Following a year’s hiatus thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Eurovision has graced our screens once again with a bizarre and chaotic spectacle live from Rotterdam. From the UK’s “nuls points” (unsurprising considering that this was the first event since the UK left the EU), to the rumours of Italy’s cocaine-induced celebrations, the 2021 Eurovision grand final was as bizarre and energy-fuelled as ever, guided by the sarcastic musings of Graham Norton.
Eurovision 2021 opened with an upbeat number by Cyprus, which perfectly set the tone for a booze-filled musical extravaganza (however terrible the music being performed was). The winners of the event were Italian rock band Måneskin who gave a fantastically energetic and engaging performance with their song ‘Zitti E Buoni’ (whilst simultaneously sporting fabulous purple leather costumes). The number was reminiscent of Finnish band Lordi’s 2006 winning number ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’, which sparked outrage and confusion due to its intensity and the presence of masked singers performing in monster costumes (an entry personally in my top 5 Eurovision songs of all time).
The 2021 Italian winners sparked a club-like reaction from the live audience, an energy that wasn’t lost on spectators at home. Perhaps we will see an increase in rock entries to Eurovision following this spectacular win – it certainly wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen on Eurovision. Other stand-out performances from the evening include Russia’s powerful song ‘Russian Woman’ by Manizha, Icelandic band Daði og Gagnamagnið’s joyful, tongue-in-cheek song ’10 Years’, and France’s emotional ballad ‘Voila’ by Barbara Pravi.
Two guest appearances cemented the evening’s offbeat and jocular character. The first iconic appearance featured American rapper, singer, and songwriter Flo Rida performing alongside San Marino’s Senhit Zadik Zadik. Much to the disappointment of Flo Rida, however, the most exciting celebrity cameo came from Iceland. Indeed, Iceland got the “play Jaja Ding Dong” guy from Netflix’s original film ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ to read out the country’s points.
As a die-hard Eurovision enthusiast, this convergence of Eurovision popular culture with the event itself reveals everything which makes the contest what it is – hilarity mixed with randomness and chaos. The nail-biting reveal of the final points yielded unexpected results as always, with the bookies favourite France placing second against break-away Italian rock band. Perhaps then, Italy’s landslide victory is a testament want of European society to experience something new and exciting, especially after such a tumultuous 14 months. However, as a Brit, I must stick with the party-line and conclude the results are “all political,” purposefully ignoring the fact that our entry was mediocre at best.
Illustration: Verity Laycock