AMSTERDAM -- Ironically benefiting from curiosity after being condemned by the Church of Cyprus, the song El Diablo (The Devil) by Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou has become a betting favorite to win the kitschy Eurovision song contest.
This year's event will be held May 22 in Rotterdam in The Netherlands and the volcanic song is seen as giving Cyprus – but not a Cypriot singer – its chance for a first win in the contest that began in 1981.
Cypriots love the pop dreck of Eurovision that's laughed off the stage by serious music lovers although it's a smash TV hit every year and countries outside of Europe are allowed to enter, making the name less than accurate.
The Cyprus Orthodox Church said the song is blasphemous and wanted it withdrawn but go nowhere with the complaints that instead made it even more popular, gaining traction off the island too.
The song is about falling in love with the devil. "I gave my heart to El Diablo... because he tells me I'm his angel," the blonde-haired Tsagrinou sings, the Church saying it made an "international mockery" of the country’s morals by advocating "surrender to the devil,'” noted Agence France-Presse (AFP) in a report.
The song "essentially praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil's authority" at the expense of the island's "history, culture and traditions", according to the church and there was even a protest outside the Nicosia headquarters of state broadcaster CyBC.
The government and CyBC said the song had nothing to do with devil worship and argued that freedom of expression was protected, said AFP and the singer said it's really about "a bad relationship with someone,” a familiar refrain.
"It's not about the devil. At the end of the song, I get out of the relationship,” she said, which might be hard to do if the devil indeed has ensnared you.
The rehearsals in Rotterdam of Athens-born Tsagrinou, 26, have garnered rave reviews, with some likening the gyrating performer to Lady Gaga, the report added, only adding to the fervor and heat.
Tsagrinou ade her name as a 14-year-old in the show Greece Got Talent, reaching the semi-final, and was in a pop band before going solo in 2018. Her YouTube music videos have attracted millions of views and Tsagrinou has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram.
The controversy over El Diablo has ensured the music video racked up 3.3 million views on YouTube, the report also noted.