Part five and we’re already at the end of semi 1! Four entries today and even more of a mixed bag then the previous installments. With one possible contenderforvictory.
13. Romania – ROXEN – Amnesia
The Song: The teenage angst is tangible here and it makes me weary. On the one hand we need art to give a platform to trending troubles in society. On the other hand there’s this feeling of not really having the need to see the struggle within getting thrown in our faces like that. Everyone is having their own set of challenges in these peculiar times , and my personal answer is to outweigh those with happy music. This kind of dark and broody soul searching is a bit too much right now, sorry ’bout it. But as far as Billie Eilish inspired efforts, this one does a pretty decent job at being angsty. Permission to find the beat in the chorus a tad basic? The build-up makes up for it though, and keeps you intrigued throughout.
Standout line: “I lost myself tryna to have it all” This is the second ‘tryna’ we get this semi. Has somebody alerted Google Translate already?
The Voice: The big question mark here. The trick is to have firm vocals for an angsty song, cause angsty vocals will firmly destroy its chances.
The Style: It feels only logical to have that act from the video as the act in Rotterdam, cause it’s a natural fit. Even if it also feels too literal. Could do without the two-colors died hair – how Eilish can it get before it’s too Eilish?
Give your own rating for Romania down at the bottom of the page
14. Azerbaijan – Efendi – Mata Hari
The Song: First Cleopatra, now Mata Hari… Wonder why nobody’s ever thought about Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie or Rosa Parks. Probably because there’s no way you could infuse a lazy eastern themed jingle pattern in the chorus. Lazy is the word for this entire entry as it’s probably the most ‘paint by numbers’ entry in this semi. Also, there’s only one Mata Hari and that’s Norway 1976. Yes, I know how that sounded.
Standout line: “Got a story to tell?” As far as storytelling goes, these lyrics are more of a paragraph than a chapter.
The Voice: Insert Question Mark Here. Doesn’t exactly need an excellent singer, and presumably there’ll be some recorded backing magic to save the day.
The Style: The video ticks every Mata Hari box we didn’t consciously know there were to tick, though Efendi needs a bit more attitude to sell it. She’s up against some stiff competition in the Girl Power department, so take it up a gear or two darling.
In one line: If I’d want an Army of Lovers I’d go directly to Sweden, tack.
Why it will qualify: It’s Azerbaijan.
Why it won’t qualify: It’s all a bit too easy to really surprise or hypnotize anyone.
Give your own rating for Azerbaijan down at the bottom of the page
15. Ukraine – Go_A – Shum
The Song: Oh, this is a really difficult one to review because of that damn revamp which really throws me off after having heard the original version so many times. It’s easy to recognize a couple of elements, as they recycled the catchiest bits – but it somehow feels like they put them in the wrong order. The catchy ‘shum’ bits from the original made way for something less instant, the rhythm and pace are all over the place. ..This turned from an interesting odd duckling into some confused chaotic goose.
Standout line: “Sowing, sowing, sowing, sowing hemp plants” This explains a lot.
The Voice: Singer Kateryna Pavlenko’s nasal sounds might not cater to everyone’s taste, but they do somehow fit this strange little entry. Take that as you will.
The Style: They’ll probably do the hazmat theme, no? I mean, if ever there was a time do to it… But it’d be even better to have those hemp plants integrated. It’s Rotterdam, after all.
In one line: Is Shum Ukranian for Shame? *insert GoT meme here*
Why it will qualify: It’s an oddity and those can sneak into the final before you can say ‘really?’
Why it won’t qualify: It’s just noise.
Give your own rating for Ukraine down at the bottom of the page
16. Malta – Destiny – Je Me Casse
The Song: This is probably the cleverest entry in the field this year as it manages to channel and fuse multiple trends without going overboard. The popular trick that is the saxo-solo does a splendid job at being catchy without overshadowing (or disguising) the rest of the song. The French title, which kinda comes out of nowhere, gives it all a bit of a cool flavor. And that thick and juicy Lizzo-like energy that is spreading like wildfire is exactly the energy this entry needs. Especially combined with the empowered lyrics – one of the few in this semi that manage to speak to an entire demographic, instead of focusing only on the inner self. One could argue it all feels a bit calculated (MALTA? No way!). But the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For once. Damn, 2021 really is as confuzing as 2020.
Standout line: “Excuse my French” HA!
The Voice: Probably no discussion here: the vocals will only push this up the ranking.
The Style: Probably the greatest challenge here: how do you translate the vibrant style of the video to the stage? They had a nice go at a contemporary show in 2019, surely they’ll manage to come up with something similar for this one. And otherwise Destiny’s cool will undoubtedly save the day.
Give your own rating for Malta down at the bottom of the page
A separate post will follow with qualifying/final predictions after having (p)reviewed all of this year’s songs.