Happy Eurovision month to you all! It feels good to be able to say that after what we all experienced in 2020. It’s now just a week until rehearsals start at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam in readiness for the contests to be held on 18th, 20th and 22nd May.
How did we get here though? How did these 39 songs become the class of 2021?
Well, here we are going to take a look back at the National Finals that were held this year, and highlight some of the entries that caught the hearts of the fans and our editors on the Road to Rotterdam.
First off, as always was Albania’s Festivali i Këngës, this year celebrating it’s 59th edition. It was held in the open air (In Albania, in December ….) and was seen as a benchmark for what we were going to get from other countries who had decided on holding a National Final during the Covid restrictions.
One of the finalists was Inis Neziri with “Pendesë”. Olivier declared it one of his favourites of the year, adding “For me, this was by far the best entry of this year’s FiK. A strong voice, a great powerful ballad. I still don’t understand how Albanians could choose a much more average song.”
January took us to France, and their selection process “C’est vous qui décidez 2021” where 12 songs competed to get the ticket following two rounds of voting. ESCBubble’s Nikola has chosen AMUI and their song, “Maeva” and says “This trio was so enjoyable to listen to and the beats of the song took me to the seaside. Maeva celebrates diversity and nature. I love the fact that it is sung in the combination of French and Tahitian. I was so sad when I saw that the jury rated them so low but the audience votes kinda sorted out things for them, even though I enjoyed the winning song I think AMUI deserved more than the 6th place.”
February’s final’s started with Lithuania’s hugely enjoyable selection “Pabandom Iš Naujo 2021” and whilst no one was ever going to beat The Roop, who took a massive 87% of the televotes in a 6 song final. Anne’s pick is the hugely talented Gebrasy and his self written song “Where’d You Wanna Go”. She adds “I always knew that this wouldn’t win, but I’m so happy that we got to hear the haunting melody and clear vocals – please come back next year Gebrasy with more of the same!”
Croatia was next, and Anne has again chosen a song from Dora, the eventual 6th place of ToMa and “Ocean Of Love” – she adds “this is such a throwback sound, but was great to see such such a polished performance in what was a hugely enjoyable National Final”
Following Finland’s UMK selection, which saw Blind Channel take another massive televote score, it was time for one of what turned out to be full of fan favourites, Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix. Our Ervin had a definite favourite in Jorn, with “Faith Bloody Faith” – he says “This was in my opinion the best song of the entire national final season, and I was shocked when it got eliminated already in the first semi final of MGP! Luckily, it found its way to the Final, where it then finished in the top four. It’s my most played song on Spotify this year so far, and I’m sure it will end up in my top three at the end of the year as well. Simply love it!”
Another song that caught the eye of ESCBubble’s Sebi was Emmy with “Witch Woods” which eventually finished outside of the top 4. He says “This one is dark, captivating and the chorus hits really hard! It would stand out in any selection of songs!”
We then headed into March and Denmark’s version of Melodi Grand Prix, which found a favourite in Jean-Michel and his song “Beautiful”, with our straight talking editor Olivier saying “To be honest, though it’s very mainstream, I quite enjoy this song, at least way more than that weak 80’s revival that won” (for another opinion, our Editor Joe has Fyr & Flamme as his favourite of the year!)
The same night as Denmark, Estonia’s Eesti Laul’s final took place and it was another landslide victory for 2020’s pick, Uku Suviste. Another returner on the night was the 2016 representative Juri Pootsmann and his song “Magus melanhoolia”. Nikola says “Jüri came back stronger than ever. I liked Play but this was on such a different level and more magical than his previous Eurovision performance. The lights, Estonian lyrics, the vocal game which he provides with his voice are all things which made me love the song and it was my absolute favourite to win Eesti Laul 2021.”
And on what became known as Super Saturday, Portugal also chose their entry through their selection process Festival da Canção 2021, and there was the last night of Italy’s Sanremo, won by Maneskin who are heading to Rotterdam. There were some amazing entries this year, and Ervin has noted one in particular, Willie Peyote with Mai dire mai (La locura). “Sanremo was full of great songs this year, but apart from my favorite that ended up winning the whole thing, this one was also one of my top favorites. The topic and the lyrics of this song are just brilliant. I love it when someone sings/raps the truth, and especially when they make it as current and as catchy as Willie did. The right song won, but I’ll surely listen to this one as well for a long time.”
The following weekend saw the much anticipated final of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, comfortably won by Tusse. So many songs were submitted by our editors as favourites, but I’ve kept it to just two!
Sebi says of Clara Klingenström’s “Behöver Inte Dig Idag” – “It really touches me and transmits a nostalgic feeling. It’s totally refreshing among all the mainstream pop songs.” and this was also Anne’s pick of Melodifestivalen – “This had a really authentic feel to it, Clara was adorable and you could see her progression from the semi finals to her final’s performance where she smashed it!”
Our final pick comes from Nikoa and a total fan favourite with Eva Rydberg & Ewa Roos and their song “Rena Rama Ding Dong” He says “And the title of the best NF song for me goes to the one which gave me feeling of pure joy and happiness from the first beat I heard and moment I saw the two DIVAS perform at the stage. Eva & Ewa delivered a simply magical performance together with a song which brings so much energy, good vibrations and smiles to the people who watched them. I think the song brings us some of the most necessary things these days. I love the fact it’s sung in Swedish. Such a pity that they couldn’t get past Andra Chansen. I hope that we will be seeing the two of them perform more together and maybe even compete at Melodifestivalen next year”
With Russia’s National Final finishing off the season of audience and jury picks, we were treated to a shortened, but nonetheless enjoyable National Final Season and have all found songs that will stay with us in the future.
What were your favourites? Let us know using the social media buttons below, and give us a follow so you don’t miss out on any of the news direct from Rotterdam, starting next Saturday with day 1 of Rehearsals for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest!