Arts > Singing for Europe

19 May 2016 | by D.J. Taylor

Singing for Europe


One might reasonably have expected the talking heads in this sparkling overview of the Eurovision Song Contest to be pop moguls, songwriters and musicians. In fact, the array of pundits brought together by Nicola Clase, Sweden’s ambassador to the Court of St James, included academics, retired diplomats and no less an eminence than Carl Bildt, the former Swedish Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson was on hand to assure us that the competition – now in its sixtieth year – was “far more than just the songs”.

Pressed to specify, Nelson recalled the circumstances of the United Kingdom’s last winning entry – Katrina and the Waves’ “Love Shine a Light” from as long ago as 1997. This, he argued, was evidence of a “feel-good factor” that hung over the resurgent social democratic parties of Europe as the first Blair government swept to power. Six years later, with New Labour embroiled in an unpopular war in Iraq, the winner hailed from neutral Turkey, and the number of points racked up by the British entry was, for the first time in the competition’s history, precisely zero.


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