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Letter from Athens: The Devil Made Them Do It – Cypriots Want Eurovision Exorcism

March 13, 2021
More people have died in the name of God than for any other reason but people who are especially pious keep blaming the devil for many of the world's ills, and now on Cyprus the deeply devout don't want him being the country's Eurovision song entry.
Even if the real devil showed up there, most of the sugar pop fans of a contest that's so saccharine there should be dentists on call, would probably just think he was another ho-hum entry in the death metal category, which sometimes wins.
After the event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people this year are looking for entertainment escapes and those who revel in the annual kitsch festival can see it in Rotterdam, while critics don't care if it's in I-Don't-Give-A-Damn.
Forgoing a Cypriot performer, Cyprus has chosen the song El Diablo by Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou that, in typical pop fashion, has lyrics you really can't hear anyway because of all the histrionics flaring around her.
Protesters were all fire-and-brimstone and almost foaming at the mouth about, you know, a song. Dozens of Orthodox faithful held up wooden crosses and sang Church hymns outside of Cyprus’ state broadcaster to demand the song be pulled.
Why? Because it promotes satanic worship, they said, holding up placards that said, “Repent and Return to Christ,” and “Christ Saves, Diablo Kills.”
Maybe, but even Christ couldn't win Eurovision unless he had a good shtick so why not just merge all this B.S. and have Christ and the Devil perform a duet for Cyprus? True, it wouldn't be as good as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga but, hey, take a shot.
If that's not good enough for them, maybe Max von Sydow can come back to life and do Father Merrin in the Exorcist, sprinkling Holy Water on her while proclaiming, “the Power of Christ compels you.” Hey, that's a great song title. Go for it.
While she's writhing away in the video, she sings, “I fell in love, I fell in love, I gave my heart to El Diablo, El Diablo, I gave it up, I gave it up, because He tells me I'm his angel, I'm his angel.”
See, she covered all the bases, heaven to hell, and she wrote these lyrics too, which took some Deep Thought and it would be better being called El Drivel, but if you stay with it you'll be rewarded with lyrics Dylan couldn't dream up.
“Tonight we're gonna burn in a party, We're wild as fire that's on the loose, Hotter than sriracha on our bodies,” it goes on, although that part about sriracha on the bodies may indeed be hotter than hell, according to a friend of mine who likes that kind of stuff.
And to think I've been putting sriracha on my tacos.
She even manages, while moving around like a snake in heat, to do product placement, showing off a dandruff shampoo and nail polish, so look for that to be the standard in music videos, but I'm not watching unless she's holding up a bottle of bourbon.
She has the moves though, so don't watch this if you're eating a devil dog or a deviled egg and Tsagrinou's defense is that this isn't what you think, all those with dirty minds, but that it's about an abusive relationship between lovers.
How devilish of her. But the Orthodox Church on Cyprus wasn't buying it, saying the song mocks the moral foundations of a country that sells residency permits to foreign criminals and had let its banks be used to hide and launder money. Now that's something to protest against, and you could get the devil on your side for that one.
The Holy Synod said the song “essentially praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil’s authority” and urged it replaced with one that “expresses our history, culture, traditions, and our claims.” How about Sympathy for the Devil?
Some Christians weren't willing to forgive though, which seems at odds with what they're supposed to believe and one was charged by police with uttering threats, barging into the state broadcaster to condemn a “blasphemous” song.
The German state news agency and broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) said an anonymous caller threatened to "burn down" national broadcaster CyBC, but later apologized for making the threat, the newspaper Politis reported.
"I was in a state of shock and angry with the lyrics of the song that will represent Cyprus at Eurovision," he said. "The reference to satan made me feel angry, and so I reacted with a boiling soul and said something for which I apologize."
Tsagrinou told The Associated Press, “the song sends a strong message, one against any form of abuse, such as the one conveyed in ‘El Diablo,’” adding that, “in these ‘Me Too Movement’ times that message is extremely relevant and can be felt not only in Cyprus but also across Europe and beyond.”
The Church said her interpretation “is completely at odds with our people’s values and … Greek and Orthodox traditions.”
Alright, enough of that, I'm off to read The Devil and Daniel Webster, listen to
Charlie Daniel's The Devil Went Down to Georgia and that friend lent me an old video, The Devil in Miss Jones, so I’m turning it on … Jesus Christ!
 

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My name is Charles Robbins, the chief correspondent of the Chicago Daily Tribune in Constantinople.

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