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Eurovision is back and it is better than ever! Last year saw the much-loved song contest cancelled for the first time since its founding in 1956 and its absence was undoubtedly felt. This celebration of European music continues to increase in popularity, even inspiring a Will Ferrell film released last year, filling the gap of the cancelled contest. As we look ahead to a more positive future, Eurovision 2021 may the party that welcomes us back to the world; even though 2020 was a strong year, featuring hits such as Iceland’s Think About Things and Russia’s Uno, all artists have utilised lockdown to bring songs that make this year one of the most competitive in recent Eurovision history. Now is the time to get excited!
Any student Eurovision fan will be aware that the contest has a fun habit of falling neatly amidst the chaos of exam season. To serve as a positive distraction from studying, the week-long contest has its first semi-final on the 18th of May, its second on the 20th May and the grand final on the 22nd of May. For those in the UK, the two semi-finals will be shown on BBC Four, with the grand final being aired on BBC One. Graham Norton will be returning to comment on the final for UK viewers, hopefully providing all the quips and catty remarks that we missed last year! Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills will also be providing commentary, with Chelcee Grimes being a new addition to the UK Eurovision hosting team. Rotterdam is the host city after Duncan Lawrence won with the hit song Arcade in 2019.
Although the contest is definitely going ahead, it will not be a normal year. The producers originally proposed three plans for this year, with an entirely normal contest being ‘Plan A’, ‘Plan B’ involving the acts performing in Rotterdam with a limited audience, and ‘Plan C’ requiring countries to stream their songs without travelling to the venue. Naturally, ‘Plan A’ has long been off the cards, but thankfully, ‘Plan B’ appears to be going to plan! Photos have emerged of the Covid-19 testing sites at the Rotterdam Ahoy arena and all appears safe, clean and efficient. The audience will be missed, as will their flag-waving and voting reactions, but the fact that we have a contest this year is a testament to all those involved in making it a reality in light of all this adversity.
Anyone who has ever watched Eurovision will know that the songs can be rather extraordinary, for better or for worse. With Ukrainian drag queens, British flight attendants and Finnish zombie-beasts having graced the iconic stage, this year is comparatively tame. According to the odds of Eurovision World, Malta is favourite to win with an upbeat pop song called Je Me Casse, exploring female sexual freedom and independence. The song is sung by Destiny, who British viewers may recognise from Britain’s Got Talent series 11. She has already won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2015, so maybe she is destined to be an all-round Eurovision queen? France and Switzerland are close on Malta’s heels, with the songs Voila by Barbara Pravi and Tout l’univers by Gjon’s Tears. Both are strong songs, making this year far too impressive to call a runaway winner. Voila has a distinctly French style and Tout l’univers is a building atmospheric ballad with impressive high notes. Could this be the year for a francophone winner?
However, let’s be real … most do not watch Eurovision for well-written, intellectual songs. We want fireworks, camp vibes and Euro-trash. Fortunately, this year has something to keep everyone entertained. Of all places, San Marino (a tiny landlocked country surrounded by Italy), is planning to bring Flo Rida to the Eurovision stage. He features on the track Adrenalina by Senhit and they have claimed that if he is allowed to travel, he will be there. Covid-19 has denied us many things – it cannot take the possibility of Flo Rida representing San Marino away from us as well! Germany’s song called I Don’t Feel Hate by Jendrik is full to the brim of quirk; with a unique music video, it will be interesting to see what they do with the staging. Equally, the return of last year’s favourites Daði og Gagnamagnið with their new song “10 Years” will surely be a fun moment full of shameless dad-dancing.
Covid-19 aside, this year has been one of the most controversial in a while. This year will see iconic Eurovision countries such as Armenia, Hungary and Montenegro not competing in the contest for a variety of reasons. Armenia, as well as struggling with the pandemic, has been in conflict with Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. There are rumours that the Hungarian broadcaster withdrew on the basis that Eurovision was too LGBTQ+ friendly. On that note, Russia’s singer, Manizha, has received backlash from Russian conservatives for her feminist song Russian Woman and been discriminated against on account of her Tajikistani heritage. She has openly supported the LGBTQ+ community and identifies as a feminist. In continuing to capture the complexity of Europe, the contest is an interesting microcosm of wider political and social changes taking place.
Politics aside, there is lots of great music to get excited about! Even the UK has entered a good song! James Newman will be representing the UK with the song Embers; it is a high-energy dance song that would be a moment in a club. This song seems like it would benefit from a large audience buzz so a restricted crowd may hinder the song on the night. Though, there is little doubt that this is a huge step up for the UK after finishing 26th in 2019. Last place is unlikely to be repeated this year and who knows, maybe the UK will finally know what life is like being on the left-hand side of the scoreboard. We shall see!
There you have it! Hopefully, this article will have caught you up on everything you need to know about Eurovision 2021. So far, the winner is impossible to call, making this year an absolute must-watch. Even though it will be different to the usual Eurovision we all know and love, the competition is fierce, serving us the contest we all deserve after the events of the past year.