With no national finals being decided this weekend (we still need to get 27 more songs…HOW IS THIS HAPPENING???) the past seven days have been all about those internal selections. Four countries unveiled their chosen entries over as many days from Wednesday to Saturday. We had the Cypriot mid-afternoon One Show; a German leak; early morning Irish radio and a Slovenian reveal trying (and failing) to compete with a Melodifestivalen interval. So y’know fairly run of the mill.
SAN MARINO 🇸🇲
First up, Tuesday saw Senhit unveil the successor to Frea…oh, maybe not.
Taking the four releases in chronological order, first was Cyprus. Felt kinda weird hiding the reveal away on a mid-week magazine show and then waiting a few days to upload it to the usual channels…I suppose it’s a marketing strategy of sorts? As much as I enjoyed the song, and I do, the highlight was the camp, Cypriot Adam Richman lookalike assuring us the song would be “on your teevee in two meeneets” after a 20 minute wait. Whilst El Diablo is certainly not another Fuego-lite it is from the same mould: a powerful, female solo vocalist surrounded by product placement. Where Eleni secured the iconic Fyffes sponsorship, Elena Tsagrinou went Head and Shoulders above the rest. Oh, and apparently she’s upset some devout Christians (or “scripture stans” as no one’s calling them in 2021) into the bargain. Well played Cyprus, keep up the good work!
Unfortunately for said angry Jesus fanciers, Elena doesn’t seem to feel the hate. And with that, we segue nicely onto Germany’s reveal from Thursday. I mean, it had been leaked on Wednesday but for the full effect with the video we had to wait. And boy, was it worth the wait! Earlier in the week I discussed how Germany have, in recent years, played it safe. Same again in 2021? Ooooh no. No half measures here lads. Both Jendrik as a performer and his song I Don’t Feel Hate don’t sit comfortably in the middle ground. An upbeat ukelele filled tolerance based ditty is always going to divide people. But for every person who grumbles about it there’ll be those, this writer included, who’ll fall in love with it. It is a risk and I have nothing but respect and admiration for Germany for taking it, and if people don’t like it there’s always…
It’s madness that despite well over half the field being comprised of returning 2020 artists, Lesley Roy became only the fifth to unveil their 2021 effort. And like most of the others, here we see an improvement. That’s not to do down Story of my Life, still got a lot of love for that track. However, Maps just takes it that wee bit further. I’ll not lie, I slept in on Friday morning and missed the Irish reveal by a matter of minutes. In the meantime my Twitter feed was going mad with a full-on Lesley love in. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to get the fuss, and get the fuss I did! Maps is an upbeat pop tune that’s anthemic in all the right places and would be an ideal uplifting show opener for semi final one. I sincerely hope this guides Ireland back into the final, and then a good result when they get there, come May.
By the time EMA rolled round there was an awful lot of pressure on Ana Soklič. We’d had three songs come out in the days prior and all had gained at least some positive reaction. Then dropped the first of two songs this year called Amen (maybe those Cypriot Christians from earlier could be honorary Slovenes) and it’s…a…ballad. I suppose we ain’t had that many this year so in a way it adds to the variety, but really it’s nothing new. In the performance Ana’a doing that same thing she did during the Love Shine a Light montage last year, trying to oversell every single note. It’s a rather grating performance style for me. It’ll have it’s fans, just not here I’m afraid.
And after all that there were still a few nationals final semis. The last of the four heats took place in Sweden’s Melodifestivalen with Eric Saade & The Mamas unsurprisingly taking the final two DTF spots. We learned that Eric just wants to get it on every minute of every day and The Mamas really do deserve to win. Though it may be worth noting that Pernilla & Per’s interval act was the best bit of the show! Saturday also saw the full line up for the Festival da Canção confirmed with personal favourite A vida sem acontecer from Graciela not making it through. A TRAVESTY!
And like that, February has been and (is nearly) gone with 27 more songs left to hear. Roll on March…