C’Est Magnifique

May 15, 2021 by

C’Est Magnifique

The last day of rehearsals here and a final chance for the Big 5 + hosts Netherlands to sharpen things up. More importantly, we’ll have press conferences to follow during which the Big 5 draw ‘randomly’ for 1st half or 2nd half r.o. positions in the grand final.

Early conspiracy theory call here – expecting 2nd half draws for both Italy and France; first half for UK and Germany. Would be the ideal scenario to help the EBU construct the grand final that suits best, and would save stress over a potential first half logjam among this year’s perceived main contenders. Spain, well, frankly, it can go anywhere. Doesn’t matter.

Italy is impressively presented Italian language rock music. Nice start as the camera follows lead singer Damiano as he strolls onto stage. Big pyros at the climax before he collapses theatrically to the stage floor. It is an audio-visual assault on the senses and, as such, polarizing. Don’t forget it’s a jury ranking system in operation now.

How far this flys with jurors and televoters is just one of this year’s imponderables. MaNga is a vague point of reference back in 2010, though that was an English language rock song and perhaps more accessible. MaNga finished 8th on the jury side that year but was only 16pts off 5th.

Jendrik may well have the 5-12 year-old market cornered with this. Not tuned into kids’ tv for the last 20+ years so could be doing pre-teens a disservice and they are more discerning these days. This will get televotes though.

Netherlands is immaculately staged and performed. ‘You Can’t Break Me’ appears in big letters behind Jeangu. Leveraging some BLM sentiment here. It’s an all-round excellent entry but does have the feel of an interval act more than a competitive entry.

Absolute masterclass from Pravi here and the staging is utter perfection to draw the tv audience in. She has you captivated from ‘Ecoutez-moi’ and you cannot take your eyes off her throughout.

It’s artistry of the highest order and Edith Piaf, if watching on from somewhere, would be applauding. If this doesn’t connect with vast swathes of ESC voters, it would be surprising. This brings a tender and emotional joie de vivre to the stage whereas Italy is pedalling a much darker, coarser aesthetic.

Once more following France, you watch James perform for the UK and can’t help fearing for a lousy result which will, as usual, have Brits up in arms over the unfairness of it and ESC being political. Wrong, this is simply a bang average, wallpaper entry in a field of 26.

Spain has actually staged this pretty well and Blas gives it some serious oomph with his freestyling falsetto towards the end. It just feels irrelevant in the wider picture.

So there you go, stage 1 complete – Italy has drawn 2nd half. Let’s see how the remainder of the draw pans out. If the conspiracy theory fails, by the way, Barbara P will very likely be heading for slot 13 anyway.

A short break now before the serious business of the second week. Back on Tuesday with a betting preview of semi-final 1.


  1. Guildo Horn Forever

    I was a bit startled the other week to read the UK’s James Newman quoted as saying that he was taking singing lessons. Even Celine Dion has a vocal coach, but it seems a bit close to the start date of a singing contest to be taking lessons in singing. He could do with taking some lessons in personal styling as his Huddersfield-based drug dealer look is unlikely to be a vote magnet. He’s a big guy, and I imagine if he wanted some extra money he could get himself a security job working the doors at the Rotterdam Ahoy. So that’s a potential win for him.

    Have my fingers crossed for my fave, Barbara. As the French song will now have been my favourite in 3 of the last 6 ESCs -J’ai cherché, Mercy, and Voilà- I realise I obviously have a large bias towards French tracks. It’s just a relief to see they’ve finally got their staging on point.

  2. Eurojock

    As a song, Victoria’s is far superior to Ieva’s but I fear it may not be perceived that way. Growing Up is Getting Old only came 9th in the Eurojury jury poll. I recall a similar outcome last year with Tears Getting Sober, which suggests Victoria’s style of song is not something that music industry professionals are particularly drawn to.

    Of course the Eurojury poll was taken before Bulgaria’s excellent staging was revealed. However, the video was also excellent, so we maybe should not overestimate the boost that the live performance will give Bulgaria’s chances.

  3. Durhamborn

    Given i can remember ABBA winning on my grans knee i can honestly say iv never known a year like this.For the EBU an amazing contest because the audience at home is in for a treat.
    I had Italy green since i saw the Sanremo artists announced.Whoever won that and got past the Fedez televote etc was going to be very strong.France i took on heavy,then backed back to green luckily as it drifted luck more than judgement on that il admit.Both deserve to be favs,yet both have worries,France a slight televote worry,Italy, jury given the way the jury scores are worked out now.Both could win easily,or just miss out.
    Malta has a weak song underneath for me,and staging is a bit naff but iv kept green.Swiss boring song,terrible staging.
    Bulgaria i love.I think the Clean Bandit style violins etc and the build are incredible.However i do see the worries.The EBU would love a winner from that area though as they are desperate to keep the Balkans engaged.

    Outside of the favs though two songs interest me.
    First Cyprus.I backed this quite heavily when it drifted back towards 30s.I just thought the staging really worked,though the song is quite dated.I might go through the middle and do well and im keeping green,but selling off some as it shortens in.
    The biggest green i have though for now is Greece.I consider myself very good at spotting really talented young female vocalists.For me Stefania is the best by a country mile this year.If the jury are doing their jobs you have the best vocalist,(i consider her better than Barbara and Destiny),a fantastic radio song that actually contains more beats per minute than any other upbeat this year.IF the staging works then its possible Greece could top 4 the jury and win the televote.IFs of course because its a crowded space.
    I dont think it should be in the favs,but i do think its a 16s shot not a 70s.I havent seen the live feed like Rob though so it might be it doesnt work well with the affects.
    Taking advantage of the price swings has been crucial this year,and could be more to come yet.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Durhamborn,

      Genuine question: what is it about the way the jury scores are worked out now that could hinder Italy?

      Great decision-making on Cyprus!

      I like Greece, too, but I do have a big concern about what I’ve seen in the rehearsal clips. The staging seems to be effects heavy. I remember that approach, taken to an extreme, transpired to be a huge blunder by Sweden in 2018, when Dance Me Off scored a phenomenally abysmal 21 points on the televote (yet received 253 jury points, and finished 7th overall!). Tbf, the farcical singer’s Carry On style ‘sexy’ performance didn’t help matters but that wasn’t the main problem. I worry that this year of all years, when vast swathes of people have spent over a year stuck communicating via Zoom, stuck behind their computer monitors, that they’re not going to be that particularly wowed or thrilled by an overpowering background of green screen based effects. I don’t think that’s the escape that people will be looking for from the ESC this year. However, I’m just going off snatches of rehearsal clips, plus she’s interacting with dancers (whereas Sweden’s ‘sexy’ Benjamin was on his tod), and yeah Stefania sounds amazing, looks the absolute bomb, and the song is a quality bop. Random thought: the music video put me in mind of Uzari & Maimuna’s massively underrated Time from the other year (which I still listen to.)

      Just thinking as I go along here, but I suppose the two obvious alive and connector performances are from Italy and from Bulgaria. Italy overpowers you. Bulgaria draws you in. The hurricane and the sentimental sun. Of course, France is also extraordinarily connective but in a way that I find difficult to classify. A whirlpool, maybe? My worry is that I like the French package because it’s a bit pretentious / highbrow and that I do so, just as I loved Mercy the other year, because I also am a bit pretentious! Lol.

      I’ve noticed I think more about the Bulgarian song than any other.
      Is it sad? Or beautifully bittersweet, sentimental and uplifting?
      Which lead to the big questions for me:
      Is it sort of sad in a Kristian Kostov Beautiful Mess finishes 2nd way?
      Or is it sort of sad in a Norma John Blackbird NQ way?

      • Durhamborn

        The juries take an average so they tend to favour songs that score a lot of 2nd to 4th favourite rather than one that is top with one member but low with another.Its designed against polarizing entries.
        On Bulgaria,i actually think its one of the best ESC songs,ever.It reminds me of my kids,and every other family out there who look at old photos when they visit family and think about loved ones who have passed on.It really gets you.I also think the build and instrumentation is Clean Bandit standard,yet with a moment.
        Greece is a strange one.She is an incredible singer and the song is superb.Im an 80s teen,and i can tell you that song is golddust 80s yet contemporary.Two of the first things i look for each year are what songs are in D- and what song has the most beats per minute.Those entries have the best records in the none upbeat / upbeat sections.Greece has the most beats.It could be a real vote magnet.I dont think its winning of course,but the price looks far too high,unless the staging is too plastic.The risk is like you say the staging takes away from her too much,as she is a real star.

        If i could choose a winner,id hope for Bulgaria.Reason being the EBU and contest really need a Balkan area winner.Its crucial to the contest that middle region stays engaged,the EBU know this.I also think Bulgaria among a few other countries have worked so hard to actually send quality entries over several years and have helped lift the contest quality.
        The other side of course is that the EBU do like a big 5 winner once in a while to keep the money flowing.
        One thing is certain outside betting.The contest will be one of the best ever.Yes there are too many upbeats that are fluff,but they are very entertaining fluff and i think people will really enjoy the show and thats got to be good.
        Serbia serving it up like that is what i want from ESC.

  4. Guildo Horn Forever

    “Once more following France, you watch James perform for the UK and can’t help fearing for a lousy result which will, as usual, have Brits up in arms over the unfairness of it and ESC being political. Wrong, this is simply a bang average, wallpaper entry in a field of 26.”

    That’s maybe suggestive of a conspiracy theory! Which would run: since the EU Referendum result the pro-Remain BBC have a motive for the UK entry to splat like an unpolished one! Lol.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Finally got to see a minute of the Maltese performance. Weird staging and the styling suffers as a result, too. It’s as though they blew the budget and all the good ideas on the video. The staging visuals brought a series of strange references to mind: Naked Attraction, a foreground ballet bar with a background set of football goalposts, The Chase, and with neon colours and lighting effects throughout. The playfulness of Destiny has been lost because she has no-one and nothing to play with. The staging team are loosely thinking of a nightclub scene, but there’s no real discernible, detailed scene. It’s basic with a somewhat cluttered background.

      The video was ace as it mirrored and captured the song elements of a hybrid electro-swing number. It’s as though the Maltese delegation lost their nerve, got embarrassed, and abandoned their swing USP. (In contrast, Ukraine certainly hasn’t made the mistake of trying to underplay / conceal anything!) Dare I say that the BBC did a better job of staging Electro Velvet’s Still In Love With You?! Even so, the YouTube thumbs down to thumbs up ratio is stunning. Lol..


      As it is, I guess Malta and Destiny are left to be more squarely taking on the likes of Cyprus, Serbia, Greece, etc.

      The Cypriot entrant has long been a guilty pleasure and it looks and sounds fab, but I just struggle with its endless derivativeness. The song is a clear though v entertaining rip off of Bad Romance, while the stage show brings to mind Fuego.

      Now I can’t stand the Portuguese singer, his nasal voice, his face, his facial hair, etc, but I keep reading that the juries will reward the package’s authenticity, so I do question how keen they can be to reward Cyprus. Nevertheless, I did notice Cyprus finished 8th with Euro Jury, which staggered me as at that point Elena and El Diablo were pure unabashed Gaga. It seems juries are v tricky creatures to second-guess.

      If you had a choice of invites to the Maltese, Cypriot and Serbian ‘nightclubs’ (to name but a couple of others) then Malta would come off third best. I wonder if Malta were worried out of pushing a swing club element because they didn’t want to invite any comparisons to the step back in time Barbara Pravi takes you on?

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