• Naomi Sanders

LOUDER FEATURES: Why the Eurovision Song Contest is important to Rock and Metal

Rock won last night. There’s no denying that thanks to Måneskin’s win for Italy with their song “Zitti e Buoni”, as well as Blind Channel achieving 6th place out of 26 competing countries for Finland with their song, “Dark Side”. Both jurors and televoters came together with their votes and agreed that they were the best songs in the continent. This isn’t the first time the genres have been represented in what many consider the World Cup of music, but 2021 certainly showed the genres’ power within the continent, and in the world.

As mentioned before, the genre has found success in the contest before, with Lordi winning in 2006 for Finland with “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Other bands like AWS of Hungary, Hatari of Iceland, Eldrine of Georgia, and maNga of Turkey have shown the talent from musicians making the music they want to make that’s in the spirit of their band specifically, not to what they think other countries like. In addition, they found success outside of the show after they performed for their country, for example, Hatari obtained festival slots across the continent, and Blind Channel have signed to the record label, Century Media. There’s obviously a lot of benefits to competing in the yearly contest, so why is it often few and far between that we see that representation?

Eurovision, especially here in the UK, is often seen as a joke in the music world, or at least something that shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s seen as a comical farce where silly pop or Eurodance songs with elaborate staging takes place - where can the alternative genres fit within that kind of show? Well, we’ve had glam rock and hair metal before, the genres aren’t exactly foreign from camp styles. Even so, the show is meant to be a celebration of music from across the European Broadcasting Union, which includes countries like Australia and Malta, with a focus on the music and their performance, even with politics between countries. Whilst many musicians would prefer to be taken seriously with their work, there should also have an element of fun included and sometimes silliness should be included. There’s nothing wrong with rock and metal mixing with camp in the slightest.

In an interview, Joel Hokka, vocalist of Blind Channel, explained the band’s decision to sign up for Eurovision, as suggested by the band’s guitarist Joonas Porko, stating “we would have never thought about going there ourselves, but when the pandemic happened we had no other choice and we just wanted to find a way to fight back and to further our careers despite this catastrophic situation. So, here we are”, with the other vocalist, Niko Moilanen adding “the fact that so many people are vibing [with “Dark Side”] even in the Eurovision community, I think it just says that we were right about it, the timing was perfect.”

So, if a band wants to take part in the competition, what should they do to prepare? Firstly, write something from the heart. “Dark Side” was written as a response to the pandemic, something listeners can “put their middle fingers up to”, whilst “Hard Rock Hallelujah” contains Christian messages to spread the band’s faith, so bands should write what they want to hear, not what they think the rest of the world wants to hear. Secondly, look into regional competitions. Måneskin and Blind Channel received overwhelming support at their respective finals, and received a lot of support from their home countries. It’s something that is taken seriously in their countries, even their leaders give their support for the different acts, no matter the genre, as there is a lot of work on the musicians’ part to actually qualify for the specific finals. Finally, be supportive and welcoming to other acts taking part that year. It’s great to see camaraderie between the bands and artists from all countries, especially if there is more than one rock and metal band partaking in the contest, for example, between both Blind Channel and Måneskin in 2021.

This might also help improve the UK’s chances within the competition, especially in terms of taking the competition seriously, instead of considered a weird pastime for some in most eyes. The attitude from the country seems to be throwing something at the wall and seeing what barely sticks, whilst trying to appeal more to the UK itself. For many, the UK, in recent years, think Eurovision isn’t something important and just send anything with a slapdash and uncaring attitude. The UK has given some of the most iconic bands in rock and metal, and their last win was in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves, an iconic pop/rock band that gave the world “Walking On Sunshine”, so it can be done if the effort and support is taken from the whole UK as a whole country and not be treated as a joke.

There is the downside of no live instruments on stage, only live vocals, but taking part, having fun, and accepting the sometimes cheesy nature, warts and all. At the end of the day, it’s one of the most talked about events in the music calendar, alongside events like Glastonbury, the Grammys, and more, with even the USA, a notoriously difficult country for any European or Australian band to break through into. As with any band people discover, support from the very beginning is vital, and that support before, during, and after the contest is what helps launch many music careers. Celine Dion for Switzerland anyone?

In short, as long the Eurovision Song Contest has been airing and showcasing music from across the continent, even with Australia’s participation, there have been rock and metal bands showcasing their talent and sound to roughly 75 million viewers. Participation shouldn’t be seen as selling out, it should be seen as expressing their talents for more people to hear. The passion that many performers show throughout the contest is why it draws people to become fans. It’s the pure love of music that keeps people coming back year after year. It’s why AWS are still remembered fondly. It’s why Lordi’s appearance in the winner celebration was warmly welcomed. If people want rock and metal to return to the limelight, then they should fully support their participation and continue their support once the show is over.

Remember, a band is for life, not just for Eurovision.