The Alternative Eurovision Review

I could have spent Saturday night washing my hair, but I thought I’d be better providing an irrelevant and ill-informed insight into Eurovision 2021 which literally no one asked for. Broadcast live into my sitting room where I’m spending a Saturday evening in my own company, the following lays out my live reactions to all the acts at this year’s contest. With a cup of milky tea in hand and a wash on let’s get this wild party started.

Introduction:

Its 8pm and Graham Norton’s dulcet tones narrates scenes from Rotterdam which is hosting this year. I’m not a huge admirer of Norton as a commentator, but I’m willing to give him a chance to change my mind. To be fair, I think this is more a reflection on Terry Wogan’s absence since 2008 who was the voice of Eurovision when I first started watching it with my parents.

Each act then scurries onto the stage, starting with Cyprus. I’ve always been puzzled by the inclusion of non-European countries in the competition, although the island nation is a member of the EU. Azerbaijan and Israel’s participation are less easy to explain, but the more the merrier I suppose. Australia’s recent involvement in the contest doesn’t make any geographical sense at all, so I should probably relax a little (Australia didn’t qualify for the final this year).

There are more pressing questions to be answered anyway. Why is Flo Rida walking on with San Marino? Will the Netherlands do an Ireland and enter a terrible act to rule themselves out from hosting for a second year running? How many cups of tea will I go through? The tension is palpable.

Cyprus: “El Diablo” by Elena Tsagrinou

The Dutch are thankfully keeping to a tight schedule and were off to a solid start with Cyprus. I’ve missed the wee promotion videos before each performance and it’s nice to see a different European city than Aberdeen for a change. I got slight Dua Lipa vibes on the chorus and may just download this on Spotify later because it is annoyingly catchy – 7/10.

Albania: “Karma” by Anxhela Peristeri

There was a very dark and ominous beginning to this song before Peristeri suddenly appeared in a big plume of smoke. It’s all very dramatic, but it’s a powerful performance in her own language from the Albanian – 6.5/10.

Israel: “Set Me Free” by Eden Alene

Onto song three and there’s some interesting dance moves and outfits from the Israelis. I always get in trouble when I use my arms to complement my jerky dance moves, but these professionals seem to get away with it. Must be good at dancing or something. Anyway, the outfit change halfway through was cool, but I thought the song was a wee bit dull. I sensed strong department store music vibes from it – 5.5/10.

Belgium: “The Wrong Place” by Hooverphonic

After three songs without them on stage, we’re finally seeing some musical instruments. Hooverphonic are the oldest competitors in this year’s event and the lead singer strongly resembles Lulu. The style doesn’t strike me as very Eurovision like and it’s one of those tunes that starts well but trails off slightly when it gets to the chorus – 6.5/10.   

Russia: “Russian Woman” by Manizha

There’s a strong message there and I loved the energy. Based purely on the music though and it’s getting an average score from me. It’s worth remembering at this point that I have a poor taste in music and that my judgement definitely reflects badly on me and not Manizha – 5.5/10.

Malta: “Je Me Casse” by Destiny

This was a definite foot tapper and I’m a strong advocate of the upper body’s importance in dancing. I enjoyed that, despite finding it slightly terrifying that Destiny Chukunyere was born in 2002. I’ll be singing Je me Casse sassily to everyone I come across next week. Let’s go and confuse some elderly people in Lidl on Monday. I’ll have my mask on, so they won’t see my mouth moving – 7.5/10.

Portugal: “Love is on My Side” by Black Mamba

Pedro Tatanka has a cracking voice, and I really enjoyed the black and white section of the performance. Some great dress sense going on and Tatanka handles his guitar well. What’s not to like? – 7.5/10.  

Serbia: “LOCO LOCO” by Hurricane

Unfortunately, the standard inevitably drops again. I was willing this one to be a slow burner, but it didn’t really improve. They deserve some marks for their exhaustive dance moves though – 4/10.

United Kingdom: “Embers” by James Newman

Was that Jon Newman? No, but it wis his slightly less talented brother and you can tell they’re related because there’s a definite similarity there. Its not the worse UK performance I’ve seen in recent weeks, but that’s a low benchmark to judge this against. There was an awful lot of hardcore finger pointing going and it was pretty repetitive. I’m not saying I would have fared any better by the way. I hope he at least managed to acquire some free beverages before his flight home – 4/10.

Greece: “Last Dance” by Stefania

Another contestant who’s younger than me. Shit I’m old! The dancing with the laundry and special effects was unusual but I liked the purple theme – 6/10.

Switzerland: “Tout l’Univers” by Gjon’s Tears

This isn’t the performers’ fault but there were too many camera angles! Cracking voice on him, but it’s not quite for me. Returning to that recurring theme, and the dancing towards the end has major Finn in a nightclub on his own at 2am vibes. So, respect to Gjon Muharrema for that if nothing else – 6/10.

Iceland – “10 Years” by Daði og Gagnamagnið

Thought I was going to enjoy this, and I did. You get the feeling these guys would be good fun at a party. I loved the handheld keyboards and synchronized jumpers. The keyboardists’ enthusiasm reminds me of when I thought I was genius because I could play “I Just Can’t Get Enough” in music class. With such a good entry before last year’s competition was cancelled and with not being able to perform live this year because of Covid-19 cases in the band, Iceland have faced lots of adversity. There was a great pause for effect at the end as well – 7/10.   

Spain – “Voy a Quedarme” by Blas Cantó

There was a big moon, but don’t worry we didn’t see Blas’ bare buttocks at any point which was good because he gave his Mum a shout out at the end. It was really atmospheric, but I feel it was slightly ruined by the Usher style high pitch screaming towards the finale. No need Blas man – 6.5/10.

Moldova – “Sugar” by Natalia Gordienko

Seemingly Natalia and her backing dancers were trying to get a passing lorry to honk at them with all the arm pumping. It was promising in parts, but I found the chorus slightly disappointing, and the backing dancers were a bit frightening – 6/10.

Germany – “I don’t feel hate” by Jendrik

Seemingly Germany have done an Ireland this year. Some hardcore ukulele action and a lady in a massive hand costume means this one scores high for comedic affect. It’s a low scorer music wise but is worryingly a bit of a grower after a second listen. Jendrik Sigwart’s positivity is contagious, so I feel bad giving him such a low score – 4.5/10.

Finland – “Dark Side” by Blind Channel

Who hurt you Finland? That was potentially the angriest Eurovision performance I’ve ever seen. Lots of flames and shouting mean it’s an effective musical pick me up as my bed starts to call, but I’m struggling to judge this one. Despite its distinctive heavy metal vibes, I don’t feel like it had that much substance – 6/10.

Bulgaria – “Growing Up is Getting Old” by Victoria

There is a major shift again as we go from silly to intense to an emotional and relaxed ballad from the Balkans. I doubt this one will win, but I rate its simplicity and the backstory highly. Maybe I’m just a bit of a softie – 7.5/10.

Lithuania – “Discoteque” by The Roop

Again, Finn’s moves in a nightclub vibe, but stepped up a level. By this point my girlfriend has accidentally lost me in the club or is in hiding. It’s quite catchy and the dancing is well… interesting. 6.5/10.  

Ukraine – “SHUM” by Go_A

Since Verka Serduchka burst onto the Eurovision stage in 2007, I’ve always waited in anticipation for Ukraine’s entry. Unfortunately, no one has quite reached Serduchka’s heights and for me, this was a step in the wrong direction. Very repetitive, but I enjoyed the intense flute action and sudden dramatic changes in pace – 5/10.

France – “Voilà” by Barbara Pravi

It’s hard to believe that France haven’t won the competition since 1977 when I feel often singing just sounds better when it’s in French. The simple stage effects were quite relaxing and in my opinion, that was one of the better performances so far – 7/10.

Azerbaijan – “Mati Hari” by Efendi

“Ma ma ma marti Hari!” – That is undoubtedly going to be stuck in my head now. The dramatic fire at the end was good, but despite its catchiness it was a bit average really – 5.5/10.

Norway – “Fallen Angel” by TIX

Four demons chained to an angel with sunglasses and a hairband on. Again, what’s not to like? The tune was more than bearable as well, and I got major Westlife vibes from it. I’m going to give it an unprecedented high score because everyone deserves a good pop ballad in their lives. TIX’s story is also admirable in that he was bullied for having Tourette’s Syndrome when he was younger and called “Tics”, which he then turned into his stage name. – 8/10.

Netherlands – “Birth of a New Age” by Jeangu Macrooy

This was a catchy one and received an expected positive reaction from the home crowd. I thought it was quite middle of the road though – 6/10.

Italy – “Zitti e buoni” by Måneskin

I wanted this to be good after Graham Norton was a bit mean about it in his intro. The leather costumes were cool, and it was a bit less angry than Finland’s earlier offering. Maybe that’s because the weather is a bit better down on the Mediterranean coast– 5/10.

Sweden – “Voices” by Tusse

Another artist younger than myself and my age is showing as my endurance starts to waver during the penultimate performance of the evening. Top marks for stage effects though and that was actually quite enjoyable – 6.5/10.

San Marino – “Adrenalina” by Senhit

Flo Rida featured on this track for a reason I’ve yet to find any rationale behind. Apparently, he was just invited along for the ride which provided me with an unwelcome throwback to first year at secondary school. In all fairness, the Sammarinese don’t have an abundance of choice with a population similar in size to that of Dumfries. Mind you, if the Doonhamers did enter, they would potentially have Calvin Harris at their disposal – 6/10.  

Final Verdict:

On a predictably brutal night for Britain, my preferences deviated dramatically from the opinions of the wider European public. Italy were eventually crowned winners, while France and Switzerland remained in the running until the closing stages of the voting.

Meanwhile, Amanda Holden did wonders for the UK’s reputation by failing to read the room spectacularly as she presented our votes. Her joke about not understanding the difference between speaking Dutch and German wasn’t a great look at all. If Flat F became an independent state however, and in the absence of my more sensible flatmate, our points would be handed out as follows:

12 pts – Norway

10pts – Malta

8pts – Portugal

(Excerpt picture from BBC News)

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