At long last, our latest serving of weird and wonderful Europop is upon us. After the coronavirus decided to crash the party last year and place the event on a one-year break, the Eurovision Song Contest returns tonight from the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
Their hosting comes after Duncan Laurence won the contest in Israel in 2019, with his powerful ballad, Arcade.
Some big countries have already been eliminated from the competition in the semi-final stages, including Ireland (who have the most wins in Eurovision history) and Australia, who are still entering every year, for some reason. That’s a story for another article.
So, as anticipation builds for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, we’ve rounded up the top acts and moments to keep an eye out for to make sure your party has more “euphoria” than you can shake a Loreen at – or something like that.
1. Graham Norton’s sarcasm
I mean, this is a whole moment in itself, no? The TV personality is often quick to ridicule the contestant when things get a bit too ludicrous, which is always – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Cyprus’ “devil worship” versus Norway’s angel in a fur coat
Most will argue that this year’s contest is about finding la crème de la crème of Europe’s musical talent, as always - but to that, I say, where do you stand in the far more important issue of Cyprus versus Norway?
Elena Tsagrinou represents the former in this year’s competition, and is first up with the “Bad Romance”-esque, red lit hit “El Diablo”.
The song itself has attracted heat (pun most definitely intended) after The Orthodox Church of Cyprus alleged that the track “praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil’s authority” and that it “promotes his worship”.
The contentious lyrics in question are the part where Tsagrinou states: “I gave my heart to el diablo, because he tells me I’m his angel.”
Intentional or otherwise, Eurovision programmers did some good trolling at the semi-final stage by having her perform before Norway’s TIX who, on the other end of the scale, can be seen wearing a giant white fur coat and angel wings.
In case it doesn’t sound obvious, their track is called “Fallen Angel”, but we’ll have to see if they fare better than “El Diablo”.
3. The highest note on Eurovision of all-time
There’s certainly been a few belters over the years with the ESC, but Israel’s entry this year takes the musical biscuit, as it were.
The track itself, “Set Me Free”, is one of the Ariana Grande-esque songs set to be performed on the show.
4. Wholesome Icelandic dancers
Iceland’s Da∂i Freyr dominated TikTok last year with his 2020 track, “Think About Things”, even when the contest was cancelled. Many feel the song itself could have taken the crown last year had the contest gone ahead.
Thankfully, the star is back again this year with another catchy offering – “10 Years”, a song about his decade-long relationship to his wife. Lovely.
To make matters even more epic, their live performance (which will be a pre-recorded performance on Saturday after a group member tested positive for coronavirus) also features curved keytars and more dance moves for users of the short form video app to perfect.
They are quirky in the best possible way.
5. Finland’s red middle fingers
Sometimes we wonder if we’re the only ones who dive into Eurovision with some underlying sense of defeatism under a mask of joy and optimism, but then we look at this year’s entry from Finland and change our mind.
Offering up the heavy rock track “Dark Side”, the group Blind Channel reportedly wanted to raise their middle fingers during their song.
Unfortunately, in addition to Eurovision stressing that the show is a “non-political event” (despite it often being proven otherwise with certain entries and audience reactions), they also ban swearing, including the flipping of a certain bird.
Fair play to Blind Channel for their inventive way of getting around not being allowed to put their actual middle f… https://t.co/jPWMTFdUaY
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision Song Contest)
For those who were fancying something a little more rebellious, however, the group did manage to find a cheeky workaround, choosing instead to paint their fingers red to hammer the message home. Clever.
Eurovision themselves even took their hat off to Finland for their sneaky bending of the rules, tweeting: “Fair play to Blind Channel for their inventive way of getting around not being allowed to put their actual middle fingers up.”
6. Flo Rida
Eurovision has done well to raise the profile of certain individuals over the years. We all know and love Loreen, ‘Epic Sax Guy’ and his somewhat inappropriate pelvic thrusts, and of course the brilliant ABBA. Yet sometimes, the stars already shine, and decide to come along for the fun of it.
We are, of course, talking about Flo Rida.
Despite not being from San Marino – a microstate surrounded by Italy - the American rapper and singer, behind tracks such as “Whistle” and “Wild Ones”, is hopping on a track with their entrant, Senhit.
The song’s called “Adrenalina”, and we’ve got a “Good Feeling” that it’ll be a memorable performance on Saturday night.
7. The UK’s performance
Even though the chances of the UK winning this year are close to zero (or nil, but we wouldn’t want to tempt fate), it would quite honestly be treasonous to throw your support behind James Newman nonetheless.
Not to be confused with his brother John Newman (famous for his track “Love Me Again”), James will return to the contest this year after last year’s show was cancelled. His song for 2021 is the dance track Embers, and he’ll be ninth to take to the stage tonight.
And these aren’t all of the memorable or frankly bonkers performances Eurovision has to offer this time around. Honourable mentions include a dancing peace sign emoji in Germany’s “I Don’t Feel Hate”, Lithuania’s slightly haunting singing and dancing, invisible men from Greece, and Ukraine busting out a recorder for their track – glad those school lessons came in handy.
Of course, only time will tell as to which of the 26 countries will be crowned Eurovision champion for 2021. The big event kicks off at 8pm on BBC One.