Why we shouldn’t fear the Babushki

By now I’m sure all the Eurofans have heard about the Buranovskiye Babushki, but just in case someone has been living under a rock, here they are. Of course, they’re one  of those all-or-nothing things that sometimes pop up in Eurovision: you either love them or hate them. Like Silvia Night.

They have caused a lot of turnmoil because they appear high on the odds, sometimes even placing three (below Sweden, that seems to be the red hot favourite, and Denmark, that I honestly don’t know how can even place in the odds). People here and there say that a victory for them will prove that Eurovision is all a big joke and it has no credibility left.

But I don’t worry at all. I would be annoyed if they win (because there are at least ten songs I like better, even if this year is a lot worse than the last three), but I don’t worry about the future, credibility and all that of the contest.

Why?

Well, just let me quote some people:

“This was not a song contest, it was a show”

“The absence of talent and the mediocrity of the songs were where annoyance set in. Eurovision is a monument to drivel” (This one comes from an official broadcaster statement. They withdrew the next year)

If you don’t recognize these quotes it’s because they are from 1981. Yup, 31 years ago. The first one if by the Swedish representative, and the second one is from the French broadcaster. Both were caused by Buck’s Fizz victory. Yeah, that act that now looks cute and kinda childish. France returned in 1983 represented by another TV channel.

Eurovision has “lost” its credibility lots of times. And depending on who you ask, it lost it in different times. Of course, United Kingdom wouldn’t say their win was a blow to the credibility of the contest, but their first last placing was. And the second. And the third. And basically every time they place outside the top ten.

If you ask Sweden, on the other hand, the British victory in 1981 destroyed the credibility of Eurovision. According to them, the contest lost all credibility again in 2010, when they didn’t pass to the final, and despite having no credibility left, it somehow managed to lose some more in 2011 because they didn’t win. And don’t you doubt it will lose even more if they don’t win this time.

If we ask Malta, the contest turned into a show and stopped being about the songs because Marie N beat Ira Losco thanks to a dazzling choreography. And the same when Helena Paparizou defeated Chiara by exactly the same means. We could go on and on with this, but it pretty much can be summarized saying that the contest loses all of its credibility every year.

At least according to some people.

So… yeah. I’ll be annoyed if the Babushki win, but Eurovision has managed to survive lots of things in its 56 year history, and it can manage to survive a winner that relies exclusively on shock value. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, you know. In fact, I think it will be dealt with automatically just by the way the contest works:

If you want to win the contest, you need to stand out, either by having a good song (like France Gall), a great voice (like Sertab Erener), shock value (like… yes, Lordi) or a great staging (like Ell & Nikki). If you don’t have any of this, you can try by sheer force of charisma, like did Lena. (You can’t have all of it together unless you’re Ruslana, by the way).

In a year full of ballads, like 2012, non-ballads will stand out and have higher chances of winning. But, what would happen in the worst-case scenario if the Babushki win? If the contest becomes a mockery, with all countries competing to see who can send the biggest troll and the most absolute parody, how long would it take for the public and juries to get fed up of that?

In a generous calculation, less than a year. In a contest full of jokes, a good and serious act would stand out more easily, and the pendulum would swing again to the other side. And that is in the worst possible scenario, most of times the contest keeps a healthy mix of seriousness and trolling (even if I’m not quite fond of trolling acts, specially when the trolling is really obvious, they’re neccessary for keep the contest fresh and not too serious).

The short version: Don’t worry. I don’t think the Babushki will win. And if they do, Eurovision won’t lose any credibility. And even if it lost credibility, it doesn’t need credibility. And even if it needed it, it would be recovered pretty quickly.

Besides, you shouln’t fear the Buranovskiye Babushki because you can easily outrun them.

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