Like a phoenix out of the ashes, the Eurovision Song Contest has risen and is returning to our screens this month. Huzzah!
I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for gay Christmas. So much so that I’m back with my annual, tweet-sized review of every entry to this year’s Contest. This is my seventh attempt to guide you through the highs and lows. Maybe reading this will save you some painful listening later.
In preparing this blogpost, I had the same rules as ever:
- I’m only allowed to listen to each entry once1
- Each entry is allowed a tweet-sized piece of commentary: meaning a maximum of 280 characters
This year, I’ve listened to the entries in the order they appear on the official Eurovision album. They are presented in alphabetical order, below.
So let’s hop in…
Karma by Anxhela Peristeri
This is apparently Anxhela’s second attempt at getting to Eurovision – her first was in 2001. She got here. Good for her.
After a 20 year wait though, all I can think is: what a waste of an opening!
The track grabs you with a dramatic 15 second intro and then… meh.
Technicolour by Montaigne
This track’s instrumentation sounds like it’s ripped from a SEGA MegaDrive: and I freaking love it. It’s weird, whacky and exactly what I want from my pop.
The angelic, little vocal runs that Montaigne peppers throughout beautifully clash with the mechanical tones in the track.
Amen by Vincent Bueno
“Is this what you wanted?”, Vincent asks in this slightly angry, impassioned song that’s seemingly about the end of a relationship.
Sorry, Vince. No. It isn’t.
It’s certainly a well put-together ballad, but a ballad nonetheless; and I only want happiness in my Eurovision 2021.
Mata Hari by Efendi
There’s a nice throwback in the lyrics of this track to Efendi’s defunct track from the Eurovision that never was, but that’s probably the best thing about this Anglo-Azerbaijani lyrical mashup.
It’s got energy and fight, but it doesn’t slap like last year’s entry.
The Wrong Place by Hooverphonic
Imagine you’re a pebble being dragged along by the current of a river. That’s what this song is like. An unending, flowing rhythm that just kind of pulls you along.
That it’s all a bit anticlimactic when you get to the sea doesn’t matter. Just go along for the ride.
Growing Up is Getting Old by Victoria
Doing something unusual is not, well, unusual in Eurovision, and few things say “I’m trying to be quirky” like a ticking clock in your backing track.
Of course the problem with an unusual gimmick is that it can end up being the most interesting part of your otherwise dull song… 👀
Tick-Tock by Albina
You’ll probably drift off a bit in the verses of this track; but the choruses? The choruses are where the action is in this dance track.
There’s a nice diversion into Albanian lyrics later in the song, which adds a nice local-angle to the song after establishing the hook in English.
El Diablo by Elena Tsagrinou
Cyprus has really zeroed in on the club-floor-filler over the last few years and this is another classic of the genre.
The chorus has a memorable hook, and the wider, spiky instrumentation is complemented by Elena’s solid vocal. It’s no Fuego, but it’s good.
Omaga by Benny Cristo
This fresh, floor-filling bop catches your ear immediately and it keeps it for the full three minutes.
It is very obviously a song about just wanting sex at the end of the Earth, and I am here for it, Benny boy. I appreciate your honesty.
Øve Os På Hinanden by Fyr Og Flamme
This brought a smile to my face within the first few seconds. It starts with some brilliant electric guitar riffs and synth piano, and it gets more fun from there.
It’s as if an 80s chart-topper got smushed with opening credits of Chucklevision. Delightful!
The Lucky One by Uku Suviste
The synthesisers are out in force in this track, setting a dark and moody backdrop for this driving ballad about heartbreak and relationship breakdown.
An incredibly abrupt ending ruins an otherwise well produced, even if middle-of-the-road, track.
Dark Side by Blind Channel
This is a ripping rock number with some just-the-right-side of R-rated lyrics and echoes of ‘Who let the dogs out?’ in the backing vocals.
No doubt hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Lordi, it’s a refreshing diversion into a lesser-trodden genre for Eurovision.
Voilà by Barbara Pravi
Take a piano. Add some understated but slowly escalating strings. Layer on top a female vocal with plenty of swagger, arrogance and sass.
What do you get? Oh yeah, almost every French entry for the last 65 years.
Including this one. Voila!
You by Tornike Kipiani
I’ve never taken LSD, but if I had taken it, I imagine that this is what it would make me feel like.
A bit spaced-out, very wobbly, and as if the world had been placed into slow-motion for a bit. Not my idea of fun.
I Don’t Feel Hate by Jendrik
This is very sincere and very weird. There are some absolutely incredible – by which I mean totally non-sensical – choices in the production here.
One example: a random spoken-word section at the end that’s reminiscent of a radio voiceover.
In a word, it’s bonkers.
Last Dance by Stefania
This song is a grower, not a shower. It takes about a minute to get into itself but when it does, it’s pretty fun!
Stefania gives a strong vocal. The instrumentation is relatively simple but the production is full of momentum. There are few dull moments once it gets into gear.
10 Years by Daði og Gagnamagnið
If the 2020 Contest had taken place, Daði was the one to beat. So the question is, can Daði top last year’s absolute tune?
It’s a fun synth-pop track with plenty of whacky production, but it’s missing the earworm-like hook of Think About Things.
Maps by Lesley Roy
This is a punchy pop number with way too much going on. There are no peaks and troughs to it: it’s just peak, starting high and not letting up from there.
You don’t really get to enjoy any one part of it because of that. It all just blends into one.
Set Me Free by Eden Alene
This starts out pretty tame and then wham: the beat kicks in and it’s party time.
This reminds be a little of a Dua Lipa’s Levitating, with some vibes from the Middle East smothered on top. It’s fun with a strong vocal.
Zitti e buoni by Måneskin
This alt-rock entry is a bit unusual for Italy. It makes a nice change from the drunk dad shouting into a microphone at a wedding genre that has dominated their entries in recent years.
It’s a punchy entry that will probably feel hollow without an audience and a mosh-pit.
The Moon is Rising by Samanta Tīna
I don’t know what to make of this. It’s less a song and more a piece of performance art.
Featuring a gut-shattering bass line coupled with lyrics that appear to have been inspired by the Legend of Zelda; it is just odd.
Samanta’s vocals are absolutely thwacking though.
Discoteque by The Roop
Just like The Roop’s entry last year, this song is an experience for the ears. Nothing about this track sounds like disco to me, despite the title, but it is energising.
I could have done without the creepy voiceover at the start of the track, but the rest of it is great.
Je Me Casse by Destiny
Last year Destiny brought a whacking ballad and lungs to the table. This year, she’s bringing a sax-infused clap-back banger.
It smacks from the very first bar. It’s a fresh and fierce flamboyance of a song, with an artist displaying charisma and talent off the charts.
Sugar by Natalia Gordienko
Sometimes what you want from Eurovision is something quirky; Molodova has a good track record of bringing the quirky.
And I have to be honest, from the country that brought us the Epic Sax Guy, this carbon-copy dance-floor filler is a bit disappointing.
Birth Of A New Age by Jeangu Macrooy
Jeangu’s vocals on this track are rich and interesting.
I don’t know which specific New Age he thinks is being birthed, but I don’t mind going there.
This novel number with gospel overtones and memorable hook feels hopeful. Which is nice in this – waves hands – environment.
Here I stand by Vasil
Every year, one entry has to play the part of knock-off West End musical number; seemingly this year that role falls to North Macedonia.
Despite a strong vocal and a decent key change, it’s a very poor example of the genre and a very poor Eurovision entry.
Fallen Angel by TIX
This feels like a song a millennial teenager might have written during their “indie phase”. It’s been ripped right out of the mid to late 2000s. Think Owl City.
The lyrics are pining, the instrumentation is ever-so-slightly overproduced, and the vocals are appropriately droning.
The Ride by RAFAŁ
To an extent, it doesn’t matter if this is good or not; the Polish diaspora is a very strong voting contingent.
Luckily, it is good. It’s one of many 80s-style synth-pop entries this year. It lacks a bit of light and shade, but it’s a tub-thumper and fun to listen to.
Love is on My Side by The Black Mamba
Whilst the timbre of The Black Mamba’s lead vocalist is intriguing, this song is just boring.
The central refrain – love is on my side – sounds more like a funeral dirge than a hopeful retort. A late electric guitar solo doesn’t save it.
A definite toilet break slot.
Amnesia by ROXEN
The title of this track probably wasn’t intended to be self-referential. It is largely forgettable, save for some intriguing vocal production, and the bold lyrical choice to repeatedly and unironically belt out the phrase “self love”.
Russian Woman by Manizha
A large part of this entry is punctuated by what appears to be a guitar in need of tuning. It’s very, very annoying.
That’s a shame, because the central message of female empowerment is good! Another in a string of not very good Russian entries.
Adrenalina by Senhit
Given the hype surrounding this track when it came out, I was expecting much more.
It’s a good song, and a fun collaboration between last year’s entrant and the one-and-only Flo Rida. But that’s it: it’s good, not great.
It feels a bit too Billboard 100 and not Eurovision enough .
Loco Loco by Hurricane
This track follows a suspiciously familiar format to Hurricane’s defunct 2020 entry, Hasta la vista. Whilst it’s a fun and in-your-face dance track featuring a good key change, it’s just not as good as their first attempt.
Amen by Ana Soklič
One of two entries with this title, and neither of them hit home. This minimalist ballad has a strong vocal but the overall package is just disjointed.
The peak of the song, which is like an X-Factor winner’s single, is short lived and the whole song rounds out too abruptly at the end.
Voy A Quedarme by Blas Cantó
People say French is the language of love; this song is evidence to the contrary. (It’s Spanish).
This is a slick, yet squishy ballad that tops out with a brilliant falsetto, all presented en Español. Aside from that impressive crescendo however, it’s a largely forgettable song.
Voices by Tusse
This is, as usual, a polished piece of perfectly-produced pop from the Swedes. You’d expect that from a country that takes Eurovision almost too seriously.
There’s a strong hook in the chorus, a well-landed key change and some cute backing vocals. That said, I don’t feel like this is a standout entry.
Tout l’univers by Gjon’s Tears
The translated lyrics for this song reveal a non-sensical string of metaphors but it doesn’t matter.
I liked the pure quality of Gjon’s voice last year. I still like it now. It’s exquisite. This year, he’s given us a bit more of a dramatic song to show it off.
SHUM by GO_A
The best part of this song is when it ends.
I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. Ukrainian folklore and electronic music are a terrible combination.
Please make it stop. It is just noise.
Embers by James Newman
For once, the Beeb has put some effort in.
This peppy track could squash itself bang in the middle of the UK Top 40. It’s good.
That said, there’s just something missing from it. It’s like a plane careering down the runway, ready to take off but not building up quite enough speed.
Phew! That was a wild ride. 39 entries later, I think it would be nice to take a trip to Valletta in 2022; don’t you?
As always, I’ve followed the UK’s national selection process – which this year was just re-announcing the same artist with a new song. That means I’ve heard the UK entry more than once; but that’s the only exception I’m allowed. ↩︎