Will Attitudes Towards Eurovision Change in 2022?

Aside from looking forward to the 2022 contest itself, there’s one specific element I’m going to be watching closely over the coming months, and that is whether there is a shift in attitude towards the Eurovision as a result of Maneskin’s victory. While those who are cynical about Eurovision will always find a way to dismiss it, I would argue this has become harder to do in recent years as the contest has become increasingly professional and the artists who take to the stage have shown their ability to keep fans interested beyond the closing notes of Te Deum.

Since Conchita Wurst become one of the more striking winners of the modern contest back in 2014, you could argue that it has quietened down a little, whatever that means in the context of a show which still attracts hundreds of millions of viewers each year. Given Mans Zelmerlow’s “everyman” performance in 2015, the sadbois Salvador Sobral and Duncan Laurence in 2017 and 2019 respectively, and the quirky, acquired-tastes of Jamala in 2016 and Netta in 2018, you could say there was enough for the Eurovision nay-sayers to grab on to in their argument that the contest didn’t have a broader impact. (Duncan Laurence’s winning song “Arcade” may have eventually entered the charts in the USA, but this was around two years after its release due to virality on TikTok.)

All this has changed with Maneskin, who not only have achieved cut-through with their winning entry, “Zitti e buoni”, but have climbed even higher on the charts in some countries with their English-language songs like “I Wanna Be Your Slave” and cover of “Beggin'”, even attracting the attention of Iggy Pop for a collaboration on the former. The band are currently selling out shows across Europe with their provocative personas, and a new album is in the works. You might not like Maneskin’s music, but it’s hard to say they aren’t a cool band who have transcended their Eurovision status and found success.

So my hope is that the last couple of years have put a big dent in the notion that nothing good comes of performing at Eurovision. Despite finishing fifth in 2021, Ukrainian entry Go_A have signed to Universal Records after their song “Shum” finished second in the televote, and 2019 televote winners KEiiNO continue to cultivate their sizeable fanbase with a steady stream of singles. Iceland’s 2020/2021 entry Dadi Freyr has achieved cult status with his synth tunes, and even though Russia’s 2020 entry Little Big may never have graced the Eurovision stage, the clip for their song “Uno” holds the record for the most YouTube views of any Eurovision entry in history.

While the Eurovision path is by no means an easy one, I’m hoping that 2022 will see renewed interest from countries where the contest has often been dismissed as a joke. If Loreen’s magnificent “Euphoria” in 2012 was a signal that everyone had to up their game and come back with better songs, Maneskin’s win nine years later has shown that the contest is a legitimate career-builder, and you don’t have to compromise on your music style to be successful. In fact, your authenticity will most likely be rewarded.