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REVIEW: Eurovision 2021 'We need to start taking risks'

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REVIEW: Eurovision expert Dean Asker, from Warwick, gives us his view of this year's competition.

First the good news: the Eurovision Song Contest is back. After a year’s enforced absence, the 2021 competition returned bigger and better than ever last Saturday evening. It was truly joyous to see a diverse range of acts performing in front of a live audience, providing some much-needed sparkle in our lives.

Italy won with rock group, Maneskin, who brought real energy to the stage (as well as bare chests and leather trousers) with Zitti e buoni, which translates as Shup up and behave. The runner up was France’s Barbara Pravi with Voila, an Edith Piaf inspired chanson. Completing the top three was Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears with the epic French ballad, Tout l’univers. Even if these songs weren’t to your taste, they were brilliantly sung and staged.

My personal favourites were The Roop, the yellow-suited artpop act from Lithuania, and Ukraine’s electro-folk band Go_A, both of which ended up with a Top 10 position.

And now the bad news: the UK came last with zero points. Singer/songwriter James Newman, who has written hits for the likes of Olly Murs and Little Mix, did his best with Embers, a pop banger that sadly failed to set the world alight. It’s hard not to feel sorry for James – he’s a lovely bloke who engaged positively with his Eurovision journey, and has taken his nil points with good grace.

James Newman (47549106)
James Newman (47549106)

But how do we stop ending up at the bottom of the scoreboard? The songs we’ve been sending recently haven’t been bad, but that’s not good enough any more. Eurovision has moved on, and is much more competitive. If you want to do well, you have to send something that stands out. We need a great singer, a great song and great staging. And we need to take some risks. Send a rock band, send a punk band, send a grime artist, send an intense ballad. But don’t play it safe. Safe gets you nowhere.

The UK can win again. The Netherlands, who hosted this year’s contest, failed to make it out of the contest’s semi-finals for 8 years in a row between 2005-2012 when they sent lacklustre songs, including a ditty written by Father Abraham of Smurfs fame. Then in 2013 they started taking it seriously with a mixture of established singers and newcomers, all with one thing in common: good songs. And then, in 2019, they won.

Next year’s contest will take place in Italy. Let’s hope the UK can once again makes its way to the top, and we can hear those immortal words: Royaume Uni, Douze Points.

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