Silly pop songs, over-the-top costumes and dance routines, and a (possibly) fake sense of intra-European bonhomie.
Yes, it's easy to dismiss the annual Eurovision song contest.
But wait. This year might be a little bit different. Eurovision might actually get political - and not just political in the usual sense that neighbouring countries vote for one another in a show of regional support.
Finland's Krista Siegfrids is representing her country with a rather irritatingly catchy track called Marry Me. Siegfrids has stated that the song is about her desire for her boyfriend to propose, and it's easy to read the lyrics as being anti-feminist ("I'm your slave and you're my master"; "I'll change my last name, I'll walk the walk of shame"; plus subtle references that suggest that the protagonist is anorexic in the hopes that her love will find her newly svelte form more attractive).
In the performing of Marry Me, however, Siegfrids challenges the viewer's expectations by kissing one of her female dancers.
This could, of course, just be a shtick intended to shock some of the more conservative residents of Europe, or even as a way of appealing to men (it's not news that heterosexual women like to play bi and kiss their female friends in the hopes of tantalising straight guys), or an attention-getting device for what is otherwise a rather typical pop song.
On the other hand, Siegfrids' Marry Me could be about much more, and interviews with her that have appeared in English and in Swedish (though Finnish, she's from a Swedish-speaking background) suggest that Siegfrids is deliberately making a political statement.
Finland is the only Nordic country without marriage equality. And, of course, the Nordic countries are pretty far ahead many other European lands when it comes to LGBTQ rights. It's 2013, Siegfrids has pointed out, and everyone should be allowed to kiss, and to marry, whomever they wish. She might be a straight woman looking for a proposal from her man, but she isn't afraid to speak up on behalf of queers who likewise would love to get married.
Sure, there will undoubtedly be some people who are disturbed or disgusted by Siegfrids' political views (although, frankly, Eurovision often seems like a bastion of liberalness, not to mention a celebration of all things camps). But maybe it's time for more singers to use their music and their performances as a way of getting people to think about issues beyond the songs.
What better time to demand equal rights than when you have the eyes of much of Europe on you?
"Whatcha waiting for?" Siegfrids asks in her song. Indeed, Europe, whatcha waiting for?
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more