For years, many celebrities have been using their platforms to send a message and fight for those without the privileges of visibility and success. From acceptance speeches at awards shows to orating at rallies and sometimes even meeting with elected officials— using one’s platform to shed light on injustice or marginalization isn’t a new phenomenon.
The long history of protest music in popular culture, highlights how powerful the medium of music—in particular—can be to spread a message far and wide, even when done to challenge the status quo.
ENTER: The Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest is an interesting space because it has been designed to be “apolitical”. MORE ON THAT in our article, “Should You Get Too Political? Eurovision, the Olympics, and the Apolitical Ideal”
Ironically, the original intent for Eurovision stemmed from political reasoning: after the atrocities of World War II, the contest was proposed not only to spread music from across the continent, but also to provide a space for the countries to collaborate and to advance innovations in television.Elda Mingisto, Eurovision Fam Article
The contest has always been a place where message songs seem to be ubiquitous to the festival itself. From telling the world to Shine a Light to Ein Bißchen Friede, this year Serbia’s entry is a performance art piece critiquing healthcare systems and our overall obsession with outer “health” and beauty as opposed to mental and emotional health, “We are so much focused on a healthy body and in a way maybe [the] mind is suffering,” Konstrakta remarked at her press conference in Italy after her 2nd rehearsal.
But what happens when the song you are singing isn’t (at least in an obvious way) lifting up an issue or cause you want to bring light to? You can be like the Icelandic entry at Eurovision 2022, Systur.
This year the Icelandic group has decided to utilize this platform and speak out for Trans rights and Ukraine they mention their causes in their interviews and approach the issues with tact and delicacy. They were visible on the turquoise carpet, Eurovision’s opening ceremony, and as they approach their semi final their qualification may lie in the balance but there’s nothing questionable about what they’ve decided to take on.
On the issue of Trans rights and Trans children, “We are trying to be supporters and tell mostly parents— all over the world , you should love your child unconditionally and no matter how they are— they should be loved… And we should protect these children. And that’s going to make this world so much better, ” Sigga remarked.
“We stand with those in need,” Elín said firmly last week. “… We want to use this platform to bring awareness to those who need it.”
“We are very privileged people, living in a White privileged country. We are obligated to help those in need.”Sigga
The group has openly shared their support for Ukraine and believe in the healing power of music. Noting that even in times of strife and war there can always be hope. When performers are given the opportunity and privilege of using their platforms for activism it not only allows folks to connect with the performer. When the performer speaking out is tied to a major event folks can also then see themselves, their struggles, and possibly find sanctuary in that event.
The Eurovision Song Contest might have been designed to be apolitical, but as a product of our world and a venue for individuals to share their art— things might get a little political from time to time. Allowing artists to speak their truth and champion causes near and dear to their hearts, the Eurovision Song Contest continues to be an ideal event for performers known and unknown to come together and share their art and causes.