For every overachieving competing nation at the Eurovision Song Contest, there’s a cluster of countries who’ve been desperately trying to snatch their first win.
Could 2021 deliver a glittery triumph to one of these nations in waiting?
1. CYPRUS – ELENA TSAGRINOU – “EL DIABLO”
Take the best parts of vintage Gaga, sprinkle in some lyrics circa Katy Perry’s California Gurls and you have the Cypriot dirty dance-pop thumper “El Diablo”. Greek songstress Elena Tsagrinou was internally selected to represent Cyprus in 2021 after the local broadcaster CBC decided not to offer Sandro, who was to represent the island nation at Rotterdam in 2020, the opportunity to return. On the release of “El Diablo” the Church of Cyprus called for an immediate withdrawl of the song due to its satanic undertones. You know you’re on to something when you’re courting controversy. Tsagrinou and the song are inspired choices, much like Eleni Foureria who almost clinched the win for Cyprus in 2018 with “Fuego”, and if Elena can deliver a devilishly good performance Cyprus’ Eurovision drought may be quenched.
2. ICELAND – DAÐI & GAGNAMAGNIÐ – “10 YEARS”
In 2020 Iceland’s Daði & Gagnamagnið’s “Think About Things” did what every Eurovision act prays for… it went viral. The quirky staging, deadpan antics and pixel image costuming caught the imagination of the general public and it looked like Iceland was headed for its first ever win. So, when the Icelandic broadcaster RVT decided to rest their internal selection competition Söngvakeppnin and ask Daði and his crew to return for a shot at Eurovision glory, the expectation was set to extreme. This year’s effort “10 Years” does not stray too far from the successful formula of the year prior – the dodgy dancing is back, the pixel shirts have been pimped and the subject matter shifts from Daði’s child to his wife. So, could this be second time lucky or will they be all out of luck?
3. LITHUANIA – THE ROOP – “DISCOTEQUE”
Having never made it to the Top 5 at Eurovision, Lithuania’s chances of scoring their best ever result at the competition looked assured when The Roop’s “On Fire” caught fire among Eurovision fans last year. Surprisingly, The Roop were not automatically selected to return to the competition in 2021 but had to compete in the complicated Lithuanian internal selection competition Pabandom iš Naujo! 2021 with the consolation that the act was prequalified for the final. The end result was staggering with the Lithuanian general public and the jury voting for The Roop in a landslide ensuring that the dark, pulsing electro-pop “Discoteque” would hit the Rotterdam stage. The Roop will have the honour of being the first act to perform at Eurovision in 2 years when they kick of Semi-Final 1 on Tuesday May 18 (live on SBS on Wednesday 19 May from 5.00 am AEST). “Discoteque” is an inspired opener, a song born of the pandemic age urging individuals to liberate their solitude and isolation via dance. It’s very possible that The Roop may just shimmy away with the top prize delivering Lithuania their first triumph.
4. CROATIA – ALBINA – “TICK TOCK”
Could the time be right for a Croatian win? 22-year-old Split native Albina Grčić arrives in Rotterdam with “Tick Tock”, not an ode to a social media platform, but one of the many up-beat pop gems we’ll see on the Rotterdam stage this year. A rising star in the Adriatic, Albina romped to victory at Dora 2021, Croatia’s national selection competition, by embracing pure pop over the big Balkan ballad. Having landed in 4th position twice (1996, 1999) Croatia is still hunting for its first ever win and they could be in with a chance in 2021. Dancing boys…check, thumping horns…yep, got them, unexpected verse in Croatian…snuck that in. One thing’s certain: Albina’s “Tick Tock” won’t have you watching the clock during her 3 minutes on stage.
5. SAN MARINO – SENHIT – “ADRENALINA”
Here’s how you grab everyone’s attention – get Flo Rida to collab on your Eurovision entry. The tiny state of San Marino, completely enclaved by Italy, has only managed to qualify for the Eurovision final twice in its history and never really bothered the scoreboard. “Adrenalina” is about to change all that. Local superstar Senhit is no stranger to Eurovision having already competed at the competition in 2011 and was internally selected to represent the tiny nation in 2020 with “Freaky”. Senhit’s 2021 effort “Adrenalina” is a super satisfying ethno-pop jam which surprises in its final third by infusing a break-out rap by US megastar Flo Rida. In what could prove to be this year’s biggest surprise San Marino promises to ignite the Rotterdam stage and has the potential to be the most unexpected winner in decades.
6. BULAGRIA – VICTORIA – “GROWING UP IS GETTING OLD”
Having taken a year off from the competition in 2019 Bulgaria was set to return to the Eurovision stage last year with the lilting “Tears Getting Sober” by Varna native VICTORIA. VICTORIA is another of the returning artists that is much fancied as a dark horse in this year’s contest. And in a year brimming with big beats, glam-rock and thumping horns VICTORIA’s melancholic “Growing Up is Getting Old” stands out from the crowd. With a song that explores the inevitability of aging and facing life on your own Bulgaria looks set to continue its recent success at Eurovision and may even top the Eastern European nation’s best placings of 2nd (2017) and 4th (2016).
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