This year’s Eurovision again proved to be a mixed bag of songs, talents and weird costumes but then which year since the 1980s hasn’t.
Despite the year off due to the COVID pandemic or maybe because of it, the return of Eurovision with live performers and an actual audience was greeted with jubilation by Eurovision fans around the world (don’t forget Australia is part of that equation even though their song failed to make the Grand Final).
The opening song by Cyprus, El Diablo, was a lively effort (think Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance and you end up in the neighbourhood of its sound). It had the added distinction of being condemned by the Greek Orthodox Church, which of course didn’t hurt its publicity.
Israel’s Set me Free was also distinctive due to the singer hitting the highest note ever in Eurovision, a B6 and as one commentator quipped ‘proving B6 is not just a vitamin’. Very good.
Other notable performances came from Russia who advocated a strong Russian Woman (complete with a video Zoom like wall of presumably strong Russian women), a belter from an 18 year-old from Malta, quirky songs and dance moves from Lithuania, Iceland and Germany and a couple of rock songs courtesy of Finland and eventual winners Italy.
The results highlighted the huge difference between industry professional jury votes from each country and the popular public vote which greatly influenced the end result.
With Switzerland and France way out in front based purely on the strong vocal performances of their singers, the public vote completely overturned the jury results and installed Italy as kings of Eurovision for 2021.
I was disappointed for Azerbaijan (2021 entry Samira Efendi with ‘Mata Hari’) who, in the absence of Turkey, have become my go-to country to cheer for, Portugal whose smooth song and dapper band styling failed to sway voters, and Iceland who sadly had to isolate after a couple of band members tested positive for COVID.
Were Italy with group Maneskin worthy winners? Their rock song certainly didn’t lack energy, but their performance and costumes were not for me and I didn’t even place them as top four contenders (this was even though they were the bookies’ favourite to win the trophy).
The one thing you can accurately predict is that the obligatory 12 points to Cyprus from Greece, and vice versa, would happen. That drew boos from the audience watching in the arena and probably from homes around Europe too. I did think, though, that the Cypriot guy looked a bit sheepish as he announced the votes for Greece.
A note on UK’s dismal bottom place with nil points. Singer James Newman song was bouncy but not memorable. He lacked any charisma and whoever styled/ dressed him got it very wrong. James looked like a karaoke singer from your local pub and while he might be an exceptional song writer (for example he includes credits for Ed Sheeran), he is not a performer. I don’t accept this is still Brexit ‘backlash’, and that Europe hates the UK, it was a poor song and performance.
Will this stop us watching next year? Of course not. And if COVID finally allows us, we might even try to visit Italy next May to be there in person.
Until next year, ciao.
Main image, top, of Maneskin from Italy, with the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, Rotterdam Ahoy, photo © EBU : THOMAS HANSES