The Eurovisionism Awards 2021 (+ my top ten for 2021)

This was such a strong year and it’s proving to be a pivotal one as well – Måneskin’s win feels like an important one. It also means that so many genuinely good songs made it to the final (or were already in there) and also some genuinely good songs got stuck in their respective semis. I’ve had a top ten saved in my Notes app, and have adjusted it a couple of times in the past few months – in the end though, my winners (yes, I have two, it’s my list, sue me) (don’t sue me, I have no money) were pretty much on top and stayed there from the second they were released. Still, some things surprised me while making up this final list… such as…

10: Fyr & Flamme – Øve os på hinanden (Denmark)

Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you – in the end, this really did become a Fyr & Flamme stan account. I really didn’t give this enough credit when this was selected (mainly because 1) I almost NEVER check for Denmark, like, the only time in the past few years I did was Rasmussen in 2018 and 2) the whole debacle with Ben & Tan getting shafted by the broadcaster did NAAAAHT sit right with me) but I found myself gravitating towards this song more and more as the contest came closer, and by the time they actually took to the stage on the Thursday, I was fully on board. I’d kind of been saying “Denmark surprise qualify” as a joke but kinda also not because in the end their slot closing the semi made perfect sense. They were well over with the audience at the Ahoy and after the emotional rollercoaster that was that back half of semi two, Jesper and Laurits were just a lovely breath of retro fresh air with genuine puppyish charm and energy. Watching the qualifiers get announced, one by one, and seeing the light go out in them as it got to that last slot (so many people in the arena were chanting for them as well) and Finland were called in their stead broke me just a little bit. If you want a big, goofy smile on your face, give this a listen. It’s a loving ode to old school Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, the 70s/80s and just a burst of serotonin.

9: Albina – Tick-Tock (Croatia)

Fucking hell, I hate that this got left behind because it’s easily the best song and performer Croatia has sent in years, and Albina just sells the bejesus out of that stage performance. It’s difficult, knowing how close she was to qualifying (literally just a couple of points between her and Tix, who was the tenth qualifier). Visually, it was a complete upgrade from her already iconic Dora performance (the space-y neon visuals for the contest performance were *chef’s kiss* and she looked devastatingly gorgeous – also, I am forever grateful that they picked up on the fan feedback and kept the Croatian part in the song because that hits the spot) and Albina’s vocals were on point. But that’s the nature of this contest, and especially in a year which was as high quality as this one. If you’re into a great summery pop bop, put this on as the soundtrack for your pre-going out preparations (you know, once we’re back to being allowed to go out).

8: Lesley Roy – Maps (Ireland)

My heart fell for Lesley – the morning Maps was released was genuinely a massive moment because it just hit me in the right spots. This would not sound out of place in the trailer for a movie – it sounds epic from the get-go and the my soul is a map/my heart is a compass/I am the road hook feels like the lyrical equivalent of taking a huge, deep breath of fresh air. Lesley should be so proud of everything she achieved in the past two years; that pic of her and Vasil hugging in solidarity after the show finished made my heart hurt for both of them. If you’ve not been able to see your family in the last year during the pandemic (like me) and are feeling particularly homesick, or if you’re going on a run and want some catharsis in the form of a musical accompaniment, this is the song you need to listen to.

7: Anxhela Peristeri – Karma (Albania)

Another one I’d never have expected in here at the start of the season, making it three contests on the trot (discounting 2020 for obv. reasons) that Albania’s entry goes from not really on my radar to one of my ride or die entries on the night. Anxhela didn’t need any dancers – all she needed was that gloriously dramatic voice, a suitable revamp and some impressive smoke effects on the LED. Goosebumps, and utterly shafted by being second in the running order on the night of the final – seriously, stop doing Albania dirty like that! Great song to close your eyes and imagine you’re a 19th century literary heroine running up a windswept hill in a long floaty dress mourning her dead lover to.

It’s a v. specific mood.

6: Benny Christo – Omaga (Czech Republic)

I still have no idea where it all went wrong for Benny (apart from… well, racism among some subsets of televoters). This song has been holding steady in my top 10 ever since it came out because it is exactly the kind of summery dance pop that puts a smile on my face. A song tailor-made for use on Love Island (and as mentioned before, I mean that as the highest compliment) by just the nicest, goofiest, incredibly relatable dude. The video still makes me laugh, his golden jacket was amazing, y’all ain’t got taste, go argue with the wall. Play this loud, all summer, constantly, especially when it inevitably starts pissing it down for some instant sunshine.

5: Senhit feat. Flo Rida – Adrenalina (San Marino)

Fuck that televote score, this was a masterclass in how to do the Eurovision Song Contest in your own special way. From the second she was announced to be among the crop of returnees from 2020, Senhit wasted no time in getting fans on her side with her 12 month #FreakyTriptoRotterdam project. On a day where Eurofans were already riding high off of the eventual winners’ selection at Sanremo, she took what started as an unfortunate song leak that morning and by the evening, she’d singlehandedly turned it into a hype machine of quite incredible proportions. She ALWAYS understood the assignment, whether it was in her cheeky tweets or her pre-party performances (ART, the LOT OF THEM), she even got Strictly’s Graziano Di Prima to bow down to her when she covered Bandido. And then, the cherry on the cake, even better than the day Adrenalina came out: Flo Rida actually being able to make it to Rotterdam and *shock* HAVING AN ABSOLUTE BLAST OF A GOOD TIME???? To the point where he’s now currently planning on working with pretty much every artist from this year?

Listen, I have never been shy about my admiration for Senhit. She’s the queer auntie I wish I had, she’s grown so much as an artist since her first turn on that contest stage, her aesthetic is always *chef’s kiss* and she brought one of the biggest rappers of the late 00’s/early 2010s to the contest AND IT SOMEHOW WORKED? Seriously, you’d never have thought that they’d only met in person for the first time on the Monday of the week of the contest; by the time they got on that stage together they were besties for life and watching them vibe off of each other was a joy. All hail our Most Serene Freaky Queen (and Sir Flo of Rida as well). Listen… anywhere, at any time, basically.

4: Barbara Pravi – Voilà (France)

So good. So French. Such simple staging, but it hit as hard on the Saturday (if not even harder) than it did all the way back in January in the French national final. Barbara deserves the world. She is the next big chanson star. I cried so, so hard from about the first chorus – my French is absolutely abysmal these days but I understood her. I felt every word. I felt seen.

Merci, Barbara. Merci. Best listened to with a wistful but determined look in your eyes – you’ll feel ready to face the world again at that very last triumphant shout of “Voilà!”

3: Go_A – SHUM (Ukraine)

From winning Vidbir 2020 as underdogs to fifth overall and second in the televote (and a HUGE hit on goddamn TikTok) with the first ever Ukrainian entry entirely in Ukrainian, WE LOVE TO SEE IT. I was kind of worried that it wouldn’t translate given that it’s literally a song based on an ancient folk ritual to summon spring but somewhere after the first rehearsals happened and more and more people outside of the Eurofan-bubble discovered SHUM it clicked in my head that Go_A were about to do something spectacular.

And they fucking well did. SHUM WENT OFF in that arena, and with the viewers at home, and it (and Go_A) deserved all of it. For all the people who were complaining about Kateryna being “shrill” (*massive cough* CHERYL BAKER) or saying something about migraines, LOOK WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, BITCH, IT’S THE MILLENIUM WOMAN OF THE YEAR KATERYNA PAVLENKO.

Best enjoyed at the next available Eurovision club night, experienced with a bunch of fans who will literally LOSE THEIR FUCKING MINDS when this comes on (it’s me, I’m bunch of fans)

2: Manizha – Russian Woman (Russia)

Manizha and I – a love story. I basically just fell hard the second I saw that video of her national final performance and the more I discovered about her, the song, the references within it and her general ethos, the more I just desperately wanted her to be my friend. The Rotterdam performance was so fucking powerful I broke the couch cheering her on. She came with fire in her eyes and when she dropped to her knees in reverence of the wall of Russian women (from all walks of life, all sides of the LGBTQ+ spectrum) I cried with joy. This woman risked so much to get her message on stage and I remain in awe. I hope sincerely that 1)she goes on to be a superstar, 2) that people felt seen by her and her message was received. Are you ready for change? Because we are – we are the change!

Listen whenever you need reminding that you’re strong enough.

1: The Roop – Discoteque (Lithuania)/ Måneskin – Zitti e Buoni (Italy)

The Roop has been my number one since Discoteque won PiN and when Zitti e Buoni won Sanremo I just couldn’t find any reasoning to not have a double winner on my list. Both songs resonate hard with me, both bands are special to me in their own ways, both performances made me proud to be a Eurovision fan. That’s that.

Listen to either song when you’re done with rigid societal norms and are ready to step into and own your own power and what makes you unique.

Some awards? Let’s do some awards, shall we…

The SunStroke Project Award for Services to Internet Memes: I mean, this can only go to the one and only Natalia Gordienko. She looked camp in the eye with that glittering smile and gave us “EUROPE, AAWWWWWWWW!” among several other AMAZING moments. She managed to turn UK juror Tom Aspaul into a full blown stan. She stood in front of an audience of millions and happily sang a song about cum, gave us THAT dance routine and managed to be a genuinely lovely presence despite… that man with her. Many thanks to you, Natalia.

Runner-up: Rafał. For his genuine enthusiasm, his dad vibes, and inspiring nuclear levels of god tier shit-posting from Rafał’s Riders.

The Genial Man Award: James Newman. He seemed very loved by his fellow artists, and not many people can take THAT level of knock on such a visible scale and reply with a big smile and a spirited defence of the contest in the UK press. Bless you, James, I hope I get to have a cup of tea with you at some point.

The Champions of the Backstage Inter-Delegation Table Tennis Tournament Award: Måneskin, duh. Apparently they’ve bought a ping pong table for their studio, bless their boots.

The Award for Services to Press Centre-based Livestream Entertainment: It could only go to the woman who was so epic during the Wiwibloggs livestreams she inspired a 200+ tweet thread of her stream highlights: Suzanne Adams. Many thanks to her and Esma for keeping me entertained during several long hours of tedious job seeking. (Special bonus award to @escjohnn, the creator of said thread – your commitment is inspiring).

The Petra Mede Award for Best Host: NIKKI “NIKKITUTORIALS” DE JAGER. Seriously, EBU, you would be missing a trick not having her involved next year, she GETS IT. (special bonus award for the best LookLab episode: the one where Jendrik and Sophia make Nikki cry laughing).

The Award for Most Amazing Person: Shared between Manizha and Vasil Garvanliev. Both overcame so much hate to actually get to the contest and the world and the Eurovision community are both better for having the pair of them in it.

The Award for Biggest Power Move: How about finishing fourth despite not even being in the Ahoy in person (because fuck COVID)? Daði & Gagnamagnið remain better than you.

The Wicked & The Divine Award for Looking Like You’ve Stepped Directly out of The Brain of McKelvie/Gillen: Kateryna Pavlenko,

The Fashion, OOH, AWWW Award For Most Spectacular Outfits: The Roop’s bright yellow outfits, Destiny’s silver dress and pink boots, Manizha’s iconic red boilersuit, Kateryna’s green feathers, Gagnamagnið’s iconic green jumpers, Senhit’s everything, Jeangu’s bright blaze of blue, Damiano’s leather trousers.

And that’s that! Rotterdam 2021 is in the books (thank FUCK). EurovisionAgain will be back at some point, and I will be doing bits of “summer content” (whatever that means) whenever I get time (I’ll probably do a few posts at a time and schedule ahead) to tide us over until a whole new cycle starts on September 1st. God, by the time the next contest wraps (wherever it will be in Italy) my wedding is around the corner…

ANYway. Melfest stuff will probably be back once it comes around, and I’ll see what other national finals I can fit in around wedding planning. I’m going on a wee break, but I’ll be back before you know it.

*lies down in cold dark room with damp cloth on face for several weeks*

And That Was Rotterdam 2021…

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, seriously, when I say that the second those televote points were read out for Italy I was on the floor, sobbing with hysteric joy because THIS WAS HAPPENING???!?!? NO IT COULDN’T POSSIBLY and THEN IT DID I am not even slightly exaggerating. So yes, Italy finally did it. Ten years after they returned to the contest, and with a decade of quality songs and very near misses under the belt, our young heroes from the Sanremo Music Festival took the Eurovision Song Contest by storm and bagged a very deserved win. Måneskin’s Zitti e Buoni – a roaring battle cry about being unapologetically yourself and owning what makes you different, performed by a foursome who met at school and went from busking on the streets of Rome to their breakout on Italian X Factor to making waves with their first EP and album to being selected for Sanremo and winning (the winner(s) of Sanremo can choose whether or not they also take the Eurovision spot – thank god they did) before just DOING THAT – stormed the televote and I for one could not be happier.

It was, to me, a cathartic moment, a breath held collectively by the fandom for two years finally being released in the best way possible. After three frankly incredible shows (GOD I loved that Music Binds Us interval act, GOD it was nice to see Sandra Kim rocking J’aime la vie during the Rock the Roof segment, EUROVISION MAN, WHAT A SHOW) WITH an audience, in a venue that one year ago was a makeshift hospital… it was such a fantastic contest and the fact that it happened at all was such a huge thing after this past year. The EBU, NOS, AVRO TROS and NPO should be proud of themselves – it was a spectacular glimmer of hope after a year of darkness.

But some things do need to change by next year. For one thing, sticking to the 2019 model of the televote reveal (which at the time was already unnecessarily cruel) especially stung this year. For another, there needs to be a switch in how much power the jury has and how many members every jury has. Five per jury is just not enough, and there needs to be a broader representation within the juries. For a third… you may actually want to look into the Kirkorov thing. You know the thing.

ANYway. Here are my top ten moments from Saturday:

  • ROCK AND ROLL NEVER DIEEEEEEEEEEEEES
  • Daði & Gagnamagnið finishing fourth despite COVID having scuppered their plans to actually be there on stage, what a power move, they weren’t even physically present in the arena and still top fived. And they did it all while never compromising what made them unique. Everything about that, I like.
  • Barbara Pravi getting France’s best result in years and also utterly destroying me emotionally, the power she has.
  • Four out of the five songs in the top five were not in English – a win for language.
  • Go_A going from the underdog winners of Vidbir 2020 to finishing fifth with Ukraine’s first ever entry in Ukrainian, all the while picking up so much traction in the last two weeks that they’re now pulling HUGE numbers on Spotify and have got a plethora of new fans happily simping for Kateryna, we love that for them.
  • Just seeing Senhit and Flo Rida walk out on that stage together in the opening flag parade – they made such a good team together, and it speaks to Flo’s professionalism that he managed to come in on the Monday and still not miss a single beat on that stage. I hope he had a lovely time (his trillions of Instagram Stories posts suggest so), and I hope Senhit’s powers grow even stronger and she evolves into some sort of Freaky Empress.
  • El Diablo – perfect opener to the show, Elena looked and sounded AMAZING.
  • MANIZHA DALEROVNA SANGIN HOLY FUCKING SHIT I ACTUALLY BROKE THE COUCH CHEERING HER ON SHE CAME READY AND SHE STAYED READY ARE YOU READY FOR CHANGE BECAUSE WE ARE! WE ARE THE CHANGE! I FELT READY TO PUNCH THE PATRIARCHY TO SPACE YAS GOD.
  • THE ROOP. That’s it, that’s the tweet, Vaidotas is bae, I’m so proud of them, my mum loves them, my joint winner of the year, they were amazing, argue with the wall.
  • Måneskin are a band just at the beginning of their career and already they play like they’re veterans of the business. Their power should frighten and excite you in equal measure – I cannot wait to see where they go next.

We’re off to Italy next year! 31 years after Toto Cutugno won in Zagreb, 30 years after the contest was last held in Italy (aaaaaaaLLORA), most of the country’s already thrown their hat in the ring to host, we might get Amadeus and Fiorello hosting and we might get Achille Lauro in some form, we are truly moving into a blessed era of the contest.

I’ll be back with my top 10 songs of the year at some point this week, and after a short break, I’ll hopefully have some off season content to keep us going until FiKmas 2021. It’s been a joy to be able to cover this particular contest so closely (as close as I could manage without press accreditation) and it’s just a joy to have this all back.

Siamo fuori di testa, ma diversi da loro.

[Edit – PS: I spent a good amount of time making this the other day and then forgot to put it in the post so I’m rectifying that now]

Semi-Final Two: You’re My #Adrenalina

Once again, Bob Ross is our moment of calm before the storm.

Last night we ventured back to the Ahoy for MOAR EUROVISION 2021 – what were my personal highlights/ moments of note from the second semi-final? Let’s find out, shall we…

  • OH JESUS YER MAN’S FALLEN THROUGH THE STAGE (the man in question was breakdancer Redo during the opening performance – he was accompanied by vocalist Eefje de Visser and it was all part of the performance, thank god for that).
  • I like that Senhit’s postcard featured a little clip of her performing Stand By on the Düsseldorf 2011 stage – she’s come so far as an artist and a creative.
  • I also like that Scott Mills said “for the last week or so Senhit has been playing a marvellous PR game teasing us with whether or not Flo Rida was coming to join her on stage” TRY FOR THE LAST TWO AND A HALF MONTHS, MILLS.
  • Incidentally, I was so happy with how well the two of them worked together on stage – Senhit’s little ad-libs playing off of Flo’s verses, his general energy, their adorable hug at the end. Welcome to the Eurovision family, Flo – I hope you’re enjoying your experience and also finding it suitably baffling in equal measure.
  • Sara Cox correctly clocking Uku’s stage attire as “man at wedding”.
  • Sara Cox in general was once again the best thing about our coverage, please her and Rylan for all three shows next year, ta.
  • Benny’s glittery jacket, bring seven of those to my quarters immediately, I will wear one to my wedding if you let me have it (why don’t you let me have it, oh?)
  • Greece… sure thought they were doing something with that staging, didn’t they? God, poor Stefania – her vocals were on point, she looked amazing, the staging had literally nothing to do with anything.
  • I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to SEE THE GUY IN THE GREEN SCREEN SUIT THAT’S HOLDING HER UP, LADS
  • Vincent sure does like hats, according to his postcard at least.
  • He sounded great, he looked great, the staging worked brilliantly, yes I voted for him, no I don’t regret it I’LL JUST GO AND CRY IN A CORNER
  • DAD’S HOME AND HE’S BROUGHT SUNGLASSES FOR EVERYONE!
  • Rafał feeling his Top Gun fantasy in his postcard bless him.
  • You know what time it is…

TIME TO USE MY FAVOURITE PICTURE.

  • Iceland. Even when they’re not physically present, they’re serving everything (I do love how people are like ooh, the contrast from Hatari to Daði & Gagnamagnið like the contrast from Ari Ólafsson to Hatari wasn’t more of a whiplash)
  • I did like their little hotel room set-up (they even got their green room flag lamp) with the two self-isolating members present via iPad (and something that’s only just been brought to my attention but is absolutely awesome: Hulda – the blue haired Gagnamagnið – was holding up a pansexual pride flag! As a pansexual person myself: Hulda, I know you’ll probably never see this but thank you nonetheless.)
  • HU HU HU HURRICANE
  • SO MUCH HAIR
  • I ASCENDED TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PLANE OF BEING
  • A personal highlight for me was whenever the camera cut to Tornike in the green room and he was just vibing, bless him. I’ll always wonder what would have happened if this was Take Me As I Am.
  • Sara Cox nailing the pronunciation of Anxhela’s full name in one<3
  • ANXHELA THOUGH.
  • MY GOD. YAAAAAS.
  • The glow-up in staging from the original FiK version, SUCH DRAMA.
  • I still am agin Portugal, fight me. Top ten with the bookies to win, piss all the way off.

There now follows a short interlude where I talk about Victoria’s song because I feel I need to mention the context in which I was consuming Thursday’s performance. I’ve already mentioned on here how hard this one hit me, not just because I’ve felt the words to that song so hard especially in the last year, but because Victoria has on stage with her a photo of her dad holding her when she was little. Her dad was recently diagnosed with ALS, and mine was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s about ten years ago – I know it’s not at all the same illness but it struck a difficult chord to see her with that photo in the rehearsal clip… and an even more difficult one last night as I’d received some very worrying news regarding my dad’s current state just hours before. So yeah. I basically was crying my eyes out by the first chorus and was nearly on the floor when she whispers that hopeful final lyric into the camera.

  • Which made the absolute WHIPLASH tonal change to Blind Channel almost… welcome? I mean, I still am neither here nor there on the song but it did give me a chance to shake it off.
  • Oh Samanta. Dear sweet Queen. You deserved better. You deserved more. Let Aminata avenge you with a win next year pls.
  • Gjon’s still not clicking with me, sorry friends.
  • YES THIS IS NOW ALSO A FYR & FLAMME STAN ACCOUNT, I VOTED FOR THEM, I SPENT MONEY I CATEGORICALLY DO NOT HAVE TO VOTE FOR THEM BECAUSE I LIKE FUN.
  • I uh…. missed the BMX/Ballet interval act, I’m sorry.
  • The little winners segment which featured Nicole <333 Seek out the Eurovision 60th anniversary documentary (it’s probably on iPlayer) the BBC did a couple of years ago, there’s a lovely segment about her win.
  • My favourite thing about this side of the Big Five + Host segment (which featured France, Spain and the UK) was just how smol Blas and Barbara looked next to Nikki.
  • James just going turbo-Yorkshire, I love him dearly.
  • RUN, IT’S KIRKOROV!
  • Flo Rida is a Eurovision finalist. God I love this contest so much.
  • That whole segment waiting for the last qualifier broke my heart. Watching Jesper and Laurits holding each other while the crowd was screaming DENEMARKEN/DENMARK and then not getting that last spot just destroyed me completely. I genuinely never thought I’d find myself taking up for a Danish entry but these two deserved a spot. Ah well. Such is the nature of this contest.

AND SO!

Our 10 qualifiers

Albania: Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

Serbia: Hurricane Loco Loco

Bulgaria: Victoria – Growing Up is Getting Old

Moldova: Natalia Gordienko – Sugar

Portugal: The Black Mamba – Love is on My Side

Iceland: Daði & Gagnamagnið10 Years

San Marino: Senhit feat. Flo Rida – Adrenalina

Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’univers

Greece: Stefania – Last Dance

Finland: Blind Channel – Dark Side

And we bit a sad goodbye (not farewell) to Uku, Benny, Vincent, Rafał (and his sunglasses), Tornike, Samanta and Jesper and Laurits from Fyr & Flamme.

Tomorrow night! 26 songs! BUT ONLY ONE CAN WIN! Who will be the winner of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest? It’s up to us…

Semi-Final One: SHUM SHUM SHAKE THE ROOM

Have you ever read that Tumblr text post about living in the countryside and randomly having existential moments (“these are old bones and I am merely a passing occupant”)? That’s what this interval reminded me of.

GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK. Bless BBC 4 for having Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting on in the half hour slot before the show started, a nice soothing balm to my shot nerves. Would be nice if the Beeb actually bothered putting all shows on BBC One/Two, but the BBC’s attitude towards the contest is… questionable to say the least. Hey ho, we move.

Some highlights for me from last night:

  • Duncan opening the show with DJ Armin Van Buuren and their song Feel Something – red lasers hell yeah! Also, the lyric I’d rather feel something than be numb, very true bestie.
  • MISS NIKKI TUTORIALS, QUEEN OF MAKE-UP, EUROVISION DIE HARD FAN, GETTING TO CO-HOST THIS SHOW I LOVE THAT FOR HER.
  • The audience. My god, the audience was GAME.
  • The HUGE roar as, after TWO years, The Roop opened the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in the absolute best way possible.
  • Vaidotas is just an immense ball of energy, I am so proud of them all.
  • Ana and Lesley both having an adorable moment of emotions at the end of their songs.
  • MANIZHA. MANIZHA. SHE DID THAT. SHE DID THAT.
  • Absolute respect to Team Oz and Montaigne for that live-on-tape; it worked seamlessly into the night’s proceedings and Montaigne should be so proud of herself.
  • VASIL. VASIL. (not so much Scott Mills… pronouncing it “vessel”? Did I hear that correctly?) VASIL YOU BEAUTIFUL MAN, BEAUTIFUL SOUL, BEAUTIFUL HEART.
  • I ascended to a new level of gay during Elena’s performance, I think I actually passed out when she turned to the camera and whispered “EL DIABLO”.
  • “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
  • Albina: Space Crusader, would watch would watch.
  • The way I went from being wary of Hooverphonic repping my home country to genuinely nearly crying with joy at the sight of Geike adorably flapping at the end of The Wrong Place, I am so proud.
  • Eden hits the highest note ever recorded on the Eurovision stage and then casually shrugs to camera like “hell yeah I just did that and I’ll do it again whenever.”
  • For every shout that went unheard DESTROYED me. I’m happy Roxen took on the challenge of bringing this topic to the stage.
  • A part of me will always wonder what kind of batshit the Azeri delegation actually had planned for Cleopatra (apparently they had to file in a special request to the EBU?!). Just… I wonder.
  • Oh
  • OH MY GOD
  • GO fucking A
  • GO_A DID THAT
  • Seriously, the staging was spectacular and the crowd clapping and stomping during the escalation bit and then losing their absolute minds when the fast bit started blew my mind.
  • Also, THE ENDING WITH THE HALO AROUND KATERYNA I AM DONE, I HAVE ONCE MORE PASSED OUT. THAT’S A CLASSIC EUROVISION MOMENT BORN RIGHT THERE.
  • “LADIES! LADIES! LISTEN TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
  • GODDAMNIT DESTINY IS GOOD.
  • The Power of Water was a bloody good interval act – Davina Michelle for The Netherlands when?

We will now have a short interlude which I like to call: the BBC is taking the piss. Did we need to cut away to a two-part “comedy” sketch based very loosely on Line of Duty? Can we not just enjoy the show as is? Do we need to have Cheryl Baker talk about how she doesn’t understand the contest anymore and wasn’t that Ukrainian lady a bit shrill, and weren’t the Lithuanians a bit too out there – if you want to start doing well at the contest again, the change needs to come from the broadcaster. There have been good strides made this year (thank you Head of Delegation Lee Smithurst) but much more needs to be done because it’s looking more than ever like the BBC is actively embarrassed of the contest. Change doesn’t start and end with the artist and the song – get behind your artist! Counter that snobby coverage, work with the delegation, get people who give a shit involved!

Honestly, thank God for Sara Cox, who did a fabulous job subbing in for Rylan with very short notice (Rylan and Sara for all three shows next year please).

  • ANYway
  • I want to point out here that my fiancé, bless him, has fully joined us in the Eurofandom this year and was singing along to pretty much every song, as well as stressing out during the qualifiers with me. I love you, bb.
  • The little interviews and sneak previews with Måneskin, Jendrik and Jeangu were fun – Måneskin look set to tear the roof off, Jendrik is very Jendrik and the roar from the audience when Jeangu came on warmed my heart.
  • We were both shaking hardcore during the qualifiers – every time the camera cut to Vaidotas in the green room, his eyes teary and stress radiating off him, my heart just fell.
  • And then Lithuania qualified and I genuinely lost all sense of composure, my precious babbies, I’m so proud.
  • The moment I truly, truly lost it and never regained it though was when the ninth qualifier was announced as Belgium. They looked genuinely overjoyed (Raymond screaming FUCK YEAH into the camera <3333) and the video of the delegation backstage losing it with happiness was just… you know, they spoke afterwards of how this might encourage other established artists to give it a go and god, that would be such an exciting path for my country to take. I honestly no longer give a shit what you think about Hooverphonic – they deserved that qualification and they’re genuinely happy to be here and I’m happy we broke that non-qualification duck.
  • But then we got to that final announcement.
  • And we both just looked at each other, with a sense of understanding. Ukraine needed to be called.
  • And when they did, my god, we were both screaming with joy.

Our 10 qualifiers

  • Norway: Tix – Fallen Angel
  • Israel: Eden Alene – Set Me Free
  • Russia: Manizha – Russian Woman
  • Azerbaijan: Efendi – Mata Hari
  • Malta: Destiny – Je Me Casse
  • Lithuania: The Roop – Discoteque
  • Cyprus: Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo
  • Sweden: Tusse – Voices
  • Belgium: Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place
  • Ukraine: Go_A – Shum

Sadly, this meant we had to say goodbye (but never farewell) to Ana Soklič, Roxen, Albina, Lesley Roy, Montaigne and Vasil.

Last night, during the press conference, the qualifiers drew to determine whether they perform in the first or second half of the final on Saturday. Joining Spain’s Blas and Settle’s Finest, James Newman, in the first half: Hooverphonic, Eden, Elena, Destiny and Manizha. Joining France’s Barbara, The Netherlands’s Jeangu, Germany’s Jendrik and Italy’s Måneskin in the second half: Efendi, The Roop, Tix, Tusse and Go_A.

Tomorrow!

I believe that’s what they, in 5D chess, call a very decisive check mate.

Rehearsals Day Eight: Voilà

A day late but nevertheless here – to finish off the rehearsals. the Big Five and The Netherlands (our host country, natch) had their second rehearsals. One final chance to refine, tweak, tune and generally get everything set in place for the dress rehearsals and THE ACTUAL FACTUAL SHOWS WHICH ARE HAPPENING NEXT WEEK (*hyperventilating*).

Some final impressions? Don’t mind if I do.

Italy

I’ve lost all objectivity regarding this. Måneskin work that stage like they’re professionals with years in the business behind them – the fact that they’re only at the start of their career and already so in control excites me.

Germany

Bless him, he’s having the absolute time of his life (I hope) and his joy at just getting to do this damn thing is very catchy. The thing that worries me is that Jendrik is going so hard already that his breath control goes up the spout and in the rehearsal clip he’s notably out of breath by the second verse. Other than that, this is exactly what I expected from him – colourful, joyful, a little bit chaotic and a lot Jendrik Sigwart ™.

The Netherlands

Jeangu (and his twin brother! I totally forgot to say, his twin brother Xillan is on stage with him!) sounds absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, and the dancer he has with him is bloody brilliant. I hope his message is clear and loud and that after Saturday people will realise they should never have underestimated him because he’s a bit a lot bloody good.

France

The camera work augments the escalation of the song SO well. Barbara’s emotions drench the vocals with an extra edge. God, she’s good. She is so good.

United Kingdom

Dear BBC,

The song is called Embers.

The key lyric is light up the room.

….

….

WHERE’S THE FECKING PYRO?

YOU HAD ROOM IN YOUR BUDGET FOR TWO GIANT STYROFOAM TRUMPETS BUT NOT FOR PYRO FOR A SONG CALLED EMBERS?????

*deep breath*

Spain

It’s very atmospheric. The big moon shimmering in the background, the smoke, the light trickles. It’s a lovely emotional performance. I wish I could connect with it more but aesthetically and vocally it’s on point.

So, that’s that. Tonight, the artists (minus the Polish delegation, who are sadly currently having to quarantine after someone tested positive for COVID-19) walk the Turquoise Carpet, tomorrow the dress rehearsals for semi-final 1 take place and then Tuesday, we’re back in business baybee.

I’m going to try and do a recap of both semi-finals in the style of my Melodifestivalen recaps – I won’t write up anything coming from the dress rehearsals given that I’d basically be rehashing everything I’ve already said. Pretty much everyone is, in their way, ready to go on stage and I hope that each and every one of them gets to enjoy the whole experience of the next week, regardless of their individual results. It’s been a long road since Duncan lifted that trophy back in Tel Aviv, and next Saturday he can finally hand it over to his successor(s). I know I’m going to be an emotional wreck throughout, and I’m sure I won’t be alone. It’s going to be a special contest, and I wish everyone good luck and good mental and physical health throughout and after.

For the record, before all of this kicks off; I think I’ve made it clear by now who I’ll be rooting for the most, but to be honest, I’m just happy I get to say this (and before anyone else says it as well) for the first time in two years:

Let the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 begin!

Rehearsals Day Seven: Getting Up is All You’ve Got

We’re in the final stretch of rehearsals (before the actual show rehearsals next week) – the back half of semi-final two had their second set of run-throughs today, a chance to refine, re-jig, retune or get more practice in front of the cameras before it all kicks off next week (officially, it properly kicks off on Sunday with the Turquoise Carpet live stream on the official Eurovision YouTube channel, but you know what I mean). Are there any big changes to report? Are there any countries who officially declared themselves as contender for the win? Is this now a dedicated Fyr & Flamme stan account? Let’s find out, shall we…

(this will always be a Måneskin stan account first, KNOW THAT)

Georgia

After the incredibly long and exhausting day that was yesterday (and I’m not even in the press centre, I’m following everything from home, without accreditation, and even I was going completely off it by the end), it was nice to start gently this morning. The spacy blue visuals look very nice, and I like the section where the text is projected onto Tornike, but I’m not connecting with him as a viewer and a listener. His voice is strong but it’s all going to depend on whether he can bring the emotion needed.

Albania

I am really loving the intense, dramatic blue and red smoky visuals behind her. It creates a sense of drama that fills the space, and Anxhela is really getting comfortable on the stage which will go a way to help the stage feel less empty (which is a general problem this year, not an Anxhela problem) Her vocals are on point as always.

Portugal

I really wish this song wasn’t about what it’s about – the staging is super clever and fills the space marvellously, and it still creates those Sunday afternoon vibes but my point from the other day still stands.

Bulgaria

So, something I need to share with you to provide context for this: I never had a good relationship with my father. He was a verbally abusive man who did not care to understand me on any level. He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s about ten years ago and while we never got on, it was devastating to see someone who could hold the amount of information in his head that he could gradually fade.

So, the moment in the rehearsal clip where the camera takes in the picture of little Victoria with her dad (who was diagnosed with ALS recently) destroyed me completely. She’s absolutely a lock-in for the final and is almost definitely headed for, if not top five then top ten at least, but I cannot give this performance any more thought right now because my heart is hurting just thinking about it. This is a gorgeous song with such a gorgeous message and Victoria and her team should be proud of themselves for the work they’ve done.

Finland

I think this one works a lot better on the Ahoy stage than on the UMK stage. From a camera point of view, the space is filled a lot more, and the pinprick lights and the divided screens make for a pleasingly symmetrical experience (yes, all about the important stuff here at Eurovisionism- SYMMETRY). They’re ready to go and burn your eyebrows off with the power of RAAAWK.

Latvia

Samanta’s vocals are on point as per usual, and there are some great moments in the staging, but it still feels… safe? There’s not much they really can do anymore, sadly. Let’s see what happens next Thursday.

Switzerland

There’s some really intricate work going on with that massive prop, and some sharp camera cuts. Gjon sounds ethereally beautiful as always but it’s just not clicking with me. This song is crying out for keeping the staging as simple as possible, and the whole moving prop and dance movements are taking away from Gjon as a performer. I think Bulgaria and France are just doing a better job of making the staging fit the song.

Denmark

I’ve said how rehearsals can change everything, and I think that it will be the case here – when the running order came out, I legitimately thought Fyr & Flamme were fucked because they had to follow Gjon, who was was of the favourites to win. But between the overcomplication of Gjon’s staging and the simple, joyful retro stylings of these two, I think Denmark stand a chance. Not much has changed, apart from just a general tightening of the whole package – a really lovely closer to the semi-finals.

Rehearsals Day Five + Six (Part 1): Second first impressions

Before I start, I want to get something off my chest: if you woke up today (or any given day) and decided that the best possible way to spend your time would be to send racist, sexist, LGBTQ-phobic, fatphobic, transphobic, any kind of abuse to the various contestants of the Eurovision Song Contest (and I’m specifically talking in this case about Tusse, Destiny and Vasil but consider this a blanket statement for everyone at all times). you are fucking disgusting. Look deep inside yourself and ask why the hell you feel like doing things like this – because there’s no earthly good reason to shit like this, no matter what you like to tell yourself. You are not big. You are not “just saying”. There is no good reason to say anything like this. Look inside yourself. Examine your biases, work on your prejudices, learn. This kind of shit is not welcome.

ANYway.

Second rehearsals are well and truly under way; every country gets a chance to refine, re-jig, improve, tweak, anything they want to do following their first run-throughs, firming up the final product in the process. The back half of semi-final two is doing their second rehearsals tomorrow (so everyone we saw on Tuesday), and the Big 5+ host country are having theirs on Saturday.

LETTUCE OBSERVE SHALL WE

Continue reading “Rehearsals Day Five + Six (Part 1): Second first impressions”

Rehearsals Day 4: This is fun, isn’t it?

A day late, as yesterday was a cruddy mental health day for me. But we keep going, we do. Yesterday, Georgia, Albania, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Switzerland and Denmark had their first run-throughs. What can we deduce from these initial rehearsals? Let’s have a look…

Georgia

Yesterday started off mellow (…ish) with Tornike and his almost lullaby-esque song. I’m specifically mentioning that last bit because this gentle love song, this almost whispery declaration of affection is being performed in a way that does not vibe with the song in the slightest. The staging is really mysterious – lots of dark and blue lights, almost Rorschach-test style graphics on the screen (it reminded me of a Bond opening credits scene), and the words “my love” projected onto Tornike in both English and Georgian. Tornike, however, performs it in such a strangely disconnected way that it kind of goes from gentle love song to menacing. Also, god knows what it was he did in that last run through with his vocals (my best description is “fucking about”) but it was kind of hilarious.

Albania

Anxhela looks AMAZING. There’s red and blue thunder on the screen, some neat fiery effects on the screen and Anxhela giving it ten thousand with her vocals and movements, creating some great drama. I’m kind of hoping the camera angles help create the sense that the space is filled, because from wide shots it looked a bit empty and there’s only so much vibing Anxhela can do to fill that space. But I have faith and look forward to the second rehearsal tomorrow.

(*edit: thanks to my fiancé for pointing out I’d managed to spell Anxhela’s name wrong TWICE, rectified now, blame Miss Pfizer and her side effects)

Portugal

Okay. I liked the staging. It’s a very elevated version of the FdC performance, there’s colour as well as the black and white elements, and there’s a moment where there’s a whole orchestra projected in shadows on the screen which is such a great move and tricks the eyes just so that you can believe there really is a symphonic orchestra behind them. It still sounds so warm and jazz bar and Sunday afternoon, which is good.

But something doesn’t sit right with me, and it’s not sat right with me ever since I found out the story behind the song. Rosie from That Eurovision Site has a short thread about it on Twitter and she nails it on the head. As someone who’s an ally and a friend of sex workers, The Black Mamba co-opting this woman’s story for their song is just not it. Sex workers are able to, and should be able to speak for themselves. It is not The Black Mamba’s story to tell (and they did write it from her perspective – I wonder if she has heard it…)

Bulgaria

Sometimes just posting the clip is more effective than describing it. Welcome to the grand finale, Victoria.

Finland

PYRO PYRO PYRO if you were fond of your eyebrows, they’re gone now, that’s how powerful the pyro is, you can feel it through your screen you don’t even have to be there. Blind Channel were going all out, with an elevated version of their UMK staging and a LOT of running around to cover the spaces on the stage. The screens are used to full effect, and the band have found a clever way to have the whole “middle fingers up” thing present without actually flipping off forty million viewers – look for the red tape on their middle fingers! I genuinely cannot wait for the second rehearsal, although I’m still not okay with that goddamn 27 club lyric because it sounds so fucking juvenile.

Latvia

Samanta made it, y’all! She’s clearly SO happy to be here, and I’m so proud of her (as a fan) for finally getting to live her dream (can we get, in order: Marcus Riva, Edgars Kreilis, Madara after this? Also, can we get Aminata back next year to come claim her trophy on the twentieth anniversary of Latvia’s first win? Thank you, good night, xoxo a Latvia stan).

It’s a bit of a shock to see that the staging is actually quite measured – given Samanta’s general air of goddess of chaos, on stage it looks a bit like a colour invert from her Still Breathing staging (down to the ladies with the visors and the tassels on her sleeves – she’s in regal emerald green which looks STUNNING but it kind of looks like the Luigi to Still Breathing‘s Mario, colour-wise). The staging doesn’t compliment the message of the song – it’s kaleidoscopic gold, with the notable moment of a pair of hands forming a crown – and it just falls a bit… flat? I don’t want Samanta Tina to fall flat, y’all, I want her to pop the fuck off. Maybe the second rehearsal will iron out the kinks.

Switzerland

There’s a big, abstract, moving prop on which Gjon does some arty contemporary dancing. There’s some cool, grey graphics on the screen (almost like mercury blobs flowing), and a moment where Gjon is standing in darkness illuminated by purple light. He sounds great – I’m just not connecting with it, still. I am looking forward to seeing the whole package because it looks very intriguing.

Denmark

How much has this song grown on me, it is a lot, people. It’s essentially their DMGP performance, but on a bigger scale. I feel like it works much better on the big Ahoy stage, as the retro graphics from their national final performance now take up the whole screen behind them and it looks like they’re standing in the middle of them rather than far removed. They’ve also got a trio of backing singers which works really well. It’s exactly the kind of retro they’re aiming for – all it needs is Frank Naef (MEESTER NAEF) giving a hard stare from the side lines and it’s Eurovision 88 all over again.

My winner of the day: Bulgaria. Even though I put a blanket ban on crying hours this year, this just hits exactly right.

All through today, the first semi-final artists (minus Malta) will take to the stage for their second rehearsals. Malta will kick off Thursday, followed by the first half of semi-final two (so everyone we saw yesterday, up to Serbia) before the first rehearsals of the Big 5 and the host country. The second half of the second semi-final (so everyone we saw today) will have their second rehearsal on Friday, and the Big 5 + host country will have their second rehearsals on Saturday.

Rehearsals Day Three: Hu-Hu-Hu-Hurricane

Day three of the first run of rehearsals for the semi-final competitors (the Big 5 and the host country are due to rehearse for the first time on Thursday *gets Måneskin flags out, starts readying candles to light up the room*). We’ve moved onto the acts for semi-final two, with San Marino, Estonia, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, Poland, Moldova, Iceland and HU-HU-HU-HURRICANE… sorry, Serbia having their first crack at the big Ahoy stage.

1, 2, girls, COME ON

San Marino

The Most Serene Freaky Queen Senhit kicked day two off in the way only she herself can: hella, hella extra. Her creative partnership with choreographer Luca Tomassini has over the past twelve months (and eleven #FreakyTripToRotterdam covers) given me such joy and the staging for Adrenalina is the perfect capper to that Freaky Trip – it’s the Tomassini/Senhit aesthetic all over, with religious iconography, high camp, masked dancers and Senhit serving you dance moves in a killer outfit. Having Mr Flo Rida there for the week of the shows would be a lovely delight but Senhit proved she doesn’t need him at all to shine – San Marino is unironically, delightfully in contention for a high placing in the final.

Estonia

In the words of the guys at OSW Review: let’s take it on down… wayyyyy down. The chains from the Eesti Laul staging have sadly gone, meaning I am now unable to continue making Hellraiser references (which is a shame for I had such sights to show you) with regards to this song. Estonia’s newfound love affair with storm-related graphics continues, as those water visuals from the national final performance do carry over, as do the white shirt and the undone bow tie (as someone who has watched Strictly Come Dancing since the glory days of Mark Ramprakash, it’s a look that gives me violent flashbacks to many an uncomfortable bloke rumba – NO UNDONE BOW TIES, EVER).

I’m still not Uku’s biggest fan. Or a fan at all. Can you tell?

Czech Republic

Someone I am a big fan of, and someone who has CONSTANTLY been underestimated within the fandom: Mr. Benny Christo. He was sporting a new haircut (hello blonde) and a stylish gold jacket with a little rose pinned on, which is just freaking darling. I know from his Twitter that he wasn’t happy at all with himself and his performance during the rehearsal, and that he’s keen to work out the kinks, which is good. First rehearsals are exactly that: first rehearsals, there to test the waters. I cannot wait to see the second rehearsal, because I know Benny’s brilliant live and he’s got so much charisma to bring.

Greece

Another performance which uses visuals we won’t get to see until at least the second rehearsals – apparently they’re going for never-before-seen graphics which, I hope they’re not here writing checks their ass can’t cash because that’s a mightily lofty claim to be making at the Eurovision Song Contest. The Greek delegation also used the word “zestfulness” in reference to Stefania’s journey in the staging which… okay?

Stefania looks fantastic – her purple catsuit is stunning and the vocals are already on point. I’m just… a bit confused? At the invisible men? And the climbing of stairs/lying down in the middle of a screen which evoked the mentioning of a certain Mr. Lazarev? I’m hoping the second rehearsal clears things up (as it will do in all cases, tbh)

Austria

I didn’t know what to expect, because Amen (Austria edition) wasn’t exactly on my radar, but Vincent delivered arguably the best, tightest rehearsal of the day. The staging was simple (he’s stood on a catwalk, and the light work and fog frame him beautifully – he looks amazing as well, in his beaded jacket from Filipino designer Michael Cinco), and even without the visuals (as I’m watching the Wiwibloggs livestream, I’m only able to initially go on what’s being described and what I can hear from afar) I could hear the emotion in his voice. I am absolutely blown away – this is qualifying without a hitch.

Poland

Well, the sunglasses were there. I liked the Eurovision ’88-style grid effects on the screen. I like his enthusiasm. In all honestly though, while I was quite charmed by his pre-party appearances, this is just not it. I can’t see this improving in subsequent rehearsals to be honest.

Moldova

Bitch, what the fuck. None of the visuals from the video have made it to the stage. I’m not suggesting they recreate the Candyland style set entirely, but… this is Kirkorov and the Dream Team. These are the same people who brought us the 3-minute relationship comedy that was the staging for My Lucky Day back in 2018. There was a spinning platform and some of the moves from the video but other than that, nowt. Natalia looks amazing in her sparkly, slinky frock but the staging is bizarrely flat for a lively song with a visually strong (if terrifying) video. Hopefully things will pick up for her as the rehearsals go on, but as it is Moldova’s not looking too sweet (ed. I’ll get me coat)

Iceland

Especially considering the green sweater wearing band of superheroes that is Daði & Gagnamagnið up right after her. This was immensely competent and immensely on brand for them – retro graphics, homemade instruments, little video game sprites and a cheeky false finish (which… does go on for a Douwe Bob length of time, ie. it gets a bit weird).

The thing for me is, and I know that I may be in the minority here but… it’s not doing it for me? I massively respect Daði as an artist and his creativity is just *galaxy brain* levels but… well, I loved this when I first heard it but it’s kind of gone a weird way in my head since. It’s going to do very well, and I can’t wait to see what Daði does next (preferably somewhere around mid-November at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town… yes, I have tickets, I’ve had tickets since it was still a gig that happened two weeks ago) but it’s not going to be in my top ten. Still, they’re clearly absolutely buzzing to be here at last, and I’m hoping that they’re currently just getting their absolute lives from the whole experience. I can’t wait for the absolute worlds collide moment when they inevitably meet Jendrik in a couple of days time. I bet it’s epic.

Serbia

I mean…

Tighten the sound mix and you’ve got yourself and absolute barnstormer of a performance. They look AMAZING, they dance AMAZING, they sound AMAZING, the visuals are completely different from most of what we saw today and this is just pure, unfiltered ENERGY my GOD I am going to be losing it completely on the night.

My winner of the day: Vincent Bueno for just completely taking me by surprise, Hurricane for just GIVING ME EVERYTHING ALREADY

What I’m looking forward to for tomorrow: THE QUEEEEEEEEEEN OF THE NIIIIIIGHT IS COOOOOOMING

THE BLOOOOOOOOD

MOOON

ISSSSSS

RIIIIIIISIIIIIIING