WARNING: A country in financial crisis should be punished and should NOT participate in any international events. Sadly, this is what many Greeks (and foreigners) believe should be the case in this day and age of a modern Greece seen (and in so many cases intentionally depicted by the international media) as going down the drain of history with its people jobless, its foreigners facing racism and its children starving. And yet is in not in the poorest of countries that the greatest art forms emerged? Do we not dance (or wish we could) the sensual salsa of a communist Cuba today across the globe? Does the pulsing samba, born in the favelas of Brazil, not take our breath away (and offer a feast for the eyes) during Mardi Gras? Isn’t Diego Maradona from one of the world crisis’ most recent victims? And yet, if I am not mistaken… Brazil, Cuba and Argentina have produced some of the world’s greatest music, dances, athletes and writers….

This said; the by now customary disputes (and their obstinate advocates) over whether Greece should participate in the 58th Eurovision Song Contest, to take place in Sweden’s Malmo in May, have once again reared their ugly heads. And yet strangely enough these very same adversaries of the need of this flamboyant song contest dare not speak a word about the infinite meetings in boring Brussels and elsewhere across the globe, where we – the very same taxpayers that pay for public broadcaster ERT – pay for the freshly baked croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice, fine grain coffee and shiny limos, not to mention airplane fare and the lavish Ritz Carlton-styled hotels, for our politicians (who got us into this mess in the first place) to agree that Greece is yes, poor, ill-disciplined and deserves to suffer?

So let me get this right… as a country that is now selling off its last remaining assets to our “caring” lenders, we its suffering people do not deserve to have fun, listen to music, send our athletes to international sporting events but we do have to pay out of our empty pockets to watch our lying “collaborating” politicians travel the globe to meet up with the loan sharks (pardon, I meant lenders) to announce formally that we are bankrupt.

Well, much to the dismay of the Greeks (and foreigners) who support this Protestant-styled idea of punishment and penance, art and music will emerge stronger from this crisis even if it has to start through a simplistic song contest that many feel is a disgrace to music. Whatever the case, Greece is participating in the Eurovision song contest this year, and rightfully so.

The event is being organized by MAD TV – a Greek music channel that has for the past two decades successfully for the most part (and by Greek standards) played the role of a Greek-styled MTV. And yes, there are sponsors.

The four contestants – as diverse as they could be, this is Greece after all and everyone has something to say (or sing) – will perform on Monday, February 18 and a panel of judges (paid by public TV- that’s us) together with the viewers’ tele-vote will select the song that will represent this country, that has not yet dropped off the face of the earth, on May 18 in Malmo.

The groups and artists vying for a place on the Swedish stage are:

The Thessaloniki-based rembetika group Koza Mostra and Agathonas with the Balkan-tinged “Alcohol Is Free” – in efforts to get our creditors so drunk that they will eventually see the light. Of course, in crisis-era Greece nothing is free… but oh well.

Nightclub chanteuse and grand-daughter of one of Greece’s supreme laika singers, Kaiti Grey (having failed to inherit gran’s talent and personality), Angeliki Iliadi will perform the laiko-pop tsifteteli  “1,000 & One Nights”… of the hunger our lenders have promised us… just to bring us back to reality.

Sexy Thomais Apergi, straight off the Aegean island of Tinos,delivers a sensual “One Last Kiss”…  hopefully in efforts to lure our lenders into a ménage a trois – Greece, the IMF and the EU – that will change our predicament.

Innovative radio producer, DJ and composer Alex Leon and Giorgina, the daughter of the brilliant ’60s singer Tammy – call upon an “Angel”… to save us no doubt from the dark days of doom that our friends, neighbours and allies – all in good will, of course, and out of thoughtfulness – remind us is drawing near.

The Greek final will be hosted by actor Yiorgos Kapoutzidis and MAD TV’s “flagship” artist Despina Vandi and will be broadcast by public broadcaster ET1 on Monday, February 18.

From there, the winner will head to chilly Sweden to represent this poor but proud Mediterranean country in the 58th Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, May 18, among 38 other countries – many rich, many poor and some, just like us a few years back, on the brink of joining Europe’s neo povera.

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