Music

Eurovision 2021: Everything you need to know about this year's song contest

When is Eurovision this year? How can you watch? And, most importantly, who will win? Eurovision super-fan Scott Reid has spent lockdown watching all the national finals to bring you this guide to the 2021 song contest. He now knows more about Estonian and Italian TV than he'd ever imagined.

Eurovision 2021 favourite Destiny, from Malta

Eurovision 2021 favourite Destiny, from Malta. Photo: Eurovision Song Contest

Depending on your age, mention of the word “Eurovision” may make you think of the “boom-bang-a-bang-puppet-on-a-string” era or the Will Ferrell Netflix film that got us through early lockdown.

The reality is more nuanced, with musical styles tackling love love, peace peace, but also feminism, LGBTQ rights and empowerment.

Eurovision can still create full-on WTF moments, though. This year you may encounter a singer dressed as an angel, chained to other grown men dressed as demons, in a contender for the least subtle metaphor of all time.

And Flo Rida could be there representing San Marino (population 33,860). Yes, really.

What’s happening with Eurovision 2021?

Last year’s Eurovision Song Contest was another casualty of the pandemic, but coronavirus will not stop 2021’s competition. It’s taking place in the Netherlands but with a reduced crowd of around 3,500 spectators per show. There are back-up performances on tape if someone can’t travel or has to self-isolate.

Where will Eurovision 2021 be held?

The contest is taking place in Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena.

What date is Eurovision 2021?

The final is on May 22 and there are also semi-finals which take place on May 18 and May 20.

How can you watch Eurovision 2021?

The semi-finals are shown, hilariously, on BBC Four, a channel which would feel more at home with a two-hour documentary on the history of wood or something. The big Saturday night final is on BBC One.

Who will win Eurovision 2021?

At the time of writing, with full knowledge everything could change in a heartbeat, the favourites are Malta and France.

You may have seen Malta’s singer without knowing it, because she was on Britain’s Got Talent in 2017.

Destiny’s song is called Je Me Casse, which can (roughly) be translated as “I’m out of here”. It’s a girl power anthem with playfulness which provides an excuse for her to joke “excuse my French” halfway through. There are definite Lizzo and Little Mix vibes in there.

France has gone full France with Barbara Pravi’s old-fashioned/classic song called, and I’m not making this up, Voilà. All you’d need to complete the set is the Eiffel Tower in the background (we’re assured this is not happening this year).

It’s actually an inspiring tale of Barbara’s life tackling self-acceptance and resilience with a rousing finish. The battle will be getting that message across to viewers who don’t speak French.

Anyone else? Well, you know when you go into a supermarket and you’re offered the “extra special” option instead of your regular bag of chips? Switzerland’s entry, Gjon’s Tears, has produced a polished track called Tout l’Univers which is full-on “this isn’t just a Eurovision song, this is an M&S Eurovision song”. The problem is it’s slow and thoughtful, and sounds almost mournful. Do people want that right now?

Other contenders? Italy’s Måneskin, a rock band who look like supermodels; the Billie Eilish-ish Victoria from Bulgaria and Iceland’s big hitter from last year, Daði Freyr, whose new song hasn’t had the same immediate impact this time round but can’t be ruled out.

Can the UK win Eurovision?

The UK is probably not among the contenders, sadly. And it’s nothing to do with politics.

People don’t hate the UK. We just send inoffensive songs you’d take home to your mammy. They don’t stick in the heads of voters who have been through a barrage of music. And wine.

This year’s entry from James Newman, Embers, is a definite improvement. However, fixing our results at Eurovision is going to be like getting that container ship out of the Suez Canal.

Who definitely won’t win Eurovision?

Many songs don’t stand out. Some are meh, some are challenging but lacking mainstream appeal. Poland, Estonia, Albania, Georgia and Slovenia are unlikely to reach the final.

Norway’s Tix probably won’t win but, if he qualifies for the final, should be a contender for the top 10. He’s the man dressed as an angel for his song, Fallen Angel, and has a fascinating backstory. Bullied as a child for having tics because of Tourette Syndrome at school, he adopted the name Tix as his persona and became a huge success, even being one of the writers behind Ava Max’s Sweet But Psycho.

This song sounds a little too boy band to win over the professional juries who make up 50% of the vote, but don’t be surprised if he gets a hefty vote from the public.

Is Flo Rida going to Eurovision?

On that Flo Rida question, we don’t know for certain if he’ll be there. He does feature on the video for San Marino’s entry, a banger from Senhit which stands on its own merits regardless of Mr Rida’s involvement, but we’re not certain whether he will be at the contest in person. It would be quite the moment.

Could someone else win Eurovision?

Taking all this into account, someone else could still come out of nowhere with an incredible performance and win it. The unpredictability is the best part, so enjoy.

Follow Scott Reid’s Eurovision commentary on Twitter at @ascottreid. Check out our picks for the greatest weird Eurovision moments here.

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