The Eurovision Song Contest is back in all its glory after a year off due to COVID-19.
All you need to know about Eurovision
It’s Eurovision Song Contest time again. Whether you’re a newbie or a longtime fan, here’s what you need to know about this year’s entertainment extravaganza.
We’ve already been through two brutal semi-finals (Australia’s Montaigne was knocked out of the competition in the first event).
We now have the final 26 songs vying to win this year’s iteration of the song contest.
Here are the top-10 acts to keep an eye on on the big night or morning, if you’re a keen bean planning on waking up for the live event.
10. San Marino: Senhit feat. Flo Rida, Adrenalina
Where and when to catch Eurovision this week
Early morning broadcast
- Grand final: Sunday May 23, from 5:00am (AEST), SBS
Primetime evening broadcast
- Semi final two: Saturday May 22, from 8:30pm (AEST), SBS
- Grand final: Sunday May 23, from 7:30pm (AEST), SBS
Adrenalina (AKA “adrenalin”) may be at the low end of this year’s top 10, but there’s a good chance it won’t be this far down when the votes start coming in.
This track is a high-energy banger with a mix of Latin-pop beats, Eritrean instruments and a memorable hook, so it’s destined to go off inside the stadium.
It also has an actual celebrity feature: Flo Rida! In 2020!
We truly love to see it. Especially since the artist, of Low fame, told the BBC earlier this year he’d never heard of Eurovision before being approached to do his verse for Senhit’s track. And then there was a whole heap of uncertainty over whether he’d actually make it to the song contest, given he lives in the US. But he will be there, folks!
The staging for this song involves an impressive light show, literal fire, a monumental gold headdress, a turning platform, an ever-changing backdrop and androgynous masked dancers. Flo Rida appears midway through wearing a bedazzled sleeveless vest. In other words, it’s Eurovision-ready.
Follow along with all the kitsch Eurovision glamour with our live blog from 4:30am AEST on Sunday
9. Portugal: Black Mamba, Love Is On My Side
Pedro Tatanka leads four-piece blues, soul and funk band Black Mamba with his smooth vocals for Love Is On My Mind, which was written after a 2019 trip to Amsterdam’s red-light district.
The group explained to RTP following their selection that their song follows the story of a young woman, full of hope, who experiences addiction and enters the sex work industry, and who retains hope that love is on her side just “maybe not tonight”.
The song’s staging surprised commentators in the first rounds of rehearsals, and the act has only tightened since then. The performance kicks off with the group resplendent in very classy suits, bathed in black and white light, before everything slowly bleeds to retro colour.
Could this be another surprise win for Portugal? Love Is On My Mind has been something of a sleeper Eurovision hit so far: it didn’t even crack the top 10 in the odds until a couple of days out from the grand final. Watch this space
8. Bulgaria: Victoria, Growing Up Is Getting Old
Victoria was one of the early favourites for last years contest with Tears Getting Sober. Now shes back with a very personal song she co-wrote, Growing Up Is Getting Old, about the difficulties of facing life as a grown-up.
Her father was recently diagnosed with ALS, the most common type of motor neurone disease the only thing Victoria takes on stage with her aside from a microphone is a photo of her and her dad.
This number is very much a change of pace from most of the contest its a still performance with no dancers or band on stage, just Victoria.
Its a simple vocal and backing music that swells orchestrally as it goes.
This is a beautiful song that may resonate with people after a year of coronavirus its main problem is people may want something a bit more upbeat for their winner.
7. Finland: Blind Channel, Dark Side
Dark Side is Linkin Park meets Who Let The Dogs Out. Bizarre? Yes. Does it work? Also yes.
Another underdog (pun intended, hit play on the video above and you’ll get it) that didn’t make the top 10 until the very last minute, this track is all rock drama and fire and hairography and middle fingers, but most of all, angst. So much angst.
And after the year we’ve all been through, don’t we deserve to rock out to an angsty song?
That is why Blind Channel is here: they want you to express your emotions (and maybe to also have you cross over to the dark side). It worked on Finland: Blind Channel beat out 2020 entrant Aksel to represent the nation at this year’s song contest.
The only question is whether their vote will get munched by the other rocker in the second half, Italy (keep scrolling to read about them).
6. Iceland: Daði og Gagnamagnið, 10 Years
Daði og Gagnamagnið had the viral hit of Eurovision 2020 with their song Think About Things, which was high in fan polls before the contest was cancelled.
This year, they’ve returned with 10 Years, a catchy, kitschy song written by lead singer Daði Freyr for his wife Árný, who’s part of the group.
It’s well sung, with memorable choreo, dodgy sweaters, video game effects and pyro (naturally). However, they won’t be performing live in the contest following news one of the group tested positive for COVID.
This means their performance on the big night will be a prerecorded video filmed during rehearsals in Rotterdam.
Will this hurt their chances? The roar that greeted their semi-final video performance and the even bigger roar afterwards, when they appeared on screen in their hotel, means this could actually get a boost from voters.
5. Ukraine: Go_A, SHUM
This song is part dancefloor banger, part techno, part-Eastern European trad sounds. There is a recorder break in there, too!
Visually, it’s one of the most striking stagings in the contest, with lead singer Kateryna Pavlenko and her backing band standing on a frozen tundra with white, bare trees behind them.
There’s also a huge light show on the big screen, but its hard to take your eyes off Pavlenko and her brilliantly intense deadpan vocal.
This country has a history of sending absolutely wild music shows to Eurovision (think Verka Serduchka in 2007) but this is right up there, and it could deliver a third win for Ukraine.
4. Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears, Tout l’Univers
Tout l’Univers has been a fan favourite for months. The fact that it’s the kind of song you find yourself humming absentmindedly hours after hearing it probably has something to do with it.
Singer Gjon Muharremaj stands dressed in a fitted black shirt and trousers, with only a bit of light choreography here and there, white light flickering across his face, and a relatively simple set behind him for this number.
The lyrics are in French, but at the end of the three minutes this song takes to crescendo you’ll feel something, regardless of whether you have any idea of what Muharremaj is saying (for the record though, this song is about taking risks and loving one another).
But is Europe in the mood for a second consecutive win from a man dressed in block colours, and who doesn’t use the stage all that much as he sings a slow-build ballad?
3. Malta: Destiny, Je Me Casse
Malta’s Destiny was *the* favourite to beat this year, until the rehearsals came around. Since then, she’s been the on-again, off-again number one.
Currently, the 18-year-old is the number three favourite, but a win from her wouldn’t be all that surprising because she’s technically done it before: the vocal powerhouse won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest back in 2015.
Since then, she’s been on Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor Malta. So, singing competitions are kind of her thing.
Her song, Je Me Casse (which loosely translates to “I’m leaving” or “I’m out”) is bold, showcases her range and is all about empowerment.
Destiny dons a bedazzled and tasselled asymmetric dress for the live performance, complemented by silver thigh-high boots as she sings, “If I show some skin, doesn’t mean I’m giving in. Not your baby! Je me casse”, surrounded by female dancers in head-to-toe hot pink.
If body-positive bangers heavy on big vocals and choreo and GIFable moments are what you’re looking for this year, then this is the song for you.
2. France: Barbara Pravi, Voilà
There is more than a hint of Edith Piaf in this simple, classy song, which balances traditional French sounds with a more modern staging.
It’s focused on Barbara, the camera never loses sight of her for three minutes, and her emotions, gestures and vocals carry the song.
She’s already had some success in the world of Eurovision, co-writing the song J’imagine, which Valentina sang to win last year’s Junior Eurovision for France.
Like our number one, Barbara represents a ‘big five’ nation, so her performances that count are all for the final.
But she has momentum from the rehearsals, a song that stands out from the big “show” numbers elsewhere, and 20th spot in the order which has had two winners in the last 23 editions of the contest.
1. Italy: Måneskin, Zitti E Buoni
This four-piece band took a rock number to the San Remo Festival which usually provides Italy with its Eurovision entry and slayed, now they’re in Rotterdam as favourites for the contest.
How Montaigne wrote Technicolour
Dynamic range, a surprising moment and spectacle: this is Montaigne’s strategy for a winning Eurovision song.
Their entry is a grungy anthem, with distinctive rock guitar and a driving beat.
A decent part of the appeal is the charisma of frontman Damiano David, whose swagger, barechested look and growly vocals help drive an already impressive song.
They’ve been sounding tight in rehearsals Italy skipped all the semi-final tension to go straight to the big final and it has a solid draw early enough in the second half that everyone’s ears won’t have overloaded with all the songs.
It’s been a while since a rock act won at Eurovision, but this might just break the drought.
Montaigne shares her strategy for Eurovision success.