Sir, yes sir! I dare not disobey Damiano, sir.
Even though I have a few things to say.
Luckily I can blog with my mouth shut.
It’s the Eurovision 2021 review, everybody!
Sorry, felt like a Eurovision host for a sec. But anyway: YAY! It really happened! It was back! And HOW!
First and foremost…
Graham Norton said it multiple times, more than one spokesperson said it and now hashtag me too: THANK YOU, Rotterdam. Rotterdam as in every single soul that helped make this event come to life in these challenging COVID-conditions. (Aretha voice) RESPECT! Thank you for making it happen and bringing our beloved Lady Eurovision back to us. We all needed it. You made it happen. Eternal gratitude is yours.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: why do we need four hosts? Less is more, haven’t you heard? Even if, contradicting myself in one go, I was super happy when Nikkie De Jaeger – nay Tutorials – got announced as one of the main hosts, upgrading her 2020 ‘online host’ status. I’ve followed her for a while now – as an aspiring drag queen she is one of the go-to influencers for excellent make-up tips – and she is such a bright shining light. Even more so after her coming-out, which seemed hardly possible but freedom does become people… Knowing how hard she worked to get where she is and then be given this opportunity…it just makes me teary eyed and smile so bright at the same time. Especially because she did SO WELL! Such natural charm, wit and grace…and with a hidden trans-message in every dress! Simply the best. She eclipsed, almost literally, the others without having hardly any previous experience. No, Youtube tutorials cannot exactly be compared to live television on this scale. The entire experience is a testament to Nikkie’s professionalism. And Looklab was such a hoot! It really showcased Nikkie’s warm personality, how she can comfort her guests and really relate to them like very few have done before her. My favorite Looklabs would have to be the ones with San Marino, Iceland and Sweden. Here’s hoping that future editions find something similar to keep the crowd at home entertained. Oh, and if you can’t get enough of Nikkie (either), do check her Youtube channel. Start with the Lady Gaga, video, or one of the video’s she made with her fiancé. or simply the one with her looking back on her Eurovision experience.
OK, fanboying done now. I’m sorry Edsilia, Chantal and Jan… You guys did a decent enough job though. I particularly loved Edsilia in the green room, and in the Eurovision version of Carpool Karaoke. (It was about time someone put Ruslana in check, right?) Chantal was pretty cool too, especially once she got the opportunity to go off-script. And poor Jan was there for diversity more than anything else, I feel. And for the entertainment factor, cause his very own version of Dunglish was quite a…treat.
Two things spontaneously spring to mind when thinking of the shows: the sparse stage design and the lay-out of the venue. Especially the proximity of the green room to the actual stage, which obviously also meant…no fans in front of the stage waving flags or inflatable hammers during the performances. What a frikkin’ relief!!! End poses that were visible cause they (and other shots) weren’t ruined by overenthusiastic waving – there were very few advantages to this entire COVID-experience, but this was a major one. Added bonus was the fact that we could witness just how much camaraderie there was between all of the competitors. How awesome is it to see other performers going wild for what’s happening on stage? It only emphasizes the underlying ‘we all stand together’ nature of Eurovision. I wouldn’t mind if this set-up was used in future editions.
The stage itself wasn’t super exciting, basically four maxi iPads clicked together, but it did leave a lot of room to play with options. Particularly the zig-ah-zag-uh catwalk and the occasionally accompanying side screen worked like a charm. Pity not a lot of the performers actually used them, but hey. Shout-out to the way the flags were done this year – it looked as if Ahoy’s ceiling was used, but apparently they were done virtually. Loved how integrated they looked without even actually being there.
Maybe we can have a rooftop Eurovision one of the upcoming years? Cause that set-up for the interval act was impressive! More impressive than some of the acts themselves, but hey. No, not you Lenny Kuhr. You were so graceful and elegant. And Sandra Kim…please reconsider your ‘never doing it again’ policy. You’ve won our local version of Masked Singer and those pipes could sing any song to the top, I’m sure.
The other interval acts went a bit over my head tbh… Call me #oldskool but I’d rather have something out of the box/ordinary than other well known pop acts trying to outshine anything that’s actually in the competition (and at times succeeding). I know, I know, Riverdance says hi. But still.
Am I forgetting anything? *checks notes* Oh yes, postcards. I wonder why I forgot those… They were cute enough, but the combo of the setting, the lay-out of the tiny house and the introduction of the singers/bands made for too many details to take in in such a short amount of time. But at least they tried to approach this creatively, so I guess they were…OK.
Now before we move to the actual songs, I’ve got something to tell ya, I’ve got something to say (gonna put some wheels in motion…no Vengaboys, be gone!!).
Let’s start with some obvious cheating in the jury voting. No, not talking about the good old shoulder rubbing between Greece and Cyprus. More like the deliberate placing of certain entries with certain jurors – in both good and bad ways. Cause even if the countries around/near Moldova share multiple cultural markers, and even if songwriter Philip Kirkorov is a Big Name in said countries…just HOW can jurors justify putting Moldova that high after seeing (and especially hearing) those live performances. Its hard to believe poor Natalia did better in rehearsal than what we got to witness on TV. Stuff like that really needs to get tackled sooner rather than later.
Then there’s another matter entirely, and that’s how the televotes are announced. The ‘follow the order of the jury result’ makes for confusing and uncomfortable television. John Lundvik says hi, but so do Keiino. Neither got treated the way they deserved – one was put on the spot, while the other didn’t get the spotlight it deserved. It feels like the initial change in 2016 worked better on that level, and avoided such awkwardness by simply following the order of the televoting. And speaking of: is it really necessary to actually announce ‘zero points’? Ending up with a famous zero (or a double donut, in some cases) is part of the Eurovision folklore, but do we need them highlighted like that? I would suggest to drop the announcement of zero’s, and only go with actual points. Any zero’s will undoubtedly gladly be highlighted by the press afterwards either way. At least there were four of them this year, which admittedly made for one of THE WTF moments of this edition but at least the ‘victims’ could share the ‘shame’.
I deliberately put ‘shame’ like that because we all know: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Just look at the support James Newman received in the UK after his double donut and the sportmanship with which mister Newman took them on the chins. Which leads me to the speculation in changing the voting. Emphasis on speculation. But as newly appointed executive producer Martin Good-To-Go Österdahl has dropped a hint, let’s address this quickly. There’s speculation of ao. giving points to more countries. Without knowing if this is even on the table, let me just say this: the famous ‘douze points’ is one of the distinctive features of the Contest. Dropping that would, more than any other changes made in the past two decades, change the face of the Contest. In terms of brand marketing, it doesn’t feel like the best of ideas to change (or even drop) one of your USP’s.
And even if the famous Douze Points wouldn’t get dropped but we’d get more countries being awarded points by for example adding a 9 and 11 to the scoring grid, it would change the USP quite drastically.
Why would we even want to give points to more countries? It is a competition after all. It’s, as ABBA would say, the name of the game. Ten countries get points. If you don’t: too bad. What’s next? Participation trophy’s for everyone? In these ‘everyone is a winner’ times, let’s not forget what makes great television. Suspense and drama (preferably not staged of course *glares at the producers of RPDR US*), that’s what draws people in. Points for everyone? What are we, in grade school? Please EBU – take a long good luck in the mirror before you shift gears here.
Anyway, to end on a high: how swell was that top 5? So diverse on multiple levels: linguistic (ony one song in English); stylistic (rock, electropop, chanson, ballad); formulaic (three groups, two solo performers), genderific (collecting neologisms in this post as if they were Pokemon!) – the diversity is tangible! Plus a lot of accolades for the artists who contributed to their song or even composed it entirely on their own. Despite some huge differences between jury and televoting, the eventual compromise end result over the past few years simply somehow makes sense. Also great to see two of the big 5 getting gold and silver. Take note or two, bottom three finishers!
Now that we got that of our chest, it’s time for the main course of this extensive blog post: the songs! What tickled my fancy…and what didn’t? As usual, the live version delivered different results than what the previews held in store! Here are the countries that didn’t manage to sneak their way into the Dimivision top ten:
26. United Kingdom – Gosh, after everything that’s happened and has been said, this is a hard nut to crack. I kinda liked the song beforehand and I still semi enjoyed the chorus, but the execution was just…off. That’s all I’m willing to say, cause if you can’t got anything nice to say… Some people at Auntie Beeb need to take a few steps back and reconsider how they see Eurovision and what they want to get out of it. I saw Ladytron tweeting they’d consider applying. Now thàt’s a step change if ever you wanted one.
25. Bulgaria – The teenage angst is tangible with this one and I’m not having it. I kinda liked the sand symbolism, but that’s about it. Sorry ’bout it. (This message is not at all sponsored by my continuous crippling existential crisis.)
24. Spain– It’s so old-fashioned I could die. Much sympathy for Blas’ difficult situation and the boy sure is a pro but…no.
23. Norway – I never got the love for this one, tbh. The song feels very dated and the visuals are so literal and distracting… Props to him for making a statement though.
22. Sweden – Ditto for this one when it comes to the song. I’m happy to never hear that key change again, actually. Tusse is lovely however, I’d like to see him with something that has a bit more…soul to it.
21. Israel – I actually didn’t mind this, and I’m somehow surprised it ended up this low… It did constantly throw me off, with those tempo changes. It was hard to connect. The whistle tone was impressive…the first time ’round. And personally, I think she deserved the Barbara Dex Award for that hair-dress.
20. Netherlands – When I saw the clip in the semi with the florals, I was like: YASS. But that turned out to be only the second part of the act, after some Very Serious Business. While I do appreciate and applaud the message, it felt just a bit too literal. But maybe society needs a bit of literal right now when it comes to BLM. Unfortunately. Anyway, I did love the floral bit as well as the choreography throughout. Jeangu wasn’t really doing it for me vocally, I’m afraid. I want some of that female backing/dancer’s energy however.
19. Finland – Much like Bulgaria, this is a tad too teenage for me. Growing up is getting old, I suppose. It’s so Linkin Park circa 2002 I could die. Was quite surprised this did so well in the televoting, even though I do acknowledge it’s a crowd pleaser. Also quite on the nose with that middle finger…
18. Germany – …which brings us neatly to this one. That costume is different shades of ridiculous, but then the entire thing is beyond sanity. I quite appreciate that, in an Alf Poier kinda way. The cheeky ‘what?’ made me giggle.
17. Greece – Those who suspect them of having recycled the staging idea for last year’s Supergirl, raise your hands! This performance for this song…it’s just ludicrous. What is even the thought behind this? Shame.
Rory Gilmore Stefania did a solid job, and she’s even forgiven for those multiple winks (I counted four). Those silver boots, or that color grading in the suit (hard to say) just make me want to scream cause it clearly should have been all purple. I’m happy to have that in writing.
16. Cyprus – It’s still way too Gaga to even consider placing this higher, I’m afraid. Elena does a solid job here, even if the nerves showed ever so slightly in her Final performance. Loving some of the El Diablo moves, particularly when she’s at the head of the V. Fierce.
15. Moldova – Oh sweet heavens this was hard to sit through. Natalia luckily gave better vocals than in the semi, especially with thàt note which was SUCH a weird experience, but still was way off for most of the ride. I’m placing this so high because of the fabulous act, quite a thinly veiled attempt to please a specific target group (and that clearly worked, damn it). The literal mic drop was totes jaw dropping…when you watch it again. Didn’t even really notice it the first time ’round! Before you knew it she was back in the saddle, so kudos to her for being such a pro and pulling through like that.
14. Albania – Another one where the staging is just that bit beyond (our fan) logic. Why was she alone? Why was she wearing that silver, overly accessorized body suit? We all know those were on clearance sale this season, but where they mostly worked out for the stylistic siblings this one felt in the wrong place (ha!). Vocally and dramatically on point however, choreographed colorful digestive gasses included.
13. Portugal – Happy this quiet entry grew to be one of the surprises. It was solid, well thought out and a lovely joy to watch. The color switches and the backdrops are probably among the best staging choices this year.
12. Russia – I totally expected to love this but in this final it suddenly didn’t work for me. There were two ideas too many in there to really manage to grab me. Manizha also became a tad too maniacal at one point for my liking. The literal messages were…here we go again… really literal. But fist bump for the overarching message – the entire time I was just thinking: did the almighty P. really approve this?
11. Serbia – From one maniacal entry to the next cause wowza what was going on here? The hairography, the glamazonality of it all…simply strutalicious. But it was WILD, child! Also super confused by how the voices are divided between them and the (recorded?) backings, especially because they don’t even bother to keep their mics in front of their mouths during the chorus. I mean, qué? It’s still inexplicably fun though.
Sorry darlings, but if it’s any consolation: this was quite the entertaining final. Alas, it is what it is – so here are the actual points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Azerbaijan – Efendi – Mata Hari
Mamamama, mamamama. Speaking of strutalicious: hello, my yearly ‘I can’t believe I’m only discovering this one now’ entry! Fierce, fabulous and …not at all flawless, let’s be honest. The vocals were fragile at times, but that performance was EVERYTHING. Probably one of the best packages in terms of staging, camera and backdrop. Those quick cuts to the beat, very nifty indeed! And then came those dominant and seductive ‘HEY’s to get us all fired up! Well darling, it worked. Side note slash question: that soundbite after ‘army of lovers’…is that a sample from the actual Army Of Lovers ? It almost sounds like the opening second of Crucified. No? Just me? OK.
2 points: Ukraine – Go_A – Shum
Contrary to Azerbaijan, the staging here wasn’t entirely on point. Those halo’s were a choice, and some backdrops were as well. But the rest of it was basically finger-licking good. I finally got over the revamp and felt the energy. Loving the crossover between wood-witch and Trinity-from-The-Matrix in Katerina.
3 points: France – Barbara Pravi – Voilà
Voilà. I still think it’s as impressive as it was when I saw it in the French NF. I also still hate the camera work in the last minute. The vocals were a tad too maniacal this time ’round for me. But she’s obviously still an amazing singer. Wouldn’t have minded if it had won. It was great having France up there again.
4 points: Switzerland – Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers
While I appreciate Gjon’s Tears for not taking a Duncan approach, avoiding an obvious pitfall, I do wonder whether this cross-over between Paul Rey’s and Eric Saade’s visual MF performances was a great fit for Tout l’Univers. They don’t really feel complementary. Suppose that’s where some potential televoters got lost. It’s still a great performance though. Quality with a Qapital Q!
5 points: Lithuania – The Roop – Discotheque
Suppose that’s the danger in bringing exactly what we know… You don’t get to finish as high up as we expected. But it’s still the funky, hypnotizing ball of crackers it always was. Maybe some actual decent slash clean choreography would have worked better…but then again, that’s not really the concept is it? Oh, before I forget: Vaidotas is definitely my man-crush of the year.
6 points: Malta – Destiny – Je Me Casse
I’m loving the restrained approach here, it’s as if Malta 2019 and Sweden 2018 had a performance baby – excluding Destiny’s deliciously funky thick’n juicy Lizzolike energy obviously. Loved her, loved the handography and of course there was so much pink I could die. I feel like the dancers could have done a bit more, and as a song it wasn’t the best of fits with Destiny. This was perhaps a bit out of her league in terms of maturity. But still fierce.
7 points: Iceland – Daði og Gagnamagnið – 10 Years
I was so gutted for them that they couldn’t perform live! I’m sure they would have killed it in Ahoy on the night, with that insane audience. The geekiness is real in this ever so slightly over the top yet super funky little piece of cuteness. This probably made the cleverest use of the pre-recorded backings, supporting the live backings who dare at times flirt with fragility. But everything really fell into place, apart from what I think was a fail in lighting in the bridge? Wasn’t Daði supposed to look like some kind of Divine Intervention, putting Carola to shame with his wind machine? Either way, this made me smile. Bonus points for the firework bit at the end.
8 points: Belgium – Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place
Yup, nepotism 911! With its 4th place in the line-up, this felt like the first actual song. I just…got it, all of a sudden. Not that I didn’t ‘get it’ before, but the choices they made very much brought it to life. Well, maybe not the nostrilography per sé…but that’s Geike’s way. If you’re as familiar with Hooverphonic as many of us in Belgium are, you recognized every little bit of them in that performance. The vibe may have been too ‘negative’ or down-beat, which effectively rendered the title quite as ironic as many already had made it out to be. But for me this felt very much like what I’d see at a concert or a rock festival. It made me miss it, it awakened that feeling that had been carefully ignored for the sake of necessity. And I love it for that.
10 points: San Marino – Senhit ft. Flo Rida – Adrenalina
My name is Dimitri, and I have a serious addiction to Senhit and this song. I mean, obviously everything about this performance is WTF. This needed a much more focused and energetic approach, draw everyone in, instead of rotating FOREVER on that diamond shaped mirror. So much distraction, I needed more of that party we got at the end. Everybody’s being snotty about Flo Rida being there, but I actually found him to be a great addition to the song. Could have done with some styling however (cause SHORTS?!) but that fits the general critique here. Senhit was actually okay vocally, was expecting less from her after some of the rehearsal reviews I’d been reading up on. It obviously benefitted from recorded backing vocals, like many of its poppy competitors (glances at Azerbaijan, Serbia, Cyprus among many others). But it still makes me smile from ear to ear and shake my hips like nothing else this year. Party hardy.
12 points: Italy – Måneskin – Zitti E Buoni
I mean…what a bulldozer this was. And still is. It’s just SO POWERFUL. Take my comment for Hooverphonic cfr concert/festival feeling and multiply it times 20. It was just SO bang on! Hate the outfits, but hey baby: that’s rock ‘n roll. I had gravely underestimated the amount of support this would gather as a rock song at Eurovision, and I’ve rarely been so happy to be wrong. This goes beyond any category, it was such a slap in the face and Europe just had to listen. Magnifico! Magnifica! Magnificem!
Side note on the entire sniffing story’ – it never stops to amaze me how quickly cancel-culture tries to do its redundant job. I could try and react, but the incomperable Shi from escgo.com pretty much hit the nail on the head in this fantastic assessment. Really, read it now!
It’s been a great edition, all in all. A fantastic production, an entertaining field of participants and a lovely end result. Let the countdown to 2022 begin! And PED kick in.
But first, let’s take a look at the Dimivision all time ranking, where Italy is steadily moving towards the top three and Belgium is the third one to cross the 200-points threshold. Somewhere down at the bottom, Ukraine and Cyprus are knocking at the door of the top 25.
1 France – 247 (1960 – 1977 – 1991 – 2002 – 2009)
2 Netherlands – 221 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Belgium – 201 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
4 Italy – 190 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992 – 2021)
5 Finland – 189 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
6 Sweden – 183 (1974 – 2012 – 2018)
7 Norway – 181 (1966 – 1982 – 2000 – 2013)
8 Portugal – 174 (1972 – 1998 – 2017)
9 Germany – 169 (1959 – 1975 – 2011)
10 United Kingdom – 135 (1961 – 1965)
11 Spain – 132 (1973)
12 Ireland – 126 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel – 118 (1976)
14 Luxembourg – 107 (1956 – 1967)
15 Turkey – 105
16 Switzerland – 105
17 Denmark – 92 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
18 Greece – 87 (1981)
19 Iceland – 82 (1987 – 2019)
20 Austria – 78 (2014)
21 Slovenia – 76
22 Estonia – 67 (1999)
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina – 66
24 Russia – 61 (1994)
25 Monaco – 51
Read you in the spring of next year!