We have the first “class of 2020” returnee in my countdown with Vasil Garvanliev. Vasil was due to represent North Macedonia in 2020 with his Latin dance inspired entry “You”. He was reselected for 2021 but his song for this year is a marked departure from 2020 and takes Vasil back closer to his operatic and classical singer routes. It’s a big classical Disneyesque ballad, not dissimilar to Israel’s entry in 2019. Vasil gets to demonstrate his impressive voice, and he clearly is heavily emotionally invested in this song, but I take a similar view to that I took of Israel in 2019 – it’s a song more suited to a melodramatic musical or a Disney film.
While I am not a great fan of the song itself, I am very behind Vasil being at Eurovision as a main artist. He has taken an awful lot of abuse from nationalists and homophobes from within this own country. It all seemed to stem from the music video, which it was claimed, had displayed the colours of the Bulgarian flag in one scene. This was enough to set off the far night nationalists (there is some tension between North Macedonia and Bulgaria) and Vasil received much abuse – including homophobic abuse. There seemed a possibility that the broadcaster might withdraw from Eurovision, but fortunately Vasil and the fandom rallied support and it was confirmed he was still going to Rotterdam.
Vasil has had experience of going to Eurovision before, having been a backing singer for Tamara Todevska in 2019 with “Proud“, North Macedonia’s best ever result and the winner of the jury vote. He’s a lovely fellow and I wish him well, though I think his appearance in another grand final is doubtful. I think this will struggle to qualify from a very tough semi-final.
North Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1998
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 20
Best result: 7th in 2019
2019’s result: 7th