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After critics panned the video clip of Macedonia's Eurosong entry as a tragi-comic advert for the government, it vanished from YouTube only a day after its release.
The song is a duet between Esma and Lozano
After its release on Thursday, the clip for the song "Empire" met ridicule and disbelief among professionals and audiences on social networks.
The song is a duet between Macedonian diva Esma Rexhepova, an acclaimed "queen of gypsy music", and the up-and-coming singer, Lozano.
Macedonia’s national broadcaster, MRT, which holds the license for the contest, said the clip did not meet expected standards, but blamed problems on the private production company that they had hired.
Critics panned the clip as a kitschy advertisement for the government's controversial revamp of the capital, known as Skopje 2014, which draws inspiration from the styles of Classical Antiquity.
The song also refers to Alexander the Great, whose historic and cultural legacy is the subject of a bitter dispute between Macedonia and neighbouring Greece.
“This is the bottom of all bottoms,” Macedonian theatre director Slobodan Unkovski guffawed on his Facebook profile.
“It is a pity that Greece is blocking our entry to the EU, not our Eurovision contestant instead,” a hostile Tweet read. “The whole thing is a big commercial for Skopje 2014”, another Tweet complained.
MRT insists it neither posted, nor removed, the video from YouTube and says it will change it before the contest in Malmo, Sweden, in May.
“MRT thinks the video clip, completely made by ‘Exit B’ production, does not meet the standards and criteria for the dignified representation of Macedonia in front of the Eurovision auditorium,” Ljupco Markovski, the head of MRT’s Eurovision Delegation, said.
The clip begins with inserts of the Alexander the Great statue in Skopje and resumes by showing the recently built triumphal arch and other buildings and monuments that form part of the revamp of the capital.
The singers stand in front of, or stroll among, some of the monuments, singing about “our empire... the strongest force on the planet”.
The song has caused uproar in Greece, with the media there describing it as yet another provocation from Skopje.
“The title of the song ‘Empire’ speaks of a lost empire that will regain its lost territories. The question is whether Eurovision will accept this song that counterfeits history and offends Greece,” one comment on Greek TV said.
The recent erection of statues of Alexander and his father Philip in Skopje are seen in Greece as provocative because Athens insists that these warrior kings belong exclusively to its own national heritage.
Athens also objects to the name Macedonia, insiting that it implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.
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