Just a quick off-the-cuff entry here before I bring you a review of Urban Hymns later this week. This past Saturday brought us the long-awaited grand return of the Eurovision Song Contest, after the pandemic forced it to take a hiatus last year. And believe it or not this was the first time I have fully paid attention to the event, watched all the acts, soaked in the camp and felt right in my opinions as I judged from the comfort of the sofa. It was a fun night in the end, and there were acts that stuck out like a sore thumb across the evening, and not all for the right reasons. Here, I want to leave my thoughts on a few of the highlights and lowlights from Saturday night. Starting with the obvious one…
UK – Embers by James Newman:
Oh, James. James, James, James. You tried. But I’m not entirely surprised about this song getting nul puis, partially because the UK ain’t that well-liked on the world stage right now, and partially because Embers was as dull as dishwater. We desperately need something spicier next year. Just a little bit of variation, a song that isn’t a song for the sake of being a song. Something with a bit of heart in it. And of course, we can’t go on without noting that the night was terrible for the Brits and Amanda Holden was the cream on the fecal cake. After she showed her face I’m not surprised the UK ended up with nowt.
Italy – ZITTI E BUONI by Måneskin:
This was a pleasant surprise, I like me a bit of glam rock being a Suede fan and all. Also, did the guitarist remind anyone of Suzi Quatro or was that just me? Anyway, I didn’t initially have Italy pegged as the winners; initially I thought it was going to go to one of the more politically charged acts like Russia or Malta. But as I said, Italy were a pleasant surprise and considering who they had to fend off in the end when the votes came rolling in, I’m glad they won.
Belgium – The Wrong Place by Hooverphonic:
Darkhorse act of the night in my opinion. While the lyrics were a little bizarre at times (Johnny Cash t-shirt?), the music and the vocals were all pretty damned good, and the darker alt-rock tone helped this one stand out. Not a Eurovision-winning number by any means but definitely worthy of a top 10 place for me, and I am actually pretty tempted to check out Hooverphonic’s other work. Watch this space.
France – Voila by Barbara Pravi:
The runner-up. And I have a feeling I’m in the minority here. Well, Barbara Pravi did give it her all and is an incredible performer, I’ll give her that. But while every single song sounded ‘European’, this one just sounded overly French. I dunno, maybe it was because my GCSE French was kicking in while this one was playing and it put me off. That or the fact that half the lyrics were just the word ‘voila’. Anyway, stellar performance, no doubt.
Switzerland – Voy a quedarme by Blas Canto:
Still questioning why this Sam Smith-lite act was in the running for the win.
Portugal – Love Is On My Side by The Black Mamba:
I loved the music behind this, it had the sound of a Shirley Bassey-style Bond song. Unfortunately the singer was not my cup of tea. In fact it even sounded like he was trying to sing like Shirley Bassey which didn’t sit well with me.
Germany – I Don’t Feel Hate by Jendrik:
Oh boy. Judging by the online response, I hope this guy meant it when he said he couldn’t feel hate. Everyone shat on this and with good reason. But I have to admit I actually found it was so bad that it was good. If cult classic shitshow films like The Room and Birdemic had a child and it was a Eurovision song, then it would be I Don’t Feel Hate. From the daft lyrics, the TikTok-style tone, the hand costume which couldn’t decide if it was a peace sign or a middle finger, and Jendrik himself getting so caught up in his act he forgot to play his ukulele…you just cannot help but laugh. It was memorable, which is more than I can say for quite a few of the night’s performances.
Azerbaijan – Mata Hari by Efendi:
If any of Eurovision 2021’s songs sounded like long-term chart mainstays then this would be it. That chorus is such an ear worm, and it was my guilty pleasure of the night. In fact it’s now in my guilty pleasure playlist on Spotify.
Iceland – 10 Years by Daði & Gagnamagnið
While I was glad that Italy were triumphant in the end, Iceland really should have won and it’s a crying shame that Covid stopped them from being able to perform this live. This is the kind of tone that Jendrik was going for but leaned far too into; not taking yourself too seriously, but not having it plastered all over your face as if to say ‘Oh look at me I’m so funny omfg rofl lmao’. They did it deadpan and that contributed massively to an excellent performance. Choreography was top notch. Again, wish they’d won.