The Asian Vision

With Eurovision out of the way for another year and Australia finishing a strong 2nd, many would think the party is finally over. However, questions still arise about Australia’s involvement in Eurovision and if we are really part of the European continent?

Yes, your geography is knowledge is outdated. Australia is now in Europe.

2016 Map of Europe

SBS plans to have Australia compete in next year’s iteration. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, managing director Michael Ebeid says that they are finalising negotiations with the European Broadcasting Union for Australia’s continual involvement in the song contest.

Laughing over a burning piano or an old guy wearing a burgundy suit can be funny but wait until you see what Asia has to offer.

However, what was more interesting in the article was that SBS is planning to throw a spin-off, an “Asiavision” you can call it (maybe not because that’s currently trademarked by some Singaporean company) for 2017. It could mean seeing Australia compete with the powerhouses of India with its Bollywood, South Korea with its K-Pop and Japan whipping up something crazy. We could even see North Korea making an appearance!

The show is set to be formatted in the same way as Eurovision: A number of countries around the continent send a representative to sing for them. If the continent likes them then they will vote for them. Can you imagine the world, well, Asia cramming themselves at Rod Laver Arena or Sydney’s Allphones Arena for a few hours with good ol’ Nollsy and that guy from the Bachelor or Australian Idol hosting? But let’s be real, if an Asian Song Contest did happen, it has to be at Melbourne. We need more events. However, questions will be raised whether or not Melbourne even has a place large enough, technologically savvy enough to host an event full of shenanigans and tomfoolery. How does my uncle’s backyard or the Northcote Social Club sound?

Laughing over a burning piano or an old guy wearing a burgundy suit is funny, but wait until you see what Asia has to offer. Asia is definitely up to the challenge of outgunning Europe when it comes to crazy costumes, song and dance. Lets look at Australia’s biggest threats to getting the “Whatevervision” crown for the second time in a row.

  1. “Bug Song” — Mukimukimanmansu (South Korea)
12 Points to…South Korea!

This song, while only going for 30 seconds demonstrates that music when done with raw emotions, can be representative of the complexities and beauty that life has to offer. It can also be a cathartic experience that takes us on a journey towards self-actualisation…Okay maybe it can just be pure screaming.

2. “Vegetable Opera” — Some Chinese Lady (China)

12 Points for Courage

According to a friend and her limited proficiency in Chinese, this cute old lady is singing about “chicken wings and chicken thighs”. Someone else suggests that she’s singing about yelling at angry customers. If you want a song that is realistic and come from the heart then this song might be where your 12 points go.

3. Babymetal — Gimme chocolate!! (Japan)

This Could Work…

Now Japan is an eclectic country filled with weird and whacky items such as wasabi kit-kats, love hotels, hostess clubs and everything in between. But BABYMETAL has become an unexpected hit. The songs are undeniably catchy and can draw a whole range of audiences from 15 year olds to 51 year olds.

4. It’s My Life What Ever I Wanna Do — Vennu Malesh (India)

I Can Sing Whatever I Want!!!

With India, it would be your normal fare to find some ridiculous bollywood song with all the dancing, glamour and kitschy lyrics but this gem here goes to the heart (again) from the back of a local hero’s studio. The synth and distortion adds to the dramatic storytelling of an empowered man.

There are certainly other hidden gems out there. For example, Thailand can employ its dramatic life insurance storytelling skills and convert to music. It would see 12 points from its ASEAN/SEA neighbours. However, the big question remains for Asia’s favorite messy child: North Korea. Will it attend at all? If so, will there be pyrotechnics and songs of aggression against America and its allies? Finally, will it even get any votes, especially from China?

Is there a Thai equivalent to K-Pop?

Voting at an Asian Song Contest would be an intriguing prospects. The possibilities of voting blocs as seen in Eurovision might be possible (Sweden -> Norway, Belarus -> Russia, Malta -> UK etc.). Will real life geopolitics come into play? So meaning, will Japan, Vietnam, the Phillippines and a whole host of other countries vote against China just for voting’s sake? Other potential voting blocs that could potentially appear is Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries voting for each other; China with Pakistan against India; South East Asia with Singapore and Malaysia.

Many people considered Ukraine’s win as a geopolitical gambit by EU voters against Russia, further raising questions about the political influence of Eurovision. Another issue to consider is whether or not places such as Hong Kong and Taiwan get their own representatives; that issue alone could derail a competition of this magnitude. Arrangements are currently made in the Olympics for both entities to compete although Taiwan is simply called “Chinese Taipei”.

The issue of representation is further highlighted if we consider the demographics of Asia itself. Asia is a massive continent. It is home to over 4.4 billion people. Will all of those people be able to vote or get involved in a hypothetical Asian Song Contest? Probably not. Statistics for Asia internet and television usage are usually hard to find but according to Internet World Stats, only 40% of Asia use the internet compared to 73% in Europe.

Of course, there will also be issues surrounding logistics and infrastructure. What if a smaller country such as Bhutan or Vietnam win? Do they have a venue that can cater to rising audiovisual demands? It is not impossible as Hanoi has hosted the Asian Broadcasting Union TV Song Festival in 2013. But if an event as large and popular as Eurovision comes to places like Hanoi then that itself will be a different ballgame. Issues that generally arise from hosting world events such as transport, accommodation and the economic blowout will be enhanced. Using Hanoi again as an example, it voluntarily pulled out of hosting the 2018 Asian Games due to financial constraints.

If an Asian Song Contest does get produced by 2017, then the world is surely in for another ride. This time, Australia doesn’t need to wake up at 5am because the world will be at its doorsteps and there will only be a sound of silence when they leave.