x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Politics meet Eurovision

Politicians and singers have one thing in common: giant egos. How else could they stand on stages and do the things they do? Here are some politicians that could be crooners.

The former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has recorded an album of love songs.
The former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has recorded an album of love songs.

When Mikhail Gorbachev serenaded guests at a charity gala last week with an excerpt from a new disc of love songs, he took his place in a long line of musical politicos ranging from the cringeworthy to the ? well, no, it's mostly at that end of the scale. By all accounts, though, the 78-year-old former Soviet premier turned in a performance far above the norm, in a voice that was "very polished, with a great tone to it" according to one (apparently unbribed) guest.

But with so many world leaders prepared to blow credibility out of the water by declaring their preferences - and, in many cases, by recording convenient examples - it's not hard to imagine politics eventually devolving to an even more warped equivalent of the Eurovision song contest in which Nico and Silvio croon at each other from opposite sides as the UN sits in Simon Cowell-like judgement ("I'm sorry, Kim Jong, I just wasn't feeling We Shall Hold Bayonets More Firmly tonight").

Should you ever find yourself short of a karaoke number in the company of the political elite, here are a few tips for requests. Kim Jong-il: According to official (so highly unreliable) sources, the North Korean leader has composed six patriotic operas and staged several musicals. But the Dear Leader, previously thought to be an implacable enemy of "uproarious western music", caused international astonishment last year by issuing a personal invitation for Eric Clapton to play in Pyongyang. His son's a fan, it seems.

Most likely: Ten Million Human Bombs for Kim Il Sung, a catchy number played at 7.00 every morning on North Korean radio. Least likely: America by Neil Diamond. Hugo Chávez: His musical aspirations may not be as well known as his revolutionary principles, but the Venezuelan president has released an album of traditional folk called Canciones de Siempre (Songs for All Time) which presumably only benefited from the publicity accorded it on Alo Presidente, Chávez's weekly TV show. Yeah, who needs MySpace anyway?

Most likely: Simon Diaz's Caballo Viejo, a Venezuelan anthem. Alo Presidente! Least likely: Only in America by Brooks and Dunn. Barack Obama: A professed fan of Bruce Springsteen, U2, Kanye West and Jay-Z, Obama is one of the few modern politicos who might lend themselves well to impromptu music. He's quick-witted, he's an excellent dancer and he has a wonderful voice. So it's rather a shame that the only available video of him singing anything is an admittedly stirring rendition of Happy Birthday from the campaign trail in Philadelphia. Boo.

Most likely: A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. Least likely: Go, Go, Go Republican by Peter Janovsky. Gordon Brown: He has been tight-lipped about the music he likes since he made the mistake of telling the press he enjoyed the then-fashionable Arctic Monkeys and was unable to name any of their songs. Hard to imagine him really having time for music, honestly. Most likely: To sing off-key, with an expression of excruciating discomfort.

Least likely: All Expenses Paid by They Might Be Giants. Silvio Berlusconi: The unembarrassable prime minister of Italy plays piano, guitar and double bass, and claims to have put himself through university by playing on cruise ships. He has written lyrics for two CDs of love songs by the singer Mario Apicella and wouldn't, one senses, need much prodding to burst into song. Most likely: Meno male che Silvio c'è (Thank Goodness Silvio Exists) his campaign song.

Least likely: Young School Girl by Fats Domino. Nicolas Sarkozy: There's no shortage of music in the life of the French president, whose ex-wife once accused him of an obsession with "playing karaoke till 4am" to meet women. But music may equally be the bane of Sarko's life: his youngest son is a rap producer who, under a pseudonym, has worked with some of his father's most vocal hip-hop critics, and his new wife Carla Bruni has admitted to waking him up at night by playing her songs.

Most likely: My Way, over and over again while grinning fixedly. Least likely: Sarkophage by Redbong. Junchiro Koizumi: The former Japanese prime minister, does Elvis fandom with an otaku's fanaticism. Visiting Graceland in 2006, he astonished spectators by putting on a pair of golden sunglasses and launching into a spirited Presley imitation. He recorded an album of Elvis cover versions for the Japanese market, and also highly dubiously sang I Want You, I Need You, I Love You to George Bush at his birthday party.

Most likely: Anything by the King, honeychile-san. Least likely: Elvis is Dead by Living Colour. Angela Merkel: The German chancellor's tastes run more to Bach and Beethoven than the popular end of the spectrum, and one can only imagine the steely glitter in her eyes if she was presented with a bellowing Berlusconi or a singing Sarko. However, Merkel and her husband are devoted opera fans and regular guests at the Wagner festival at Bayreuth, so she might be prevailed upon for a selection from Meistersinger or Tannhauser.

Most likely: Mild und leise from Tristan und Isolde. Least likely: Meno male che Silvio c'è (see above).