WHEN?: 8pm (UK time) Saturday 22 May 2021
WHERE?: Rotterdam Ahoy
WHERE CAN I WATCH?: BBC1 in the UK
The 2nd 2021 semi final took place on Thursday night and we now have 10 entries including Iceland’s Daði Freyr (pictured above) to add to the 16 finalists – but what results will they earn on the all important Saturday night?
- Read on for reasons including our predictions for how all 26 finalists including the UK will do
- CYPRUS Elena Tsagrinou El Diablo (Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thornfeldt, Laurell Barker, Oxa, Thomas Stengaard) PREDICTION: 11-15th
Show openers don’t tend to do well in recent years and we feel this has been thrown under the bus too early. Co-writer Thornfeldt also had credits on the final entries for Sweden and San Marino. The sound is Born This Way era Lady Gaga which is very pleasing to these ears. It had the potential to even outdo Cyprus’ best ever result of runner-up with Fuego in 2018 but we think it will really struggle from this position.
2. ALBANIA Anxhela Peristeri Karma (Olti Curri, Kledhi Bahiti) PREDICTION: 21-26th
Peristeri was 1 of only 5 artists in the 2nd semi not scheduled to appear in 2020 and Karma has been revamped from its selection with Greek producer Dimitris Kontopoulos at the helm. It’s a fine Balkan pop ballad well-performed but we were surprised it made the final at Denmark’s expense.
3. ISRAEL Eden Alene Set Me Free (Amit Mordechai, Ido Netzer, Noam Zaltin, Ron Carm) PREDICTION: 21-26th
Eden once again is a better performer than the song she is singing in 2021 but Set Me Free is an improvement on 2020’s Feker Libi. It’s received a revamp before the contest and is the better for it. We predicted all but 1 of the Semi 1 qualifiers and think the whistle notes probably shaded Croatia out of this final.
4. BELGIUM Hooverphonic The Wrong Place (Alex Callier, Charlotte Foret) PREDICTION: 16-20th
Generally Eurovision’s returning acts have improved their 2021 offerings and this is perhaps no more dramatically in evidence than with Hooverphonic. We thought they’d scrape into the final last year but this is a much more satisfying song seemingly detailing an unsatisfactory one-night stand from a woman’s point of view and the ownership of a ‘Johnny Cash T-shirt’. If you’re looking for something a little different, grown-up and sounding a little like a speeded up Portishead this is recommended.
5. RUSSIA Manizha Russian Woman (Ari Avni, Ori Kaplan, Manizha) PREDICTION: 11-15th
Little Big’s poptastic bop Uno was our favourite 2020 entry and so we were a little disappointed to see the band, which had attracted some controversy along the way, not feature this year. Manizha is a Russian/Tajik singer/songwriter who supports the LGBT community, campaigns against domestic violence and studied in London. Staging includes a remote-controlled Russian doll dress which Manizha climbs inside for parts of the song as it is propelled. Inventive and enhances the performance no end.
6. MALTA Destiny Je Me Casse (Amanuel Dermont, Malin Christin, Nicklas Eklund, Pete Baringer) PREDICTION: 1-5th
2020’s All Of My Love was our pick to have won in that year and, while the ballad drew criticism for not being individual enough, this time Destiny, a former Junior Eurovision winner, has gone uptempo and quirky with an entry we’re not quite sure does her impressive live vocal much favours. Its stab at 1920s swing reminds these ears of ill-fated 2015 UK entry Still In Love With You by Electro Velvet. The lyric’s female empowerment theme (‘If I show some skin, don’t say I’m giving in’) however is bang on trend and this is still a potential contest winner although the early position in the running order raises eyebrows.
7. PORTUGAL The Black Mamba Love Is On My Side (Pedro Tatanka Caldeira) PREDICTION: 6-10th
Often the biggest clue to how successful Eurovision entries will be is one’s reaction to them on 1st listen. Particularly if it’s an entry you know little about. We didn’t rate this much at all when we 1st heard it, but for us it’s probably the Contest’s biggest grower now we’ve really lived with the entries. There’s an asexual, Prince-like quality to the voice and the music too could sit happily in the Purple one’s canon.
8. SERBIA Hurricane Loco Loco (Nemanja Antonic/Sanja Vucic) PREDICTION: 11-15th
Lyricist Vucic is 1 of 3 members of the girl group and finished 18th in the 2016 final singing a song she didn’t write called Goodbye (Shelter). She co-wrote last year’s entry Hasta La Vista which we felt was a finalist but we have a sneaking regard for the belting pop bounce that is Loco Loco and feel it could do even better. Much better vocals than you’d normally expect from a song of this type.
9. UK: James Newman Embers (James Newman, Conor Blake, Danny Shah, Tom Hollings, Samuel Brennan) PREDICTION: 16-20th
Last year we predicted a similar finish for Newman’s Last Breath although its title was unfortunate given the global pandemic that was to follow its unveiling. Embers is once again co-written by Newman, brother of pop star John Newman, but with a different writing team and benefits from being upbeat and sounding modern enough to sit happily in the Radio 1 schedules. We’d hope live performance would be a strength yet while Newman’s vocals are good the performance just looks a little awkward.
10. GREECE Stefani Last Dance (Dimitris Kontopoulos, Pavlos Manolis, Anastasios Rammos, Diveno, Gabriel Russell, Egon Parreniasi, Loukas Damianakos, Sharon Vaughn) PREDICTION: 16-20th
Of all the 80s-influenced entries this year, we think this is the 1 to most likely cut through with televoters. Stefania has retained the team behind her 2020 entry, which we thought was a finalist, and Last Dance is full of memorable and catchy backing vocals which we think will propel this to an impressive result. Not quite as well performed by Stefania as we would have liked.
11. SWITZERLAND Gjon’s Tears Tout l’univers (All The Universe) (Gjon Muharremaj, Nina Sampermans, Wouter Hardy, Xavier Michel) PREDICTION: 1-5th
Nice that the final 2 songs in the 2nd semi were not in English. We didn’t much appreciate the love for Gjon’s Tears in 2020 and feel so again this year where this has drifted in the betting since rehearsals began. He’s an admirable falsetto that will undoubtedly be impressively performed but in a year when we’re looking for a little fun this is worthy but not 1 we’ll be cutting a rug to in our home discoteque.
12. ICELAND Dadi Freyr & Gagnamanid 10 Years (Dadi Freyr Petursson) PREDICTION: 1-5th
A song of the week for us in March, we said: ‘it’s musically where Freyr is taking a risk which is how 10 Years might have alienated his Eurovision fanbase who haven’t greeted this with open arms because it is essentially a song without a strong hook.’ We thought Think About Things would finish 3rd in 2020 and that this effort is so assured, lyrically a familiar theme without being a repeat, that this is the song we think is most likely to win in 2021.
13. SPAIN: Blas Cantó Voy a quedarme (I will stay) (Blas Cantó, Dan Hammond, Leroy Sanchez, Dangelo Ortega) PREDICTION: 21-26th
A song of the week for us in February, this is so much better than 2020’s Universo. We speak Spanish and have written previously about our love of all things Spanish and so may be more enthusiastic than those without such a predisposition but this is performed well and with passion and we’re moved by it. It does break the golden rule of singing a ballad reflective of the times in which we’re living however.
14. MOLDOVA Natalia Gordienko Sugar (Mikhail Gutseriev, Sharon Vaughn, Dimitris Kontopoulos, Philipp Kirkorov) PREDICTION: 21-26th
Gordienko definitely got the memo about the R’n’B horns which feature heavily in this track as well as a number of others in 2021’s crop. Her songwriting team has plenty of Eurovision experience and she herself finished 20th in the 2006 final in Athens which we saw performing the song Loca with Arsenium and Connect-R.
15. GERMANY Jendrik I Don’t Feel Hate (Jendrik Sigwart, Christoph Oswald) PREDICTION: 21-26th
Novelty can be brilliant at Eurovision – we’re thinking Verka Serduchka – but, given the weight of the jury vote, rarely succeeds as spectacularly as in Eurovision’s golden past. I Don’t Feel Hate has an admirable sentiment, is catchy and will be remembered but we fear the abiding recollection might just be how twee it is.
16. FINLAND Blind Channel Dark Side (Aleksi Kaunisvesi, Joonas Porko, Joel Hokka, Niko Moilanen, Olli Matela) PREDICTION: 16-20th
There’s always a rock song that does well at Eurovision and we thought ahead of rehearsals that this was the pick of the bunch this year although it’s not to our personal taste. But Italy surpassed rehearsal expectations and now shades this. We much preferred the song that finished runner up in UMK in 2021.
17. BULGARIA Victoria Growing Up Is Growing Old (Victoria Georgieva, Maya Nalani, Helena Larsson, Oliver Bjorkvall) PREDICTION: 11-15th
Victoria was the most successful of the female artists giving us Billie Eilish feels in 2020 and, despite nonsense title Tears Getting Sober, we felt last year’s entry was good enough to finish 2nd. Stylistically, little has changed and while we love the opening lyric (‘Playing Tetris with my feelings, trying to keep them all inside’), the lack of progression feels just a little too self-satisfied in company which is generally much improved.
18. LITHUANIA The Roop Discoteque (Ilkka Wirtanen, Kalle Lindroth, Laisvūnas Černovas, Mantas Banišauskas, Robertas Baranauskas and Vaidotas Valiukevičius) PREDICTION: 6-10th
A song of the week for us in January, we think Discoteque is Lithuania’s best shot at a Eurovision victory since they first competed in 1994. We saw LT United finish 6th in Athens, Greece, in 2006 and, although The Roop’s 2020 entry was not to our tastes, we think this year’s entry is a quirky twist on lockdown life that is catchy and could resonate. We said: ‘The band has history and has already released 2 albums and the video displays a Tik Tok influence while its formation dancing reminds of last year’s big Eurovision winner-that-never-was Daði Freyr.‘
19. UKRAINE Go_A Shum (Taras Shevchenko, Kateryna Pavlenko) PREDICTION: 6-10th
Shum is much stronger than 2020’s Solevay and we think this electro folk entry will stand out in a good way and the band’s striking vocals are far better utilised here and if Europe is looking for different as well as reflecting its region this should find its audience. Much to recommend it but we just find the vocal a little shrill.
20. FRANCE Barbara Pravi Voilà (Barbara Pravi, Igit, Lil Poe) PREDICTION: 1-5th
A quality entry with a singer pleading for attention. It’s quirky and reminds these ears of the great Patricia Kaas who finished 8th in Moscow in 2009 with Et s’il fallait le faire (And if you had to do it). At the time of writing, it is 2nd favourite with the bookmakers and, while we can see juries going for it, we’re less convinced voters at home will be swayed by it.
21. AZERBAIJAN Efendi Mata Hari (Amy van der Wel, Luuk van Beers, Tony Cornelissen, Josh Earl) PREDICTION: 16-20th
Efendi hasn’t messed with her USP which we felt would see her top 10 in 2020 with the slightly more pleasing Cleopatra. Mata Hari once again draws on a strong historical figure for its inspiration – this time also with a Eurovision connection – from 1 of the writers of her previous entry. It achieves the trick of being new, pleasing and familiar as well as being 1 of the better female-fronted bangers yet also incorporating ethnic elements. Boasting backing vocals that could have come straight from Boney M’s Rasputin or Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.
22. NORWAY Tix Fallen Angel (Andreas Haukeland) PREDICTION: 6-10th
Melodi Grand Prix 2021 runner-up Monument by KEiiNO was a song of the week for us in January and Tix’s late switch into English pre-final appeared to be the clincher sealing its victory. While the performance and visuals felt a little too obvious, the song and artist (a co-author of Ava Max‘s smash Sweet But Psycho) are class. Underestimate this at your peril. It needs work to be a winner but is 1 of a number of potential victors.
23. NETHERLANDS: Jeangu Macrooy Birth Of A New Age (Jeangu Macrooy, Pieter Perquin) PREDICTION: 21-26th
The last time the host country had a top 10 finish was in Sweden in 2016 when Frans was 5th with If I Were Sorry. Generally hosts seem more preoccupied with the overall show rather than focusing on their entry and Macrooy reminds these ears of a Jools Holland act: both quality and worthy. Birth Of A New Age is braver lyrically than Sweden’s entry Voices and, we imagine, shares a similar pro-change sentiment.
24. ITALY: Måneskin Zitti e buoni (Shut up and good) (Damiano David, Ethan Torchio, Thomas Raggi, Victoria De Angelis) PREDICTION: 1-5th
A curve ball from Italy in the form of a band with an effortlessly charismatic male lead singer sporting blue lipstick, a White Stripes-ish bassline and a lead guitar swagger reminiscent of a young Rolling Stones. Finland’s Blind Channel is its big competition in rock terms and Italy’s finest has a running order position well away from them in the final. We’re enjoying their look and attitude more than Blind Channel’s – although not to our tastes especially – and so we could be downplaying its chances considerably.
25. SWEDEN Tusse Voices (Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thörnfeld, Anders Wrethov) PREDICTION: 11-15th
Voices was the runaway winner in Melodifestivalen this year as well as the highest charting entry in Sweden but we preferred Dotter’s Little Tot which finished 4th. It’s Voices bland lyrics which have disappointed us most about this entry and we think Tusse’s best chance at qualification was to really go for a big, emotive performance. This benefits hugely in this running order coming shortly after the similarly-themed Dutch entry.
26. SAN MARINO Senhit feat Flo Rida Adrenalina (Chanel Tukia, Tramar Dillard, Jimmy Thornfeldt, Joy Deb, Kenny Silverdiquel, Linnea Deb, Malou Linn, Eloise Ruotsalainen, Senhit Zadik Zadik, Suzi Pancenkov and Thomas Stengaard) PREDICTION: 6-10th
Italian singer Senhit finished 16th in her semi final while representing San Marino in 2011 with Stand By and was last year due to return singing Freaky!. We described it as ‘easily the country’s best ever Eurovision entry’ and thought it would place 16th to 20th. The country has only made the final twice at nine attempts, with its best result in 2019 when Serhat finished 19th. Senhit is appearing with *checks notes* chart topping American rapper Flo Rida and Adrenalina is a female-fronted banger with an outside shot at winning the Contest.