2021 - Rotterdam


Go_A going again:
Scream if you want to go faster!


The tiny pressure of Manizha's thumb is enough to break the glass ceiling.


Destiny worries that her
French isn't douze points.


We don't feel hate for Jendrik;
we just feel pity.

Elena Tsagrinou

By the end of the night, everyone will have worn Elena Tsargrinou's glittery cossie.


Europe's winners:
Måneskin make some noise.

Cinquetti & Cutugno, Italia '91

Måneskin's success means that
we're back in Italy next year...

And we're back! The coronavirus has been kept at bay long enough to get everyone together for a proper song contest again. The only contestants to succomb to the lurg are every librarian's favourites, Iceland, who have to rely on their perfectly adequate dress-rehearsal performance. There's a parallel universe where they won and were presented their award over Zoom by a similarly quarantined Duncan Laurence (the winner in 2019, if you can remember that long ago), but let's stick to our universe...

A lot of the acts taking part were hangovers from last year's cancelled contest. And while they couldn't bring last year's song with them, most were looking to offer up the closest they could get to last year's song without it being disqualified. Most brazen at this game were our 2020 favourites, Azerbaijan, who just crossed out the name "Cleopatra" and wrote "Mata Hari" in its place. She was Dutch so in a way it works better, but in other ways it doesn't work at all: this feels like an old photocopy with no variation in tone. Iceland, too, somewhat understandably, were ploughing the same furrow. But this is the third time they've taken this schtick to Eurovision (their unsucessful 2017 Söngvakeppnin entry being the first outing for the costumes, cardboard keytars, and nerdy dancing), so the novelty's starting to wear a bit thin.

Whoever assembled the running order for the final was having a lot of fun by grouping the songs thematically. So it was that we kicked off with a load of strong and generally rather feminist anthems, mostly helmed by women in spangly silver leotards. Cyprus were up first to prove, with their reheated Bad Romance, that while the Devil might have the best tunes, Lady Ga-Ga also has one or two pretty impressive ditties we can enjoy. Russia were also pretty impressive in this section: in what was an ikonic performance, Manizha glid Davros-like around the floor in a rather solid-looking big dress, pulling Netta-esque fizzogs and looking at her hands, before opening a big door at the front of the frock and striding out in a red boiler-suit like a sort of Russie the Riveter. The song meanders around Chikilicuatre territory before pivoting in the direction of 1944, with a bit of Armenia-style fun thrown in for good measure. Winning this first set, though, was Malta: Malta's usual entry seems to have had a mid-sea collision with Moldova while both were practicing their Lizzo and Beyoncé impressions in the mirror. The result is a rather barmy (and unquestionably Eurovision) cut-and-shut full of joy.

Another section of the setlist was dedicated to songs with a prominent middle finger in the lyrics, starting with Germany, who were not rising to the wiggling middle finger being waved in their direction by a dancing hand that dripped in pathos. Ah yes, the German entry... What to make of that? A proper Schrödinger humdinger, with chirpy Jendrik and his ukelele... Everything about it is simultaneously hatefully earnest and adorably kitsch. Or adorably earnest and hatefully kitsch. Certainly, Europe hated it (it came second bottom). For us, our brains just ceased to be able to process what they were being told, which is the sort of thing you can pay good money for down at the back of the laundrette, so we'll take whatever cut-price perplexity we can get.

Finland also had a song about middle fingers. "Put your middle fingers up," they screamed in turn-of-the-century nu-metal (presumably so that said fingers could then be painted the fetching red colour they'd gone with for their own). Finland weren't the only act rocking out this year: Italy's blisering entry, like a Seven Nation Army attacking Prisencolinensinainciusol, saw X-Factor veterans Måneskin raiding Mud's wardrobe and glam-stomping all over the shop. Bare-chested lead singer Damiano David opened the number with a lovely backstage walking-head piece-to-camera, like he was Noel Edmunds or something, and that alone was probably enough to win over Europe's hearts and give Italy the victory.

Over all, it was a very flat field this year — very consistent — making it tricky to pick out a top ten. But while the overall standard was solid, there was very little that was truly outstanding, perhaps as a consequence of the aforementioned desire (and inevitable failure) to reinvent last year's wheel. But one song from a returning act did stand out. Last year's entry from Ukraine's Go_A was 4pts worth of Evil Enya, and they were one of only two returning artists to go up in our estimation rather than down (the other was The Roop). In terms of the running order, they found themselves in the "scream if you want to go faster" section of the set (along with France's Wannabe-Brel birl). Bedecked in the remains of Orville, and flanked by aerobie-wielding KLF-types, Kateryna Pavlenko screeches through a solid piece of techno-folk, and then does it again a bit faster. And then does it again, faster still. It's all rather Verka by the end. An easy 12pts from us.

For each year's songs we apply our points in the 12-10-8 style of the modern contest, irrespective of how the voting functioned at the time. In brackets is the position the song came on the night:


"Shum" (Шум)

"Je me casse"

"I Don't Feel Hate"

Elena Tsagrinou
"El diablo"

"Russian Woman"


The Roop

Daði og Gagnamagnið
"10 Years"

"Loco Loco"

"Growing Up Is Getting Old"


Europe had Italy first, France second, Switzerland (a cross between Liberacé and Peter Purves) third, Finland sixth, Greece tenth, Portugal twelfth, Moldova 13th, Sweden 14th, Israel 17th, Norway 18th, Belgium 19th, Azerbaijan 20th, Albania 21st, the Netherlands 23rd, Spain 24th, and the United Kingdom plumb last with nul points.

We had Armenia third last year, and would've loved to have seen what they'd come up with this year. But alas they withdrew from the contest due to social and political crises in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Belarus's entry was disqualified due to lyrics which were interpreted as celebrating political oppression and slavery. A replacement Belarusian song was also rejected by the EBU.

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