First, a little confession: the Eurovision Song Contest is an annually guilty pleasure of mine. It’s cringe and full of cliches but every time it is a lot of fun and sometimes you can find some gems between exploding stages, erotic dance moves and social criticism presented through songs. I know it as an event you watch with your friends and family, get drunk, making jokes and be fascinated from some really talented and catchy songs.
For every one of you who do not know what the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is: The ESC is an annual competition among nearly every country in the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) primarily representing European countries, but countries like Israel or in the past Morocco also were a part of the ESC. A few years ago, Australia joined the ESC too, because they had a big ESC-fanbase and had sent a good act for an anniversary show, so that the EBU thought Australia could join if they wanted to. After two semi-finals on Tuesday and Thursday, 21 acts are joining the main competition on Saturday evening with the four biggest EBU-financier United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France as well as the titleholder of the last year. In the end, a jury and a telephone vote will award 1 to 12 points each, and the winner will hold the ESC the following year.
Two things were outstanding for the ESC 2021. First, almost every eastern European singer wore the same dress and second the number of queer messages through the songs or the expression on the stage was immense. On the one hand, Italy won with a Rock group who fights gender stereotypes, but Germany was 25th of 26 with the Song I Don’t Feel Hate by Jendrik who is gay and sung a song against homophobic messages on social media.
The ESC of 2021 was in my opinion one of the best in the last years. Six songs I really liked, only a few I did not really like and a lot of “it’s okay”. Sometimes in the last years I was happy to find one or two songs I liked while there was a bunch of music trash a part of it. Only seven of the 26 artists was in my opinion total trash: Serbia with Hurricanes Loco Ioco, which was a typical sex sells dancefloor song from the Balkan. United Kingdom with the prominent James Newman, his song Embers is okay but nothing that stands out of the craziness of the ESC and eventually got a total of zero points. Spain, a nation with iconic music, again had a struggle to send a good song. What Moldau thought will always be their secret. In Germany it has become a tradition to send a song to the ESC only once every few years. And this year was not one of the few years, a sympathetic musician is not enough. Aserbaidschan has sent a mash up of buzz words and songsstructures like every year (sometimes it works) and San Marino tried their best but the well-known Flo Rida, who was the feature of the singer Senhit, was not enough in my opinion.
From the average songs of the evening there are maybe some honourable mentions. Finland, which often sends a Rock band to the contest, got represented by Blind Channel, a band that played on Wacken Open Air and had a Nu-Metal style song Dark Side which was in my opinion okay but nothing special, but got honoured by the viewers. The Albanian song Karma by Anxhela Peristeri is in my opinion a pretty stereotypical ESC-Song from a positive perspective, what also counts for the Ukraine group Go A with their song SHUM. If you want to listen to one stereotypical ESC-Song, go for it.
Before I start with my Top Five of the best songs of the evening, I will recommend two of the better ones which I want to recognize as pretty good songs but was not fit pretty good for a competition like the ESC. First is Hooverphonic with The Wrong Place – a mix of Alternative and Trip-Hop-Vibes of the 90s. Massive Attack are greeting, I liked it and I think it will get a place on one of my playlists on Spotify. The second one was the Bulgarian Song Growing Up Is getting Old by Victoria. She looked like Lana del Rey and sings like Billie Eilish. A good song, in my opinion too little recognized from the public vote.
Now my five highlights of the evening:
5. Italy: Maneskin – Zitti e buoni
Good act, good song, a pretty good stage perfomance. Old School Rock riffs meet a modern interpretation. The Italian lyrics harmonize perfectly with the riffs and drums and increase each other until they explode in the chorus. Even if they were not my favourite act of the evening, a deserved winner.
4. Portugal: The Black Mamba – Love is on My Side
Since Amar Pelos Dios from Salvador Sobral, the winner of 2017, Portugal has a special place in my ESC-Heart. With The Black Mambas Love Is On My Side Portugal again sends a soulful song to the contest, this time with strong Blues vibes, great lyrics and sound. The 12th place in the end was not fair in my opinion, but when a song does not hit at the public it’s hard to earn more points.
3. Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears – Tout I’univers
A great pop song in French. With the French artist the best voice at the evening. What a beautiful voice. Lyrics in French which was on point with the music. An emotive pop-song with elements of Trip-Hop. Totally deserved this many points of the jury-vote, but this kind of songs has a hard stand on the public vote, what maybe has cost the victory. But a highly earned 3rd place.
2. France: Barbara Pravi – Voilà
A typical French chanson in a 3/4 -beat which increases to the end. I have a soft spot in my heart for this kind of songs that remind me of some Èdith Piaf or Jaques Brel, the song reminded me at some spots of Ne me quitte pas. With Switzerland the best voice act of the evening and a highly deserved 2nd place
1. Iceland: Dadi og Gagnamagnid – 10 Years
Dadi of Gagnamagnid was my favourite of the last year with their song Think About Things. They got the chance to perform a different song this year. I must say I loved their song of the last year and I love their song of this year which has the vibes of the last year. A good synth-pop song with an iconic stage presence, good voice and a kind of funny elements. Okay, it is not JAJA DING DONG, but for me the best song of the evening and an earned fourth place.
We will see each other next year in Italy, 365 days until nearly the whole of Europe will come together in front of a TV, beamer or public viewing to watch the ESC. And I can only say again, I love this show.