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Christians attack "satanic" Eurovision song

DJ Bobo has inflamed Christian sensibilities

(Keystone)

Christian fundamentalists are calling for Switzerland's Eurovision Song Contest entry to be banned because of its allegedly satanic content.

On Tuesday the Federal Democratic Union (FDU) handed in a 49,000-signature petition to the government condemning DJ Bobo's "Vampires Are Alive" as an affront to people's religious convictions.

The controversy is something of a setback for the former baker's apprentice who is a household name in Switzerland and known for his squeaky-clean image.

The 39-year-old, who had a worldwide smash hit with "Chihuahua" in 2003, rode to the country's Eurovision rescue at the end of last year after a string of Swiss flops at the event.

The FDU petition accuses DJ Bobo – real name René Baumann – of trivialising hell and Satan and says his "occult lyrics" are beyond the pale. The offending lyrics include lines such as "Free your spirit after midnight, sell your soul" and "From heaven to hell, enjoy the ride".

"The song is bad from our point of view," Thomas Feuz, head of the FDU's petition committee, told swissinfo. "We have nothing against DJ Bobo but the song has a destructive meaning and we want it stopped."

"Occult and Satanists"

The petition also states that the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in May in the Finnish capital Helsinki, has increasingly become a platform for "the occult and Satanists".

It makes reference to last year's surprise winners Lordi who wooed fans with their "monster rock" and also faced accusations of being a satanic group – something they denied.

Government officials confirmed that a petition bearing 49,082 names had been submitted by the FDU on Tuesday. It has not yet been decided which ministry will deal with it.

Earlier this month the song also came under fire from the Swiss Evangelical Alliance, which appealed to the singer to change the lyrics. It warned that the song might send young people who were mentally unstable over the edge.

The alliance, which claims to have around 250,000 followers, said the lyrics were irresponsible in view of Switzerland's high suicide rate and called on Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin to intervene.

Religious storm

In a further blow, a number of Swiss-German radio stations are refusing to play "Vampires Are Alive" – not because of the religious storm but because they say it's rubbish. One station said it would be "commercial suicide".

Yet the song, which has clearly been influenced by Lordi's winning mock-horror formula and whose video recalls Michael Jackson's "Thriller", last week entered the Swiss charts at number three.

The artist who said he was "happy" about its success, earlier downplayed the criticism: "It's ludicrous and absurd. The words are made up... everyone has the right to say what he wants," DJ Bobo said two weeks ago."

His successful brand of Eurodance has seen him sell 13 million records around the world. He has won more than 80 awards, including a record-breaking ten World Music Awards as the best-selling Swiss recording artist.

Last year he became a World Food Programme Ambassador against Hunger, joining the likes of Brazilian football star Ronaldinho. DJ Bobo recently travelled to Ethiopia to highlight food shortages in the north of the country.

swissinfo, Adam Beaumont

In brief

DJ Bobo was born René Baumann in Kölliken in northern Switzerland on January 5, 1968. He began his DJ-ing career in 1985 and a year later was runner-up in the Swiss DJ Championships.

His breakthrough came with the smash hit "Somebody Dance With Me", which became number one in the Swiss single charts in March 1993. It was also a top-ten hit around the world.

He has released around 30 singles and 15 albums in a career, dating back almost 20 years.

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Eurovision Hall of Fame and Shame

Switzerland has taken part in most Eurovision Song Contests since its launch in 1956.

Lys Assia won the first competition and Céline Dion came top for Switzerland in 1988.

But of late the Swiss entries did less well. Piero Esteriore from Basel crashed out in the semi-finals in 2004 after scoring a humiliating "nul points".

The following year the Swiss enlisted Estonian band Vanilla Ninja to fly the flag. The all-girl band finished in eighth place.

The Swiss also looked abroad last year with the band six4one, a medley of nationalities including a Swiss, an Israeli, a Swede and a Maltese, which only came 17th out of 24.

DJ Bobo made a point of saying that he was fed up with seeing foreigners representing Switzerland when he announced his candidature in October.

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