Dutch Eurovision Entry Wins New York Times Tribute For BLM Moment

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Dutch Eurovision Entry Wins New York Times Tribute For BLM Moment

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This year, the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 took place in Rotterdam. The Dutch city was due to host the Contest in 2020 before the event was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The venue for the 2021 Contest was, as in 2020, held in Ahoy in Rotterdam.

The theme for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest was: Open Up.

“We found it was important to choose a theme that reflects the spirit of our times. With the slogan we warmly invite people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other’s stories and of course to each other’s music,” said Executive Producer Sietse Bakker back in 2019 when the theme for 2020 was chosen. It was decided to keep it the same and not change it for 2021.

The winners this year were Italy’s Måneskin. Måneskin’s vocalist Damiano, bassist Victoria, guitarist Thomas and drummer Ethan, marched triumphantly into the press conference at Rotterdam Ahoy, looking very much like the life-long pals they are.

“We’re four friends playing the music we love,” said lead singer Damiano when asked what had gone through their minds when they realised they’d won the Eurovision Song Contest. “All our hard work finally made sense.”

Hard work has clearly been a huge part of Italy’s path to Eurovision glory, and it paid off. Although they were only in third place after the jury votes, the public vote pushed them into first place over France by a margin of 25 points.

The Eurovision Song Contest first aired in 1956, just over a decade after the end of the Second World War. The international competition was devised as a way to celebrate peace and cooperation between countries. Only seven countries took part in the first edition: Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany. But the numbers swelled rapidly in the years that followed.

The Song Contest often shows us how our world is changing and which themes are important worldwide. This year saw a great statement for human rights performed by LGBTI champion Conchita Wurst. And while Italy was the winner, it was the host country’s representative ‘Onze’ Jeangu Macrooy whose ‘Birth of a New Age’ for the Netherlands deserves a mention for its cultural-historical slant. Macooy interpreted the theme of Open Up with a tribute to George Floyd, and a song inspired by Black Lives Matter.

The gospel-influenced ‘Birth of a New Age’ is sung in both English and Sranan, a once-banned Surinamese creole. This is the language of 27-year-old Macooy’s native country and the song is about breaking free from oppression. The language originated during the period of slavery and was banned in the country for a long time. The lyrics explicitly refer to the resilience of people of colour and it got Macooy a mention in The New York Times which dedicated an article to him praising his performance. They called it a “Black Lives Matter moment.”

The Netherlands finished in 23rd place but the song fits in a long tradition of Eurovision songs on social or political issues. It did garner a few jokes with the phrase “Yu no man broko mi”, in Sranantongo which translates as “You can’t break me” but which many spoofed as “You no want broccoli!”

No matter that he didn’t win, Macooy is still doing well among the Dutch, despite the jokes. His is a valuable message for anyone who wants to hear it. And while he may not have made it to a place on the podium, he certainly made it into the hearts of the Dutch and many others for whom his song resonates.

Birth Of A New Age

Skin as rich as the starlit night
Your rhythm is rebellion, your rhythm is rebellion
Deep currents running in the rivers of your eyes
Your rhythm is rebellion, your rhythm is rebellion
They spat on your crown and they poisoned your ground
Your rhythm is rebellion, your rhythm is rebellion
They burned your heroes at the stake
But your voice will echo all their names
This ain’t the end, no
It’s the birth of a new age

Yu no man broko mi (You can’t break me)
Yu no man broko mi
Yu no man broko, broko mi
Yu no man broko mi
Yu no man broko mi
Yu no man broko, broko mi

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