The songs have been chosen, the running determined… Do I dare and publish anything though? The memory of last year is still quite fresh – probably because 2021 feels very 2020 in more than one way. I was all ready to go last season when they pulled the plug, so this is sorta triggering. But it kinda feels like it’s all happening this year, so… Let’s press play anyway! Starting with semi 1, of course – då kör vi! Oh wait, wrong contest… *facepalm*
1. Lithuania – The Roop – Discotheque
The Song: Dance like nobody’s watching? I wholeheartedly concur! Loving the clubby vibe here, it’s much more subdued and seductive than its catchy predecessor. I don’t know if that’s a good thing however – I play this one now and again, but I’m not really as hypnotized by it as I was by On Fire. That one was more straightforward, with its infectious 80’s computer sound. But Discotheque definitely has its own merits. It’s a great opener for this semi in more than one way – it gets the party going, it refers to the current predicament we’re all in without going negative about it AND it showcases ESC is back with a bang. Party hardy!
Standout line: “I got the moves – it’s gonna blow.” I got the moves too, let’s blow together – in a social disctance appropriate way *of course*
The Voice: Vaidotas does a decent job, especially taking into account how much he is moving around. Luckily they have a clever chorus that doesn’t require too much vocal effort.
The Style: I do hope they keep the performance as it was in the NF. The yellow, the 80s vibe, the Spock-ish tricks, even the silly hops – it’s a perfect fit. It’s A LOT, but it’s true to their band name – according to their bio, in English ‘to roop’ is an archaic term that means ‘to shout out’ or ‘to make a great noise’. Well, visually they’re certainly doing exactly that.
Why it will qualify: It’s quirky, upbeat and up first – a shoe-in for the final I’d say.
Why it won’t qualify: A bit too quirky, possibly maybe.
Give your own rating for Lithuania down at the bottom of the page
2. Slovenia – Ana Soklič – Amen
The Song: Confession time (ha!) – the trauma that is a youth spent in a Born Again Christians environment is triggered by the words Hallelujah and Amen. So, not off to the best of starts here – even if the Amen takes a different turn in these lyrics. I kinda like the vibe they set here though…until that bridge kicks in and we take a hard right to Gospel. It almost feels we got lured into that one…even if the Hallelujah’s should have been a dead giveaway. Also: there’s only one ESC Amen, and that’s Israel 1995. God, I hate that entry. Also also: I prefer Voda. By miles. Sorry ‘bout it.
Standout line: “When ya learn to rise again” Why ya trying to make ‘ya’ happen? Is it the cult of the Ya Ya Ding Dong trying to get to us?
The Voice: Love. It. Thé selling point of this entry. The low parts are so well done, I could die. Ana’s range is impressive and she explores every inch of it within these tiny three minutes. Applause, applause! Shame it’s wasted on this entry, but applause!
The Style: We can all assume the live rendition will be rather close to what we see in the preview video, no? Either way, it’s quite stylish – much like last year. Loving the slicked back hair, that alone gets the rating up with one point.
In one line: How to try and turn water into wine: a journey with Ana Soklič.
Why it will qualify: It’s the only grand female ballad in the semi.
Why it won’t qualify: Number two slot, amen.
Give your own rating for Slovenia down at the bottom of the page
3. Russia – Manizha – Russian Woman
The Song: I love me some surprises in ESC and this is quite the trip. The tempo changes, the unexpected hip hop elements, the infusion with the Russian folksy and choir sounds… This really is something. Those lyrics are something as well – female empowerment with a Russian twist. I’d almost argue the lyrics feel a bit weird representing the land of the Poetin, but then again: who among us would ever want to be up against a Russian woman either way? They’re like…bulldozers with lipstick. (Katya Zamolodchikova says hi.)
Standout line: “Wear something longer – Wear something shorter” Unless they’re paying your bills, pay them no mind.
The Voice: Now this is one confident performer with A LOT of surprises up her sleeves. Singing, rapping, is there anything Manizha can’t do? Maybe we need an infusion of opera to find out?
The Style: True to the structure of the song, this is A LOT to take in. The folksy elements fused with hip hop weirdly works wonders. Loving the integration of the backings like that. It’s all terribly impressive, tbh.
In one line: What’s Russian for Girl Power? (Sila Devushki, dixit Google Translate)
Why it will qualify: It’s got the personality to not possibly have to depend on the status of the country it represents.
Why it won’t qualify: It’s got too much personality and people don’t care because of the country it represents.
Give your own rating for Russia down at the bottom of the page