Eurovision 2021: Semi Final 1, First Half Thoughts

We’re well in to 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.

Australia : Montaigne “Technicolor”

I’m going to try my best to tamp down any and all feelings and desires to compare this years songs to last years songs but I’m only human so consider this your warning. Anyway I love this. It’s definitely going to have haters – loud, angry ones I imagine but Montaigne is so emotive, interesting, and earnest and her vocals are so painfully expressive it really hits at something inside me. While the staccato parts are going to be off putting for some listeners they also make this an ear worm with big flashing “pay attention!!!” signs in the middle of the song. The staging needs to be tweaked and the vocals need a bit of a massage but otherwise I love this as a total package. This song actually makes me miss being young and messy.

Ireland: Lesley Roy “Maps”

I keep forgetting about this song which always a bad thing in Eurovision. You’ve got nearly 40 songs to keep in your head and a few are definitely going to slip behind the couch never to be seen again and this song which sounds forever trapped in 2012 and a vocoder has disappeared from sight never to be seen or thought of ever again. There is a small possibility that this might have some real emotion live but otherwise its so incredible safe and by the numbers that I don’t have a lot of thoughts. Also what is with the vocal distortion? Is that doing anything but distracting me? Is it working for someone out there?

Lithuania: The Roop “Discoteque

I said this last year and I’ll say it again: The Roop make art specifically to connect people with movement and their bodies through song. This is the perfect song for doing that after a year of pandemic where people have been trapped, largely alone, in their houses and now have become out of touch with their bodies. Not quite as happy and not quite as anthemic as their song last year but this captures a mood and I still really enjoy it. I hope it does well but there are going to be a lot of “been there, done that” people I suspect. At the very least, I also love to Dance Alone *wink*

North Macedonia: Vasil “Here I Stand

Eurovision, for all that it can sometimes be a gay camp fever dream, isn’t always really receptive to ballads and this is a ballad that eats other ballads for breakfast. It is at Broadway finale song level of drama. There is a really sweet song in here and I wish Vasil all the luck in the world but as touching as the video makes this out to be I just could not get invested and I’d be fine if I never heard this song again for the rest of my life. Too sappy and yet with very little to say, it’s a great example of all the things I don’t particularly like about ballads so it’ll be a pass from me.

Russia: Manizha “Russian Woman

I wondered when people would start to try and make their own versions of “Toy” and I guess I didn’t really have to wait that long. The message isn’t completely lost on me as a non-Russian speaker but I’m sure it would be much more impactful if I knew the lyrics but unfortunately while I find Manizha an extremely engaging performer the song is…not much of a song for a significant amount of the performance. I’m happy to see Russia sending something that isn’t just safe and boring but the theme of women empowerment runs through a lot of songs in this years contest and this one doesn’t really pass muster with me.

Solvenia: Ana Soklič “Amen

Hello and welcome to confusing cord progression for extremely talented women who desperately need someone to write them a good song. What is even going on in this piece of music? I think this song wants to be “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” but I have absolutely no clue because I went on an entire emotional journey trying to predict what was about to happen in the next bar for three whole minutes until the video sends the viewer to hell the song just…ends? I don’t even know what to feel at this point except disappointed because I love Ana’s voice so much and it keeps getting disrespected in this fashion.

Sweden: Tusse “Voices

This is actually really great staging (if you ignore the camera going rogue for 5 seconds at one point about 2/3 of the way through) and I felt pretty good about this piece as a whole. One of the better efforts for Sweden but Tusse’s vocals seemed a bit off to me. This song is kind of a mash up of things that tend to go over well at Eurovision but it’s not too safe and it’s not too overproduced which is usually where Sweden falls in the pit never to be returned. What I love: the hook, the outfit, the dancers, the echo. What I don’t love: Cliche lyrics, hyper regimented song structure, his voice cracking at the top of every note. What gives me the most pause: The way he says “haters” and how the syllable is so stressed it’s like someone pressing down on a button too hard. It’s so notable that I call this “the hater song” in my head. Me? I’m not a hater but I’m not quite a lover either. At least Sweden is trying to justify their place in the auto top 10 with this one though.

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

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