Much like all of European history, Eurovision wouldn’t be Eurovision without some bullshit, plague-related drama, and having to reluctantly admit that no matter your feelings about the country itself, Russia has produced yet another absolute banger. This week concluded semi-finals of the European (plus Israel and Australia and whoever else the European Broadcasting Union feels like letting compete any given year) pop competition, with the 20 countries that made it through, along with the five that get to buy their way in, competing on Saturday in the Netherlands for 2021's ultimate bragging rights.
First off, this is a pro-Denmark space, and anyone who does not feel that the country and Fyr Og Flamme was absolutely robbed of the chance to perform “Øve Os På Hinanden” in the finals hates joy. The main argument against the song, I guess, is that the 1980s throwback performance was too purposely ironic for a competition that is meant to be earnest, but to that I say bullshit. Eurovision is how we got A.B.B.A. and Fyr Og Flamme is exactly the kind of silly fun that I tune in for.
But I am an American, sadly, and Eurovision is not intended for me. That being said, here are the performances from the semi-finals that I am most looking forward to on Saturday, despite the fact that my precious Fry and my bright-burning Flamme are left to hip thrust in their blazers like little dancing twin beacons on the icy fjords all alone.
Last year, in the sadly canceled 2020 competition, Russia had a brilliantly campy disco-inspired contender, but this year the country’s entry, “Russian Woman” by Manizha is actually being investigated by Russian authorities for its feminist lyrics. And as we all know, if it annoys Putin, it has to be good. Additionally, as a rapper and performer, Manizha is just completely charming.
I was utterly crushed I did not get to perform the dance moves I learned from The Roop’s 2020 Eurovision entry, so imagine my delight to see them back in 2021 with “Discoteque” and a brand new dance, a Spock-inspired hand jive this time, that I think I’ve almost got in time for Saturday.
Ever since the video for “Think About Things” became a breakout internet hit last year, the haters have crawled out of their little hatred holes to say that Dadi og Gagnamagnid’s brand of sort of ironic awesomeness is not what Eurovision is about, in much the same vein as the Denmark criticism, to which I once again respond, piffle. Gagnamagnid is pure unadulterated joy, even if they cannot perform live due to one of the group’s coming down with covid. Their semi-final performance, which was actually a tape of their rehearsal due to covid, featuring their signature face sweaters with the addition of a rainbow keytar circle was magic and should be celebrated as such.
I’m sorry. It’s not the right time to say this, but Eden Alene’s whistle tone at the end cannot be ignored.
I am inclined to dislike Portugal on principle after their completely bizarre and unwarranted (to me, again, an American) win in 2017, but The Black Mamba is so stylish and charming and good at American indie-pop bearded hotness that my sensibilities are flattered and I am in love with this man. But so is YouTube’s “Honest Vocal Coach,” who is British and knows about singing, so it’s not just me, and American who does not.
Look, I’m leaving this here because people seem to be losing their shit for this song, but, like the majority of foreign-language films, I don’t fucking get it.
Again, people seem to be fawning over Greece’s Stefania in the “Oh look, this country sent a hot person” category, but I much prefer Moldova’s hot person, Natalia Gordienko and her very adorable performance of “Sugar.”
And finally, the woman who would have been the winner of Jezebel’s 2020 Eurovision poll, had the results not been rigged in the grand Eurovision tradition, Go_A is blessedly back with some snowy Mad Max/vaguely bird-centric sing-yelling, and this judging panel of one could not be more pleased.