Diary of “The Weirdest Eurovision Ever?” – Day 3: Expectations are a funny thing…

Let’s face it… the last 18 months have been anything but ordinary!! And in these strange times of COVID, social distancing and frantic hand washing, even Eurovision has undergone massive changes to ensure the event we know and love can go ahead. We all knew it was going to be a contest unlike any other – but just how different will it be?

In this diary series, Eurovision Ireland regular James will give you his daily personal thoughts about the goings on backstage at Eurovision 2021, both through the lens of a contest being hosted during these unprecedented times and as someone following rehearsals from afar. Will it be The Weirdest Eurovision Ever? Quite possibly!

Day 3 – Expectations are a funny thing…

The third day in a Eurovision press centre is an odd one. You’ve settled in now, you know where everything is and you’ve seen plenty of rehearsals with new and exciting staging ideas. It’s also the point in proceedings where you start to feel like you live there: that there was no before and you’ve just always existed inside this cavernous room filled with fellow Eurovisionistas and their laptops. This year not so many of us are in that press centre, but it’s curious that the feelings are still much the same at home. By this point, we also have a rough idea what this year’s contest is going to look like but are safe in the knowledge there’s still plenty of time for surprises! As we found out today…

Monday morning is a time when many of us would much rather be left alone to settle gently into things. So starting your week with Senhit belting out Adrenalina while dressed like an iconostasis, while her gimp-like backing dancers cavort around her in a colourful frenzy is a rather violent awakening… but still, a surprisingly enjoyable way to start Monday! That performance has televoter winner written all over it and it’s madcap brilliance! A lot of discussion among the press centres on whether Flo Rida will be on stage on Thursday, so San Marino may still have a few surprises instore! Next up was my favourite song this year, that of Estonia and I was curious to see how it was going to look on stage. Uku delivered a very confident, very polished rendition of The Lucky One with good and solid staging ideas. I know some fans want Cirque du Soleil on acid for every single performance and while I enjoy the occasional descent into lunacy (San Marino case and point!!), understated and classic staging is needed at the contest too and Estonia should be proud of what they’ve done today.

I had high hopes for the Czech Republic, so was left a little underwhelmed by their run-throughs. Benny is a dynamo of a performer, so was unusual to see him being quite subdued. Part of me wonders if he’s one of these artists who needs a live audience to feed off their energy – guess we’ll find out soon enough! Greece have really upped the ante with the sophistication of their stage show and though Stefania seemed a touch nervous, she carried it all off brilliantly. I feel like of all the countries who in the last decade lost their perfect qualification records, Greece were the ones who fought back hardest against it and are determined to make sure they’ll never again miss a Saturday night final.

Vincent Bueno’s Amen is the entry that has perhaps grown on me the most this year and seeing it on stage this afternoon was sublime. Austria have captured the brooding and longing of Amen perfectly with this dark staging and Vincent’s raw emotion as he sings sells what is already a stellar show. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Austria topped the jury vote for this semi final – very impressed! Rafał and Poland have potential for a solid Eurovision banger and there are some novel ideas in the staging… but I’m not sure yet, part of me thinks it’s a bit chaotic. Maybe after Austria’s really parred back scene, anything is going to seem OTT by comparison. I’m sorry to say Moldova were my biggest disappointment today. I think the song is genius and much like the Czech Republic, I was expecting something more inline with Moldova’s music video. One the one hand, I’m glad we didn’t have to watch Natalia rip a cake man’s face off and eat it in front of him, but we all commented we felt a little cheated by not having any dancing ice cream cones! I’m a huge fan of Moldova at Eurovision and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with staging for Sugar – it would suit a vast array of Eurovision songs – it just feels so tame!! Expectations are a funny thing at Eurovision…

After a quick break, it was the turn of Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið from Iceland to rehearse. While this song is far from my personal favourite, it’s impossible not to get caught up with the band’s energy and sense of fun. It’s colourful, whacky and although I still don’t see it achieving what many thought Think About Things would, I do see it breezing into the final with ease. And it had me tapping my foot along in time with the music, which is probably the first time that’s ever happened with this song! Serbia’s Hurricane rounded off today and they gave a very sassy if slightly raw rendition of Loco Loco. While some are now concerned about their chances to qualify, I’m more of the thought that this is why we have rehearsals and Serbia should still make a go of things.

Today has been a busy day, lots of blogging, and TikTok-ing (If you haven’t had a look yet, check it out HERE and let us know what you think!) Overall Day 3 has been a mixed bag. Countries I expected to have phenomenal staging didn’t, others I didn’t hold out much hope for really proved me wrong – such is the life of a Eurovision lover! The team spent some time today discussing how when you hear the songs during the national selection season, be they studio cuts or live versions, you start formulating an idea in your head about who will qualify and who won’t. And how once rehearsals start, these carefully constructed lists get quickly rewritten! Pre-contest, Austria and Belgium didn’t have much of a chance in my view – now after their rehearsals, I’m convinced both will be in the final.

As always, being allowed (and I do use that term, our press badges are not a given right like some seem to think!) to follow the rehearsals of this mental and wonderful contest is great fun and all of us here at Eurovision Ireland LOVE doing it. Yes, it can be exhausting at times and things do catch up with you after a few intense and focused days. But as they say, no sleeping on tour! Usually we go to the EuroClub to blow off steam and somehow manage to make 3 hours of sleep enough for the whole week. Eurovision and sleep do seem somewhat mutually exclusive. So an early night during the contest is a novelty… and as tired as I feel tonight, I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow! 😀

Signing off for today – thank you Europe, and good night!

If you want a more detailed look at what the team thought of Day 3’s rehearsals at Eurovision 2021, take a look at our Live Blog of Day 3 to see what the team made of those countries and their performances.

Author: James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Banner Image Source: Adapted from realireland.ie

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