El chiki chiki takes 16th in Eurovision

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Saturday saw Spain's best result in the last four years, regardless of heavy criticism of music journalist Pardo who declared the song a disaster.

26 May 2008

MADRID - There was no Eurovision glory for El chiki chiki, Spain's entry to the pan-European song contest on Saturday night, but neither did the comic reggaeton anthem mocking both itself and the very contest it was sent to represent flop entirely along side the majority of serious entries.

El chiki chiki's 16th place finish in Belgrade was Spain's best result in the past four years.

And herein lies the dilemma for many, such as the music journalist José Ramón Pardo, who calls the number "a disaster" and argues that, "if [Eurovision] is a song contest, it should have taken last place."

Pardo, loyal to the Eurovision old school that prefers soft pop and catchy ballads to trash culture kitsch, opines that El chiki chiki's 55 total points came owing to, in large part, "votes by Andorra and Portugal," in spite of the song having "nothing to offer".

In light of Pardo's professional opinion, few would dispute El chiki chiki's current popularity.

Over the past few months the friki (in Spanish meaning weird, abnormal or crazy) anthem turned publicity goldmine has been blasted out of cellphones and advertising spots nationwide.

The question now being asked is if such the popular devaluation of what used to be a serious competition might have greater cultural repercussions throughout the country.

The theme and the fictional character with the enormous 1970's quiff who sings it, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, were ushered into the limelight thanks to the TV show Buenafuente, broadcast on the private TV channel La Sexta.

Eurovision, on the other hand was shown and marketed exclusively by Spain's public network Televisión Española (TVE), causing concern to cultural purists.

Public television "should not lose sight of that fact that its purpose consists in correcting - and not amplifying - the errors in the market," argues Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, professor in Navarre University's Communications department.

“Strangeness sells and it always has," says Roman Gubern, professor of audiovisual communication at Barcelona's Autonomous University.

"The fact that cultural institutions like the Cervantes Institute and TVE promote this character is very questionable and shocking," he adds, in reference to Chikilicuatre's visit to the Cervantes centre in Belgrade.

But with marketing euros rolling in, it has been difficult, even for public entities, not to ride out the chiki chiki wave. When one actually listens to the lyrics - "my mulata dances it with her panties in her hand" - it is easy to sympathize with those pining for the Eurovision of old and all it represented.

[El Pais / Kelly Ramundo / Expatica]

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