INDEPENDENT.CO.UK REPORTS – The Eurovision Song Contest and controversy are never far apart, but usually it is about friendly states voting for each other’s tone-deaf entries or the all-too-sparse use of spandex.
Before this year’s competition is even under way, Spain’s – English-language – entry has irked the country’s traditionalists. “Say Yay!”, performed by Bárbara Reyzábal González-Aller, 33, who uses the stage name Barei, has been chosen by viewers of RTVE television.
It is the first time in Spain’s 55-year history of entering the contest that an English-language song has been picked. “Bearing in mind that Spanish is spoken by 500 million people, presenting a song in English is surprisingly stupid,” said the novelist José María Merino. He added that RTVE, the state broadcaster, had a “moral and cultural obligation” to safeguard cultural heritage.
Supporters of Barei’s entry could note that relying on Spanish songs has not served the country well. In fact, the only time Spain has prevailed was in 1968 and then in 1969, when “Vivo Cantando”, performed by Salomé, was the joint winner with three other entries, including the UK’s Lulu.
Barei told The Independent that it does not matter whether she sings in English or Spanish. “The language should not be an advantage or an inconvenience. The only important thing is that it has credibility,” she said.
She dismissed criticism that the entry should be a Spanish song. “I have influences from American pop, soul and funk. And it sounds very different in each language. If you do flamenco in Japanese, it probably would be something weird.”
Spain, as one of the so-called big Eurovision nations, is automatically awarded a spot in the final, which will take place in Stockholm in May. Asked if she can win, Barei says she is working hard to improve the performance. “That’s what I’m going for,” she says.