First Listen: Hungary Protests “Wars for Nothing”

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 (Logo: Eurovision)
Eurovision Song Contest 2015 (Logo: Eurovision)

War protest songs are great for doing reasonably well, while virtually guaranteeing you won’t have to host next year’s contest. Good job, country whose name means ten arrows!

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Hungary was unhappy with last year’s fifth-place finish; that was uncomfortably close to winning, and thereby having to shoulder the burden and expense of hosting the 2015 contest. I also was unhappy with Hungary’s fifth-place finish, but for different reasons: their entry was a song about a (step?)father’s abuse of his daughter, and the choreography was disturbing. This year, Hungary is playing it safe — Eurovision-wise, but perhaps not geopolitically — by sending a protest song.

Let me start by saying I AM THRILLED somebody is getting the staging right so early in the selection process. This is an entry that calls for subtlety, to avoid distracting from the Very Important Message1 the song is trying to convey. I’m not sure I would have chosen to start with the lead singer up to her knees in dry ice / the fog of war, but in general, the staging sets the right mood. Singers emerge one-by-one as the song progresses; they slowly move through a couple of simple formations. They’ve even got the multimedia presentation figured out, although it would be nice if the facts displayed (death statistics, maybe?) were in English like the lyrics, not Hungarian.

If there is a weak spot to this song, musically speaking, it’s the beginning; Boggie (who many folks might remember from this very cool video in which she is progressively retouched) has a great voice, but the first verse is at the bottom of her range, and she has a hard time projecting. It’s not not a great way to begin a performance — especially when there’s absolutely nothing else going on to distract the audience. Otherwise, this is beautifully done, with good dynamic movement and a well-balanced quintet accompanied by a single guitarist.

Overall, I think this is a great entry. I tend not to enjoy novelty protest songs, but this one is well-crafted and avoids calling out any individual nation or leader (unlike “We Don’t Wanna Put In,” Georgia’s withdrawn entry for the 2009 contest in Moscow), which will help with the popular vote. Based on the entries I’ve seen so far, “War for Nothing” should easily crack the top ten, perhaps into the top five if the various national juries go Boggie’s way.

  1. War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.  

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