Meet “Dr.Eurovision”- Academic Expert on the ESC

Dr Paul Jordan, also known as Dr Eurovision, is an expert on post-Soviet politics & Eurovision. In 2011 was awarded his PhD, The Eurovision Song Contest: Nation Building and Nation Branding in Estonia and Ukraine, from the University of Glasgow. He is a regular pundit on Eurovision and has appeared on numerous network stations.

Here, have a quick look at his show reel.

Paul has attended Eurovision since 2000 and can comment on the Contest in a political and historical context as well as an enthusiast. His book, The Modern Fairy Tale: Nation Branding, national identity and the Eurovision Song Contest in Estonia, was published by Tartu University Press in May 2014.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an event which is often dismissed as musically and culturally inferior. However, in his research, Paul Jordan shows that different nation states attribute different meanings to the ESC, contradicting the populist view of the contest in the UK.

I got the pleasure of interviewing this phenomenal man, this is what he had to say:-

What does the ESC mean (politically) to the countries that take part?

It means different things to different countries. For some smaller, lesser known nations, it’s an opportunity to be seen and heard on the world stage. For example, Estonia in the early 1990s used the contest for international visibility, it was important to show that they were independent and also European. For the UK it’s just a TV show, it doesn’t really have any political significance attached to it

Why does the UK have a populist view of the competition?

I think because we have never really needed the contest in the same way that others have – either politically or musically – the UK music industry has never depended on the contest for generating international hits. Sweden for example counted on the ESC to a certain extent in the days of ABBA to get their music to global markets. I think Terry Wogan largely influenced the view of the contest too – nearly 30 years of negative narratives has a drip drip effect. I think the UK’s cynical view of Europe more generally also comes out when discussing the ESC.

You argue that event is significant in terms of nation branding and image building.  Why so?

The ESC allows countries the opportunity to promote themselves on the world stage through the media. No broadcaster could afford such airtime if they had to pay for it. Estonia in 2002 used the contest to launch its official nation branding campaign when it was held in Tallinn and Ukraine entered the ESC specifically to improve its international image. Serbia also took the opportunity of hosting the ESC seriously given that it was previously viewed as a bit of a pariah state and Russia and Azerbaijan used the contest to manage its own image on its own terms. In using the contest in such a way it opens up countries to scrutiny, and as we saw in Azerbaijan for example, such attention isn’t always welcome.

The ESC is often dismissed as musically and culturally inferior. What would you say to such views?

I can understand some of those criticisms to a certain extent but often the people who hold such views are those who haven’t really watched the contest recently. “There’s still an appetite for the contest after nearly 60 years and it still creates hits Euphoria” for example – and in 2014 the Dutch entry reached the UK top 10. The ESC was designed as a TV show, not as a hit-making platform, critics should remember this.

Who do you think will win this year’s contest and why? 

I’ve only heard the songs once but I think Australia has a good chance given the level of pre-contest publicity, I think its Italy’s for the taking but Sweden’s performance is so striking that I can’t see anything beating it. I’m hoping for an Estonian win though!

For more on Paul Jordan:-

Paul’s blog:

Paul’s thesis:

Read Paul’s articles:

Sharon Machira

New to Europe and to Eurovison, but have embraced both fully!

Posted in Eurovision 2015, Uncategorized

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