Eurovision 2021 : Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Once more we return to the battle of the ballads in this international song contest consisting of European nations and a few non-EU nations they allow to compete – including the United Kingdom now we are no longer in the European Union. Although if there was ever any talk of kicking out one of the five biggest financial contributors to the contest at any point I never heard it. Of course it is arranged by the European Broadcast Union and has nothing to do with the political EU but I’m sure some people conflate the two for the sake of national pride and competitiveness.

The entire live stream of the 2021 contest

The sixty-fifth competition’s finale was at last held after a year’s hiatus due to the global pandemic events. You know what it was so no need to dwell. There was a 3500 audience limit on site dur to restrictions and apparently everyone has been tested and precautions taken. There were 39 countries who took part in the previous round but 19 were eliminated. The finale took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. When the Russian entry came out during the initial ‘contestant parade’ introduction it sounded like she was booed slightly though the cheering covered most of it but it was noticeably lower in tone than the cheers for others.

A recap of the songs for those who don’t want to go through all the videos below.

After everyone had entered the hosts sang with Eurovision dancers behind them. Nikkie Tutorials, I forgot she existed but she was one of the presenters and I think was involved in last year’s replacement events so it sort of feels like she has become a permanent fixture of the event. Video postcards were shown before each act depicting interesting art installation, open walled, rooms around the country.

Beneath are my initial reactions to each act along with those of Graham Norton who is the commentator for the UK. He seemed to finally getting very comfortable in the role and making quips in the style everyone fondly remembers Terry Wogan coming out with back when he covered it. Of course the irreverent tone of commentary rubs up certain quarters of the contest the wrong way for not taking it as seriously as they do themselves. That’s the awkward thing about the contest – it has this façade of ‘a bit of fun’ but it’s a very serious business to some. Thus everyone can be enjoying themselves then someone comes along and po-faced says ‘right, stop that right now’ like a John Cleese or Graham Chapman character interrupting a Monty Python sketch. Except it’s not surreal or done for comic effect.

Cyprus / Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo

Diamonds over a skin tone body suit to get the dad vote. The song is one of those summer time anthems that all end up sounding too similar if it’s not music you take and interest in. Part of me keeps hearing Lady Gaga’s Alejandro in the chorus parts.

Good energy and presentation so might do fairly well despite being the opening act. The dancers with the red line down the centre of their face look like they’re from a cult in a fantasy series – with the red catsuits it reminds me of the TV adaption of The Sword of Truth series. The hip isolation part of the dance is very impressive on a technically level but the costumes of the dancers mean they disappear due to the read and often low lighting given to them.

It’s a good pop song… because it sounds like a remix of the Lady Gaga song Alejandro with different lyrics. I would be surprised if there hasn’t been a claim of plagiarism.

Albania / Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

A ‘silver Vegas leotard look’ as Graham Norton puts it. The performance has a good opening. The song reminds me of the soundtrack from the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Good staging and lighting effects but is it really effective for the song? A costume of diamond strings and… that’s it besides some red smoke. Usually you’d expect an evening dress like look if doing this if stood alone on stage or to have backing dancers if wearing a costume like that. Another ‘trying to get the dad vote’ costume decision then.

She is playing to the people sat voting at home rather than to the audience due to the looks to the camera that were planned. Woof. Then comes the unannounced epilepsy seizure moment (which seems common this year unless you notice the small text on the screen during the postcards). Norton said she looked like Carol Voderman.

One thing I notice in hindsight is the official music video for the entries are usually far tamer costume wise than the stage costumes in the finale. It’s not critical to the songs but it probably does affect the presumed acceptability of some acts only for the finale to have the more provocative wardrobe choices.

Israel / Eden Alene – Set Me Free

She trained as a ballerina and is attempting the B6 note which is apparently the highest ever attempted at this competition. It’s hardly a Mariah Carey like vocal performance so, honestly, it’s not something anyone would realise unless you were informed before hand though she does randomly hit the note just before the end.

I suppose it will give her some achievement as the song itself doesn’t feel like it will stand out. Interesting crown/traditional Slavic headdress inspired hairstyle. The silver and white costumes look like sportswear. The ribbons on the dancers seem like a desperate last moment effort to avoid that comparison.

The song is an also ran sort. It’s not really got any good hook though it’s competently performed. Then a last moment on stage wardrobe change which doesn’t change much.

Belgium / Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place

Dark and moody. It reminds me of late 90s songs. They’ve a Portishead vibe but the song is more alternative pop. Much more toned down presentation with the singer and band wearing black on stage, although the singer having some sparkles on her dress, so the focus is on the song.

As spectacle is part of this contest so they probably won’t do amazing but this is more about getting their name out to potential future foreign fans it seems. It’s a nice subdued song – the sort of thing you imagine being the music of a intro to a TV drama.

I have come across it before but I don’t known if that was by chance or it was on an advert. I’m sure I’ve heard their name before.

Russia / Manizha – Russian Woman

Wearing what looks like a jumpsuit which is in stark contrast to the wardrobe of other entries. She has a message of tolerance and acceptance which apparently caused some issues in Russia.

Initially she seems a novelty act due to the massive puffed out layers and golden hair ribbon headdress. (Later San Marino does a similar idea of shedding an ornate dress which seems a coincidence). Chanting. It’ll either do well or fall flat… and since it’s the Russian entry and she seemed to get booed when entering earlier it might be like the UK entries from a few years ago where no matter how positive the message it’s still going to get a bad reception (fortunately it did end up doing quite well though not near the top contenders). More epilepsy flashing imagery.

It’s nice enough and evokes moments of Russian traditional music to represent the nation’s culture which many entries often don’t choose to do.

Malta / Destiny – Je Me Casse

She won Junior Eurovision at 13 years old and is now 18. Sparkly dress with tassels. The song is effective. Wow, if you’ve not had an epileptic seizure by now it’s some miracle or you’ve avoided looking at the screen.

It’s a good song but it will probably be mid tier. The bright neon pink of the dancers with the ballet bar kind of draws attention to how little the singer is doing physically in the performance. She will get a ‘body positivity’ vote but Eurovision seems very traditional in its values so that might not get her far (it didn’t).

‘Large and in charge’ she reminds me of American gospel singers from the late 80s or early 90s. The lyrics are very repetitive. It’ll get a nightclub remix and do well on the dance floor. Technically good but not that engaging.

Portugal / The Black Mamba – Love Is On My Side

Norton said it’s very Paul McCartney/Wings in tone. Retro suits and showing them in black and white on TV initially which seems a bit of a cheat visually. It’s a very nice performance.

A slow ballad. Portugal seem to do well with slow ballads. The dark horse entry but it could win as other dark horses in the contest have previously (including Portugal themselves in 2017).

The first song, so far, where I actually would like to hear it again a few times. Simple but bold graphics on the screens behind them. I would be shocked if this isn’t a contender for winning. One of my favourites of the night. (They came twelfth in the end).

Serbia / Hurricane – Loco Loco

Oh, I notice they do put a text warning for epilepsy on screen in the postcard section. I sort of wish Norton had said it earlier too and he might have.

Intricate costumes. They remind me of some costumes I’ve seen Little Mix wear for concerts. Sex sells. Woof. The song is bold but I can imagine we are going to hear a few which have this sort of presentation and tone during the contest so I can’t see it doing amazing though they performed very well and were far more dynamic than many other acts.

I’m biting my tongue not to say ‘generic modern Eurovision dance song’ but it feels like one. They all look like they’ve had plastic surgery or are wearing heavy layers of make up as seems the trend recently.

It was a good effort but this would have done better about ten years ago before things began becoming a bit more conservative culturally across global society.

. . .

Then a break with Nikki Tutorials. I’m sure she is very popular but she just feels tacked on appearing as a contest presenter. I think it’s her make up. It always looks severe to me in how much bronzer she uses. I was surprised to hear her age as she looks 15 to 20 years older.

United Kingdom / James Newman – Embers

First of the big five (the major financial contributors to the contest).

Wearing a leather coat or jacket with a gold stripe design which is a bit ‘try hard’ while very understated. It reminds me of clothing I see in some ‘you wouldn’t expect it to cost that much’ high street clothing stores. Also some rings and a golden chain which is a very ‘1980s comedy sketch show caricature of a Greek business man with a market stall selling items of questionable origin’ look.

The song is very ‘modern British’ tonally which is nice as a representation of our current music culture but also fits into Eurovision quite well. It’s a fun, inoffensive number and the dancers get to have some fun. It won’t do amazing but we should do okay. Maybe it’s just my TV but it did sound like the sound was peaking and tinny a few times midway through.

A fun entry. It’ll be interesting to see if his weight is held against him as society seems to accept women as ‘beautiful at any weight’ but not men. (spoiler: zero points from the professional juries and zero points from the public vote too. The audience in the venue were audibly shocked and cheered him when he put on a good face which is a positive to take away from it at least).

Greece / Stefania – Last Dance

According to Norton she just apparently just turned 18 and is ‘dancing with laundry’ according to Norton. She looks like Holly Valance.

Sparkly, form fitting, body suit with ‘flesh windows’ as if it’s a comic accurate superhero costume at a comic book convention. It’s a unique look for Eurovision. She looks like a dominatrix who spilled glitter on herself. The dancer being green screened is amusing but random and you can only imagine how confusing it would be for the live audience. It feels like it is trying make the entry memorable.

The entire performance is very… if you asked someone to do a parody of a Eurovision entry they might make something like this I suppose. It does feel like an early 80s music video but with modern production values. The song is energetic if, again, a bit ‘been there and seen it before’ safe.

Switzerland / Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers

More down to earth than many others. The puffy shirt is an interesting choice but doesn’t suit him. In fact the overall look is of a 5 year old dressed by his mother at the heights of the 1980s.

The song is good and reminds me of serious contenders from previous years. Minimalist staging (but with the flashing lights once more sporadically). I like the song but people tend to either vote for unique entries, saccharine ones or those with the strongest visuals.

It might do exceptionally well or it might do okay. It’s hard to tell with how the votes go often. I would hope it does well. It’s very anthemic. Again an ‘intro music to a detective drama’ type song. (It was one of the leaders during the jury vote alongside France until the public vote gave it to Italy).

Iceland / Da∂i Freyr og Gagnamagni∂ – 10 Years

One of the band members proved positive for Covid so they’re isolating and doing it remotely. Their song last year got a lot of good feedback. This song is about his wife and being married for ten years. She is the one in the back with the keyboard/ curved key-tar.

This will surely blow everything else out of the water. The ‘pixel art’ sweaters of the band members faces, the differing sections of the song to appeal to everyone… this is surely a Eurovision classic already? People said they felt the group was robbed by last year’s contest being cancelled (and it’s a rule everyone returning to compete had to perform a new song) so it’s highly likely they’re going to steam roll to victory.

This is one of those songs you can tell people will be listening to decades down the road as we do some songs that were in the contest in the 70s and onwards. A modern classic of a Eurovision entry so it’ll be shocking if it doesn’t win really but there’s some strong competition. (I got it wrong. They came in fourth place after Italy, France and Switzerland).

Spain / Blas Cantó – Voy A Querdarme

Second of the big five who get automatic entry due to financial contribution.

The moon is apparently the biggest prop ever used for the contest. I guess the screens used in recent years don’t count. Black shirt open enough to show some chest and a 5 o clock shadow – that’ll get some votes no doubt.

It’s a classic sounding piece so will do well though I would challenge you to single it out if similar songs were put with it. It’s an end credits song to an anime. It just kind of stops suddenly. (It came twenty-fourth! I thought it was a solid entry personally but apparently it was a strong year for entries overall so it fell by the way side apparently.)

Moldova / Natalia Gordienko – SUGAR

One of the backing dancers looks like the British comedian Michael McIntyre according to Norton.

A blonde with big hair and a sparkly short dress to show off her legs so she could be from the current year or any time since the contest began arguably. In fact it’s like the costume used in Cyprus’ entry but with sleeves. Woof. The dancers are bare chested so look like ‘sexy’ cosplay versions of PSY, Matrix agents or Dr Octopus.

The song is enjoyable if generic. Another ‘it’ll fall somewhere in the middle’ song. It was okay. Nothing wrong with it but nothing stood out either. (It came thirteenth – right in the middle!)

Germany / Jendrik – I Don’t Feel Hate

Third of the big five financial contributors.

The ‘marmite one’ according to Norton so you’ll love it or hate it. He thinks it sounds educational like ‘don’t play with matches’.

The bold colours and designs definitely evoke children’s television programming. The ‘peace sign’ hand is another ‘trying to be memorable’ effort that feels too blatantly quirky. It’s a fun song so might get some votes but also makes you want to punch them in the face a little bit. Try hard quirkiness. From experience such people are miserable off stage.

It’s entire tone is clearly meant to be jokingly passive aggressive like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’. That’s the tone coming across really. It’s Eurovision’s version of Mean Girls. A bit of German humour which fell flat as they came last but one with three points: two from Austria (block voting?) and one from Romania.

It was fun but it seems like Eurovision is actively drifting away from encouraging kitsch recently.

Finland / Blind Channel – Dark Side

Lordi’s homeland. Also the homeland of the Moomins. Also the homeland of Simo Häyhä ‘the white death’ sniper who terrified the Soviet Army during WW2. It’s a nice chilled country in more than one sense.

ROCK! YES! One of my favourites by default. The baggy parachute trousers don’t look good on anyone but whatever. PYROTECHNICS! YEAH! THE DARK SIDE! HOO HOO HOO!

But, to be serious, it’s a standout compared to other entries. I hope it does well but people are more prudish these days even though this is nothing challenging and you can tell they’ve cleaned it up a bit to fit into the contest. (They got sixth place which isn’t bad considering how different the song is to everything else though Norton seems to think all rock music is the same as he kept comparing it to Italy’s entry.)

. . .

then we have a look at some commentator booths. Denmark – It looks cramped. Apparently they had been wearing their silver suits for the past 2 days according to Norton. Then the Russian one – the ladies jacket seems to be missing the shoulder sections. They give the host woman a bouquet of flowers which was nice.

. . .

Bulgaria / Victoria – Growing Up is Getting Old

Her father has motor-neuron disease so the staging reflects the sands of time running out. Stuck on a derelict ship/island surrounded by rippling water. A simple little ballad. Sat on the floor wearing a blue linen body suit covering her tattoos in case some people don’t like them. Woof. It will hopefully do well as another stand out in the contest.

It’s another anthemic piece which is very reflective yet uplifting if a little twee. The end credit music entry in contrast to those that are the intro music. Hopefully it does well. One more ‘want to hear it again’ entry.

One of my favourites of the year – actually Bulgaria, if I recall correctly, always seem to put in entries I like.

Lithuania / The Roop – Discoteque

‘People from IT dressed up as Steps’ according to Norton. Hand gestures and a very 90s aesthetic achieved with modern techniques.

It’s a good song. Slightly darker in tone due to the electronica aspect. Again I’m getting ‘TV thriller intro music’ vibes. It won’t win but I enjoy it and it’s another ‘wouldn’t expect to want to hear it again but I will happily’ entry

The hand gestures are proof again that entries are trying to insert memorable aspects for when the vote comes around. (The United Kingdom gave our 12 points to them).

Ukraine / Go_A – Shum

They grew in popularity and gained traction days before the contest apparently. A dance track with a folk song backing. The singer’s style reminds me of the Polish quartet TULIA in the 2019 contest but with flamenco dancer boa sleeves. She has a striking look. Woof. It’s one of the few really reflecting the culture of the nation.

The light circles with the dancers are an interesting addition. The rising tempo suggests it should do well. It definitely stands out and should do well. It makes you want to get up and dance. The disco ball men in the screens are a bit nightmare fuel though.

It reminds me, in hindsight, of the band Percival whose folk song adaptions were used for the computer game Witcher 3. Rewatching clips during the voting period I’m going to say this edges it as my favourite of the year though there were some good entries. (They came in fifth place ultimately).

France / Barbara Pravi – Voilà

The fourth of the big five financial contributors to the competition.

They haven’t won since 1977 apparently but they’re a bookies favourite this year. A rousing French ballad. Very French in style. The bustier and being alone on stage is meant to represent her being raw and exposed – her emotional vulnerability exposed to the audience. Woof. It seems this year it’s a mix of standard fare, striking visuals or earnest pleas to the heart. The bustier reminds me of Besson’s The Fifth Element unintentionally. It is another dark horse potential contender. Even if it doesn’t win it’ll be remembered in years to come and again is one of the entries to reflect the nation it represents. Very striped back staging and everything but it works in it’s favour hopefully. Norton says it’ll win or be top five. (It came in second place after both counts concluded).

Azerbaijan / Efendi – Mata Hari

Sparkly. Chanting. The high pony tails. It’s clear what vote they’re going for – the girl group vote or the dad vote. It’s okay but too similar to other entries as a song.

The patterns in the background are nice and the instrumental both allude to the nation’s cultural heritage. Woof. The choreography is much more elaborate than many entries which is to their credit.

It picks up towards the end but I don’t see it being one of the big contenders though it was well performed.

Norway / TIX – Fallen Angel

This entry was talked about a lot. He has Tourette’s and facial tics hence the glasses and his name.

The angels and demons imagery with him chained by his demons is a bit on the nose symbolism wise but it stands out and will be featured in future ‘remember the 2021 contest’ clips no doubt.

It’s a nice ballad but doesn’t quite have the power of some other entries. If he swore or said something out of the blue I think it might have gone down better – either for the car crash potential or sympathy vote.

It really reminds me of a music video for a 90s boyband – East17 of Boy Zone in particular.

The Netherlands (Hosts) / Jeangu Macrooy – Birth of a New Age

An M.C. Hammer jacket or is it more like those of Milli Vanilli? The person in red is very emphatic and I like the body isolation dance/gestures they do about a minute in.

It’s a pleasant song. It really is invoking the 90s to me. The sort of thing you hear on the radio and enjoy then forget to look up later until you chance upon it years down the line. Good choreography.

It won’t go far but it was a feel good performance in a year of entries vying for the top spot (probably to recoup costs incurred by the delay of last year by everyone).

Italy / Måneskin – Zitti E Buoni

Fifth and final of the big five financial contibutors to the contest who get automatically entered into the finale.

Norton finally mentioned the strobing effects for the last three. Another heavy metal song! Norton hopes it might grown on him ‘like mould on a bathroom ceiling’.

The costumes remind me of Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure part 5, Vento Aureo, which is set in Italy and yet are also very 1970s rock inspired. Someone mentioned they are like the British band The Darkness in evoking that era but being modern.

The song is good if vocally a bit too fast paced and more a modern skater punk induced rock rap than classic rock. The guitarist woman woof. It’s not a patch on the Finnish entry though and Norton lumped them in together as heavy metal rock when this is more glam in tone.

Norton says they’re more ‘angry as if they asked for no ice in their drink’ compared to the energy of Finland’s entry. (Italy won the competition ultimately).

Sweden / Tusse – Voices

Apparently there was a mild controversy that Tusse was representing Sweden this year. Last year the Mamas were selected to represent the nation but the Swedish 2021 representative selection contest proceeded and the Mamas didn’t win it. Other nations automatically re-entered their 2020 entrants to be fair to them. Not in Sweden though sadly.

His costume is very… live action adaption or embellished cosplay of a fighting game. Specifically the live action film adaption of Street Fighter comes to mind. The choreography is very well done synchronisation wise.

The song is pretty good but will be lost in the selection this year though it would do well in other years. The flashing lights add nothing to it but I feel those effects don’t add to most acts anyway. Everyone kept saying this was a strong year of contenders according to Norton.

San Marino / Senhit – Adrenalina

Senhit represented the country ten years ago. This time she is accompanied by Flo Ride surprisingly. Impressive costume at the start. It’s very esoteric.

But then she removes it and it’s a more bland trouser suit with large shoulder pads. Well it’s bland for Eurovision. Fur collar and sleeves. It reminds me of Black Cat’s costume from the Spider-Man comics. The costumes on the dancers are… interesting. I’m not sure what aesthetic they’re going for here. Maybe ‘sexy steam punk yetis’?

Then Flo Rider turns up and it’s like a remix of the first half of the song. I wonder how they got him involved.

It’s a fun song and nice way to close out the running order. Hopefully it does quite well as it’s a strong performance. It took ten people to write the song apparently.

Norton jokes there are so few people in the country that everyone has a turn eventually if they want to.

Voting Time Events

The presenters dresses look like packaging bows on overpriced boxes of chocolates. It’s an interesting look. Garish enough for those who consider Eurovision cheesy but stylish enough they probably are couture.

Afrojack – Music Binds Us

A nice uplifting song with a cute video. Bit weird to have the string quartet on the tram with face masks on but no one else. Imagine if that’s your big moment for international recognition and your face is covered. Then a guy with a goatee beard appears. Who is he? The guy who can’t perform due to Covid I assume who won last year. Sad for him as this was a moment in the limelight to pass the torch to this year’s winner. No, it’s a DJ. Then the strings with the dancers don’t have face coverings. The video feeds into the live performance of ‘Bulletproof’ song with the DJ ‘shouting it out’. Nice transition!

Nikki Tutorials does a skit about ‘how to rock the vote’

I think it’s the faux-American mannerisms and such that make her hard to like. The American makeup tutorial YouTubers are all a controversial bunch but she may be nothing like them but the presentation is similar to theirs. As mentioned I don’t see why she is connected to the contest but it might be due to being the Netherlands point announcer, featuring last year and again this year and she doesn’t feel as if she is a part of it but is there nonetheless.

Some behind the scenes B-roll while the votes are collated.

Then there is some Carpool Karaoke with former winners. Some joking about hard rock hallelujah Lordi’s costumes with an older winner who liked them but not their monstrous look.

Then there is a tribute to the previous events where people wore evening dress and it gradually grew more and more like a party than a formal event. They also thank the audience for the support throughout the years.

They keep mentioning inviting everyone to the rooftop party.

2015’s Swedish winner is shown performing. He seems a bit more demure compared to the clip when he was competing. I get a sense he is sick of his song which is common for performers if they have one or two ‘big’ songs everyone knows.

Then Teach-In with Ding-A-Dong. Norton asks if it’s the original line up. It’s a office outing karaoke of people who should have retired long ago…

Sandra Kim – 1986’s winner. A ‘mum’s had too much wine’ look on the girls’ night out.

Lenny Kuhr -1969’s winner. So different tonally to the more recent ones. Folk music sounding but then it is from the late 60s and such music was popular then. I like it.

Helena Paparizou – Full figured. Woof. 2005 Greece winner.

Lordi – 2006 Finnish winner in full costume. Norton mocks the costumes must stink and it’s the reason the rooftop concerts were outside. Still got it. Just the right amount of rock to not scare off normies.

2019’s winner Duncan Lawrence is isolating due to testing positive for Corona. They’ve mentioned it a few times throughout the night to the point you wonder if there is some bad feeling’s from the organisers that he was obligated to not attend. They show him performing his new song ‘Stars’. It’s nice.

Before the announcement the blonde announcer Chantelle changed her golden bow dress for a silver one. For the count down dancer create numbers and Norton jokes it’s bitter sweet because once they hit zero they’re all out of a job. And there are inside fireworks.

Jury Votes Announcement

The head of the Eurovision executive board has been replaced by Martin Osterdahl who writes thrillers apparently. I wonder what happened as the previous guy was there for a long time.

Graham Norton’s comments on the vote announcers

The voter jury announcements appear in order of their representative’s performance. Israel has ‘a nice dress’. Poland is ‘wearing a zebra print dress with full length arm gloves’ as Norton notes and wonders ‘if it has a head’ to the costume. He jokes ‘there are so few people in San Marino the announcer will likely represent them eventually’. Malta: ‘someone’s made an effort’. Estonia – ‘the daughter of Estonia’s only ever winner’. Azerbaijan sings and he says ‘there’s always one…’ Norway: ‘wow, she really enjoyed it. She likes music’ (sarcastic). UK: Amada Holden ‘a familiar face’ – she says hello in French but admits she doesn’t know what she is saying. Admits she has on an over the top dress (it looks like ostrich feathers). Greece has a ten year old as their vote announcer. The youngest in Eurovision history. He is an actor. Graham says he did better than many giving the votes. Ireland: no points for the UK. Moldova played a saxophone. He entered multiple times and only did well when not performing live apparently. Serbia: WOOF! Bulgaria: ‘Joanna’s going out later – she’s in a bubble’ WOOF! Cyprus: ‘could Greece get the 12 points? – ‘of course they do’.

Those were the National Jury Votes so far. We have then had a break before continuing. The UK has 0 points so far. It’s between France and Switzerland with Malta, Iceland and Italy following but with growing distance between each step. France was the bookies favourite. France vs Switzerland so far. All the bookies’ favourites are at the top. Three of the big financial contributors are at the bottom.

Germany: ‘trying to get lipstick off her teeth’ – puffy sleeves dress and weird ribbon medals. Finland: ‘oh, hello, I wear this every time I go to the smelting plant- just casual (glittery pink dress/jacket). Portugal Woof. Taianna – woof. Iceland: Netflix Eurovision song – ya ya ding dong so jokey entry. Says 12 for ya ya ding dong. But really for Switzerland. Romania – former Olympic gymnast woof. Croatia ‘oh, little bit of product in the hair’. Czech Republic (not Czechia despite the government trying to get people to use that name) Woof. Georgia ‘someone dressed up’ (the man was wearing a t-shirt with a map of Georgia on it). Denmark ‘you’re out late’ Russia Polina Gagarina: WOOF! Graham apologises if you hear foul language despite the late hour from the green room. France: woof. Sweden ‘did she know that man’ – an audio engineer had to adjust her mic/coat/dress collar as she appeared. ‘more wine for Barbara – corolla’ when she stumbled over her words. ‘what, what who are you I can hear voices’ – ‘we got there in the end’.

At the end of the Jury Vote the UK had got 0 points.

Viewers’ Votes Announcement


Then the viewer votes. The UK got theirs first because of the placement so far. The votes are collated so we don’t know which countries gave us the most backing unlike with the professional jury votes. The UK also got zero points from the public! People in the audience were audibly shocked. But James put on a positive face and people cheered him (as he spilt a bottle of beer on the floor when waving his arms). Germany got zero points too. As did Spain. No one else received zero public votes, Everyone else got points. Graham believes people all voted for certain countries so there would be some high scoring for certain entries. Usually ‘the public spread their love around’ so it’s unusual. Norway got 60 points out of the lowest jury vote scorers. Graham believes it to be ‘a year like no other’ due to the way the votes are spread.
Lithuania got 165 public votes. Finland got 218 points! They won’t win but it’s a lot of votes. Ukraine got 267 points! Russia got 100 points. Iceland got 180 points! Italy got 318 points! France got 251 points! It’s now either Italy or Switzerland… Switzerland got 161 points.

Italy won with 524 points. France had 499 points despite being the bookies favorite. They did well with the jury vote and public vote in fairness. Not one I ranked as a potential winner but good for them. Also nice he said ‘rock never dies’. It’s very 70s style which was the ‘golden era’ for Eurovision so calls back to that costumes wise and so… it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s soft rock so doesn’t scare off those who don’t enjoy rock music.

Conclusion

Here are how all the scores were spread if you wish to check. The UK gave Lithuania our televote’s 12 points and the jury vote gave 12 points to the French entry. Looking at the numbers it definitely seems like there was a division between the jury votes and public vote on which performances should get points. That seems a common universal theme – what is valued by experts and what is valued by the common folk can vastly differ.

Graham notes there are a lot of disappointed people in the arena on the night but everyone is glad to be back in the contest.

First it was the Iraq War and now Brexit I guess. That or our entries really are that bad and we can’t rely on block voting to even give us a few ‘friendly’ points. Then again if you’re reading this you probably already consider the UK to be outside the EU anyway due to Brexit. Perhaps you feel that should extend to participation in the contest although there are non-EU countries who participate and we are one of the bigger financial contributors to the competition so it would only serve to damage the event for the sake of tolerating our annual entry.

As a little extra for those who got this far here is a behind the scenes documentary BBC Radio 1 did with James Newman and a few others are also mentioned.

Eurovision 2020 : Rotterdam, the Netherlands a.k.a. the year there wasn’t a competition

This year there was no competition so instead we got two shows instead!

The first programme was a retrospective clip show of previous winners throughout the years and a phone vote to decide what the best ever song is. That turned out to be ABBA’s Waterloo apparently. The version of this programme available online is different to the one shown on the BBC though most of the songs shown are the same but with different people interviewed.

A retrospective of previous years

The second, longer, programme was hosted from Rotterdam which was meant to be this year’s venue. It was hosted in a small studio by three hosts, probably thankful they got to wear the outfits they bought especially for the occasion, showing 30 second clips of the music videos for each performer who would have competed this year. The video clips were preceded with a brief message from them wishing everyone well during these trying times.

They did some additional interviews during breaks every nine songs or so. As we only got 30 seconds per artist many, no doubt, didn’t get fair representation as that brief a time is, at best, a preview of the songs and undermines any aspects such as escalation. It came across like the Eurovision committee wanted to do a show but also to keep costs down leading to a somewhat unsatisfying experience which will have frustrated many of the artists involved though many will return to compete next year. Later, we are told, all the singers will perform ‘love shine a light’ together.

This years songs and the interludes between them. This is not the version the BBC broadcast.

The above video is also different to the version shown on the BBC. So below I will present the entries in the BBC’s broadcast running order rather than the supposed official running order as the video above describes itself. It seems to play the videos in full but I’ll put them individually below for ease of reference.

We got to see an interview with Johnny Logan of Ireland who was on talking about winning three times live from Dublin. He is still wearing a white suit all these years later… then he sings ‘what’s another year’ with a choir of people at home.

Johnny Logan – What’s Another Year (including choir of Eurovision fans) – Europe Shine A Light version

This year we will see the videos for the songs instead of a live performance.

I’ll put my initial opinion formed by the 30 second clips shown on the BBC but then, in a second paragraph, also my opinion of the full music video or performance versions (whichever the BBC showed). There is no doubt many songs were underrepresented by the abbreviated format presented by the BBC.

Israel – Eden Alene – Feker Libi

Good energy, 90s nylon tracksuits.

I can imagine a soulful acoustic version of this. It is definitely very 90s with the garish neon yellow costumes of the dancers. The song is enjoyable but it’s definitely not one that would score high.

Norway – Ulrikke – Attention

power ballad. Sparkly dress from a cheap high street shop.

The opening strings remind me of the theme music to role playing computer games or fantasy films. The song is really good with a slow build up. The flickering lights in the background provide a minimalist, yet effective, staging. The shift between soft and projected vocals is far more effective in the full version so the BBC clip really misrepresented it. It’s reminiscent of many from the past so, while a good song in it’s own right, it’s an ‘also ran’ in this contest.

Russia – Little Big – Uno

Going for the camp vote with a weird pastel 70s look. Knee shaking 1920s sort of dance moves. Comical figures. Eurovision classic in the making!

After the controversies of the past few years Russia has done what the UK did around a decade ago – just send fun entries and enjoy the experience because there will inevitably still be countries who will refuse to give them points out of sheer political spite. The song is really fun and the dancing well co-ordinated. The pseudo prison tattoos on the lead vocalist is an amusing contrast to the see through shirt. Also the guy with the liberally applied black lipstick. Fun novelty track which will get effectively remixed into some club anthem potentially. They used that pastel retro aesthetic popular in British pop music about a decade ago with acts like OK Go or Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction music video.

Georgia – Tornike Kipiani – Take Me As I Am

Wants to be an anthem. In the back of a car. In the studio – black and white filming. Bit overly self reverential.

Usually they have interesting acts. This one is a bit more toned down and gritty. It’s a good pop song but… Eurovision wouldn’t reward it. The video is pretentious but I suppose every musician has at least one ‘in the studio’ music video under their belt. The lyrics are a bit ‘victim syndrome’ but probably talking of the Georgian nation’s experiences (or the singer’s experience with lovers) where people expect them to behave like others. Very good but not a Eurovision song.

France – Tom Leeb – Mon Alliée (The Best In Me)

5 o’ clock shadow and a guitar. One for the ladies…

Slow acoustic ballad. Very generic sounding. The video is very generic. ‘Please award him for he is handsome and plays an acoustic guitar so is clearly very soulful’ entry. Doesn’t really strike any real impact. It’s the sort of song that plays second or third during the credits of a film. The filming locations are nice in the video in a shopping arcade and theatre. It reminds me of venues in Cardiff.

Azerbaijan – Efendi – Cleopatra

Katie Perry music video… turns dark for a split second then generic female singer music video. In the desert.

In hindsight it reminds me more of Cheryl Cole (Fernandaz-Versini). The song reminds me of Holly Valance. It’s a good pop song and the costuming for her is very good. Not sure about the cut to the audio pitched lower section near the start really as it should have been repeated or omitted. Aside from the costume most of the video is a few vehicles in a desert… oh and some mummy dancers. Well made and above average points scorer probably if quite repetitive towards the end.

Portugal – Elisa – Medo De Sentir

Big puffy sleeves top. Sparkly pants. Makes me think of a song played over the credits of an anime series.

Nice gentle song with a piano accompaniment. Portugal won with such a song so they’re playing it safe. The sleeves look awkward but I’m not sure if it might be alluding to a form of national dress. Motivating uplifting song but also reflectively sad. Would give it another listen in future. Also woof. It probably wouldn’t do that great but it’s a nice relaxing song to chill out to.

Lithuania – The Roop – On Fire

Quirky dance. With standard basic beat dance music. An ‘I will…’ self empowerment type of song.

A magnifying glass… it’s been a while since I’ve seen one. The music video is very artistic. Fun song. The dancing reminds me of the eccentric moves actors perform when films or television programmes want to mocking the dance styles of certain ‘butt of the joke’ characters. Very enjoyable and would probably get some decent points during a contest. It’s the sort of song you end up looking for years down the line because you’ve forgotten the name of it as so develop a small self-imposed quest to relocate it.

Sweden – The Mamas – Move

Large backing singer ladies given their moment in the spot light. They’ve a Beverly Knight, soul diva, sparkly dresses style with a Little Mix style song.

Very ‘Muses from Disney’s Hercules’ style staging. Really good upbeat song. Definitely can imagine this being used in a television series or advert. Only downside is these sort of contests still have a bit of a stigma. It’s okay to be a funny ‘cartoonish’ woman doing a ‘chicken song’, like Netta, but doing a serious performance and not fitting the standard physique no doubt counts against them even if no one is willing to admit it. Body positive and talented ladies but they’re being judged by the old school when competing and they’re not being ‘comically fat’ so despite pulling off a flawless performance of a really good song they’ll not get more than middle points in a contest.

BREAK TIME

Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

An acoustic version of his song performed in his London garden. Good! Actually I prefer it to his competition entry for a previous year. Like every performance of the evening he offers good wishes to the viewers.

Then last years winner of the junior Eurovision song contest, Viki Gabor who represented Poland, was interviewed.

Then there was a performance by a past contender with children who participated in the Junior version.

Gali Atari & Junior Eurovision kids – Hallelujah – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

She was the female group member of the Israel entry which won 1979’s Eurovision contest singing a song titled Hallelujah. They say people still sing it but part of me feels they’re confusing it with Leonard Cohen’s version as much as I half recall hearing their song with the same title. They send Chinese lanterns off into the sky. Someone’s crops no doubt burnt to ash overnight when those eventually came down.

Then we get interviews with contestants by make-up tutorial vlogger(?) NikkeTutorials chatting to them over face time about what they’re doing over this period. Painting. Animals. Tik Tok videos. The Netherlands royal house hopes everyone well. It all seemed a bit ‘forced friendly interaction for the sake of good PR‘ in tone despite their best efforts but it might be that her make up makes her face look very artificial to the point of distraction – and not in a good way. The uncanny valley but with an actual person.

There were other interviews too but I’ll only post this one

Then from Italy a guy named Antonio with dodgy facial hair and a guitar performs a famous song titled Buona Sera. I suppose it’s meant to make us all feel more united. It was nice. I couldn’t find a clip of it surprisingly.

END OF BREAK

Latvia – Samanta Tina – Still Breathing

A very Lady Gaga style music video. Generic dance music song though…

This definitely had some inspiration from Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’ music video but also Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’ music video too with some costuming like Sia. The song is a Euro-dance track. It’s okay but it would have been interesting to see what they would have done live at the finale with it. It’s a style of music that is very hit and miss with me. It’s okay. It’s advert music – especially with the ‘Dove soap’ moments of body positive lingerie inter-cut with the rest of the video with thin dancers which sends a mixed message. The video is just a compilation of ‘that would look cool’ ideas with no focus.

I mean you could pretend there is one and that when she was little she was bookish, then got into rigid exercise and lost her identity, then became comfortable with her body and then ultimately became herself at the end able to eat cake but still be confident in herself… but that’s me applying an ‘artist’s BS explanation via interpretation of vague imagery association’ filter to it. Ultimately they wanted sexy women but added ‘smart’ looking school girls (in the most blatant ‘bookish nerd’ stereotype possible) and body positive women in lingerie enjoying themselves so they avoided any criticism for the dancers in leotards from vocal Feminists. I wouldn’t have noticed except for the contrasts so at least that apparently made it mildly more memorable in a year of extravagantly kitsch music videos.

Belgium – Hooverphonic – Release Me

She is the 6th vocalist to join the group apparently. Subdued band video. Very Portishead in tone. The guys are much older than her… bit of a weird vibe unintentionally.

Yeah the Portishead overtones are really strong. Specifically the music video for ‘Glory Box’ during certain parts – you’ll know when you see both. It’s the sort of music I really enjoy, what most people probably associate with trip-hop of the 90s or those ‘lo-fi hip hop for studying’ type YouTube videos. You just know this isn’t the sort of song that does well in Eurovision unfortunately. The singer reminds me of someone… the actor who played Neelix of Star Trek: Voyager? One of my favourites of the contest this year nonetheless.

United Kingdom – James Newman – My Last Breath

Chunky guy could be 20s or could be in his late 40s. Video filmed in Poland. Trudging through snow like a bear. Upbeat modern song.

The music video is well made although it’s a strange juxtaposition to have a hardened, sinewy, rural living old man contrasted with a metro-sexual, well fed and groomed, young guy. The song is very ‘British boy band pop song’ tonally. I mean a lot of the song’s impact is from the backing singers rather than James. It’s… okay? It’s the entry from my country so I should be more supportive but… it’s decent but it wouldn’t stand out and is instantly forgettable. Put that in a compilation of boy band songs and you would be hard pressed to differentiate it as ‘the one we entered into the Eurovision song contest’. The most interesting parts of it were from the voice over monologue which frame the rest of the music video… and the music video itself is ‘guy goes for a dip in his freezing cold pool before his daily routine with his dog; meanwhile, elsewhere, a young guy goes wandering through the forest. I just imagine the old guy hunted James later and made a rug out of him.

Belarus – VAL – Da Vidna

very late 80s video. Enjoyable. Three women and a guy on a guitar. Reminds me of The Corrs… but Slavic instead of Irish.

Oh she is wearing a bejeweled headpiece like the one from The Cranberries’ music video for ‘Zombie’ or Metallica’s music video for ‘Until It Sleeps’ which had a similar aesthetic to it. Aside from that they wear black suits. Again a bit of a 90s vibe going on. As for the song – it’s enjoyable but I imagine forgettable. [editing note: I actually had to relisten to this while proofreading the post as I honestly couldn’t recall what it sounded like at all unlike other songs!]

I know what you’re saying – that ‘first impression’ and the ‘music video’ one don’t sound like I was watching the same thing. Indeed… I’m not sure myself either. Did I miss a song or something? At the time of uploading this there was no evidence of the version broadcast on the BBC unless I skipped it. [editing note: I went to double check and indeed I’ve no idea what it was I saw on the BBC broadcast…]

Finland – Aksel – Looking Back

Dressed like Kim Jong Il in a navy uniform/traditional east Asian styled suit. Nice staging. Good song. Overweight with a moustache so probably wouldn’t get the votes. Fat women are acceptable in society these days but not men unless you can grow a good beard and have a big cockerel’s comb of hair too.

That suit does him no favours and I don’t think anyone really pulls off those ‘grandfather’ collar’ styles really. The staging with the projected images is really nice. The song too is something that you can easily imagine scoring really well and probably being a contender for the top 3. Unlike other entries that feel like they begin to get a bit repetitive towards the end this one doesn’t outstay it’s welcome which is a bonus few tend to consider when you’ve heard the same lyric repeatedly for minutes on end.

North Macedonia – Vasil – YOU

The song is decent. The video is blatantly ‘we are dancing as a prelude to sex’ but done in a bar makes it feel a bit seedy.

An Enrique Iglesias style song and music video featuring what appears to be a man who likes to think he has the same level of raw sex appeal but is in fact just a deluded narcissist. He looks like a bloke down the pub on a Saturday night and the lady dancing with him looks like she is on a girls night out cosplaying as a Spice Girl. The video represents what drunks think they look when they dance – when in fact they’re just flailing their limbs about while groping at each other. The song is quite good but nothing really stands out. Another ‘song from the 90s’ or early 2000s’ sounding entry. It’s okay but an ‘also ran’.

Switzerland – Gjon’s Tears – Répondez-moi

Man with a puffy sleeved shirt… novel. Song is generic sounding.

The music video and singer remind me of Robert Smith and The Cure around the time when he was going through that ‘it’s not all about the make up’ phase except if that was happening now. The framing makes this guy seem so self involved it’s hard to assess the rest of it. Some nice visuals at times but very much in the mold of ‘French new wave cinema with a dash of surrealism’. The song is mostly him singing one line then holding an ear-piercing high note [editing note: relistening to it the note is even worse – it’s probably fine in person but through a speaker it’s like a stiletto dagger to the ear]. Okay… but it’s not that appealing. What let’s it down is the awkward high notes otherwise it’s a solid sounding piece. He reminds me of a singer here called ‘Passenger’ who has a high voice and both have good songs ruined by their voices which don’t really fit the style and tone they want.

Serbia – Hurricane – Hasta La Vista

Apparently their answer to the Pussy Cat Dolls. Indeed. Very like them but in shiny material. Enjoyable enough if your wanting to dance.

Yes… very ‘Pussy Cat Dolls’ era girl group with ‘sex sells’ attitude though the song is fun and well performed so could do well on it’s own. Costuming wise there are definitely Little Mix inspired choices there. Bare chested male dancers and all the things you would expect of pop music videos of this style. The ‘pastel boxes’ bits are nice though it reminds me of the British group the ‘Sugar Babes’ when they had Heidi in it. Another ‘also ran’ ultimately. They should have gone full blown into doing references to The Terminator having worn the leather jackets because that’s what a lot of people immediately thought of upon hearing the song title no doubt.

BREAK TIME

Serbia – Marija Šerifović – Molitva – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

Graham Norton referred to her as ‘Marta 2.0’ (pronounced as ‘Marta two point oh’). A Serbian singer performing in the empty streets of Serbia. She was Serbia’s 2007 entry nwon it that year. It’s a very good song… if it was competing this would have likely been my favourite. I think it was my favourite that year too. Admittedly the fact we can hear more than 30 seconds, during the BBC broadcast, elevates it but you can just hear the quality difference. In the video we also see medical staff and others doing their work. People in future will know exactly when certain songs came out as they are featured in so many right now.

Then the Rotterdam Philharmonic (though Graham Norton, for some reason, introduced them as the London philharmonic) performed ‘love shine a light’ as venues around Europe (and elsewhere) lit up. All very ‘spiritually uplifting and that…

END OF BREAK

Spain – Blas Cantó – Universo

Lot of modern filming techniques in modern aesthetic locations. Songs very good. Probably would have won overall. Has that energy.

It reminds me of the music videos for the group called ‘Hurts’ here in Britain about half a decade ago. People covered in glitter dancing in the sterile interior and then him climbing through a desert terrain to find people with chicken wire over their faces in white robes. Interesting imagery but what does it mean if anything? The song is enjoyable. Maybe it is the sort to grow on you but then he does that ear piercing high note which puts me off. It probably would have done okay. It’s a nice touch at the end of the video there are credits for the people involved as music video production tend to go uncredited.

Albania – Arilena Ara – Fall From The Sky

everything white in a white room. Most of the clip was her susptaining anote. Probably quite good.

The music video reminds me of that YouTube art piece/musician Poppy. ‘Hi, I’m Poppy.’ ‘Hi, I’m Poppy.’ ‘Hi, I’m Poppy.’ The ‘ultra modern/ultra art house art design makes it both interesting and yet essentially barren. The birdcage bit could honestly be from the 80s. The song is very nice. I would, in future, half recall it and that it was featured in the Eurovision contest probably. It’s just distinct enough. It would probably get a decent score. There is also a lyric video version but it’s essentially a static image with the lyrics along the bottom of the screen.

Ireland – Lesley Roy – Story of My Life

Very pop song of the moment. 90s baggy suit with mesh top style costuming. It reminds me of Billie Piper’s debut single’s music video. Retro-chic style music video. Song good video …. eh… okay.

Avril Lavigne. That’s whose music it reminds me of. Or someone like that. The video again has a lot of pastels with retro designs so fits the current British trend of design and style. It’s a really fun, infectious, song. I imagine it would do very well as it’s the sort that usually does well in Eurovision with a strong easy to sing chorus. Lesley has that sort of look where she could be in her twenties or well into her forties.

Slovenia – Ana Soklič – Voda

Filmed on a beach. Another power ballad sort with loud instrumentation then quiet vocals moment. Enjoyable.

Another case where the video shown and the one available on YouTube as the official video are different. Deep voiced lady singing a song from the 90s again. There are a lot which remind me of songs from the 1990s during this contest. Maybe the 90s are trendy now but I can’t imagine that being the case for people in former Soviet block countries considering the issues that caused unless everyone has rose tinted memories of the time now? Anyway… a plain white dress with attached cape makes her look like a character from a high fantasy film like Lord of the Rings. (Galadriel specifically). The song is slow and makes no impact to be honest. When it’s in direct comparison to others featured it’s a definite low scorer unfortunately. She has a good voice though.

Austria – Vincent Bueno – Alive

Crowd pleaser, Justin Timberlake like, song. Leather jacket in an abandoned building video… very good. Would have done well.

It’s a nice video and light song. Very enjoyable. An infectious club song making you want to get up and dance. It would do well. This is another video of people with masks… was that a trend this year or is it a political statement by a number of countries? Because it’s full face masks not ‘cover your mouth’ surgical style masks which obviously would be in reference to COVID-19.

Bulgaria – Victoria – Tears Getting Sober

Sort of gothy/Billy Eilish vibe to the video. Song a melody sort. Very good.

A nice gentle song. You can imagine this being on the radio, adverts, television series. It’s one of those songs that just feels universal. The video might not be the best fit but then it gives the vibe of ‘reflecting in the evening sat in the park’ so that’s the obvious allusion. Then you get the flashes of lightning and the fire flies. I would be surprised if it didn’t do well… but then other years I have really liked some songs and they’ve not done as well as expected. Woof! This is my favourite of the competition overall! Both modern and yet timeless!

San Marino – Senhit – Freaky!

Retro chic disco/dance pop number. Fun. Lots of different styles thrown at you in quick succession.

A dance music track from about 20 years ago. Epilepsy warnings were not given before it was shown or the BBC chose the 30 seconds when it didn’t need the warning. There are a lot of interesting visuals in the video but it’s so much you’ve no time to appreciate any one thing. To induce the sense of it being ‘freaky’ I guess but there is nothing bizarre… just distinctly variable. The song is fun and will get a lot of play on the radio and in clubs (you know… when the quarantines are lifted…) so while it wouldn’t get massive points in this contest it’s definitely one that will serve Senhit well career wise.

Iceland – Daði og Gagnamagnið – Think About Things

Video is very ‘Okay Go!’ from about a decade ago. Fun song. Would have done very well if not won. Lots of fun. The guy is 6 foot 9!!!

This honestly screams ‘this years winner’ when compared to everything else which is either stuff we’ve seen before or doesn’t have ‘the spirit of Eurovision’ which seems some mysterious level of ‘cheesy yet technically competent’ which marks certain performances out. The only reason it wouldn’t win is their staging would be less extravagant than some others on the night. An infectious beat. Easy lyrics to sing along to. Quirky presentation. Admittedly I’ve not posted Eurovision’s official video as that’s just a stage performance and the music video on the groups page is much more fun and is the one shown by the BBC. The only costume difference is they have boiler suits for the stage version with just the musicians though still retaining the pixel art portraits of their faces on their chests.

BREAK TIME

Michael Schulte & Ilse DeLange – Ein Bisschen Frieden – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

He was Germany’s entry in 2018 and is doing this year’s commentary apparently. Ilse is from ‘The Common Linnets’ who were the Netherlands 2014 entry. They perform a song from 1983 (actually it was the winner from 1982… so Graham Norton was wrong again?) by the German Entry Nicole. The song is called Ein Bißchen Frieden (A Little Bit of Peace).

It’s very Country and Western and yet ‘British pop’ of the era too. Good. I like the venue especially.

END OF BREAK

Greece – Stefania – SUPERG!RL

Girl imagines she can levitate. Very dance focused song but good energy would do well.

It reminds me of a song from last year due to the use of horns (albeit they’re electronic here). Her voice sounds like it is modulated electronically in the music video. The video is very good but… the song feels generic despite it’s good energy. I can’t help but feel this really wants to put itself forward to be the song used for YA novels adapted into Television series or films. It’s okay but I think the music video adds a lot to it while the song itself is good but it’s the sort soon forgotten. Like Holly Valance’s songs from years ago. It reminds me of that sort of energy.

Czech Republic – Benny Cristo – Kemama

90s style R&B music video – people in low lit areas… very 90s R&B video. The song is a light dance song. Okay, but nothing special.

The camera spins around. It reminds me of the Japanese action film ‘Azumi’ where they did that for the final showdown and I felt a bit ill… nothing to do with the camera work but I do recall it because of that. It’s a club song. Not my kind of song but it’s okay. It’s not a style I listen to much so can only say it’s a nice change to the usual stuff we have in the competition. The spinning was trying to do something with what was a relatively bland video when you could tell what was on screen.

Also wasn’t the Czech government trying to get people to call the country ‘Czechia’ nowadays instead of Czech Republic?

Poland – Alicja – Empires

Very fire filled video. Another power ballad sort. Seen it before. Poland used to have unique stuff but they’ve gone tame again…

The song would make a good theme song for a drama series or such. The video is okay. The is a lot of fire imagery. You would half think this is a political song and Poland was actively involved in a conflict. Either that or this is the theme song to a James Bond film. It’s quite good but this is the sort of song you expect to be in the Eurovision song contest. Another Galadriel dress. Alicja apparently has only one facial expression too.

Moldova – Natalia Gordienko – Prison

Lots of heavy bass. Music video in the desert again. Very good but wouldn’t win. Appearance in the video is model. In video to audience is girl next door… interesting

‘Look I’m a bad girl’ sort of imagery and ‘I’m an attractive woman who knows it and uses her sexuality to empower myself’ type music video with lots of close ups of herself and male models obsessed with her. It’s a good song (initially) but the video doesn’t serve it well. More walking through a desert like landscapes like other competitors. Then some blurry close ups. It would get some decent marks but end up somewhere in the middle. It gets repetitive quickly though thus becomes bland after a minute or so. The music video even more so. I half expect it to turn out to be an advert for a perfume.

Cyprus – Sandro – Running

Dance club anthem song. Basic video with some lights under a sheet suspended overhead.

Another music video where they have them dancing under a suspended sheet of fabric. Is that the visual theme this year? ‘If there’s a fabric ceiling then it’s a dance track’. Good rhythm and beat for dancing to but the lyrics are incredibly basic. A very meh song to be honest overall. You’ll enjoy dancing to the rhythm but it’s remix fodder at best. Costume wise its ‘t shirt and jeans’ so… yeah nothing to comment on there. Also that’s some weak moustache game you got going on there bro – have some self respect and shave that bum fluff off or grow it out properly because you won’t be able to grow a John Waters no matter how much you might want to.

Romania – Roxen – Alcohol You

Floating letters music video in neon blue night time. Very reflective soulful song.

Drifting letters in the air. An interesting music video. Good lyrics though the ‘alcohol/I’ll call’ pun is a bit of a stretch to be polite though it’s a nice try and better than the all too on the nose lyrics others have. On the whole yeah this is really good. Not sure about the face jewels. Kind of ends too suddenly. It would probably be in the top three or five at least.

Croatia – Damir Kedžo – Divlji Vjetre

Standard modern entry. Backing singers etc. Not much to add.

Clothing wise he just came from his waiter job in a nearby restaurant. The song is generic. Honestly sounds like if you averaged out all of this style of song this would be at the exact centre of the curve. There are a lot of backing singers, off to one side, to the point you wonder why they didn’t put them directly behind him for more symmetrical staging. It’s a nice effort but was never going to stand out. And it’s in his native language rather than English which, as with previous years, nets them extra points in my book. It’s just that it’s so pedestrian an entry unfortunately even in these tamer, culturally homogenised, times.

Germany – Ben Dolic – Violent Thing

Puffed up jacket. Slav gopnik ‘#1 with the hair clippers except for a fringe at the front’ hairstyle. High pitched singer trying to be cool. Ehhh…. it’s okay but bland really.

The video is a nicely cinematic effort. Clearly money was thrown at it. He facially reminds me of the little boy from ‘This Is England’ grown up. He’s got a high voice. It reminds me of the singer ‘Passenger’. I don’t like this modern castrato singing style he and others have used this year. It hurts my ears needlessly for to show off their range but not actually achieve anything with it in the song. The video is generic ‘in the club’ stuff. It’s the sort of song that would do well but not one I can appreciate. Aside from that the lyrics and instrumental are very good. If someone else had done this I would probably like it better.

BREAK TIME

From Israel we get an interview with Netta who has Bayonetta hair… Joking about what she has done in quarantine. Showing her opening last year’s ceremony. She wishes everyone well then presents a video of a song she has done.

Netta – Cuckoo – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

Much more toned down compared to her winning one. An excellent song. The sort you enjoy hearing repeatedly by a singer but it never really gets the notoriety of their louder bombastic songs. Ironically she wouldn’t have won Eurovision with this but it’s a much better song in my opinion as it doesn’t rely on gimmicks and has a much more impassioned emotional resonance. Very fitting for these times where people are distanced and having to face who they are when their socialising options are much more limited even with social media. As per usual it’s the songs not mean to be competing which seem to have the more impactful performances.

Then online stuff featuring someone watching the show with her dog. Then a montage of people singing song fragments. Who would the singers give their 12 points to? Performers admit they would give it to their neighbouring countries and such though some give to performers from elsewhere too. That’s sad to hear that even after the measures taken to deter block voting there is still that sentiment. Favoritism over meritocracy. Such is the way of the world sadly.

Duncan Laurence – Someone Else – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light version

Last year’s winner performing his song. Good stuff. Without question you can tell this is a well written and performed song. (cue someone looking at my comments from last year and noting what I said… no, actually no one will… no one will because no one reads these Eurovision posts but it’s nice to remind me of which I liked and which had no impact so Eurovision doesn’t, years later, say one song was good but actually wasn’t). Saying that he does look like he just came from his fast food restaurant job due to the shirt he is wearing. I guess that’s the fashion right now – to look like your wearing a retail/service industry uniform… then again military jackets and such are still a popular clothing choice so maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising but it says something about European culture that that’s where fashion has drifted. Maybe it’s meant to be like a male nurses shirt – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ones that look like that.

Then finally a look in performers’ homes while they make reassuring comments about sticking together and such. Some seem more in context of the competition, some more regarding the virus… some just seem generic or self referential…

END OF BREAK

Malta – Destiny – All Of My Love

Energetic anthem – kids dancing in the rain. Would have done very well! Corto Maltese would be proud.

Another music video with some random inspirational narration at the start of it. I can see that be next year’s trend then. Really good song which would get a good reception outside of the contest. More ‘people looking off into the distance as if aspirational’ stuff in the video but the free running along an abandoned building and the lake/river/seaside is a nice change to the ‘in the desert’ ones.

Estonia – Uku Suviste – What Love Is

Boy band member striking out on his own. Open shirt in an empty theatre filled with candles. It’s okay but… it would have got girl votes rather than song votes.

In an abandoned building – which in hindsight is a trend this year for some. Slow start. Then BOOM it’s Hogwarts with all the candles! His style is very 90s boy band. You half expect the other members to turn up. Yes I stand by my first impression ‘wow being by myself is great… but so is love’… very ‘boy band member releasing his debut single independently’.

Australia – Montaigne – Don’t Break Me

Modern Art house music video – song is good ‘dance music remix’ fodder. It would get lauded there but here… ehhhh….

Sings very fast initially. Her costume is very out of keeping with the song. I like the dance routine parts involving her with the dancers acting as puppeteers (like Kuroko from Japanese Noh theatre) but… it’s also a bit try hard. That’s weird to say for a Eurovision entry but it really seems overworked and thus a bit mechanical and soulless. I want to like it but… I’m not clear what her costuming is meant to express save that the person she is singing to considers her a clown… but she isn’t. She reminds me of Taika Waititi in a way… who, of course, is from New Zealand so, unintentionally, I’m insulting her a bit…

Ukraine – Go_A – Solovey

Yes! That’s Ukrainian energy! They always deliver! And fantastic costume and stage design for the performance. Reminds me of HARD KISS in a good way. Would have been my personal winner.

Okay well either this or Belgium were the best song of the evening as far as I’m concerned personally. Belgium for the mainstream this for the ‘representing our nation’ option. It reminds me of ONUKA to be honest but less experimental in their use of techno/synthesizers compared to them while retaining some of the more traditional instrumental aspects.

Ukraine likes to put up very modern entries recently but it’s possible, after the issues when they had a very politically charged entry which courted some controversy, they’ve chosen the more noble path of showing how cutting edge modern and European they are as a nation in contrast to Russia who still wish to retain a certain level of distance and traditionalism to remain distinct from Europe. So there is still the friction there but it’s not overwhelming each countries entries as it did in previous years with the boycotting issues and such.

The costumes are very interesting. Woof! The firework from the guitar seemed a bit pointless. Their singing reminds me of ‘Tulia’ who represented Poland last year in terms of their harmony. So this is your answer to the question you never asked: ‘what would an ONUKA and Tulia collaboration sound like?’ Maybe I just have weird tastes in music. I would prefer something experimental over something bland though. Better to make an impression, good or bad, than none at all when it comes to the arts.

Denmark – Ben & Tan – Yes

Guy with a guitar. Lady accompanies him…. feels a bit wielded together. No chemistry.

A ‘couple’ where the woman sings while the man plays a guitar and sings in support. It’s a romantic cliche but it’s worked in the past. Both dressed fashionable though I don’t get the ‘half jacket’ dress trend for women in the past year or so. High fashion I guess. It’s not for someone like me to understand. It’s a nice song with good ‘sing-a-long’ potential. It’s a Eurovision classic style wise but probably wouldn’t win unless there was some lucky scores. Probably it’ll be the one cited from this year in future when looking back if it’s for entries that had ‘the Eurovision spirit’ if they want to overlook the global events of this year.

Italy – Diodato – Fai Rumore

Arena di Verona

Empty amphitheatre venue. Leather jacket. Good song. Apparently gone platinum in Italy already.

So there are both the above ‘Arena di Verona’ video and the ‘Official Music Video’ versions. I like the arena one. It really draws into focus his performance. It’s an impactful soulful song and will be looked back as showing the spirit of this year where we are separated and yet looking forward to reunion. It will no doubt be used in future to represent this year more so that the Denmark entry despite it having ‘the Eurovision spirit’ of other years. Probably with some sentiment that ‘we’ve never been further apart yet closer together’.

The music video version

Here’s the official music video with the English subtitles in the video itself. Italy always makes a really hard effort to win but rarely seems too. It is no doubt incredibly frustrating. It’s a subdued yet artistic video. I can see people enjoying this long after the contest is over. The lyrics really hit home due to current events so no wonder they wanted to perform it in the Arena di Verona’. Another contender for song of the year though not my personal choice because of my odd tastes.

Armenia – Athena Monoukian – Chains On You

Modern flashing artistic video. Very audio stabilised voice music video with Rihanna’s style from a few years ago. Good but wouldn’t win.

Yeah, this needed an epilepsy warning! A lot of ‘sexy yet stylish’ imagery. Woof. The song is good until it gets to the chorus part then it gets a bit flimsy. The ‘red’ parts of the music video and the backing dancers in the ‘white’ parts are the best aesthetics of the video. The song ultimately is an ‘also ran’ but might get some votes from people into Rihanna and her style of music as this really reminds me of Rihanna’s work from about a decade or so ago.

Netherlands – Jeangu Macrooy – Grow

Gospel R&B – people sat in a circle to make it confessional. Very good! Stands out amongst the others.

Excellent song. Really nice video. It would deserve high scores and could have potentially won depending on the running order and if other acts didn’t perform well on the night. A nice gentle song. It’s the sort of song you hear now and years down the line completely get taken by surprise realising this is where you first heard him because you’ve been into him for such a long time. It builds to such a great positive high by the end but hopefully had he performed it live he wouldn’t end it as suddenly as the video does.

FINALE OF THE EVENING

A message from Björn of ABBA. A retrospective because they were so successful. Talks of his grandson telling him people in school told him his grandfather was a pop star and him being incredulous about it. Then Björn praises the contest as being ‘so very European and letting people forget about Coronavirus for a moment‘. He ends by joking that he is glad they chose ‘shine a light’ and not ‘Waterloo’ for this years slogan.

Then Graham Norton. He joked earlier about the delay in the interviews and indeed it was something the host mentioned so they obviously heard him earlier but its only a split second. It actually came across as if the hosts were being a bit bitter about it – so even this year the hosts are a bit self-important… Maybe he rubbed Eurovision up the wrong way with the comment like Terry Wogan used to do (if so then that’s great as his acerbic commentary was always a massive part of the experience other nations sadly didn’t get to appreciate). Then some chat. Where was he when ‘love shine a light’ won Eurovision for Britain. ‘Face down on the floor drunk probably’ he jokes.

Then he returns to commenting and says it was awkward yet ‘strangely emotional’. Ha ha.

Love Shine A Light performed by the artists of Eurovision 2020 – Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light

Then we get all the competitors for this year singing parts of ‘Love Shine A Light’ as there will be no winner this year. Obviously all sang it at the same time they did their recorded song introduction parts regarding their songs as they’re in the exact same place as those clips. A nice way to round out the show with Katrina (and her poodle) doing the final part of the song.

Finally…

The odd thing is they could have had the competition anyway but with the caveat it’s based on the music videos or done via broadcast… but I guess they insisted it must be only judged based on a live performance on the night to ensure no foulplay. Still that feels a bit needless as it means everyone either returns next year or loses their chance to have participated. Some had tried multiple times to participate only to get through this year and for the pandemic to occur. Graham Norton joked maybe it was the universe trying to tell them something… Nonetheless everyone will return next year to Rotterdam if they can.

Apologies to those who expected this to be published within 24 hours of the event but it took longer than expected. Hopefully you enjoyed it. If you feel like leaving a comment, a like or following the site you’re more than welcome to.

Until next year.

Роландов рог (Roland’s Horn) by Marina Tsvetaeva

Like a jester complaining of the cruel weight

of his hump – let me tell about my orphaned state.

 

Behind the devil there’s his horde, behind the thief there’s his band,

behind everyone there’s someone to understand

 

and support him – the assurance of a living wall

of thousands just like him should he stumble and fall;

 

the soldier has his comrades, the emperor has his throne,

but the jester has nothing but his hump to call his own.

 

And so: tired of holding to the knowledge that I’m quite

alone and that my destiny is always to fight

 

beneath the jeers of the fool and the philistine’s derision,

abandoned – by the world – with the world – in collision,

 

I blow with all my strength on my horn and send

its cry into the distance in search of a friend.

 

And this fire in my breast assures me I’m not all

alone, but that some Charlemagne will answer my call!

 

by Марина Ивановна Цветаева (Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva)

(March 1921)

translated by Stephen Capus


Fun facts: This poem was a favourite of Varlam Shalamov, according to Irina Sirotinskaya (she was a close friend of his and the holder of his works’ publication rights). It’s very likely he may have referenced this work in his poem Roncesvalles.

Tsvetaeva is referencing the romanticised tale of the historical figure Roland‘s death as retold in the eleventh-century poem The Song of Roland, where he is equipped with the olifant (a signalling horn) and an unbreakable sword, enchanted by various Christian relics, named Durendal. The Song contains a highly romanticized account of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass and Roland’s death, setting the tone for later fantastical depiction of Charlemagne’s court.

And, yes, he is ‘that’ Roland – the one who Stephen King references in his Dark Tower series though it was chiefly inspired by him via the poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Robert Browning.

 

Original Russian cyrillic version:

 

Роландов рог

Как нежный шут о злом своем уродстве,
Я повествую о своем сиротстве…

За князем — род, за серафимом — сонм,
За каждым — тысячи таких, как он,

Чтоб, пошатнувшись,— на живую стену
Упал и знал, что — тысячи на смену!

Солдат — полком, бес — легионом горд.
За вором — сброд, а за шутом — все горб.

Так, наконец, усталая держаться
Сознаньем: перст и назначением: драться,

Под свист глупца и мещанина смех —
Одна из всех — за всех — противу всех! —

Стою и шлю, закаменев от взлету,
Сей громкий зов в небесные пустоты.

И сей пожар в груди тому залог,
Что некий Карл тебя услышит, рог!

 

A recital of the original Russian language version

Pinnacles Exposed by Ludwig Derangadage Scotty

Scorched, by searing rays of sun, bleached white;

Exposed, to elements of wind and rain, stood firm;

Forgotten, by generations of man and beast, eerily lonely;

Await, fateful destiny for restoration and use, obediently silent;

Forever beckoning to the heaven’s universe,

through merciful abeyance;

Disturbed, spirits of ancestors long gone, wailing on the breeze;

Groaning, amongst debris of machinery derelict, voices unclear;

Mesmerized, by haunting moonlit shaded, in peaceful bliss;

Carefree, days bygone on forefathers’ land, in reminiscence;

Witness, the ultimate destruction of Naoero land, for gains;

Leaving only birds afraid, hunted by man with aid;

To forever linger, undisturbed, until rehabilitation proper.

 

by His Excellency Ludwig Derangadage Scotty, former president of Nauru


In a book titled ‘World Leaders’ Favourite Poems’ he chose one he wrote himself…