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 12 – The Morning After The Night Before
With its first televised broadcast for the general public, we can now say that Eurovision 2021 has started in earnest!! Congratulations to Norway, Israel, Russia, Azerbaijan, Malta, Lithuania, Cyprus, Sweden, Belgium, and Ukraine for making it to the final! And of course, commiserations to Slovenia, Australia, North Macedonia, Ireland, Croatia and Romania.
Among our team at Eurovision Ireland and extended family of press from different sites, the consensus is positive about the qualifying songs and most of us correctly predicted between 70-80% countries correctly (including yours truly – I had Croatia and North Macedonia over Azerbaijan and Sweden). A quick look at the stats shows that Croatia was the one country most everyone had down to qualify that didn’t make the cut. We will have to wait until the full breakdown of results is published after the contest to find out for sure, but for now I strongly suspect 11th place went to Croatia. That being said, I had the same feeling about Estonia’s Verona in 2017, only to find out they landed in 17th place… Feedback on Ireland’s performance from more casual fans has been mixed, both praising the innovative staging and asking if she sounded any different during rehearsals. Ireland’s not qualifying stings a little when you realise that every other country who has won Eurovision at least once qualified from the First Semi – leaving the Emerald Isle the only former winner stranded in DNQ.
The big news of course is the exit of Australia from the contest, meaning they will be absent from the Eurovision final for the first time since 2014. From the few bits I’ve seen online, the majority of Australian fans are rallying around Montaigne saying she did them proud regardless of the result, which is lovely to see… I can imagine other groups of fans being a lot less understanding if their act lost a spot in Saturday’s final! As always, there’s a handful of people taking their favourites missing out badly, but on a much more muted scale than I’ve seen in previous years. Part of me wonders if after not having Eurovision for nearly 2 years, people are just grateful it is happening regardless of the results! It’s usually on this day in the contest I find myself explaining the following mantra to at least one irate (inconsolable) fan: As much as we love it, Eurovision is ultimately a TV show. If it doesn’t give you the storyline you want, you can’t take it so personally and there is always next year. I wrote Things To Remember When Your Favourite Doesn’t Qualify in the aftermath of the First Semi Final in 2019, and even though 2021 is a bit of a different contest and not all the points apply in the same way this year, I like to think a lot of it still rings true!
Although the dust is settling on the First Semi Final, we still have another 10 qualifiers to make it through to Saturday. As things stand, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Malta the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom all still have a shot at winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. 13 of these 16 have won the contest at least once before but for 3 of them, it would mean joining the pantheon of Eurovision winners for the very first time. Another 8 taking part in the Second Semi Final have also never won the contest. The bookies have their ideas. The fans and press have theirs. What is still so brilliant, so daunting and so exhilarating at this stage of the contest is that so much can still happen. There are still enough unknowns at play to make the potential for history to be made, either for glory or ignominy for many countries. Narrowing down our winner from 39 to 33 is only step 1. There is still so much to play for!
Another briefer entry tonight. As I’ve said before, this part of Eurovision Week gets crazy busy and with live blogging tonight’s Jury Second Semi Final, and then filming a panel review with the rest of the team – it’s going to be a busy evening! Do stop by for the blog though, always happy to hear from our readers and what they’re thinking!
Signing off for today – thank you Europe, and good night!
Take a look at my live blog for Eurovision Ireland’s for the Jury Final for the Second Semi Final to see what I make of goings on in Rotterdam tonight! Will there be more technical hiccups? We’ll have to wait and see!
Author: James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Banner Image Source: Adapted from realireland.ie