Time for Corsica to change its tune

Corsican flag celebrations

During France’s regional elections earlier this month, one fact seemed to get missed amid the noise around Marine Le Pen and her Front Nacional: that in Corsica, the vote was won by a party that actually wants independence from France.

Yes, you read that right: independence.

The ‘For Corsica’ party won over 35% of the vote, which explains why their leader, Gilles Simeoni, looks so happy in the picture at the top of this post.

So should the people of the Mediterranean island stay part of the motherland or seize the day and go it alone?

Well, this blog believes there’s only one way to decide a matter of such importance: by looking at whose national anthem is better! And sorry, Corsicans, but your ‘anthem’ is not a shade on la Marseillaise. In fact, it’s awful.

Here, for those who don’t know it [everyone outside Corsica], is Dio vi salvi Regina:

If will hopefully take you all of about 5 seconds of listening to that to realise it’s a monastic hymn and an ancient one at that.

It was written in 1675 by a young Italian, Francis of Geronimo, and is meant as a love letter to the Virgin Mary. Here’s its first verse:

God bless you, Queen
And universal mother
By which one rises
Until paradise

What’s that got to do with Corsica? Absolutely bugger all! But there were a lot of Corsicans in Naples back then and they one day turned it into a bizarrely religious and solemn cry for independence – most likely due to its final verse which asks the Virgin to “give us victory over our enemies”.

So yes, it has been inspiring people for several hundred years. Gilles Simeoni even sung it to celebrate his win. But that doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping. It doesn’t have the excitement of la Marseillaise. It doesn’t have that anthem’s great melody either. It doesn’t even have its gore or its blood. There is no contest. Corsicans, find a new one quick!

How Turkey’s anthem decided its election

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's anthem grave gaffe action shot

Things not to do in an election campaign:

1) Visit the grave of the composer of your country’s national anthem, a song displayed in every classroom
2) Announce to dozens of cameramen that your father and him were best mates
3) Wistfully read aloud the words to that anthem
4) Get its name wrong

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a 70-year-old politician running in Turkey’s presidential election, somehow managed to do exactly that last week, mistaking a poem called Martyrs of Galipoli for the country’s anthem, the Independence March (that’s him getting ready to make the gaffe in the photo).

He admittedly only had a slim chance of beating Tayyip Erdogan in the 10 August vote before saying it. But now… Yes, he’s screwed, isn’t he?

It’s a big shame, as the election’s important, especially if you’re a fan of women laughing in public. Ihsanoglu was Erdogan’s only serious opposition. But, if you can’t recognise the words to your country’s anthem, should you be allowed to be in charge of it? (“Yes!” I hear you shout, but that’s not what a 50-year-old builder in Istanbul’s going to think now is it?)

Ihsanoglu’s been trying to defend himself ever since, saying things like, “I learnt the anthem while sucking my mother’s milk.” It hasn’t helped – no one needs that image in their heads!

The BBC’s got a great primer on the election here. Go and have a read like and see an awful photo of Erdogan shamelessly clambering for votes by playing football.

Did this song just help win Georgia’s election?

Georgia has today undergone the most surprising political change: Mikheil Saakashvili, the president who led the country out of post-Soviet turmoil, has been thrown out of office, massively and embarrassingly losing a general election.

The country will now be ruled by the world’s 153rd richest person, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and his awfully-named coalition, Georgian Dream.

A few weeks ago this was unthinkable. Saakashvili was widely admired for ending the country’s culture of bribery, introducing economic reforms and standing up to Russia.

But then on 18 September, a video appeared showing abuse in one of Georgia’s largest prisons, full of footage of guards beating up prisoners and raping them with brooms.

It shocked the country; it also woke up a lot of the country’s musicians to the fact things weren’t as good as Saakashvili made out. His government was authoritarian to the extreme, locking people up for long sentences for petty theft, while unemployment was high.

One of those musicians was Baski Asatiani, the lead singer of Landmark, an indie band who normally write pleasant and danceable songs about things like Kate Moss.

“I logged off my computer and I couldn’t speak,” he told the New York Times. “After a moment of shock, it was also anger — anger at myself, at the things the government could not control that were happening.

“Maybe they were already happening a long time ago, but when it was in front of our eyes, it was like we all bore responsibility for this. We felt guilty.”

The next day, he co-wrote a song called The System Must be Destroyed (სისტემა უნდა დაინგრეს! in Georgian). Half of Tbilisi’s music scene seems to have been involved in it, from rappers to pop stars to middle-aged crooners.

The tune’s based on Nirvana’s Rape Me, comes on with all the anger of classic Rage Against the Machine, and is basically pretty good.

The song’s accompanying video has got over 113,000 views on YouTube during the last 10 days. Given Georgia’s population’s only 4.4m, that’s astonishing.

Clearly the tune didn’t win the election, but surely it helped get a lot of youth voters out? Surely it influenced a lot of young minds in who they would vote for?

It’s good to see a true street anthem like this emerging; there aren’t enough of them.

(There are some amusing remixes of the tune doing the rounds. Go here for loads of them. The Me and My Monkey one’s worth starting with. Also, apologies to @EllenBarryNYT for ripping off her original article).