’Playing with Fire’ and Playing it Safe: With(out) Roma at the Eurovision Song Contest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Often dismissed as light entertainment and kitsch, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) provides fertile ground for studying images of Europeanness by showcasing the self-representations of participating nations and the hierarchies that exist between them. The starting point here is the participation of Florin Salam,1 a Romani-Romanian manele performer, in the Romanian national selection competition for the 2010 ESC. His involvement sent shock waves through a section of the Romanian public and media who feared the prospect of a manele singer, a Tigan,2 representing the nation at the ESC. In Romania, pop music is regarded as inherently better, more modern, and more highbrow than manele, a version of which can be found in other Balkan countries under such names as turbo folk and chalga.3 Manele is mainly performed by Romani musicians in Romania, and, as a very divisive genre, has a bad reputation amongmany Romanians, including pop and rock music fans. Despite being one of the most popular singers in Romania, Salam was unsuccessful and did not even make it to the national final. His rejection restored order for those who feared the worst. The Romanian 2010 ESC final was won by the duo of Paula and Ovi (Paula Selig and Ovidiu Cernăauteanu) with ‘Playing with Fire’, a song that emulated an unspecified and generic pop; they came third in that year’s ESC final, held in Oslo.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerforming the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest
EditorsKaren Fricker, Milija Gluhovic
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-36798-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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