Recently, the organizers confirmed that Israel will be able to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024after changing the lyrics to his song ‘October Rain’ – now titled ‘Hurricane’.

The 20-year-old Russian-Israeli singer, Eden Golan, will represent the country in May in Malmö. Israel’s participation has caused many reactions.

In January, there was an open letter to the EBU, signed by over 1,000 Swedish artists, calling for Israel to withdraw. Other Eurovision countries that called for Israel to be suspended due to the war in Gaza include artists in Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

Whatever the intentions, there have been many other songs over the years that have “hidden” political messages and ignored the contest’s rules.

  • Italy 1974

The song “Si” by Gigliola Cinquetti -a really, really good sweeping Bacharach-esque ballad- sees our heroine contemplating a breakup, but deciding to commit and say “yeah, yeah!” to love. No problem here with the Eurovision organizers, but unfortunately the contest coincided with a referendum on divorce in Italy. The song was considered pro-marriage propaganda and was banned from radio and television.

  • Turkey and Norway 1980

In 1980, Turkey was in a political crisis and, unlike other countries, had to import most of its oil. You’d expect her to do something cute at Eurovision, but no, she faced her problems head-on with ‘Petr’oil’ featuring Ajda Pekkan. A love song… high octane. Only in Eurovision!

Also notable that year, Norway incorporated the traditional Sami song and sang it in solidarity with activists on hunger strike outside the Norwegian parliament over the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

  • Georgia 2009

As will become clear, you can get away with pretty blatant things at Eurovision, but here’s one that didn’t make the cut. The “We Don’t Wanna Put In” disses a certain Russian leader while making overtures to join the EU. The song never made it to the final.

  • Armenia 2015

The song “Don’t Deny” of Armenia was described by Eurovision organizers as a song about happiness “when people are united and live in harmony with themselves, their families, their love relationships and so on”. But Turkey and Azerbaijan said the title was a political statement addressed to them about the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Armenia changed the title of the song to “Face the Shadow” and everyone calmed down…

  • Switzerland 2023

It might have been easier for the militarily neutral Swiss to swallow, but the most strident anti-war message amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict came on Remo Forrer’s entry “Watergun”: “I don’t want to be a soldier, a soldier / I don’t want to have to playing with real blood … I can’t turn and run / There are no water guns / Only the body bags we’ve become”.

Forrer’s interviews are also a lesson in how seemingly neutral Eurovision participants must hope that people can read the “hidden” messages. “My generation has to live with the consequences of decisions we didn’t make. It’s disappointing, but I’m still hopeful that change is possible.”