the Viking barista, and his backing singers. "It's five hipster guys with sails and fake snow, a big key change and a big thumping beat and it’s a song about Vikings putting down their weapons and living in peace.”

Continuing the noble Eurovision tradition of lyrical earnestness, France and Italy tackle immigration and terrorism.    

“Italy and France are kind of bookends this year. [France's entry] tells the story of a child that was born on one of the boats being rescued from drowning. Italy has a song about responding to terrorism by not being afraid and living your own life.”

No TV network in New Zealand is showing the broadcasts, but there is an official free live YouTube stream  for New Zealanders to watch.