The Grand Finale
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. After 44 years without a win, Duncan Lawrence’s Arcade broke the drought. For the first time in the competition’s history, due to the Covid pandemic, the competition was cancelled and pushed back to 2021. In order to address the rising number of Covid cases in the Netherlands, the venue was quickly turned into a makeshift hospital. A year later, the competition is back on. Each country had to submit a new entry into the competition and, on a whole, many of the 2020 acts have returned. This article will cover the Grand Finalists and try to guess the winner. While only one can be crowned the winner taking part is what counts (or so they say).
The best of the Big 5:
In order to put on a show, every participating country contributes the Eurovision budget. Failure to meet payments has previously resulted in countries being unable to participate until the debt is settled. Of the countries who participate, there are five who contribute more than the others and, in exchange, are given a guaranteed spot in the final; these are Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK.
Germany – Don’t feel hate
Jendrik, the solo artist, is joined on stage by a hand-suit dancer who changes between displaying their forefinger and middle finger together and only the middle finger. The tone of the song seems comical but it feels as if the song will have the same fate as the country’s last entry Sister, which came 2nd to last and received 0 points from televoting (the public vote). While this year’s entry may want to spread the message of not paying attention to the hate , it won’t feel much love when the scores come in.
Italy – Zitti E Buoni
This Italian rock number started off as a ballad before turning into the song we know today. Similar to Lordi, Finland’s hard rock winner of 2008, who will be performing at the final as an interval act, it will certainly be a break from the pop number line up that this Eurovision will be putting on. It will also be one of 10 songs that will be performed solely in the national language (for those who want to see what the lyrics are click here). Currently, this song is one of the favourites to win and will most likely finish in the top three.
France – Voilà
While this is seen as a top pic for winning, I would argue it is more of a solid entrance that will earn high scores but will fall short. As for the other two, the UK and Spain, are unlikely to do well. They lack that certain factor that makes a Eurovision song compelling to the Eurovision crowd. Had these songs been on the radio they would likely come and go, possibly getting into the top 100 but nothing higher. As such it is a fair prediction that these entries will earn a low table placement and low televoting support.
Netherlands – Birth Of A New Age
Since the Netherlands won the previous year, they automatically gain a spot in the Grand Finale. It is a rare occurrence that the host nation does well. As such a mid-table placement seems the most appropriate position that the Netherlands can aim for. Jeangu Macrooy’s song is a celebration of his Suriname identity and touches upon the slave history of his home nation. We can see how this is incorporated into the background set which changes from a grey broken creed background to a colourful and celebratory background. Performing alongside his twin brother, it is clear that this song is from the heart. As the host nation, the Netherlands should be proud that Jeangu returned to the competition after the 2020 competition was cancelled.
Semi-finalists who qualified
In order to streamline the show, two semi-finals are organised to reduce the acts to 21; of the acts who qualified through this route there are a few gems that will be worth looking forward to. This section will cover the performances that are in contention for first place as well as some that will be worth paying attention to.
Iceland – 10 Years
Similar to last year’s entry, we will be treated to an extravagant dance accompanied by a techno number. Unfortunately, since a member of the band tested positive for Covid-19, the band will be unable to perform live in the Grand Finale. Instead, a pre-recorded performance in Rotterdam will be used to resolve this issue (to see how the competition has prepared for this situation click here). A similar situation was presented when Australia’s entry announced they would not attend the show in person. Like the Australian entry, which failed to qualify for the final, I sadly cannot see Iceland taking home the trophy without performing live.
Malta – Je Me Casse
A favourite to win, Destiny has had previous success in winning the 2015 Junior Eurovision title. 6 years on and she is on track to become the first winner of both competitions. Compared to the other entries in her semi-final, it was clear that she would qualify with little difficulty with her song. It will be a surprise if she does not make the top 5 songs of the competition or crowned the first Maltese champion.
Switzerland – Tout l’Univers
Another French-language number that could take the title. At first, the music video comes across as very artistic and at times over-dramatised. His semi-final performance clearly strikes a different tone emerges and it is leaps and bounds above the music video. Once again, I can only see a top 5 result for this number. I am somewhat reserved about calling it a potential winner since it is a slow and quiet song in French and, when compared to the competition, is lacking a certain “umph” factor that Månskin (Italy) or Destiny (Malta) brings.
Russia – Russian Woman
After Manizha was announced as the representative for Russia, she was quickly met with criticism. In an interview for the BBC, Russians were arguing that the song promoted the destruction of the Russian family unit through its lyrics. Some comments were even aimed at her Tajik roots. Instead of giving up and withdrawing, she incorporated this into her live performance and used this hate to fuel her fiery performance. If a similar performance is given on Saturday, it is in the conversation for finishing in the top 5.
Lithuania – Discoteque
The Roop has it all; a catchy song, extravagant outfit choice and a dance that is upbeat and funny to a first time viewer. It is your classic Eurovision song and will be rewarded by traditional Eurovision fans for this. Compared with the other acts this year, it will definitely finish above 10th place, if not in the top 5.
Finland – Dark Side
Like Italy, Finland hopes to win with a rock number. If you are a fan of Linkin Park’s mix of rap and singing style then this may be the song for you. Even though the song is centred around putting your middle finger up and taking a shot, it is a clear break from the more traditional performances of the pop genre. It is likely to be in the lower half of the results table.
San Marino – Adrenalina
Senhit teams up with the American rapper Flo Rida to inject some Adrenalina into the competition. While this song will probably end up somewhere around mid/lower half of the table, it will be interesting to see how the addition of a well-known act will affect its placement.
Ukraine – Shum
From the East of Europe, Go_A have left their forest rave to attend the contest in person. Similar to the other favourites, their song brings a unique performance to the line up. Apart from performing solely in Ukrainian, their choice of instruments is unique. In this case, the recorder solo is definitely an unusual instrument to use alongside their techno DJ-ing beat. Their set seems to have taken inspiration from the movie Tron. Think strobe lighting, Halo rings and running simulations of people in light armour. Unlike the previous acts discussed, they are likely to come in around 5th to 10th place
It is clear that May 22 will be a night of music, dancing and fun. 26 acts will take stage in Rotterdam and only one will be crowned Eurovision champion. Who will it be? The current odds are favouring Italy, Malta, France and Switzerland to take it home. However, as has been the case in the past, one act may just break all expectations and come out of nowhere to win. Regardless of who wins, it will be a joyful occasion, filled with the strange and wonderful acts that call Europe their home.
To see the running order of all the acts click here.
Finn McCartney has previously obtained a degree in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, majoring in European Economics. Currently he is studying the European Policy MA at the UvA.
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