The country will be tuning in to Eurovision fever this week – that is, if interest in the event ever really fades in Greece before and after the annual European pop song contest. The show, to be staged in Helsinki on May 12 this year, has exceeded previous confines and has become part of mainstream culture in recent years – at least in Greece. Three days before the upcoming Eurovision song contest, one of the Greek capital’s leading alternative music stores, Vinyl Microstore (34 Didotou) is organizing Yurovision, the well-informed outlet’s own indie-music version of the glitzy pop contest at the Gagarin club (205 Liosion, Athens). Though the alternate event’s title seems to stem entirely from Eurovision, another element is also at play – Yuri, the music store’s friendly canine mascot. Commenting on Yurovision, its organizer insisted that the event was not intended as any anti-Eurovision offensive. «With the [Eurovision] competition in mind, we thought about inviting young artists and groups to present their work,» explained Nektarios Pappas, head at Vinyl Microstore. Participation exceeded all expectations. A total of 45 songs were submitted. But the real surprise lay elsewhere. «We were greatly impressed by the quality of the entries. This is a very positive indication of where the local alternative scene stands today,» noted Pappas. The tricky task of trimming the submissions down to a finalists list featuring 12 songs was given to a four-member panel of well-known local music critics and radio producers – Argyris Zilos, Christos Daskalopoulos, Dimitris Politakis and Christos Karras. «We didn’t want to set up an evening that mocks the original contest,» Pappas explained. «Eurovision itself is not a problem. What really makes an impression is the attention we’ve paid to it here in Greece over recent years,» he added. This attitude reflects the spirit inherent in the 12 songs culled for Wednesday’s Yurovision final. Judging by their songs, the finalists are certainly not joking around.