Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest televised music show in the world, organized by European Broadcast Union (EBU) and watched by 204 million people all around the globe. With a legacy of 63 years, on the 12th of May 43 countries competed in Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon. There were different messages for all 43 songs. One of these songs was, however, remarkable due to its effort to reflect the migration situation in Europe from a different perspective.
Madame & Monsieur represented France with the song of “Mercy”. The song is about a migrant baby who was born in a boat during her journey from Nigeria to France. Mercy’s mother was eight and a half months pregnant when she was saved by an SOS Mediterranée rescue boat while attempting to reach Europe. She gave birth to her daughter on the ship and named her Mercy, nodding to the miracle of the child’s survival.
Madame Monsieur read her story and immediately began putting pen to paper, the result being their Eurovision 2018 song. The artists said in an interview that they contacted SOS Méditerranée to make sure they understood Mercy’s story, saying “Even if we didn’t, in theory, need their permission, we needed to know if we’d understood because we weren’t on the Aquarius (the rescue ship Mercy was born on). SOS Méditerranée was really touched by the song.” After the song was released, the inspiration baby Mercy and her mother were found living in a refugee camp in Sicily. Mercy is now 13 months and her mother Taiwo Yussif listened to the song and burst into tears.
The two members of Madame & Monsieur said that they are thinking about Mercy every day. Both of them come from parts of France on the frontline of the migrant crisis: Jean Karl is from Calais where the “Calais Jungle” has become a symbol of the crisis and Emilie is from the Mediterranean coast. The duo dedicated the song to the humanitarian volunteers and all the children in limbo.
There were criticisms coming from some segments of French society. For instance, some of the radios from Northern France declared that they don’t want to play the song because it is too “smooth” for the “refugee crisis”. However, the little girl’s story seems to have captivated most of France and shown the world the face of migration from a humanitarian perspective with the story of a child living in limbo. There was huge support from Europe. The song became 13th with 173 points that were distributed as 59 points from jury and 114 points from televoting. However, Madame Monsieur has already announced that they are thinking beyond the contest and will create a fund to help support the child, whose story has touched so many people and shined a light on the global refugee crisis.
The winner of Eurovison Song Contest was Netta with the song called “Toy” from Israel. After the results are announced the winner said “See you in Jerusalem in 2019!”. The delegation of Israel indicated that they have started preparations for 2019 and they are thinking about Pais Arena or Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem as the potential host venue. However it is problematic due to the tensions between Israel and Palestine. In reaction to Netta’s words about Jerusalem, the delegation of Ireland declared that they will not participate if the contest is in Jerusalem. Where next year’s competition remains a mystery.