As expected, the 2021 contest did take place, on May 22nd in Rotterdam, making up for last year’s unprecedented situation, by technically allowing the Netherlands to become the first nation to host two consecutive contests. Asterisk here of course. Nevertheless, all was looking promising, until I found out that one of my newest favourite bands, IST IST, were performing a socially distanced show in Manchester on the very same night! Having not been to a gig since 2019, and having not seen my good friend James in that exact same time...I committed a cardinal sin, and attended the gig with him instead of watching Eurovision. Forgive me father, or, spank me daddy, delete as applicable? Either way I’m going to make up for it.
While we all now know the results, posthumously if you will regarding how dead in the water the UK are, I’ll be taking a look at the grand finalist's songs, and questioning both how and why the UK finished last with the dreaded nil poi...so what better place to start, than the UK’s song itself. JAMES NEWMAN was our 2021 entry with a track called “Embers”. The London based singer/songwriter has been called “James Nil-Man" following the result, but is the mockery justified? Granted it’s quite the safe track in terms of tone and delivery...it’s got a very Summery vibe with its brass-fuelled dance-pop, smoky vocals and up-beat rhythm. It’s the kind of track I’d expect to hear on Radio 1 or some random YouTube holiday advert. Is it awful? No absolutely not. Is it a musical masterpiece, a misunderstood work of genius, ahead of its time? Likewise, no, it’s a generic, run-of-the-mill dance pop effort, but should have at LEAST garnered SOME points with the average Joe...so what went wrong?
So, we came last, and an unexpected rock song came first...not like, a LORDI level effort with all the costumes and gimmicks, but, an actual straight up rock song...but there were still a further 24 countries that finished above us, surely, we weren’t THE worst track out of all twenty-six nations? Germany’s entry JENDRIK came one place above us with “I Don’t Feel Hate” and it rather awkwardly combined ukulele with up-beat whistling and folk-pop, before some sporadic, jazzy breakdowns. While inoffensive, it was musically jarring as it switched styles and for that alone, it was IMO, worse than ours.
What about some of the better results then? Who or what was deemed to be more favourable by both the judges and voting public? GO_A were back representing the Ukraine here following what was arguably my favourite entry from last year; “Solovey”. The new track, “Shum”, might not have the same infectious quality to it, but in a different sense it retains a very catchy, up-beat characteristic that grows over the track's duration. The folk pop, oompah-gypsy style with flutes, coupled with some deep, electronic production allows for a fascinating culture crossover, and the group themselves have grown in confidence massively. The track rises and rises in intensity building to a wonderful crescendo, leading up to some classic, mid-90's Tatanka-esque native war-cry type shit. How many chops can you do, in 2:52? That’s an ad-break questionarium for OSW!
Last year's favourite, Iceland, re-entered DADI FREYR with the new track “10 Years” and again, another case of growth in confidence...the track this year is no less catchy or fun with its funk-rich delivery but it’s a lot smoother and really vibes, this track did understandably well for 2020’s unofficial winner. France is pretty renowned for scoring poorly, so for them to finish second this year was surprising...especially as their entry “Voila” by BARBARA PRAVI was no more than a dramatic, string/piano ballad fit for a theatrical ballet, we’re talking niche genre trappings here, but it did well. Might sell some Peugeots in the future, but, it’s not for me.
Having not seen who gave who what points this year, I can’t comment on the usual and typical “neighbour” voting system you tend to notice, not that the contest is meant to be political as stated, and this could in ways be backed by Italy’s unexpected winning rock track. But, given the farce that was the whole Brexit vote, with the UK government essentially lying to the British public, and then continuing to make themselves look like an absolute bunch of bell ends; making demands to the EU, it’s easy to see why, when it comes to the UK, a performers talent and song quality clearly means very little. We as a nation, are looked upon as outsiders, and frankly blanked by a tight-nit European collective...and we have the government to thank for that. Was our entry ever a winning song? Doubtful, don’t get me wrong, but zero points is more of a statement to us as Brits as it is a fair reaction to our performance in Rotterdam. It might only be a silly song contest to many, but it’s got history, it’s a cultural phenomenon, and we haven’t won it since 1997...and the way things are going, we’ll be lucky to win it by 2097. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to snort some coke with that dude from Italy...allegedly.