Eurovision 2021 reviewed – Part 1: Violent pop and organic tea

Australia's Eurovision entry - Montaigne
Australia’s Montaigne © EBU/ Jess Gleeson

After its cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurovision is back with Rotterdam set to host the final on 22nd May.

I listened to all of this year’s entries to sort the bops from the duds.

Albania: Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

A dramatic song entry from Albania, the Balkan folk instrumentals and haunting swirling vocals in the chorus make this more exciting than your average ballad.

Australia: Montaigne – Technicolour

A discordant synth pop while the singer showcases an impressive vocal range, Technicolor is a theatrical delight and its constantly shifting moods keep you guessing.

Austria: Vincent Bueno – Amen

“Is this what you wanted? Is this what you wanted?” the mournful singer repeatedly asks, if it’s waiting for the right moment to go for a bathroom break, then the answer is yes. It’s a classic Eurovision ballad. There’s even a choir in the final chorus for extra cheese.

 Azerbaijan: Efendi – Mata Hari

Up-tempo pop infused with Eastern European folk, Efendi compares herself to the seductive Dutch dancer and courtesan, Mata Hari “Playing the game of desire/ Ain’t gonna leave no survivors”.

Azerbaijan’s entry: Mata Hari by Efendi

 Belgium: Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place

The Wrong Place is a moody ambient pop song about smoking, drinking and, a guy who “started actin’ way too hip” and drinks “organic tea”. It’s pretty good but ends rather abruptly.

 Bulgaria: VICTORIA – growing up is getting old

Breathy vocals with minimal pizzicato strings and piano in the verses swell to a pop ballad chorus, but this song ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere beyond that.

 Croatia: Albina – Tick-Tock

One of my personal favourites from this year, this is a fun and sexy dance number with a snappy chorus backed up big brass. Also, are those handbags attached to the dancers’ chests? Always useful to keep your mask close by, I suppose.

Croatia’s entry: Tick-Tock by Albina

 Cyprus: Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo

On paper El Diablo seems promising as it’s composed by Jimmy Joker; the writer for the likes of JLO, Kelly Rowland and Niki Minaj. Unfortunately, there’s nothing original here and it sounds suspiciously similar to Bad Romance.

 Czech Republic: Benny Cristo – Omaga

This song starts off well, Benny has an appealing rough timbre to his voice, a welcome change from the polished vocal performances I often hear. It has a bouncy mainstream likeability but the end gets a bit tedious, with him practically shouting “Omaga, omaga/ You’re SO BEAUTIFUL”.

 Denmark: Fyr og Flamme – Øve os på hinanden

Taking it back to the 80s, this is a fun synth-pop tune, and there’s a feel-good chorus to wave your mini flags to.

Estonia: Uku Suviste – The Lucky One

This dramatic but forgettable ballad also sticks to the 80s theme, especially in the drums and synth. You may also be interested to learn that Uku Suviste was voted Estonia’s sexiest man in 2010.

 Finland: Blind Channel – Dark Side

The self-described “violent pop” six-piece serve us with a high-energy banger. This is genre crossing trap metal rooted in Scandinavian folk with a tribal “hu, hu, hu” for extra chaotic energy.

 France: Barbara Pravi – Voilà

France is one of the favourites to win Eurovision this year with this chanson by Parisian songstress Barbara Pravi. She does pack in an emotionally charged and raw performance and has a unique feel to the other Eurovision entries, but it’s is not really enough to rescue a sub-standard song and towards the end it becomes rather repetitive.

France’s entry: Barbara Pravi – Voilà
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