Now that we’ve had some time to digest and calm down from the frenzy that stokes all passions on the night of the Eurovision Grand Finals, we can take a look at this year’s contest more properly – outside of eagerly looking for our favourites to win.
Eurovision 2021 was one of the first major events that we have seen in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic has struck and it cannot be understated how great it has been to see.
No matter one’s opinion on the results of Eurovision this year, let’s look at the contest in its entirety, what worked? What was downright phenomenal to behold? What was just a big no-no?
Here is Lovin Malta’s breakdown of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021!
1. Malta’s favourite entry
Verdict: ‘Voices’ by Tusse (Sweden) – technically
So, technically, if we look at the total votes allocated from both the televoting and jury votes, Malta gave a total of 16 points to Sweden’s powerful vocal track – and it isn’t hard to see why.
Tusse has the charisma, stage presence and vocals to be a successful act at any Eurovision Song Contest – continuing a trend of Sweden offering strong contestants each year for Eurovision.
That said, if we look at just the televoting, Malta greatly favoured Italy – which is also not hard to imagine. Italy completely dominated with the televoting, achieving 318 points from the public – the greatest number of points achieved by any act in 2021.
At the end of the day, Malta’s favourite entry will come down to whether you want to acknowledge the points that the Jury allocated to the contest that year – a particularly polarising topic given that many have called for the jury to be abolished over the years.
2. Most ‘out-there’ outfit
Verdict: Manizha (Russia) and Senhit (San Marino)
Our first tie for the list is between Russia’s Manizha and San Marino’s Senhit. Both women gave Eurovision their all with their metamorphosis of costume changes mid-way through their song. They took full advantage of the extravagance of a Eurovision performance and ran with it.
Russia’s Manizha was a particularly interesting outfit with a powerful symbolism behind it. Her dress was made from patches of dresses from women across Russia – truly bringing the women of Russia to the Eurovision stage to highlight the message of her empowering song.
While her dress is fascinating to watch, especially with the Russian Nesting Doll style of it, one cannot deny the Aztec-esque iconography of San Marino’s Senhit’s initial outfit.
Her outfit is a stunning one to behold – the golden headdress combined with the colourful, feathered dress give her the appearance of a radiant Aztec Goddess or Empress. Though, it is unfortunate that the outfit didn’t last long in the performance.
3. Best use of staging
Verdict: ‘Last Dance’ by Stefania (Greece)
This year saw an amazing number of performances and songs. From Azerbaijan’s beautiful background to the simple rock vibes and staging from Italy – everyone made the most of their songs.
However, out of all the performances, none truly made use of the green screen technology and special effects like Greece’s Stefania did. The 18-year-old’s performance was stunning to watch for viewers at home.
It is reminiscent of the phenomenal performance that we saw with Russia’s Sergei Lazarev in 2016 and even in 2019. I mean who would’ve thought that making your dancers (except for their clothing) invisible via greenscreen would be so cool?
Combined with the feel-good factor of this pop-filled song, who wouldn’t want to just get up and dance for this act, the whole night was a dance party – even if it was from home for most people.
4. Deserved to be in the Final
Verdict: ‘Amnesia’ by Roxen (Romania)
Say what you will about the acts who did get into the Final, the first Semi-Final was very strong with many favourites of 2021’s Contest featuring and even then, every year there are acts that we just adore – but don’t make it.
This year, many have felt that Romania’s ‘Amnesia’ was that very act. Roxen’s dark ballad on combatting self-neglect in our society speaks volumes to people across Europe and beyond.
Combine this with the Billie Eilish vibes and the repetition of ‘Oh, I lost myself tryna have it all’ and audiences are left with a very self-reflective and current message of the struggles that we all face in life.
5. Best Sportsmanship
Verdict: ‘Embers’ by James Newman (UK)
Honestly, this is a no-brainer. Who else can have the best sportsmanship of the contest than the UK’s James Newman – who received zero points from both the Jury and Televoting, yet still had the dignity to stand up and raise a bottle towards the camera.
Newman’s song, ‘Embers’ was by far the worst song in the Final – and at the very least truly did not deserve receiving zero points.
Yet, the sportsmanship he showed, and the support he received from fellow contestants, truly is a highlight of the meaning of a Eurovision family.
6. Most unique sound
Verdict: ‘Shum’ by Go_A (Ukraine)
Despite some belief to the contrary, Eurovision tends to have a vast array of different sounds, themes and styles when it comes to contestants.
This year we had African styles from The Netherlands, Electro-Swing from Malta, rock from Italy, a tropical vibe from San Marino and so much more. Yet, a huge stand-out song this year has to be Ukraine’s entry: ‘Shum’.
The folklore-inspired song of Spring brought a unique vibe to the contest by combining tradition with electro-style music to create a vibrant, somewhat chaotic yet still stunningly beautiful song.
Combined with the changing tempos and the Matrix-style visuals from the group Go_A, this is a Eurovision song that won’t soon be forgotten and definitely is well-deserving of fifth place.
7. Most Eurovision-y Entry
Verdict: ’10 Years’ by Daði & Gagnamagnið (Iceland)
Now, this category has to have been one of the hardest to define – simply because of how difficult it is deciding what is the most ‘Eurovision’ sound, song and performance, it is honestly up to one’s opinion.
Some may call it the most camp performance or the most outrageous or, for a small minority, may say it is the most ‘generic’ or political song of that year.
To be entirely fair, previous winners have been these things, but it is neither the rule nor the norm. Over the past ten years, Eurovision has continued to evolve further to become a more serious and professional contest.
For this author, Iceland’s performance was the most ‘Eurovision-y’ of the year was beautiful to behold. They stuck to their quirky yet fun act and had the most wholesome performance – from the outfits to the song and even their stage presence, it all screamed everything we love about Eurovision.
Yes, there is also the sympathy for the fact that they could not perform live due to a positive COVID-19 test within the group – but even so, that does not overshadow the fact that they were a strong contender for this year’s top spot.
BONUS: Best Eurovision Host (and worst Announcer)
Verdict: Nikkie de Jager (Best Host) and Sweden (Worst Announcer)
To end this article on a positive note, we’ll start with the bad part of this category – Sweden. You may have missed it or blurred out everything except what Jury was giving points to whom (thank you for the Douze Pointes Sweden by the way), you may have missed this.
Yet, when it came for Sweden to reveal its jury vote the camera turned on to a Carola (Swedish winner of the 1991 contest) who was not yet fully prepared by the looks of it. In the beginning, we can see a hand still arranging Carola’s outfit, most likely adjusting the microphone on her at the time.
Following this, we got a particularly long monologue about her win in the Eurovision, while we were left on the edge of our seats for the 12 points.
Yet, definitely, a crowning moment of this contest were the hosts. All four of this year’s Eurovision hosts were exceptional – from the charisma of Jan Smit to the warmth of Edsilia Rombley and the amazing lingual skills from Chantal Janzen.
Yet, a true stand-out in terms of hosts was Nikkie de Jager – better known for her YouTube channel, NikkieTutorials.
She elevated the contest to a whole new level with the combination of her amazingly relatable and personal interviews and tip videos to also just being very fun and current with younger audiences especially. Is it too late to start a petition to have Nikkie feature at every Eurovision? Please?
This year’s Eurovision was truly a spectacle to behold, with Rotterdam truly reminding us what we’ve been missing from Eurovision – and mass events in general.
Even if some may have thought it hard to top Tel Aviv’s amazing spectacle for Eurovision 2019, the Dutch definitely stood up to that challenge and topped it.
What were your favourite Eurovision moments?