How Eurovision is making Europe sexy again – POLITICO

At the age of 66, the Eurovision Song Contest is suddenly a magnet for young people despite, and because of, 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 comfortable with the EU political project, the success of Eurovision is rare proof that there is a European audience for complicated votes and impassioned declarations in more than a dozen languages. Perhaps to the envy of leaders in Brussels, the program is Brexit-free and the UK remains on board, and there has been no problem expanding east into the former Soviet bloc and into Australia.

“There is no other cultural project that unites Europeans as much as Eurovision,” said Dean Vuletic, a Eurovision historian at the University of Vienna who has spent the last 10 years of his career studying the musical spectacle.

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 who watched TV during the 2021 time slot switched to a public media channel to watch the final, four times more than the BBC or France TVs typically attract. Eurovision even draws crowds online, with some 50 million people watching the official YouTube channel last year. Online viewers are young: About 70 percent of those who watched the show live were between the ages of 18 and 34.

Vuletic notes that the show is moving toward “greater linguistic diversity” in recent years with more artists singing in their native languages. Last year, Måneskin’s rock number in fast Italian swept the popular vote to “become the most successful Eurovision product since Céline Dion in 1988,” she said.

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

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

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

Pictures are important to Europeans watching a program in 16 languages ​​from 40 countries. Artists pay a lot of attention to the look and attitude of the performance, perhaps more than to music where most listeners won’t understand the heartfelt lyrics. Entries receive obsessive scrutiny from a community of devoted Eurovision fans.

That visual focus and huge fan base make the show a good fit for the short-form video platform TikTok. The Chinese social media site got 1.4 billion views on #Eurovision videos last year and loves the show so much that it has become a special social media sponsor this year. Sam Ryder, this year’s British entry, started singing on TikTok during the pandemic and now has 12.4 million followers on the platform.

And like any great European meeting, there has to be a great outcome. The national vote for Eurovision has always made it a contest where politics rules. Friends and allies often share twelve o’clock point at each other.

Members of the band “LPS” perform for 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 has helped put some of that aside. Last year, the more traditional efforts of Swiss and French artists were chosen by national professional juries before the results came from viewers via phones and apps. The winner was a genuinely pan-European popular vote for Italian rock over Francophone. songand Måneskin built on that to gain radio play 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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