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Lloyd-Webber sparks Eurovision racism row

By | Published on Wednesday 4 July 2012

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber has said that racism is a major problem at the Eurovision Song Contest, and that non-white artists often receive lower scores from some participating countries purely because of the colour of their skin.

Referring to his involvement in the 2009 Song Contest in Moscow, where Jade Ewen represented the UK, Lloyd-Webber told the Radio Times: “At the press conference in Moscow, I was asked: ‘Why have you brought a black artist?’ I said: ‘Because she is the most talented artist that we had and I think she’s a major, major star’. I think we would have come second [that year with a white artist] but there’s a problem when you go further east [ie Eastern European countries are less likely to give points to non-white artists]. If you’re talking about Western Europe – Germany, fine; France, fine; Spain, fine; Greece, fine; Scandinavian countries, fine. But Ukraine? Not so good”.

On this year’s contest in Azerbaijan, he said: “I don’t think there’s any point beating around the bush. Did you see the Eurovision Song Contest this year? Well, if you had seen it, you might have noticed one thing – I don’t think there was one black face on the programme”.

However, the European Broadcasting Union, which stages the annual event, hit back at the comments, telling BBC News: “We have had no indications of racism. On the contrary, we celebrate the differences among different entries, truly uniting Europe for three nights a year. At this year’s final we had a female black singer representing Ukraine. Also, the backing dancer of this year’s winner Loreen, was black. Not to mention the French contestant Anggun of Indonesian origin”.

Yeah Andrew, that’s two black faces and a singer from South East Asia, what are you talking about?

The BBC also issued a statement denying the racism claims, saying: “The BBC is committed to Eurovision and has no evidence whatsoever of any racism around the event. Jade Ewen got to a very respectable fifth place in 2009 when 32 out of 41 countries gave the UK points. Jade was given points from nineteen Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, in 2009”.

Of course, as previously noted, the UK generally doesn’t perform well at Eurovision because it enters shit songs (including that penned by Lloyd Webber), though that’s not to say the event isn’t immune to political voting and institutionalised racism.