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Eurovision 2021 – I

At least this year we had a competition again, albeit with recordings used for Australia and Iceland, and also for Duncan Laurence’s interval act, these last two because of positive test results. The level of the performances was relatively low, however, definitely lower than those entered in what should have been last year’s competition, a few entries being particularly unpleasant surprises from this point of view, the same artists being selected again but the songs being nowhere near the level of those they were meant to perform last year. Then again, I thought it’d be even worse after the first semifinal, since there were only three songs I could say I liked in it and two of them didn’t make it. The second was better, however, albeit not by that much, and just one of the better songs, in my opinion, didn’t make it, and then most of the automatically qualified entries added to the level of the final… Even if the results didn’t agree with my assessment at all when it came to the four I ranked higher… Yet instead placed the two I ranked lower, France clearly being the last in my classification, as the top two. Either way, I wouldn’t say there were any actually good songs, but there were a handful of pretty nice ones, and also a few acts with a pretty good show value. I do, however, continue to dislike using camera tricks and overlaid images instead of actually doing something on stage, even if the current circumstances probably make the practice somewhat more excusable.
The impression I got after the semifinals was even more important this time around because I didn’t even listen to all the songs before the competition, just checking snippets after they were all selected and only actually listening to a few that drew my attention, plus some of the first ones that were selected, since I happened to check a couple of times when only a handful were clearly known. So I went into the competition almost blindly, without following news or updates or looking for other videos, knowing next to nothing about potential show value, and the only other songs from any national final that I happened to stumble into were Jorn’s and KEiiNO’s from the Norwegian one.

I must say that I’m pretty glad that Italy ended up so much higher than in my classification, considering the genre, but at the same time, I really didn’t see it as one of the potential top songs, not to mention a potential winner. I was sort of tempted to rate it higher, and considering the small differences that’d have caused a jump from 19th to fifth in my classification, since I doubt I’d have placed them above Finland even if the score would have been tied, but in the end I guess it seemed too much for me, and the fact that it wasn’t in English also weighed against it.
France, as I already said, was last in my classification… Meaning that for the second actual competition in a row I rank the act that ends up second as last, this actually happening just with Italy in 2019. I guess I can sort of see what the juries saw in the performance, but have far more trouble explaining the points received from the public. Then again, I guess it’s a matter of taste, and it was just that sort of, well, typical French performance that I simply can’t stand.
Things are somewhat similar with Switzerland, but definitely not to the same extent. It’s clearly the sort of entry that’s likely to impress juries and also had some amount of show value, unlike the French entry, so I can see the objective value, can understand the jury score, and the public one seems somewhat less exaggerated, but in my opinion it remains way too much overall. I mean, I wouldn’t have even picked it to make it out of the semifinal…
Iceland’s result was also surprising, especially since they didn’t actually perform, what we saw being a recording from the rehearsals. But that might have actually had something to do with it, drawing some sympathy. Either way, I can’t say the performance isn’t interesting and memorable in its own way. Not something I’d select as a top entry, even in a weaker edition such as this one, but at least the difference between the actual result and my classification isn’t quite so extreme in their case.
As for Ukraine, this is the only entry from the top five that I really agree with. I actually ranked them even higher and feared they’ll end up much lower, such an entry being quite a risk and the language also being a possible problem, so fifth seems like a fair place for them.

Since for the past few years I’ve been thinking of changing my ranking system, giving more weight to the song, possibly even separating the song itself, in terms of composition, from how it is performed, or perhaps having one mark and modifiers for other aspects, such as show value, personal impression and maybe even voice, that can raise or lower it by up to a certain amount and are weighted in a certain way, this edition would have been a good opportunity to give it a try, considering the circumstances… But I still didn’t do it, sticking to the same system I’ve been using for so long, giving one mark for song and another for show value, plus a positive, neutral or negative modifier, and ranking first according to the overall mark that is the result of averaging the song and show ones, then according to the song mark and then, if both marks are equal, according to the modifier. In case all three are equal, the ranking is the result of me trying to quickly compare the performances in question at the end.
Once again, still largely for my own use, I’ll list all the information here, with the first number being the position in my classification, the one between parentheses that follows it being the actual position, the first number that follows the country name being the overall mark, the second being the song mark and the modifier, if not neutral, being listed at the end. All links are from the official channel, so they shouldn’t vanish.

1. (10.) Greece (7, 6.5)
2. (18.) Norway (7, 6.5)
3. (5.) Ukraine (7, 6.5, minus)
4. (6.) Finland (6.5, 6.5)
5. (25.) Germany (6.5, 6, plus)
6. (26.) United Kingdom (6.5, 6, minus)
7. (24.) Spain (6.25, 6.5, plus)
8. (11.) Bulgaria (6.25, 6, plus)
9. (23.) The Netherlands (6.25, 6, plus)
10. (12.) Portugal (6.25, 6, plus)
11. (7.) Malta (6.25, 6)
12. (4.) Iceland (6.25, 6, minus)
13. (8.) Lithuania (6.25, 6, minus)
14. (21.) Albania (6, 6.5, plus)
15. (14.) Sweden (6, 6, plus)
16. (3.) Switzerland (6, 6, plus)
17. (19.) Belgium (6, 6, plus)
18. (15.) Serbia (6, 6)
19. (1.) Italy (6, 6)
20. (16.) Cyprus (6, 6)
21. (22.) San Marino (6, 5.5, minus)
22. (17.) Israel (6, 5.5, minus)
23. (9.) Russia (6, 5)
24. (13.) Moldova (5.75, 5.5)
25. (20.) Azerbaijan (5.75, 5, minus)
26. (2.) France (5.5, 6)

My ranking didn’t match the actual results for any country, was one place off for San Marino and Sweden, two places off for Belgium, Finland, Portugal and Ukraine, and three places off for Bulgaria and Serbia. On the other hand, it was at least ten places off for Italy, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain and Switzerland, and even 20 or more places off for France, Germany and United Kingdom.

The time being what it is, I’ll leave the comments about my top ten picks for the next post, but before finishing this one I’ll quickly mention the semifinals, starting with the fact that picking ten entries from the first one was something I did just because I had to. Still, seeing all but one of the entries that ended up below tenth place in my classification making it through, and therefore five of those from the top ten failing, was quite baffling, and what made it worse was that I actually liked North Macedonia’s and Slovenia’s songs, yet they didn’t make it. Otherwise, I had Ireland and Romania in the top ten, and Croatia and Lithuania tied for tenth, ending up choosing Croatia there at the end, the other entries I would have left out being Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Israel and Russia. That said, I didn’t exactly mind Cyprus making it. And the second semifinal seemed fairer, my classification having Denmark, Estonia and Poland in the top ten and Moldova, Serbia and Switzerland outside of it, but I can find reasons for things being the way they were.

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