The silver medal position goes to the same country, and indeed the same artist, as in my 2020 countdown. Yes, it’s Switzerland once again, and Gjon’s Tears. This was for a long while my number one for 2021, and there is so little to separate my #1 and #2 they could easily have shared the #1 slot though that rather defeats the purpose of a top 39. Gjon Muharremaj was internally selected in 2020 and reselected for 2021, and songs also internally selected.
Gjon is a Swiss singer-songwriter of Albanian ancestry – his mother is Kosovan Albanian and father from Albania itself. That Albanian heritage seems to manifest itself in Gjon’s amazing voice. There seems to be a wealth of Albanian singers, both male and female, with extraordinary vocals (and we’ve heard quite a number at Eurovision) and Gjon seems to have inherited that trait. His 2020 entry “Répondez-moi” showcased those vocals, hitting some incredible notes.
“Répondez-moi” was a very personal song for Gjon, around those feelings of not belonging or fitting in, in either place, something he, as son of migrants from another country, has felt. It was an arty, classy song, that I am sure would have done very well at the contest, especially with some of those amazing notes at the end – and real potential for Eurovision “moments”.
“Tout l’Univers” continues the theme of remarkable vocals, in use throughout the song, though with once again certain moments truly remarkable notes. It’s a faster tempo song than “Répondez-moi” and has more instrumentation/production surrounding it. The lyrics are very much on the poetic side. The music video (which is a literal car crash!) features some breathtaking cinematography, as the camera swoops down cliffs and through valleys as the song bursts into one of its dramatic moments. It never fails to give me goosebumps and have my hairs standing on end.
The song is written and produced by a similar team to last year (which includes Gjon himself) but 2021’s song has one additional writer to the credits – Wouter Hardy, who also happens to be the co-writer of the Eurovision 2019 winner, “Arcade”. Some have commented that there are some similarities between the two songs, though I do think they feel distinctive, and that is further reinforced by the planned staging – more dynamic and complex than the simple staging used for “Arcade”.
A chance of winning?
Switzerland had been high in the betting for much of the pre-season – in 2nd or 3rd place for most of the time, though following rehearsals has dropped back somewhat. I am not sure that is quite an accurate picture of Gjon’s chances. I personally think that the new leading countries in the odds (Italy and France) are being overrated and that (negative) reaction to Switzerland’s more energetic staging has been overdone. The Saturday night viewers (as this will qualify for sure) will see and hear both a memorable song and staging, and it could just still get a long-awaited third victory for Switzerland by threading the needle of picking up both jury votes and televotes.
Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 60
Best result: Winner 1956, 1988
2019’s result: 4th