WHEN?: Saturday 22 May 2021
WHERE?: Ahoy Rotterdam
HOW TO WATCH?: 8pm UK time BBC1
The 1st 2021 semi final took place on Tuesday night and we now have 10 entries including Cyprus’ Elena Tsagrinou (pictured above) to add to the pre-qualified finalists – but what results will they earn on the all important Saturday night?
- Read on for reasons including our predictions for where each final entry will finish
BELGIUM Hooverphonic The Wrong Place (Alex Callier, Charlotte Foret) PREDICTION: 6-10th
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.
CYPRUS Elena Tsagrinou El Diablo (Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thornfeldt, Laurell Barker, Oxa, Thomas Stengaard) PREDICTION: 1-5th
Co-writer Thornfeldt also had credits on the entries for Sweden in the 1st semi and San Marino in the 2nd. The sound is Born This Way era Lady Gaga which is very pleasing to these ears. There were near-whispered elements which were difficult to perform live but were pulled off and this has the potential to even outdo Cyprus’ best ever result of runner-up with Fuego in 2018.
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.
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.
RUSSIA Manizha Russian Woman (Ari Avni, Ori Kaplan, Manizha) PREDICTION: 6-10th
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 but we’re finding little else to convert us to her cause. 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.
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.
UK: James Newman Embers (James Newman, Conor Blake, Danny Shah, Tom Hollings, Samuel Brennan) PREDICTION: 11-15th
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 and, although not a contender for the win in our ears, we’re hopeful for a finish on the left-hand side of the scoreboard.
AZERBAIJAN Efendi Mata Hari (Amy van der Wel, Luuk van Beers, Tony Cornelissen, Josh Earl) PREDICTION: 21-26th
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.
FRANCE Barbara Pravi Voilà (Barbara Pravi, Igit, Lil Poe) PREDICTION: 11-15th
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.
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.
ITALY: Måneskin Zitti e buoni (Shut up and good) (Damiano David, Ethan Torchio, Thomas Raggi, Victoria De Angelis) PREDICTION: 6-10th
A curve ball from Italy in the form of a band with a 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 will be hoping for 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.
LITHUANIA The Roop Discoteque (Ilkka Wirtanen, Kalle Lindroth, Laisvūnas Černovas, Mantas Banišauskas, Robertas Baranauskas and Vaidotas Valiukevičius) PREDICTION: 1-5th
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.‘
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 Voicesand, we imagine, shares a similar pro-change sentiment.
NORWAY Tix Fallen Angel (Andreas Haukeland) PREDICTION: 11-15th
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.
SWEDEN Tusse Voices (Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thörnfeld, Anders Wrethov) PREDICTION: 16-20th
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 because polite and straight could see him fail to make the final for his home country for the 1st time since Anna Bergendahl in 2010. Did the juries save Tusse?
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.