Eurovision 2010: The Continent's A Stage The annual Europe-wide singing competition, which pits country against country and artist against artist, takes place this weekend. People across the continent take it very seriously. William Lee Adams, editor-in-chief of, recently spoke to David Greene about the contest.
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Eurovision 2010: The Continent's A Stage

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Eurovision 2010: The Continent's A Stage

Eurovision 2010: The Continent's A Stage

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All right. So there's a little MORNING EDITION music. Now get this.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. PAULA SELING: (Singing) Boy, boy, boy, want to fight. Come and stay with me tonight.

GREENE: It's Eurovision time. The channel in Europe is holding its big music competition this weekend. It pits country against country, artist against artist, and people across the continent take it very seriously. To learn more about this we turn to William Lee Adams. He's editor-in-chief of�, and he joins us from a hotel in Norway.

Hello, William Lee Adams.

Mr. WILLIAM LEE ADAMS (Editor-in-chief, Hello, David. Hello.

GREENE: Can you just briefly remind our listeners what Eurovision is and what their competition is all about?

Mr. ADAMS: Sure. Eurovision is a continent-wide singing contest that takes place every year. It's gone on since 1956. Each country has a national selection process in which they choose a candidate. And then that candidate goes to the Eurovision competition and competes against contestants from the rest of Europe.

(Soundbite of song, "Allez, Ola, Ole")

Mr. JESSY MATADOR (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. ADAMS: So this is Jessy Matador from France. And Jessy's actually a Congolese immigrant.

GREENE: But I feel like we're hearing French language here. I thought there was some debate about whether all these entries had to actually be in English.

Mr. ADAMS: Oh, yes. You're allowed to sing in whatever language you'd like, but countries tend to sing in English because they think it gives them more of a chance to get votes from people who understand English, which is most of the continent.

GREENE: What other entries should we listen to?

Mr. ADAMS: Azerbaijan, definitely.

GREENE: I was just thinking Azerbaijan.

(Soundbite of song, "Drip Drop")

SAFURA (Singer): (Singing) Can I love you forever through this?

Mr. ADAMS: Now, Azerbaijan's entry is a 17-year-old girl named Safura, and her song called "Drip Drop." And her lover, in the song, comes home late night after night. And Safura, in this song, says that she can smell lipstick on him. And she has to ask herself, can I love him forever through this. And when she realizes that she can't, her tears go, quote, "drip drop, drip drop, drip drop, drip drop."

(Soundbite of song, "Drip Drop")

SAFURA: (Singing) Drip drop. Drip drop. Whoa. Whoa.

GREENE: So this competition sometimes stokes some bitter international rivalries. I guess if we listen to Azerbaijan, we should also listen to neighboring Armenia.

Mr. ADAMS: Yes.

(Soundbite of song, "Apricot Stone")

Ms. EVA RIVAS (Singer): (Singing) Apricot stone hidden in my hand.

Mr. ADAMS: The Armenian entry, Eva Rivas - who bears a striking resemblance to Angelina Jolie - she's singing about a piece of fruit - the apricot, Armenia's national fruit. And so Eva Rivas portrays an elderly emigre who has left Armenia. And whenever's she's sad or lonely she clutches an apricot.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. RIVAS: (Singing) From the motherland. Apricot Stone.

GREENE: So is this all uniting Europe? Is this going what it's supposed to?

Mr. ADAMS: Well, you know, when it was founded post-carnage of World War II, people thought it would be a way to dissolve barriers. But if anything, I think it's flamed those passions. If you read blogs, you see people spewing incredibly racist and bigoted comments about singers from other countries.

It's true that 125 million people across Europe are going to be doing the exact same thing: watching Eurovision this Saturday evening. So perhaps it strengthens bonds within a nation, but as far as creating peace and understanding between them, I'm pretty doubtful.

GREENE: We've been talking to William Lee Adams. He's editor-in-chief of and a Eurovision aficionado.

William, thanks for joining us.

Mr. ADAMS: Thanks so much, David.

GREENE: Enjoy the music.

(Soundbite of song, "Waterloo")

ABBA (Band): (Singing) Waterloo - I was defeated, you won the war.

GREENE: Maybe some of you remember when ABBA won the Eurovision contest in 1974 with this song. You can see videos from some of this year's contestants at

(Soundbite of song, "Waterloo")

ABBA: (Singing) Waterloo - couldn't escape if I wanted to. Waterloo - knowing my fate is to be with you.

GREENE: Thanks, ABBA. They're helping you rock out with NPR News.

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