Power Play

May 8, 2021 by

Power Play

‘It’s, oh, so quiet,’ as Bjork once sang, and this rings true of day 1 in Rotterdam sat in an eerily empty press centre. But after a 2-year hiatus it’s great to be able to report from the Ahoy and assess how this year’s runners and riders are shaping up through the all-important rehearsal period.

Semi 1 opener is The Roop’s Discoteque which looks close to big night-ready already. A 3-way screen split to showcase individual band members doing their thing, and fun close-up camera work towards the end give it a bit more visual pop. It’s aiming to be appealingly kooky but lead singer Vaidotas, in particular, possibly risks coming across like a 6th form Geography teacher trying too hard to be down with the kids.

Ana has a problem kicking off one of her shoes as she stumbles onto the runway, eventually barefoot. Welcome to 1st rehearsal. This entry’s Q chance is all about earning strong jury support. Vocally, Ana has the chops and the gospel choir which joins her on the big chorus lend oomph but the visuals could have been more inspiring and dynamic to accompany that powerful ‘Halleluyah’ refrain.

A peculiar start to Russia as Manizha is inside a vast dress from which she emerges but this ends up hanging together well and is certainly memorable. A nice ending with a patchwork zoom call screen behind her of women, presumably heralding from Russia given the clue in the song’s title, ‘Russian Woman’, with these words super-imposed on the screen at the end if any further clarification was needed.

It’s a niche but modern ethno R&B track, probably alienating to a good few Western European ears and eyes, but Manizha delivers it with professionalism and conviction.

The difficulty listening to Tusse’s ‘Voices’ is, it always turns into John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ in my head. That and when he sings, ‘Can’t stop us now, forget the haters. Get up and live and make it matter’, which has echoes of Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Can’t Stop’.

All that aside, this is getting the classic Swedish treatment, extracting every last drop from the audio-visual combination. It also cunningly breaks the 6-person max rule while getting away with it by using augmented reality to create more backing vocalists on the stage behind Tusse at one point.

There are possibly more doubts attached to this compared to recent Swedish efforts but it has been accused here of playing it too safe in the past only to have the last laugh posting impressive form figures of 5th, 5th, 7th, 5th in the last 4 years.

Nothing for Australia by way of a 1st rehearsal for the simple reason Montaigne will be relying on her pre-recorded ‘live on-tape’ performance which is already in the can.

If Slovenia under-cooked things earlier, then North Macedonia has gone the other way, setting off the fire alarm after burning dinner with this similarly Gospel-tinged effort.

Vasil reveals what looks like baking foil embossed on his chest to emit disco ball dazzles at one point. Sunglasses are advised for some of the light effects emerging from the darkness, and Vasil himself, all of which struggle to conceal the trite Disney feel of ‘Here I Stand’.

Talk of Mans Zelmerlow’s ‘Heroes’ staging supremo has got people excited enough to back Ireland in on the Outright and to Q… Hmm… there’s a lot going on here but it’s all a bit hit and miss as Lesley makes her way through an obstacle course of screen imagery.

The track is called ‘Maps’ so she is ‘finding her way’ as referenced in the lyrics, but the creative feels more lost than anything. There is always room for improvement in later rehearsals but Greta Salome’s ‘Hear Them Calling’ springs to mind having just been reminded of that 2016 NQ effort from Iceland.

That ends a pretty uneventful day 1 with very little market activity to report on. Gone but never forgotten the ghosts of ESCs past spent with trading friends in the press centre, generally having a blast, was sorely missed today. Eric Carmen’s opus, ‘All by myself’, has never resonated more granted this desolate scene.

There shouldn’t be a dull moment tomorrow on a busier day 2 which promises to be much more informative and potentially market moving. Please do follow @entertainodds where Matt is Tweeting his views throughout rehearsals, and feel free to drop us a line in the Comments section.


  1. Stuart

    Great to hear your feedback Rob and hope Rotterdam provides for an exciting two weeks. It seems the top 3 of Malta, Switzerland and France are the main protagonist but can’t decide in which order. Hopefully rehearsals over the coming days will shed some light on this.

  2. neomichael

    Thanks Rob and Matt for your insights. I agree that Sweden doesn’t look that strong as previous years and based on the the running order and the songs to follow in this 1st semi, I feel that the current odd for NQ looks rather generous (a least for a small investment).

  3. Stuart

    Nice to read your take on the first day of Eurovision fortnight Rob. It sounds like Russia was the surprise of the day. Maybe knocking on the door of the top 10? Malta, France and Switzerland look like the ones to beat but not sure in which order. Hopefully tomorrow and onwards will help to make it a bit clearer.

  4. Eurojock

    The results of the Eurojury jury poll give some interesting pointers to the actual jury vote. They confirm Malta and Switzerland as the two big contenders. If anything else is to win, both of these may have to falter badly in the televote. Italy looks good for a top 3 and Iceland for a top 5.

    France really needs to win the jury vote to have any chance of winning ESC and the Eurojury poll suggests this is unlikely. Sweden have polled disappointingly and may miss out on top 10. Bulgaria’s Eurojury poll is also disappointing. The big surprise is Israel, but they are likely to fall back in the televote.

    Of the televote leaning songs, Cyprus has done well with the Eurojuries and looks as if it could be a comfortable top 10. Lithuania should be able to bridge the gap to be top 10 and maybe top 5. Others like San Marino, Norway, Russia and Moldova are likely to have to come from a long way back after the jury vote and may struggle to make top 10 unless their televote is huge.

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