Traditional recipes

The Eurovision Song Contest – a visual feast

The Eurovision Song Contest – a visual feast

On 18 May the big event that we all know and love (ish) will be back on our TV screens, showing us what 39 very different countries can do with their voices and some semi-professional dancers. The Eurovision Song Contest, a glorious miasma of fancy dress, eye-opening acts and hilarious accents comes around a little too quickly doesn’t it?

This year it’s being hosted by last year’s winners, Sweden, in the city of Malmo. I have never been and am now less likely to. But, never one to miss out on the fun, I like to round up my three favourite countries, judging them not on their voices but on their food, and cooking them up on the night.

My absolute favourite this year is Sweden (I take not wanting to go to Malmo back!), not because they are the hosts but because I have a new crush on Swedish food. My particular favourite is pickled herring, swimming in a wonderful blend of vinegar, sugar, dill and star anise. Heaven. Then there are the meatballs – and I’m not talking about the ones at Ikea – I’m talking plain and simple with fresh dill running through and served with a sweet lingonberry sauce, potato purée and pickled wallys. And let’s not forget the delicious open sandwiches – fillings fit for a king on dense, sweet rye bread. I’m not even going to mention the cakes, buns and pastries because I won’t be able to stop…Yup, I hope Sweden wins (again) this year.

Greece is my second choice. I’ve always been a fan, and they can have my vote year on year, I don’t mind – especially because their song this year is called ‘Alcohol is Free’, which I find hilarious. Who doesn’t love a free drink? But make that free drink a cool glass of white wine and present it to me with garlic-tastic tzatziki, a proper horiatiki salad peppered with Kalamata olives and some lightly battered calamari then I am putty. Putty. (Another meatball wouldn’t go amiss here either as I am partial to the lamby Greek-style ones too).

And last but not least: the UK. Usually I’m a little embarrassed with our turn out, but this year Bonnie Tyler is our representative, which is fairly promising. And the food – oh the food, will always make my stomach rumble. Picnics are my favourite I think. Proper scotch eggs with salty sausage meat and soft yolks, and pork pies spread with proper English mustard that makes your eyes water and nose run.

That is what British food is all about. Cold cooked sausages from the butcher, curried coronation chicken and seasonal salads of chicory, broad beans and watercress. Yes please to all the above, washed down with a crisp cider from the West Country and rounded off with some traditional cheeses and oat cakes.

So, there we have my top three. They should keep me sated during the cringe marathon on 18 May. Which cuisines will you be cooking up?


The Showstoppers’ Second Annual Alternative Eurovision Song Contest

The Showstoppers’ Alternative Eurovision Song Contest is a circle of stars all in a simple quest to recreate Eurovision with all the lighthearted puns one could ever wish for. The second incarnation for 2021 is a fun, leisurely watch over the weekend, with hosts Andrew Pugsley and Pippa Evans, alongside commentators Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris, keeping the façade of reality and parody, carefully toeing the line without undermining the show’s aim to raise money for The Care Worker’s Charity.

As for the performers, highlights include those from. the Czech Republic (Jordan Gray), Cyprus (Grace Mouat), Latvia (Justin Brett and Ali James), Greece (Joshua Jackson) and Sweden (Francesca Forristal), the first being a particular favourite of the night. The unfortunate inability to “fly them to the studio” works in their favour in terms of set-up and unique use of props, which serve to hyperbolise their message and gimmick. Cyprus is a sombre change of tone with green activism – still, it’s very much an under-the-breath satire, with its ironic use of the hairdryer. Latvia is equal parts Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga and modern-day Romeo and Juliet. They’re a sharp, loud and shrill transition from Cyprus, with glimmering costumes – enough to make up for the painfully dull backdrop. Their song Fish and Chips is infectious – a shame that there is no live studio audience to give them the atmosphere they deserve.

Greece has the most colourful set, which comes as a pleasant surprise against all the dark and plain whites of many other performers. The country’s singer also has the strongest vocals of the night. Sweden is a fantastic closer: just about the right blend of everything, from an amazing vocal performance (not at all hindered by the comic facial expressions) to the contrast in the simplicity of the background with the flourish of the act’s charisma, all wrapped-up in a sparkling costume. This last performance is also the only act of the night to truly make use of everything the stage has to offer, including lighting, which adds another dimension to the delivery.

While the remaining performers are not all bad, they also are just not notable enough, and in some parts the night drags. The off-centre placement of Evans’s camera is distracting and counteracts the overall visual balance on-screen. The final tribute performance to the UK is definitely the best of the entire night, with the cast all coming together and providing glimpses into their real lives. Such a heartwarming and perfect end – well, almost – the last trip to the green room, with Greece and Montenegro’s (Adam Meggido) friendship finally being restored, is the icing on the cake.

The Showstoppers’ Second Annual Alternative Eurovision Song Contest livestreamed on 15 th May 2021. For further information about Showstoppers and future events visit the company’s website here.


Eurovision

With a 'pretty simple' calculation, one man has discovered how to count Eurovision votes before the result is revealed. Can anyone do it?

I know how we can win Eurovision again

This humiliation of nul points can’t keep happening. Next year we need to throw the kitchen sink at the competition

Eurovision 2021 results: Italy wins as UK gets nil points – and 8 other big moments from the night

James Newman did his best but was upstaged by sexy glam metal Italians – and by countries that actually tried

Monday morning UK news briefing: 300,000 miss urgent cancer checks

SNP official tells Europe 'Scotland hates the UK too' after Eurovision entry flops

Bill Bailey throws hat in ring to end UK Eurovision woes after another 'nul points'

It's not just politics at the heart of our Eurovision failure – we need to change our music too

Eurovision 2021 final, review: Italy’s Maneskin tick the boxes as contest gets back to its best

Poor James Newman was a sacrificial gooseberry but as always this was cheesy, absurd and riveting television

Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest entries: where are they now?

Britain has a chequered record in Europe’s trashiest competition. Here are the highs and lows in full – and what came next

The 25 most embarrassing Eurovision performances ever

From tone-deaf grannies to uncomfortably sexual siblings, behold the most cringe-worthy acts the song contest has ever seen

Eurovision 2021 hopeful James Newman: ‘I’ve written the summer banger the UK deserves’

A year ago, James Newman was preparing to sing for an audience of 200 million in Rotterdam. Now he's back, with the data on his side

Every Eurovision UK entry ranked, from worst to best

All 61 Eurovision UK entries, rated: how have your guilty favourites fared?

Eurovision 2021 songs: a guide to the best and worst from this year's contest

From Italian rockers and Edith Piaf-esque chanson to folk horror and a giant dancing hand

Every recipe you need for your Eurovision party food

The traditional way to watch Eurovision is with a feast of dishes from the competing countries. Cue appeltaart, pizza and chicken schnitzel

Eurovision Song Contest 2021, second semi-final review: more serious than wackier set of entries seen earlier

Ten more acts were selected by public and jury vote to make it through to the grand final on Saturday

Just a Little Bit. crooked: How Gina G’s Ooh Aah Eurovision glory was stolen

Twenty five years ago, the singer's electro banger was the winner-elect – then legal wrangling and politics tripped it up. What went wrong?

Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest, look back at the most memorable costumes from years gone by

Eurovision Song Contest 2021, first semi-final review: the triumphant return of music and absurdity

The semis are where it’s at, before all the weirdest stuff gets filtered out in the first round of voting

Song chosen to represent Cyprus for Eurovision accused of promoting devil worship

The singer says the song has nothing to do with Satan and is about surviving a difficult relationship

ABBA’s naff Waterloo never deserved more than nul points

ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus has claimed Eurovision judges gave Waterloo nul points so that Olivia Newton-John could come top. If only she had.

Abba's Bjorn: We were given nul points by UK in Eurovision because British judges were 'cunning'

He says the score for Waterloo was a tactical move designed to boost the fortunes of Britain's performer, Olivia Newton John

Russia investigating its own Eurovision song over 'insulting' feminist lyrics

Artist Manizha's lyrics about domestic violence and single mothers have been condemned as a 'gross insult' to Russian women

Conservative Russia in retreat as Tajik refugee raps her way to Eurovision

Manizha has upset the establishment and delighted the country’s increasingly progressive youth as she rapped her way to victory

Michael Julien, psychotherapist and lyricist who became a Eurovision Song Contest winner – obituary

He won Eurovision with Lulu, wrote Shirley Bassey’s first big hit, and was a Harley Street hypnotherapist

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, review – Will Ferrell is painfully unfunny (again)

Will Ferrell’s latest outing is unfunny, too long and thoroughly pointless – the real Eurovision is more than daft enough

Eurovision quiz: 10 questions to test your knowledge of the annual song contest

Eurovision 2020: Abba crowned UK's all-time favourite on patchy night of Song Contest programming

Abba named Eurovision's greatest in BBC celebration night to replace cancelled contest

Swedish pop group's 1974 performance of ­Waterloo named the music competition's best song by UK viewers

Eurovision 2020: a guide to the BBC’s coverage on TV, radio and online

A complete run-down of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest coverage (well, its substitutes) across TV, radio and online

Bucks Fizz babylon: the wild lives of Britain’s Eurovision champions

The 1981 winners had a rapid rise and a catastrophic fall. Through coach crashes and clandestine affairs, the recriminations went on

Abba vs Bucks Fizz in clash of the Eurovision titans

The BBC is hosting a vote to find the best Eurovision Song Contest performance of all time

Australia wins AI-driven Eurovision Song Contest

A tech-inspired version of the iconic music competition took place virtually with entrants relying on machines to make the music

Britain's Eurovision Song Contest entries: where are they now?

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We're proud to have played a role in helping the previsualisatio n process for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Check out this exciting clip showing some of the previsualisatio n work done for each performance, including lighting, video, motion, staging and cameras.

All of this content was created 2 months prior to the grand final, even before the load-in had started.
Videos are not rendered, it's all live screen captures.

Eurovision Song Contest 2021 Previsualization Montage

CuePilot

This year’s Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Basketball season ended with a spectacle in Cologne, Germany. The EuroLeague Final Four is the final four format championship of the European-wide top-tier level EuroLeague professional club basketball competition. CuePilot was used to plan, perfect and execute the coverage of the opening ceremony. Take a look inside the control room at Director Vittorio Anelli in action.

Production: Opening Ceremony of the EuroLeague Final Four 2021
Director: Vittorio Anelli
Agency: Filmmaster Events


The Eurovision Song Contest – a visual feast - Recipes

As I’ve mentioned before here on the blog, we are major Eurovision Song Contest fans in this house and can’t wait to watch this year’s Grand Final tomorrow night. If you too love all things Eurovision, then I’ve got the perfect freebie for you. I’ve updated my Eurovision Quiz from a couple of years ago, and added an additional picture round. I’ve also created matching Eurovision Score Sheets and Eurovision Bingo Cards, to make your Eurovision night go that little bit further. Plus I’ve got a few party tips to share. All the printables are free to download, but if you’d like to support me with a small donation to help keep this blog running, it would be much appreciated. Just hit the ‘support‘ button at the end of this post. Thank you! So, are you ready?

Eurovision Party Decor

Flags of Europe are the obvious choice here. If you can get your hands on some pre-made bunting, which will serve you for years to come, that would be the easiest way. But if it’s too late to get hold of any for this year, you could either print some off the internet, or – a more printer friendly version – why not get the kids involved in drawing some. You can squeeze in a little geography lesson as a bonus!

Eurovision Party Food

When we’ve had Eurovision parties in the past, we had each guest bring a dish from a different country, which was always lots of fun. Due to obvious reasons (I’m looking at you, Covid pandemic) big parties are still off the table this year and it will just be a family affair, so we are having a European cheese board with 7 different cheese from 7 different European countries. I’ve got the kids to help me make wee flags to stick in them.

The Warm-Up

Eurovision Playlist

To get in to party mode, a playlist with Eurovision winners – and other notable entries – from previous years is a must! I’ve compiled a playlist of my favourites on Spotify, if you want to tune in, with ABBA, Lulu, Bucks Fizz, Katrina and the Waves, Conchita Wurst, Nicole, Dana International, Lordi, and Charlotte Nilsson to name just a few. And yes, I still think that The Ark and Texas Lightning were both robbed of a win (and are of course also included in my playlist).

Eurovision Quiz

Another fun way to get warmed up for the big event itself, is a good old quiz. I’ve updated my Eurovision Song Contest Quiz from a couple of years ago, and also added another round. The three rounds now include: Questions about Europe, Eurovision Trivia, and a picture round with flags of Europe.

The Viewing

Eurovision Sweepstake

Up the ante, and have a Eurovision sweepstake. Everyone picks the name of a country performing in the Grand Final out of a hat, and the person with the winning country gets a wee prize. With 26 countries taking part, you may not have enough people to pick one each, especially not this year, but you could either team up with friends who are also watching, even if you’re not together, or just pick several countries each. There will only be the four of us this year, so we’ll be picking a handful of countries each and I’ve bought a wee trophy for a couple of quid for the winner (if one of the boys wins and I’m feeling generous, I may pop a small pocket money bonus inside the trophy).

Eurovision Score Card

It’s much more fun watching the performances if you hand out your own scores. We’ve been doing this for years, but for this year I’ve designed some free Eurovision Song Contest Score Cards, with the categories we like to rate: song (i.e. how good is the actual song) outfit (or outfits, if they have a costume change half way through!) performance (this could cover anything from whether they are in tune, to dance routines), and staging (props, lighting, special effects etc). Give marks out of 5 for each category, tot up the scores, and then see who your top 3 acts are and compare to the votes they actually get.

Eurovision Bingo

Another fun thing to do, while watching the performances, is to play Eurovision Bingo. I’ve designed some free Eurovision Song Contest Bingo Cards for you to download. There are 12 different cards in total, each of them slightly different so that there are no repeats if you are playing with a larger group. You could either use these with family at home, or share with friends who are also watching but are maybe not with you. We’re using gummy bears to mark the categories we get, but you could use marshmallows, chocolate buttons, or anything else you fancy. If you get a BINGO you get to eat your sweets.

So, here’s hoping you all have a great Eurovision night! If you use any of my printables and want to share photos of your party, I would love to see them – feel free to tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

One last thing. I’m offering all these printables for free, because I want to share the Eurovision love. However, if you would like to support me with a small donation, which helps to keep this blog running, it would be much appreciated. Just hit the support button below. Thank you x


SUBSCRIBE NOW Daily News

ROME (AP) — The Italian glam rock band that won the Eurovision Song Contest returned home Sunday to the adulation of fans, congratulations from the government and so much speculation that the lead singer had snorted cocaine during the show that he vowed to take a drug test.

“We want to shut down the rumors,” Maneskin lead singer Damiano David told reporters at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport as the band arrived home after their victory in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Rumors spread on social media after David was seen bending over a table during the Saturday night live television broadcast. Asked at a post-victory news conference whether he’d snorted cocaine, David said he doesn’t use drugs and that he’d bent over because another band member had broken a glass at their feet.

Eurovision confirmed that broken glass was found under the table in question, but announced David had offered to take the test, which is scheduled for Monday.

In Italy, the drug claim didn’t mar the praise that poured in Sunday from the Italian establishment for the victory of the rather anti-establishment Maneskin, a glam rock band that got its start busking on Rome’s main shopping drag.

Their win gave Italy a sorely needed boost after a dreadful year as one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus and will bring next year’s competition back to the place where European song contests began.

The band was the bookmakers’ favorite going into the Eurovision finale and sealed the win early Sunday with the highest popular vote in the enormously entertaining, and incredibly kitsch, annual song festival.

“We are out of our minds!” Florence’s Uffizi Galleries tweeted, echoing Maneskin’s winning song lyrics, along with an image of a Caravaggio Medusa and the hashtag #Uffizirock.

Maneskin, Danish for “moonlight” and a tribute to bass player Victoria De Angelis’ Danish ancestry, won with a total of 529 points. France was second while Switzerland, which led after national juries had voted, finished third.

“It is amazing. It is amazing,“ band members said as they got off the plane and were met by a gaggle of reporters outside baggage claim.

De Angelis said the band was shocked at the claims of drug use, which were echoing particularly loudly in runner-up France, where mainstream media prominently reported the suspicions and the country’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was even asked about them on a news show Sunday.

Le Drian stayed clear on the controversy, saying: “If there is a need to do tests, they’ll do tests.”

De Angelis said the band wants to put the controversy behind them because drug use goes against their ethos and message.

“We are totally against cocaine and the use of drugs and we would have never done it of course, so we are shocked that many people believe this,” she said.

The band got its start performing on Via del Corso, the main commercial thoroughfare in downtown Rome. Their scrappy performances in front of a Geox shoe store were a far cry from the over-the-top, flame-throwing extravaganza Saturday night that literally split David’s pants.

David told a news conference this week that starting out on the street was embarrassing, since the group had to contend with other musicians vying for the same prized piece of sidewalk while neighbors complained about the noise.

“They were always calling the police,” De Angelis said, laughing.

Maneskin’s win was only Italy’s third victory in the contest and the first since Toto Cutugno took the honor in 1990. The victory means Italy will host next year’s competition, with cities bidding for the honor.

Launched in 1956 to foster unity after World War II, Eurovision evolved over the years from a bland ballad-fest to a campy, feel-good extravaganza. It has grown from seven countries to include more than 40, including non-European nations such as Israel and far-away Australia.

Legend has it that Eurovision got its inspiration from Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival, which began in 1951 as a post-war effort to boost Italian culture and the economy of the Ligurian coastal city that has housed it ever since.

Perhaps best known for having launched the likes of Andrea Boccelli and one of Italy’s most famous songs “Nel blu, dipinto di blu” — popularly known as “Volare” — the Sanremo festival usually picks Italy’s official selection for the Eurovision contest.

Maneskin won Sanremo this year with the same song, “Zitti e Buoni” (“Quiet and good”) that it performed Saturday night in Rotterdam.

De Angelis said she hoped that their victory would send a message to future Italian contestants that ballads aren’t the only genre that can win contests.

“We think maybe from now on more bands will have the chance to play what they want and not be influenced by the radios or what the main genre is in Italy,” she said. “They can feel themselves and play rock music too.”

AP reporter John Leicester contributed to this report from Le Pecq, France.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Eurovision Semi-Final 1 - Jury show review

Early this morning the jury show of the first semi-final took place.

These performances are what each national jury vote on ahead of the live show for televoters tomorrow.

The jury show can make or break some contestants, so let's take a look at how the entries went:

Australia

First up let's talk about Australia. The live-on-tape performance looks great and most importantly sounds fantastic. Montaigne delivers her best vocal performance by far and this is something Australia can definitely be proud of.

It isn't announced at the start that we are doing a 'live-on-tape' but a subtle pan to the crowd at the end shows the performance on screen. We also saw a live-cross to Montaigne from the studios in Sydney.

Nailed it

Was there any doubt that Destiny would smash a jury performance? Of course not! She even had a second run through because of technical issues that none of us noticed, she is that professional. She looks great with a silver dress and dark boots, and delivers a fun performance and some great vocal moments. Potential semi-final jury winner.

Another nation that had a second run through due to technical issues. Go_A have been one of the most consistent performers of the week. The deadpan delivery, the strong vocals and the visual feast of the staging will capture attention.

The eye-catcher for juries of the first half. This is slick, well produced and Tusse delivered one of his best vocals. The running order suits this well and it looks like the "real deal" when it comes on. Juries will lap this up.


The 20 best Eurovision songs of the last 15 years

We all despaired when it transpired we wouldn&rsquot be getting our yearly Eurovision fix in 2020. For the first time in its 64-year history, the extravaganza of Slavic folk battling it out with slickly schlager wasn&rsquot to be. Damn you, coronavirus.

A year on, and the world's most-watched music event is finally back, and to celebrate this week's competition in Rotterdam, I&rsquove set out to shine a light on some of the very best Eurovision bangers from the last 15 years.

Yeah, 15 years. I&rsquom not old enough to go further back. And so this is a personal and so thereby doubtless controversial &lsquobest of&rsquo list, I get that.

But go ahead, clutter the social airwaves with your alternative choices. For now, though, I have the talking stick, and so it&rsquos my shout. These bops take any traditional musical sensibilities and launch them out of a confetti cannon in true Eurovision style. Enjoy!

20) 'Fairytale' - Alexander Rybak (Norway, 2009)

It&rsquos been 12 years since Alexander Rybak won our hearts with Fairytale, with a rousing chorus that&rsquos impossible not to sing along to after half a bottle. It&rsquos aged like fine wine, too, just like Alexander Rybak himself, who&rsquos still as fit as his fiddle.

19) 'Sound of Silence' - Dami Im (Australia, 2016)

When Australia was announced as a regular contestant after its one-off guest entry in 2015, the country knew it had to impress Karen, 47, from Weymouth, who explained to her 81 Facebook friends that Australia is, in fact, not in Europe. And so should not be competing.

Enter 'Sound of Silence' by Dami Im, who certainly silenced Karen and the naysayers. We now can&rsquot imagine the contest without our friends from Down Under.

18) 'Same Heart' - Mei Finegold (Israel, 2014)

Since the introduction of the semi-finals, each year there&rsquos always been one non-qualifier that deserves justice. You ask any good voice-activated assistant &ldquowhat&rsquos the definition of being robbed?&rdquo and it&rsquoll respond &ldquo'Same Heart' by Mei Finegold not qualifying at the 2014 Eurovision song contest&rdquo.

An absolute triumph of a performance, seamlessly staged. It proudly lives on at Eurovision club nights at iconic London LGBTQ pub The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

17) 'Occidentali&rsquos Karma' - Francesco Gabbani (Italy, 2017)

Occidentali&rsquos Karma, lyrically, is a critique of our modern life's vapid systematic structures, with references from Hamlet and Heraclitus.

So, of course, it&rsquos paired with Francesco Gabbani having the time of his life on stage, alongside a man in an ape costume dancing in sync. Eurovision formula down to a tee.

16) 'Say Yay!' - Barei (Spain, 2016)

The last time Spain topped the Eurovision scoreboard was before mankind landed on the moon. 51 years, the longest dry spell for any competing country. Sure, there&rsquos been some dodgy entries and even a Spanish finance minister pleading with an entry not to win, but more often than not they&rsquove been criminally underrated.

Take their entry 'Say Yay!' by Barei, that was tipped to win by fans leading up to the contest, yet got shortchanged and had to settle for a paltry 22nd. Don&rsquot cry Spain, we&rsquoll always be right beside you, on the right-hand side of the scoreboard.

15) 'Molitva' - Marija &Scaronerifović (Serbia, 2007)

Yes, yes, I know. Bangers not ballads, but hear me out. Serbia, a country that had existed for a mere 11 months, makes its Eurovision debut and only goes and wins it with Molitva.

Marija &Scaronerifović sings it with such passion it&rsquos hard not getting caught up with the drama of it all. Never have I belted out a song in a language I don't understand with one fist clenched so dramatically.

14) 'Alcohol Is Free' - Koza Mostra ft. Agathonas Iakovidis (Greece, 2013)

Nothing about this Greek Ska entry by Koza Mostra, featuring Agathonas Iakovidis, makes any sense whatsoever. Why are the men wearing kilts? Why is a man strumming his trumpet? Why is the alcohol free? Many of these questions we don&rsquot have an answer for.

But if anyone asked you these questions out of context, you&rsquod clearly tell them to shut up and enjoy it for what it is already. 'Alcohol Is Free' freaking rocks and Europe clearly agreed, giving Greece its best placing in 11 years.

13) Düm Tek Tek - Hadise (Turkey, 2009)

Turkey have been sorely missed from their contest since they sailed off into the sunset in 2012 on a boat made from men.

Düm Tek Tek from Hadise illuminated the 2009 stage, which is saying something given it was the size of San Marino. We stan a belly dancing queen.

12) 'Dancing Lasha Tumbai' - Verka Serduchka (Ukraine, 2007)

No self-confessed Eurofan could ever have a party without Verka Serduchka. Dancing Lasha Tumbai is three minutes of bewildering but splendid nonsense for which we are all richer for witnessing. He may not have the title of the 2007 Eurovision champion, but he&rsquoll always hold a place in our gay hearts

11) 'If Love Was A Crime' - Poli Genova (Bulgaria, 2016)

A Balkan banger that wouldn&rsquot sound out of place on a Galantis album. If Love Was a Crime by Poli Genova was something contemporary, fun and ultimately got them a shedload of points after Bulgaria&rsquos consistent string of disappointing results. United Kingdom take note.

10) 'Heroes' - Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden, 2015)

This past decade really was one for the Swedes, with their second victory in the space of only three years. Heroes is an instant arena-anthem crowd pleaser, accompanied by a visual feast (no not Måns, but now, come to think of it. ) in stage design.

9) 'Think About Things' - Daði og Gagnamagnið (Iceland, 2020)

The only Schrödinger Eurovision bop to grace this list. Think About Things was Iceland's surefire ticket to take the show to Reykjavik. A groovy synth-pop love song written by lead singer Daði Freyr to his baby daughter, we hope we haven&rsquot seen the last of him and his eclectic style.

8) You Are The Only One - Sergey Lazarev (Russia, 2016)

After being pipped by Måns in the 2015 contest, Russia clearly smuggled the Swedish stage and light blueprints back to Moscow.

Only a year later we witnessed 'You Are The Only One', with Sergey Lazarev navigating around some truly insane and intricate projections.

No performance has come close to its visual mastery since. Sadly, it had to settle for third. But hey, God loves a trier.

7) 'My Number One' - Helena Paparazou (Greece, 2005)

My Number One with its blend of swirling traditional greek strings structured around a contemporary beat was always going to do well. This would be Helena Paparazou&rsquos second Eurovision outing, and this time she came only to win.

Even bloc voting cynic Terry Wogan himself acknowledged the following year, remarking, &ldquoShe's just showing she could win it again this year if she wanted to.&rdquo

6) 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' - Lordi (Finland, 2006)

It would be easy to dismiss Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi as just attempting a new angle of Eurovision kitsch, if it wasn&rsquot so hell-raisingly brilliant. Scored the highest number of points ever recorded at the time, too.

With their gruesome vocals and vicious power cords, Lordi are just further proof that you&rsquove never seen it all until you&rsquove witnessed Eurovision.

5) 'Popular' - Eric Saade (Sweden, 2007)

You have to have a lot of bottle to swan on stage with 200 million people watching and rhyme &ldquopossible&rdquo with &ldquopossible&rdquo seven seconds into a performance, but that&rsquos what Eric Saade did with 'Popular'.

He sure as hell looked great doing it, too. I hear trashy electropop, I see his bone structure. I forgive everything else.

4) 'Shady Lady' - Ani Lorak (Ukraine, 2008)

Who said schlager pop was only limited to the Scandinavian countries? Shady Lady sung by Ukraine&rsquos Ani Lorak is an exhilarating three-minute romp &ndash with possibly the most fabulously tight choreography ever to grace the stage.

Unlike Russia that year, they were in between Olympic champion figure skaters, and so had to settle for second place. The shade of it all.

3) 'Euphoria' - Loreen (Sweden, 2012)

The city of Baku, Azerbaijan, may as well saved itself the hassle of hosting the entire contest as 'Euphoria' had all but won the thing before it even began.

With unparalleled staging, Loreen sings with thrilling bravado that&rsquos nothing short of pure pop perfection.

2) 'Fuego' - Eleni Fourera (Cyprus, 2018)

The intro to Fuego may as well be a battle cry played across the nation to rally the gays into action. The captivating hairography, the enrapturing siren at the bridge, Eleni Fourera owned every second on that stage and cemented herself as Eurovision royalty. "Yeah, yeah, fire!".

1) 'Spirit in the Sky' - KEiiNO (Norway, 2019)

It&rsquos hard to think where else KEiiNO could feel more at home than on the Eurovision stage.

A palette of Sami folk, dance-pop and bubblegum vocals, 'Spirit in the Sky' is completely overdramatic, gelastic and, most of all, a shit-ton of fun. It&rsquos everything we live for in this wondrous song contest.

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals air on Tuesday 18 May and Thursday 20 May on BBC Four at 8pm BST in the UK.

The Eurovision Grand Final airs this Saturday 22 May on BBC One at 8pm BST.


REWIND: An American judges the Eurovision 2021 losers

Jendrik performs during the second dress rehearsal of the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on May 17, 2021. The Hamburg artist represents Germany. Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

Good news, everyone! The Americans are here. Well… one American is here, but one American is all it takes.

In 2019 (and again, sort of, in 2020), I offered my services as a representative of the world’s tastemakers to tell you what to think of the year’s “Eurovision” entries. Because, let’s face it, the United States is the global arbiters of good music. All the best musicians came from here, from the Beach Boys to Metallica to Tupac Shakur. And acts unfortunate enough to be from overseas, from the Beatles to BTS, came here to seek our approval to make it big.

Unfortunately, Europeans hated it. They hated it a lot. I periodically get trolled on Twitter to this very day. Fortunately, if there’s one thing Americans are good at, it’s knowing when foreign countries don’t really mean it when they tell us to leave.

Anyway, I just now noticed you people are doing this again, so it’s time to put on my Uncle Sam hat, steel myself for an endless stream of identical-sounding English-language ballads and explain to you poor souls what you’re doing wrong. Today, we’ll go over the 13 losers who got axed from the semifinals. Then tomorrow, before the finals, we’ll go over the… hold up, the 26 finalists? Twenty-six? A full two-thirds of the entries make it to the finals? What is this, the NBA?

(Sorry, for the Europeans reading this, the NBA is a basketball league. And basketball is like… what weird second-tier sports do you play over there… it’s like quidditch without brooms, with only one hoop per side, and without a snitch of any metal.)

Slovenia: Ana Soklič — “Amen”

This one is… OK. It’s not the worst “Eurovision” song I’ve ever heard, but it’s also roughly half of all “Eurovision” songs I’ve ever heard, so I can see why it would get the axe. It was the second song performed in the competition, so by the time voting started, everyone probably forgot it existed.

You know when you were a kid, and you asked your mom for Dr. Pepper, and when she came home from the store she brought Dr. Wow or Dr. Choice or something like that? This is like if you asked your mom for Adele and she came home and said, “What’s wrong with Ana Soklič? It’s the same thing and I’m not made of money.”

Australia: Montaigne — “Technicolour”

I can’t believe I have to explain this to you people again: Australia is not in Europe. It’s not even in the same hemisphere as Europe. No wonder she didn’t move on she probably showed up at the competition by mistake. She could’ve sworn she booked a ticket to “Oceaniavision,” and they felt bad so they let her sing anyway.

The song isn’t bad at first. I mean it’s not great or anything, but it has character and flair, and the singer doesn’t look like she was manufactured in a factory to be a middling-to-forgettable pop singer. But then we get to the chorus and… look, Montaigne—can I call you Montaigne?—I’m not sure who told you what, but if your voice cracks, that’s bad. It’s not a vocal style, and it doesn’t belong in the chorus.

Also, the performance in the video is on a cricket pitch. This is why I had to explain basketball to you you’re always playing made-up sports in “Europe.”

North Macedonia: Vasil — “Here I Stand”

Like our boy Vasil says in the interview that inexplicably precedes this music video, most of the competitors in “Eurovision” 2021 were supposed to compete in “Eurovision” 2020, including all three so far. That’s why I’m focusing on the songs rather than the artists. That said, check out last year’s entry for Vasil’s very interesting life story. He’s been through a lot, and I’m glad he got to perform.

And the year off helped! This song is slightly better than his 2020 entry. I haven’t actually listened to any of the finalists yet—seriously, I don’t research these at all before passing snap judgment—but I guarantee this is better than at least half of them. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t speak to the quality of the song so much as the quality of “Eurovision.”

Ireland: Lesley Roy — “Maps”

Oh come on, Europe (and, for some reason, Australia), what are you even doing?

This is not a song I’d sit and listen to on purpose. But unlike most other “Eurovision” entries, it’s a song I can listen to without my mind wandering and recalling all the mistakes I made in my life to get to the point where I have to listen to it. It’s a pretty good pop song! But I guess it doesn’t reach the lofty standards of ABBA.

Croatia: Albina — “Tick-Tock”

I was disappointed that this isn’t a cover of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” but I’ll try to recover. I’m kidding no I won’t. I’ll hold it against her for this entire entry.

This is actually a different artist than was supposed to perform in 2020. Presumably, there’s a story behind it but I don’t care enough to check. And this is better than last year’s entrant: It’s decently catchy, largely inoffensive and not to get too shallow, but Albina is just ludicrously attractive.

On the down side, it sounds like the music in the background of a nightclub scene in a low-budget movie. The sort of thing that sounds vaguely like club music, has little to no royalties attached and isn’t so good or distinctive that it intrudes on the scene. So she’s got that going for her—a future in incidental music! That’s something!

Romania: Roxen — “Amnesia”

Please sit down, Roxen. No, don’t leave, we’re your friends. We’re just trying to help you.

This is hard to say, but… you’re not Billie Eilish. Please, don’t make this harder than it has to be, someone had to tell you. You’re just not. You can dye your hair, you can perpetually look bored and tired and you can make your best effort to whisper-sing verses, but that doesn’t make you Billie Eilish. It’s OK almost everyone else isn’t Billie Eilish either. It’s best if you just accept it.

Estonia: Uku Suviste — “The Lucky One”

Uku Suviste looks like one of the contestants on The Bachelorette. And not one of the likable or even memorable ones either one of the ones who has incredibly, depressingly dull interests, gets kicked out early with a minimum of fanfare and goes on to have a short and mediocre career in real estate.

why are the bachelorette contestant images filled with the saddest fun facts I’ve ever seen in my life pic.twitter.com/CoGTNwb6xR

&mdash nicole boyce (@nicolewboyce) May 19, 2021

Tell me it’s not uncanny how much he’d fit in with those four guys in that tweet.

As for the song, it probably exists, too, but I already forgot what it sounds like while I was looking for that tweet to embed.

Czech Republic: Benny Cristo — “omaga”

Don’t worry, the name isn’t short for “O, MAGA” or something like that. Apparently, it’s a contraction of “oh my god,” which seems more complicated than it had to be. Just call the song “Oh My God” to match the line from the chorus.

Anyway, I think this song lost because of the music video. Hear me out: The premise of Benny and his pretend girlfriend traveling through TV may sound novel, but in practice it’s just a bunch of lazy references to movies and shows. But that’s not the really egregious part. What really sealed his fate is that, in the scene where he’s laying on The Simpsons’ couch, the donut he’s eating has blue frosting and pink sprinkles rather than pink frosting and blue sprinkles.

I’m sorry, I should have put a trigger warning on that. I know Simpsons-related errors can be traumatic for many of you.

Austria: Vincent Bueno — “Amen”

No, that’s not a typo. Good Vincent’s song is the second loser in the competition titled “Amen,” which had to have been embarrassing for both him and Ana. It’s like showing up to the party and seeing someone in the same dress, but rather than a dress, it’s the same word melodramatically bellowed in the chorus of your song.

I’m actually a little surprised this one didn’t advance. Not because it’s good but because it’s not. It’s the blandest, most generic song I’ve heard from the competition yet, and usually that’s a recipe for “Eurovision” success. Europeans love blandness! Based solely on “Eurovision” winners I assume beige is scandalous in Europe for being too flamboyant.

Poland: RAFAŁ — “The Ride”

We have another replacement. RAFAŁ is in for Alicja representing Poland, where apparently nobody has a last name.

RAFAŁ looks like the spoiled rich kid villain in a teen movie. Picture Elon Musk’s 20-something son threatening the kids in a youth center because they won’t leave so his dad can turn it into a parking lot that’s RAFAŁ. And don’t even get me started on the sunglasses! Corey Hart took one look at RAFAŁ and said, “Dude, come on. That’s just unnecessary.”

It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t look like such a weenie, too. He’s easily one of the top five whitest men I’ve ever seen. And he thinks he’s so cool! But he’s not!

Oh, and the song is decently annoying. Not a fan.

Georgia: Tornike Kipiani — “You”

In the 2020 edition I described Kipiani as “the rare male ‘Eurovision’ singer whose voice conveys an emotion other than vaguely romantic longing.” He apparently read that, took offense, and stripped literally any emotion out of his next song except romantic longing.

This is one of the most boring songs I’ve ever heard.

Go ahead, try to listen to it and stay awake. You can’t! It’s so boring. Not only did I nearly fall asleep listening to it, but the dog fell asleep before it ended. The dog is literally snoring next to me on the couch right now it’s amazing.

Latvia: Samanta Tīna — “The Moon Is Rising”

I’m concerned that Samanta Tīna thinks she’s Black, because she’s not. She makes RAFAŁ look like Chuck D, so a significant chunk of this music video is a bad look.

Anyway, awkward cultural appropriation aside, the song isn’t too bad. It makes me think of “Bad Moon Rising” which is objectively better in every way, but it’s not terrible. It has character, it has an upbeat vibe and it doesn’t make me want to jam pens into my ears point-first, which puts the song in the top half. So of course it didn’t move on.

I’m legitimately excited to see what trash made it to the Finals while songs like this got cut. I’m gonna be so mad!

Denmark: Fyr & Flamme — “Øve os på hinanden”

I regret wasting my one free ABBA joke earlier.

This song still wouldn’t have been any good in 1981, but at least it would’ve been appropriate for 1981. This song is so 󈨔s that the top marginal tax rate just dropped. This is so 󈨔s that, somewhere, Molly Ringwald’s ears are burning.

One thing I will give to them: This is the very first song of all the losers to be sung in the actual language of the European nation it’s representing. Australia obviously doesn’t count because it’s not European.

Be sure to be back tomorrow, when I do this again but for twice as long! Somebody kill me!


Oliver: The second act of this semi-final to use fake trees on stage! Go_A have a similar forest scene to Lesley Roy, but they navigate it very differently. It’s very hard to find faults here. Kate’s stood front and centre in a black leather dress with sleeves made from green hair. The rest of the band are dressed in avant garde hazmat-esque raincoats, playing their respective instruments while two dancers in similar garb prance around the stage holding large ring lights. It’s intense, but at the same time a lot of fun, and never distracts from the fact that this is still serious music. Go_A made the stage their own and executed their creative vision brilliantly. This is excellent.

Padraig: This is a feast for all the senses. Visually, sonically, spiritually. Go_A deliver. I didn’t know what to expect from them at Eurovision, but it certainly wasn’t this. All the disparate elements shouldn’t work — Kateryna’s green feather jacket, the boys in their hazmat suits, the trees, the bags of seeds, the halos made of ring lights, the psychedelic LED…. to name just a few. But the end result is spectacular. “SHUM” is an acquired taste. But the vocals are on point and Go_A are selling it!


Watch the video: Greece In Eurovision: All Entries 1974-2018 (January 2022).