Eurovision 2021: Semi Final 2, First Half Thoughts

We’re well into the swing to Eurovision season so it’s time to look around and have a couple of hot takes on the songs from each country.

Instead of individual entries I’ll be covering half of each semi final at a time. Instead of getting too in depth I’ll just jot down some thoughts on my first(ish) impressions. I might do a ranking and/or prediction post later on but this is just a barrel of thoughts for now. Since allocation hasn’t happened all the entries are in alphabetical order for fairness.

Austria : Vincent Bueno “Amen”

I have no idea what to do with this song. The lyrics and the expressions and the sonic soundscape are all kind of at odds with each other. When we talk about overproduced plastic tracks this one has all of the markers I would be looking for in spades. This is certainly one way to make a modern ballad but also it’s really difficult to get through three minutes of it. I don’t know if the judges will like this one either but I suspect it might be a direct NQ for Austria.

Czech Republic: Benny Cristo “omaga

This song is all over the place. The singing reminds me of TV On the Radio, which I like for the record but I’m not sure it works in this kind of fuck boi pop anthem. The shifting beat is interesting but the vocals, even in the recording, are kind of sliding all over the place and I’m genuinely nervous about hearing this live. I think it’s better to go with something upbeat and “fun” (for certain definitions of fun) with this subject matter but at the same time it feels very disposable as if someone put three or four ideas together and instead of making it a real song they just called it a day and went home. Depending on the staging this will sink or swim but I hope it sinks. Fast.

Estonia : Uku Suviste “The Lucky One”

Uku’s best assets are his beautifully controlled and smooth voice and his blindingly blue eyes which this song takes a fair advantage of. Overall the sound of the song is a little dated but the hook is pretty solid and if the staging graduates to something a little more dynamic than water and chains we could be looking at a surprise final. I think Estonia will also benefit from being in the weaker semi final but maybe that’s bias making me hopeful but at this song has a catchy chorus that seems easy enough to hum and tap along to making it much better than last years non-starter.

Greece: Stefania “Last Dance

You have to completely ignore the music video because obviously that’s not going to happening on stage. This song is full on to the wall 80s pastiche to the point of parody and I do not like it. It feels like it doesn’t suit Stefania at all considering she was born in the 21st century. I know the 80s are all the rage right now but if you’re making a send up song you need to mix in modern elements also to keep me interested. This is like Flashdance’s more boring cousin or a top 40 hit that people heard 4-5 times and then it dropped off the Billboard list. The roughness to her voice and the vocal correction they’ve employed make this feel even more stilted and staged than it is and this is probably going to be very awkward live. Can’t wait, 12 points from Cyprus and no one else.

Iceland: Daði og Gagnamagnið “10 Years

Well, I like. It isn’t quite as flashy as either of their other two Eurovision songs and it is a tooth-rottingly sweet tribute to his wife but I kind of appreciate that also. I couldn’t say that the song is contemporary, it has elements of jazz or swing in it but it’s also just distinctly 80s keytar and beats so it’s a little all over the place and some of the lyrics are a touch muddled which makes the song way less accessible to the audience but overall I really enjoy it. I enjoy the dance and the fun and confetti and the choir (which obviously won’t be there), I enjoy the fake out at the beginning and I really enjoy seeing an earnest song about love. It’s not going to be the winner but I’m glad it’s here.

Moldova: Natalia Gordienko “SUGAR

Don’t put a 30 second dance break in your 180 second song. Other than that I have to praise this song for being extremely of the moment unfortunately I personally think it’s a terrible moment. If I’m really honest with myself this is just a much better version of this years song from Croatia but it’s, like many songs of our time, kind of a mash up of three different songs that doesn’t exactly come together. Without the playfulness of the music video I don’t think this song and I are friends but there’s enough here to pay it on to the final in the right circumstances and it’s leagues better than the tepid ballad they wanted to send last year. Not sure I’m convinced this will sound anywhere near as good in person but I’m willing to wait for it.

Poland: RAFAŁ”The Ride

*buzzer noise*

This is a total no from me. Not only does it make the same mistake that Last Dance does by just playing the 80s sound completely straight it also doesn’t do anything or go anywhere. The song is just one long foghorn drone of “remember Cars? That song was good, this one isn’t.” It has no build, no tension, no vocal prowess, we don’t even get a real chorus just a different verse with a little synth added and it’s painful to get through. The question of what this sounds like live doesn’t really matter because I can’t rearrange this in my head to be anything but boring and flat so unless this gets a total overhaul and they bring in someone who seems even moderately interested in making this kind of music, pass. (Also dude here is 40. This isn’t a song for a 40 year old and he is not pulling it off. Barf.)

San Marino: Senhit “Andrenalina

Even before Flo Rida showed up I was already losing my got dang mind in the best way. I actually absolutely love this. Beautiful, fun, wild, and just a little bit sexy this song is absolutely everything I wanted in a total bop this year. I have no idea what we’re going to do about the Flo Rida “situation” at the contest itself but his verse is actually really good? I hate to say this but it’s one of the best and most cohesive upbeat dance numbers in this contest which is just hemorrhaging dance bops. San Marino is always at a handcap when it comes to this contest but I actually feel like this may be top 10 material for once. Go Senhit!

Serbia: Hurricane “LOCO LOCO

I think it’s important to get this out of the way first: Hurricane is a real powerhouse of vocals, all three of these women are just fantastic singers which I can really appreciate and the song has again messy at a party and we just ran out of Lady Gaga vibes. I’m pretty sure I’m glad this is in Serbian and that I don’t speak Serbian because I can’t imagine it’s particularly engaging lyrically but it’s fun and breezy and easy to sit through. I like this but it’s going to need an outfit change a little something extra on the stage before it really wows be but it is easy enough to sit through and that’s a nice surprise. I hope the live version showcases their voices a little more but solid and semi-unremarkable isn’t a bad place to be.

Stay tuned for the second half of semi final two coming up tomorrow!

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