GRAPHIC BY ELSIE MCKENDRY
From green-screened floating clothes and a Gen Z rock band, to a giant dancing peace sign, Eurovision never fails to bring entertainment, and 2021 was no exception.
The Eurovision Song Contest is an international song competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Each European country sends in one act and original song to be performed on live television and radio. The jury, made up of the competing countries as well as the viewers, cast votes for their favorite song and the act with the most votes wins.
Eurovision has been held annually since 1956 and is one of the world’s longest running television programs. In 2021, it was held in the Netherlands following their victory in 2019 with “Arcade” by Duncan Laurence, a song you have likely heard all over TikTok. The Netherlands was supposed to host the 2020 Eurovision, but that was canceled due to the pandemic.
This year’s Eurovision was filled with electrifying acts, and it’s only fitting that we start with this year’s winner, Italy. To go into a mainly pop-driven song contest with a rock song is a pretty risky move, but it paid off. Italy sent a rock band named Måneskin with the song “Zitti e buoni.” The song, as well as their electric stage presence, stood out from the rest of the acts, and they absolutely deserved that win.
Moving on to another finalist, Barbara Pravi represented France this year with a touching song called “Voilà.” The song felt like it should be played in the background of a movie with all the swelling instrumentals and amazing build-up of the chorus. It truly encompasses the goal of Eurovision: to show your culture to the world.
A band that returned from last year was Daði og Gagnamagnið from Iceland with the song “10 Years.” The song is about being in love with someone for over a decade and still being excited about the relationship, which was very endearing. The lead singer’s wife, who he wrote the song about, is also in the band and performed alongside her husband while pregnant with their second child. From the slightly awkward, yet amusing, choreography to the moving lyrics, Iceland really stole the hearts of fans this year.
Another unexpected performance was from Lithuania with the song “Discoteque.” The lyrics talk about “dancing alone,” which is very fitting considering the situation in the world right now. The song itself resembles electro-pop, but what really stole the show were the dance moves of the performers. The whole ensemble was perfectly in sync as they wildly moved around the stage. The performance is not something that can be put into words, so you will have to go to Youtube and look it up for yourself.
Lastly, my favorite performance of the year was Ukraine, represented by Go_A, with the song “Shum.” Hearing the song for the first time, I was a bit skeptical. It magically combines elements of old Slavik songs and modern pop into one cohesive piece. “Shum” refers to a folk ritual, usually performed to welcome spring.
The band was surrounded on the stage by white trees and the dancers incorporated light into their movement to create a mystical atmosphere. From the incredible staging to the costumes, and song itself, they knocked it out of the park in every aspect of the contest.
Alongside some amazing performances, there were also some of the worst of all time. For the first time ever, the four countries that placed last in the final, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom, received zero points from the public vote. Furthermore, the UK received 0 votes from the jury, which made for an incredible reaction.
2021 was also a rare case in which the top three songs were not sung in English. It’s exciting to see artists start to branch out and sing for their countries rather than try to appeal to the mass audience.
The audience got to hear the song, but also got to know the performers behind them through countless games and interviews done in between performances. This year’s new addition to the Eurovision program was a segment called “LookLab” hosted by NikkieTutorials, in which Nikkie interviewed each contestant for about 10 minutes, sharing their story to the world.
If you have never seen Eurovision, I highly suggest checking it out to see the different kinds of music that are popular around the world. This year’s Eurovision brought incredible performances, intricate staging, and many new songs that I will be saving to my Spotify playlists.