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I just wish this song was the product of a nation with a slightly less horrible government. Hungary’s 2017 Eurovision entry.

May 2, 2017


Also see Belarus.  We feel like cheering when nations eschew the use of English and sing proudly in their native language.  When such nations have authoritarian nationalist governments, this cultural nationalism can’t help but leave a bitter taste in the mouth however.  Of course the contest is enriched by being multilingual and certain nations (notably France and Italy) would never dream of succumbing to Anglophone ubiquity.  Nor do I think that all nationalism is necessarily bad – indeed it’s not a bad thing that sometimes nationalism is necessary – a critical part of feeling that you’re part of something bigger than you are – a symptom of collectivity that is inspiring as well as empowering.  But Hungarian nationalism in 2017 is…. well, you know…

The circumstance that one of the very few nations still singing in their own language is Hungary is a tricky one right now.  Now the fact that the singer is from the Roma community might lead one to believe that perhaps this offering is countering Orbán’s nasty version of ethnic paranoia.  Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case as Orbán has been actively soliciting support from the Roma community, making common cause with certain (though not all) Roma community leaders in order to pass anti-refugee legislation.  Now Joci Pápai might be the nicest man in Hungary.  I dare say he is.  But there’s no politically neutral aesthetic reality where I can judge this song.

I need to know more before I can cheer this song.  Part of me wants to.  It’s an impressive vocal performance:


Furthermore, this entry has precisely the kind of Eurovision video that I most cherish – one replete with meaningless juxtaposed imagery.  There is a woman sitting down and stroking a pot decorated with traditional Magyar scenes who cries for some reason. There is little boy who may or may not be deliberately trying to lose his own teddy bear. And there’s a twirly dancer whose rotations may evidence an attempt to tie everything together within a mystical circle of life.  Nice.

Here’s the chorus in Hungarian:

Jálomá lommá, jálomá lommá Jálomá lommá lomalom Jálomá lommá, jálomá nédinná Jálomá lommá, lomálom

To be honest, having seen the English translation of this song, I’m more convinced than ever that singing in Hungarian was a good move.  The English translation of the lyric that I’ve read seems to do with the fact that the singer is a very special friend of God and has a particular mission to perform.  I always like to hear a bit more of the details of such missions when singers come with such a letter of reference.

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

So you might prefer Macedonia:

Or you can “Climb Every Mountain” with Nathan from Austria:

Serbia offers a big ballad about rising and falling and falling and rising:

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

Belgium looks like a better bet:

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

And here’s Albania…



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