Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tom Parfitt: A tale of tyranny that lurks behind kitsch of Eurovision

Jedward leaving the arena after their Final Dress Rehersal for the Semi Final in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku Azerbaijan
Jedward leaving the arena after their Final Dress Rehersal for the Semi Final in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku Azerbaijan

Tom Parfitt in Baku, Azerbaijan

The countdown to kitsch has begun. When the final of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest opens in the oil-rich Caucasus state of Azerbaijan tomorrow, fans can look forward to the customary explosion of glam and glitter.

Contestants including Jedward will perform at a specially built 25,000-seater venue, the Crystal Hall, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The building is shaped like a diamond-encrusted crown and studded with 45,000 light-emitting diodes.

But as the annual festival of tackiness approaches, organisers are facing calls to confront Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, over his increasingly dictatorial regime. The 50-year-old leader has stamped out dissent in the former Soviet state since succeeding his father in 2003.

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