Eurovision 2021: Is It Time To End The Stigma?

The end of May is approaching, and with that, a reduction of restrictions, the hope of hot weather and, of course, the Eurovision Song Contest. Last year, Rotterdam Ahoy saw no deliriously excitable fans fill the 16,000-capacity arena as the world was transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving 41 country’s participants unable to perform their unique songs in front of 182 million viewers watching from their living rooms. But this year, the globally renowned song contest is back, a reduced number of 3,500 EuroFans are back, and most importantly, the Union Jack flags you’ve left disintegrating in your loft for two years are back!

 

If you’ve not tuned in to watch the world’s biggest song contest before, this year, you’re in for a treat. Across two Semi-Finals and the Grand Final, each country sends an act to represent them with a song they believe will win the hearts of not only the nation, but the world. After the disappointment of not being able to represent their country last year, many returning acts are eagerly waiting to hit the stage on the previous winner’s soil – this year, the Netherlands! Prepare yourself for a night of bizarre interval acts, hilarious commentary from the one and only Graham Norton, and of course, the wacky costumes – we’re looking at you Netta!

 

Our act this year is James Newman, Yorkshire-born singer-songwriter who has previously co-written a myriad of successful chart music, including winning a BRIT award for Rudimental’s ‘Waiting all Night’. After being unable to perform his previous entry ‘My Last Breath’ in 2020, this year’s feel-good song ‘Embers’ is guaranteed to get you dancing in front of your TV and ‘light up the room’ in Rotterdam!

 

Although in the United Kingdom, Eurovision appears to be less popular than other European countries, with many people claiming the contest has become too political, I believe people should look past this and enjoy a celebration of cultures united through music, regardless of their initial preconceptions. I spoke to three UK fans ahead of this year’s contest to find out why they continue to watch Eurovision, and why others should take the leap and join in too:

 

Q: How long have you watched or been interested in the Eurovision Song Contest?

 

Chloe: I’ve been watching Eurovision for 8 years and have been interested for about 10 years.

 

Marnie: I’ve been interested since I was about 8 and was fully invested at the age of 10 (I’m 25 now!). I’ve always been someone who’s been interested in discovering new music, so Eurovision has always stuck with me for that reason.

 

Jazzy: I’ve watched and been interested in Eurovision for the last 5 years. I first got into it when I was flipping through programmes on the TV and decided I’d give it a go. I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety in artists and somewhat dramatic performances themselves.

 

Q: What do you think of our entry for this year?

 

Chloe: I am very surprised by our entry this year! It’s very reflective of our music scene and I’m just proud of our entry and James for being a great ambassador for us!

 

Marnie: I think Embers is really fresh. It’s something that could easily get a decent placement in the charts and I think that’s what the UK needed – something modern, something upbeat and something people of any generation can listen to. I think James has brought a really fresh song this year and I absolutely hope that Europe will appreciate it too.

 

Jazzy: This year’s entry is definitely a reason why people should give this year’s competition a go. Embers gives off typical Eurovision vibes while still being a song that would be popular among us Brits. It’s high energy and has a positive uplifting theme throughout. Most importantly, it’s the kind of song I can imagine the Eurovision crowds dancing to and being genuinely excited about!

 

Q: Why should people in our country who maybe haven’t watched before start watching Eurovision this year?

 

Chloe: I think people should watch it because it’s such a celebration of music and after the year we’ve had, a celebration is what we need. It’s a whole bunch of nations showing their cultures and we all get to come together and enjoy music and a competition!

 

Marnie: I think more people in the UK should be a bit more enthusiastic about Eurovision. Although we’ve done poorly compared to older years, it’s not about how we do. It’s about Europe coming together and enjoying the different artists that Europe has to offer, and I think that’s what people look past. The UK can send some really good songs but unfortunately, the public already have the mindset of ‘no points because Europe hates us!’ and I want people to get out of that mindset.

 

Jazzy: I think people who haven’t watched Eurovision before would find this year a wonderful year to start! Considering the events of the last year and a half, this competition is a beautiful representation of positivity and creates a sense of a return to normality. Perhaps on a simpler level, the factor of an exciting and engaging bit of healthy competition between countries is something the world has been lacking lately!

 

Q: Do you have any final thoughts about the competition you would like to share?

 

Chloe: I would just like to add that Eurovision should not be tossed to the side just because we don’t win. We should not have that mentality because Eurovision is a love of music and a celebration of these different cultures so it should be celebrated more than it is!

 

Marnie: Again, I love Eurovision for the music it introduces me to. In 2019, I was introduced to one of my favourite bands, Hatari, and it has connected me to an amazing group of people. It really does bring people together and that’s why I really enjoy Eurovision.

 

Jazzy: Eurovision gives us a chance to get a brief insight into other country’s cultures through their songs and performances and allows us to expand our musical horizons! Despite Britain not having the best track record, it’s not just about supporting your own country but appreciating the talent from all over Europe. Brits have been initially put off but once you see that Eurovision is so much more than just a singing competition, that it brings an entire continent together to appreciate the arts, then I think that is when people will grow to love it, just as I did 5 years ago!

 

Despite not being able to go to Rotterdam as planned or host a huge Eurovision party with friends and family, I will certainly be watching the competition we’ve waited two years for on Saturday 22nd May! With a fresh new entry from our country (and any excuse to have another themed Uni flat night, right?), what better time to tune in to the world’s biggest song contest and whip out your cheesy, Brit-pop Spotify playlist? Whether you’re watching this year’s competition in bed with a takeaway or having a 6-person party in your living room, let’s all experience a taste of culture and a thrilling night of talent through the magic of Eurovision!

 

Words by: Holly Harrison

Edited by: Tamikka Reid