Eurovision: Rotterdam 2021

Last year, Netflix came out with a new movie featuring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The movie involved an Icelandic singing/songwriting duo (Ferrell and McAdams) who aimed to win a European music contest. They came into the competition as ridiculed underdogs, but in the end, they wowed the crowd with their new song and amazing singing voices. However, they were disqualified because they changed songs in the finals. The movie left me curious as I had never heard of the competition. I was surprised to learn that Eurovision is an actual contest that includes much of Europe, as well as some other countries. The Eurovision Song Contest has expanded as far as to include Australia in recent years. The competition started with only 14 countries, and now, there are 39 participating countries. With so many contestants, the music varies greatly. There is typically something for everyone with different tastes.

Though Eurovision Song Contest is not very popular in North American culture, other countries take the competition very seriously. To the despair of the fans, Eurovision Song Contest 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. It was the first cancelation since the competition began in 1956. Luckily, some of the contestants from last year opted to perform again this year. I highly suggest looking up the Russian entry from last year, Little Big. They have a unique music selection that can only be truly appreciated by viewing their music videos. Uno is a particular favourite of mine.

The film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga invited previous contestants and winners from the competition to perform. They are seen singing together as a group in the party scene. The performances in the film were quite extravagant. The Eurovision competition is no different. The entries from previous years are very fun to watch. These performances can be found on YouTube if you look up Eurovision. Some performances are well-known among the Eurovision community. If you google “Epic Sax Guy,” you will find a saxophonist named Sergey Stepanov who performed for Moldova in 2010. The songs this year have not disappointed as the contestants have come back strong. Though some songs are in different languages, there are still plenty of songs to sing along to. And the songs we may not understand are still great for dancing!

As Canadians and Americans, you may not have heard of Eurovision before. However, the Eurovision Song Contest still influences us. Celine Dion, our Canadian star, competed for Switzerland in 1988 and won. It is amazing to see how this European competition expands across the world regardless of our knowledge of it. ABBA, a band most of us have come to know from the Mamma Mia soundtrack, also competed in the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden in 1974. They won, of course, with their song “Waterloo.”

This year, the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The winner of the contest hosts Eurovision the following year. As Duncan Laurence won in 2019 for the Netherlands, they are hosting this time around. According to the odds, Malta, Switzerland, and France are in the running to win this year. Malta has gone with a more upbeat pop song, while Switzerland and France both chose softer French songs. Iceland is a little lower on the list, but their entry, Daði & Gagnamagnið, is one of my favourites to win this year along with Malta.

Because of the large number of contestants, the semi-finals are split into two groups. The artists have already been placed in their respective orders within those semi-finals. The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 is to take place in May from the 18th to the 22nd. The semi-finals will be held first, and then the finals are on the last day. We may not be European but that does not mean we cannot enjoy a popular music contest. What better way to find some new songs and artists than to look in new places (or countries)? Eurovision is a great way to enhance our cultural awareness and appreciate diversity. 

To learn more about Eurovision Song Contest, see https://eurovision.tv/