Sunday, 6 May 2012

To lead the 'way

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals won't be making it to my TV screen for a month, but my imagination has already been captured by Tooji of Norway.

It's refreshing to see a Norwegian of Iranian heritage get the crowd vibing to pulsating Scandi-pop punctuated by sultry Middle Eastern sounds. Tooji also subverts expectations with his gay-friendly dance moves and lyrics (I don't know if it's wrong or it's right), appealing to the most enlightened of the immigrant-friendly Norwegians. The choice of 'Stay' will probably be seen as a defiantly progressive political statement in the aftermath of the 2011 massacre by Anders Breivik, which exposed deep-seated fear and hatred of Norway's emerging multiculturalism. Quite apart from that, it stands on its own as an inventive and charismatic ditty, and I hope it will be met with a lot of enthusiasm in the competition. This year's unconventional location of Baku, Azerbaijan, can only be inspiration to think outside the box of racial categories.

Tooji has been compared to last year's second runner-up, Eric Saade (a half-Palestinian, half-Swedish performer), but a closer look at his resume (he studied social work and worked at an asylum seeker reception centre, and has been a TV presenter) differentiates him from the Swede. Interestingly enough, Sweden will also be entering a foreign-born singer this year - check out Loreen's Euphoria below.

I find myself heartened by these selections - it shows that Scandinavia is abandoning racism and slowly but surely embracing people for their personalities, not their colour or cultural background.

For fun, and comparison's sake, this is my favourite Eric Saade song (there are subtle Middle Eastern influences in his vocals also):

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