Do you remember back a few years ago when radio stations across the UK refused to play any Cliff Richard songs? He was completely removed from virtually all playlists as though his 50+ year musical career hadn’t happened. Now whether you like Cliff’s music or not doesn’t really matter, it’s the fact that a general decision was made and an entire chapter of the history of British music was essentially torn out of the history books. I’ve been pondering recently about the similar way that Eurovision is treated by British radio stations with a blanket lack of airplay of any and all Eurovision related songs.
I think this has been highlighted to me because for the most part when I’m sat at work I have the live stream of ‘Hitradio Ö3 ‘ from Austria in my headphones and as part of their standard playlist there are songs from Eurovision and Eurovision artists. Of course in the run up to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest the Austrian entry ‘Loin D’ici is played at least two or three times a day and the DJ’s and presenters occasionally have a little chat about Eurovision when it comes on.
Ö3 continue to play winning songs ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen, ‘Sattelite’ by Lena, ‘Only Teardrops’ by Emmelie de Forest, ‘Heroe’ by Mans Zelmerlow and of course ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ by Conchita Wurst. Not only that but they also play other songs by these artists quite frequently. What’s maybe more surprising though are the other Eurovision songs that Ö3 play. ‘Calm After the Storm’ by The Common Linnets who came second to Conchita in 2014, ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ by Elina Born & Stig Rasta from Estonia in 2015 and even their own ‘Nul’ point entry from last year ‘I am Yours’ by The Makemakes all still feature on the Ö3 playlist.
Now on a Saturday I am not usually at work so I’ve pretty much got BBC Radio 2 going in the background of my day. I have to say, apart from the week leading up to the contest itself, there is virtually no play of any songs that have had anything to do with Eurovision. In fact I can recall twice in the year hearing Eurovision on the radio, the first was back in October when Conchita was in the UK promoting the release of her song ‘You Are Unstoppable’ and the radio stations played ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’, which to me was such a weird thing to do when that was not the song she was promoting. The second time was back in February when the UK held their National Selection competition and the songs were played on Radio 2 in the run up and then Joe & Jake’s winning song was played on Graham Norton’s Saturday morning show. I’ve not heard it since.
Last week I did a bit of a survey around Europe to see which countries are playing their 2016 Eurovision entry, and by that I mean I Facebook messaged all the friends I have that live in various parts of Europe – it’s not an exact science I’ll grant you. Here’s what I managed to determine:
Malta: Ira Losco’s song is being very widely played across the island and is currently at Number 5 in the Malta iPhones charts.
Macedonia: My friends in Skopje said that Kaliopi’s ‘Dona’ was being played across the airwaves in Macedonia.
Bulgaria: Extensive radio play across Bulgaria has seen Poli Genova rise to the position of Number 6 in the charts there.
Israel: This is the message I got from my friend in Haifa “Yes, radio stations in Israel are playing Hovi Star’s song and about a month ago they did 2 hours of ESC songs to get in the mood for the ESC 2016” He’s currently at Number 41 in the Israeli Hot 100 Charts.
Spain: Although my friend there said he’d not heard it on the radio, he’d certainly heard ‘Say Yay’ by Barei in clubs and bars in Logroño. Barei hit number one in the Spanish iTunes chart and number 3 in the weekly charts.
Sweden: Yes, Franz is being played on the radio stations of our host nation.
Germany: Jamie Lee has been very widely played in Germany, as well as many other songs from ESC history.
Czech Republic: This is the message I got from my brother who lives in Prague “I have no idea about Czech radio or, less surprisingly, Eurovision…! Xx” – Thanks Gav, very helpful!
So I still ask the question, why doesn’t the BBC and other British radio stations play either this year’s Eurovision song, or any others from the past? The immediate reaction I had when I posted that question on Facebook was, ‘because Eurovision songs are rubbish’ or ‘because the UK only ever sends awful songs to Eurovision’. Which is a bit like saying all wine is bad based on you tasting a Beaujolais Nouveau 20 years ago, or that all football is rubbish based on a really crap game you saw once between Andover Town and Yeovil in the rain.
Yes there is some pretty awful stuff that has graced Eurovision stages across the year, every ESC fan knows that and as far as I know no one would ever arguing that ESC only ever has the best of the best songs in it, it doesn’t. But just because there’s a few bad apples in a group of over 1400 songs spanning 61 years is no reason to ignore the worlds largest and most popular music event. So come on radio stations, start playing a few of the songs, I guarantee that for the most part if you play them most of your audience a) won’t know that they’re Eurovision songs or b) will be surprised to discover that they are Eurovision songs.
Where do you live? Are the radio stations playing your countries entrant this year? Do you hear other Eurovision songs on the radio stations in your country? Let us know in the comments section below.
Author: Lisa-Jayne Lewis
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Thanks to all my friends who responded on Facebook & Hitradio Ö3 for keeping me entertained all day at work!