Europe's Cheesy Musical Proxy War (The National Interest)

(As published with The National Interest.)

The Eurovision Song Contest isn’t supposed to matter. It’s the vehicle that launched ABBA and Céline Dion to stardom, the realm of ill-conceived, earnest performances that are as divorced from good musical taste as they are from the rest of the real world. Commentators on this year’s inaugural U.S. broadcast (on Logo TV, home to RuPaul’s Drag Race and seemingly little else) variously explained the spectacle as “a rave at the UN,” “the gay Olympics” and “American Idol meets the Hunger Games.”

And yet at the end of Saturday’s final the champion for Ukraine, a Crimean Tatar named Jamala wept before a global audience of two hundred million and , “1944.” Of her grandmother’s deportation at the hands of Stalin—and perhaps more recent events as well—she starkly sang: “They come to your house / they kill you all / and say, ‘we’re not guilty.’”

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Image: Jamala at the winners' press conference. Wikimedia Commons/Albin Olsson