Eurovision 2021 grand final preview

It’s finally here – after a gap of two years, we have a Eurovision grand final ahead of us. I’m sure many of you will have been immersed already in this year’s Eurovision, whether you’ve been following from the first artist announcements or national finals, or watching the two live semi-finals earlier in this week. For those of you who haven’t been following at all, and will just be watching the final, you’re in for a treat. There are a load of great songs, great staging, wide variety of genres, interesting artist back stories and no runaway favourite – it’s going to be an exciting evening!

Unlike in 2019 where there was a very clear (and justified) favourite, 2021 is quite wide open with a number of countries in contention. In addition, the running order includes some interesting/eye catching choices.

The “Big Two” favourites

At the time of writing (the day of the grand final and after the jury final where 50% will have been allocated), the two leading the betting are Italy and France, members of the Big 5. The two couldn’t really be more different in musical genres, one is an Italian rock band, the other singing classic French Piaf-style chanson. It may be that Italy can pull in the bigger televote and France the bigger (if not biggest) jury vote, but at the moment the odds have Italy as the most likely winner (and they have a plumb spot in running order).

I have to say, that while on a pure song basis I prefer France to Italy, I’d actually prefer Italy to win the contest. I think it would be a fair reward of a decade of high quality entries since their return in 2011 that have often come so close to winning. With just two victories to date, it doesn’t feel right for Italy not to be up there with other multiple winning countries.

Other contenders

While we have those two above out front, there are still several other countries capable of winning:

Malta: the pre-contest favourite, this could still do it for Malta. It’s modern, sassy and Destiny brings amazing vocals and a star quality. It’s been lumbered with a not-so-good running order position, but it could well get both jury and televote points in large numbers and come through the middle to win. Malta are yet to win, have tried so hard for so many years, truly love Eurovision and come so close, it would be joyful to see them take the win.

Switzerland: another of the pre-contest favourites, Switzerland polled well in online fan votes and while some have been a bit sceptical of the staging at the contest, his live vocals are spinetingling. Like Malta, this could get a big jury vote and combine it with a decent televote too. It’s been a long while since Switzerland won – they are overdue.

Ukraine: One of my personal favourites, this has shot up in the betting since rehearsals and the semi-final where they qualified. The staging and live performance are breathtaking and enhance an already stand out song. It might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s doing well on Spotify viral charts. A televote win is not impossible, which could yet unlock a third Eurovision victory for Ukraine.

Iceland: Last year’s viral sensation (and many people’s pick to win last year before cancellation) can’t be ruled out. They’re having to use their second rehearsal footage due to one of the band testing positive for Covid, but all the charm and fun is there in that run through and I think people are overlooking that this could still do very well and even win – and would be Iceland’s first victory (and a very popular one I am sure).

Lithuania: They have slipped off the radar a little in terms of the betting, but can’t be completely ruled out. This should pick up a very significant televote and I would hope would do well with juries too. It’s such an awesome song, with a charismatic performance and professional staging. I think this is very much an outside shot now, but it topped my countdown chart, and I would be delighted if The Roop brought Lithuania its first ever Eurovision win.

A couple of wildcards

There are even more songs in contention (I haven’t even covered Bulgaria or Portugal!) but here are a couple of wildcards – unlikely to win, but could cause an impact in the televote.

Finland: Not strictly rock, but “violent pop”, their energetic stage performance as well as singing in English and with a bit more of a Eurovision-y hook might end up going pretty big in the televote (and taking some points from Italy?)

San Marino: Who would have thought what San Marino would bring to the party. An ethnopop banger from the amazing Senhit, and featuring Flo Rida in person on stage. And he’s not just here for the pay cheque, he really is going for it in his performance, and it really boost the song even more. Going on last in the running order, it will raise the roof (and possibly a big televote score). It’s on for San Marino’s best ever result.

UK chances/expectations

Finally, a word on my own country, the United Kingdom. James Newman has been a great ambassador for the UK, and has even said publicly the country needs to move on from the whole “it’s about politics/Brexit etc) nonsense. He’s brought an uptempo banger as he promised, and it’s a decent song. He faces fierce competition from a very high quality final, and being brutally honest, he may find it hard to pick up points, especially in the televote.

I really hope it’s not a last place but I think 22nd/23rd may be as much as we can hope for. I am frustrated with the quality of the staging (it makes use of almost comically large props rather than inventive uses of LED etc) that might have helped things along a bit, but I do wish James all the best – and he’s done us proud, regardless of the result.

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