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Czech xenophobic band Ortel nominated by public again for music award

26.11.2016 9:12
The lead singer for the Czech neo-Nazi band Ortel (left) was photographed participating in this anti-Romani march on 24 August 2013 in Plzeň, which was attended by approximately 150 neo-Nazis. (Source: csaf.cz)
The lead singer for the Czech neo-Nazi band Ortel (left) was photographed participating in this anti-Romani march on 24 August 2013 in Plzeň, which was attended by approximately 150 neo-Nazis. (Source: csaf.cz)

The award associated with the Czech Republic's popular music poll, the "Czech Nightingale" (Český slavík), sponsored by Czech mineral water company Mattoni, will announce its results on live television today, Saturday, 26 November, in Prague. The surprise entry in this year's poll was the nomination of singer Joakim Brodén of the Swedish power metal band Sabaton.

Just like last year, the top six finalists in the band category also include the controversial band Ortel. Its singer, Tomáš Ortel, is also among the top six nominees for male vocalist once again.

The band Ortel is connected with the ultra-right and came in second place last year. Its lead singer came in third place in the male vocalist category last year.

This year's surprise male vocalist nominee, Brodén, has dual Czech-Swedish citizenship and a Czech passport (his mother is from Prague). Jaroslav Těšínský of the Musica Bohemica agency, who directs the contest, told the Czech News Agency yesterday when he publicized the nominations that Brodén's nomination might be "surprising", but that it was fully in accordance with the rules of the poll.

Brodén and Sabaton are the authors of a song called "Far from the Fame", which is about Czechoslovak airman Karel Janoušek. During the Second World War, Janoušek became an air marshal in Britain, and after the war he was imprisoned by the Communists because of his service.

From 1995 to 1999, Brodén was the keyboard player for the band Stormwind, then established the Sabaton group, in which he now just sings. Sabaton's tour for its next album, "The Last Stand", will be launched at Prague's Tipsport Arena in early March 2017.

As for the final six nominees in the category of female vocalist this year, they are, in alphabetical order, Anna K., Monika Absolonová, Lucie Bílá, Ewa Farna, Marta Jandová and Lucie Vondráčková. Among male vocalists, those competing are Brodén, Michal David, Karel Gott, Tomáš Klus, Richard Krajčo and Tomáš Ortel.

The bands nominated are Chinaski, Kabát, Kryštof, Olympic, Ortel and Slza. In the category of "Nightingales without Borders", which honors the most popular Slovak band or performer in the Czech Republic, the top three nominees are Elán, Horkýže slíže and last year's winner, No Name.

The controversial band Ortel, whose critics accuse it of singing xenophobic lyrics against minorities, became the second most popular group in the country during last year's poll, which was the 50th anniversary of the contest, and its frontman Tomáš Ortel also came in third in the male vocalist category. That outcome sparked a great deal of discussion on social networks and elsewhere.

Experts primarily pointed out that the voting might have reflected the wave of fear about immigrants and Islam that swept the Czech Republic last year. During the poll for 2014, the band jumped from 105th place to fourth.

Ortel has called criticism of his group a "divisive campaign". Musica Bohemica commissioned an analysis of last year's poll results by a law firm but did not find an unequivocal reason to interfere with the results.

"That naturally does not mean that we identify with some of the opinions presented in the lyrics or other speech of the musicians," the agency said in a press release. The poll is not responsible for the creation of popular music, the agency said, but just reflects its trends and the mood of society.

Fans can still cast their votes now in the contest for the category of "Discovery of the Year". Those nominated in that category are the singers Pekař, Sebastian and Thom Artway.

The voting will be brought to an end this evening by moderator Ondřej Sokol during the second half of the TV Nova broadcast of the ceremony from the Karlín Musical Theater in Prague. All of the bands and performers will give live performances during the ceremony.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Hudba, Ortel, Racism, Xenophobia



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