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The ones to watch at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest

Who should you keep an eye on at Eurovision this month? (Picture: Eurovision/

We may have missed out on Eurovision in 2020, like every other enjoyable event of the year, but this May, the Song Contest is back.

From May 18, 39 countries will be battling to be crowned Eurovision 2021 winner, taking over from 2019 champion Duncan Laurence, who won for The Netherlands with his now TikTok famous ballad Arcade.

As of the time of writing, the acts bar one will be performing live in Rotterdam, with Australia’s Montaigne competing via her previously submitted live-on-tape performance, with the Ahoy Arena welcoming 3,500 attendees.

The acts have been chosen via national finals over the last few months, while many of 2020’s acts have returned, so Eurovision experts have been sussing out just who will win for weeks now.

But for the casual fan who tunes in for the grand Saturday final, you may not know anything about who is competing and what they’re performing, or even who has been disqualified already (that would be Belarus).

But don’t worry – we here at have got your back. From the bookies’ favourites to dark horses, we’ve compiled the ones to watch ahead of the final on May 22. Grab your flags, get ready to down your drink every time Graham Norton mocks a presenter, and prepare for some Eurovision magic.

Destiny – Je Me Casse (Malta)

Malta are the current favourites to win Eurovision, and after a listen of Destiny’s song Je Me Casse (‘I Break’, or to make a quick exit), it’s not hard to see why.

Sassy and empowering, Je Me Casse is all about brushing off a guy’s advances in the club, and mixes Destiny’s booming soulful vocals with a Charleston-esque electro swing in the chorus, and is sure to impress the viewers at home as well as the Eurovision devotees.

Destiny, 18, was set to represent Malta last year too, and already has form at Eurovision, having won Junior Eurovision in 2015.

James Newman – Embers (United Kingdom)

OK, so the UK hasn’t had the best of luck in the last few years at Eurovision, what with Michael Rice coming dead last in 2019 and SuRie’s 2018 performance being interrupted by a stage invader.

But this year’s effort could just change the UK’s fortunes, as James Newman is going to Rotterdam with a total bop.

The singer-songwriter knows how to pen a dancefloor-filler, having penned the Brit award-winning Rudimental and Ella Eyre track Waiting All Night and Calvin Harris’s Blame featuring James’s brother John Newman, so we’re glad that after the more heartfelt My Last Breath of 2020, he’s embraced the trumpets and the pop.

Will it win? No. But with the right staging, James could indeed light up the room with Embers, and it’s the first time in a while that a left side of the board finish isn’t a totally crazy idea.

Daði og Gagnamagnið – 10 Years (Iceland)

Of course it was the year that Eurovision was cancelled that a genuine crossover hit was produced. Iceland’s entry Think About Things went viral thanks to its kooky video and dance routine before it had even been selected to represent Iceland, and went on to hit the UK charts, become a TikTok smash and even be the backing track for Jamie Laing’s cha cha cha on Strictly Come Dancing.

Daði Freyr and his backing band Gagnamagnið probably have the most pressure going into the 2021 contest, as the fan favourites from the song contest that never was, and to be honest, 10 Years was never going to beat Think About Things. However, it’s still a great tune – while Think About Things was about Daði’s infant daughter, 10 Years is about his relationship with wife Árný (who will be pregnant with their second child on the Eurovision stage).

There’s another surreal dance routine and the pixel art jumpers are back – so while the song may not be a guaranteed viral sensation like last year, we reckon the familiarity and the goodwill from 2020 will give Daði og Gagnamagnið a high finish on the scoreboard.

Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo (Cyprus)

We have been rooting for Cyprus to achieve Eurovision glory since 2018, when Eleni Foureira was robbed in 2018 with her all-time bop Fuego coming second. Now, a similarly named woman with a similarly sexy tune is hoping to do one better, and we’re expecting this to do well with voters – in spite of (or perhaps because of) backlash from religious and conservative groups in Cyprus.

Is it groundbreaking? No. It’s more like Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Judas and Alejandro by way of Zara Larsson chucked into a blender with Fuego, and when you’re as starved of a club night as we are, that is exactly what we want.

Is it as good as Fuego? Also no, but then again, what is? This could be a top 10 finisher, and for Cyprus, who have only been in the top 10 three times this century, that would be a great result.

Barbara Pravi – Voila (France)

We’ve got to say, we love a Eurovision song sung in French (hello Celine Dion) and Barbara Pravi is sure to rate highly with this oh-so-very-French ballad.

If you could condense feeling forlorn in Paris with a glass of red wine while having great hair into one song, it would be this (or Sexy French Depression from the Crazy Ex Girlfriend soundtrack), and we have a feeling that viewers will love the European-ness of it all. A lot of acts are throwing the kitchen sink at their performances this year, and this pared back song could stand out for that reason.

A song sung entirely in French hasn’t actually won since Celine’s Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi won for Switzerland in 1988, but Barbara could definitely take a top three spot with Voila.

Senhit – Adrenalina (San Marino)

Speaking of the kitchen sink, here is San Marino’s entry. San Marino are known for trying very hard at Eurovision but not really getting anywhere, only ever qualifying for the final twice and even then peaking at 19th.

But this year they have a secret weapon – Flo Rida.

Yes, the rapper responsible for Low features on Senhit’s Adrenalina, and while not confirmed yet, he could make an appearance on the stage. Normally this kind of vote-grab wouldn’t sway us, but it actually… works? Adrenalina is a slice of Latin-pop that seems to have come from the same era that Flo Rida was atop the charts, so it’s a pretty perfect pairing, and the song is fun and accessible.

This could be the year San Marino actually make a dent on Eurovision’s scoreboard, and we’re chuffed for them.

Go_A – Shum (Ukraine)

Eurovision isn’t Eurovision without a song that you would literally hear nowhere else, and it would be a more homogenous place without acts like Go_A.

Shum will be the first song to ever be performed at Eurovision entirely in Ukranian, and Go_A’s brand of electronica mixed with folk music is different from any other entry this year.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Go_A have got the balance right between traditional folk music and an ever-increasing club beat that makes you feel like you’re in the tailend of a night in Berlin. Bonkers, regional and slick – Shum is Marmite, but perhaps Europe will find it very tasty.

Måneskin – Zitti E Buoni (Italy)

Rock music isn’t always successful at Eurovision, but X Factor Italy stars Måneskin could be up there with Lordi – minus the monster masks of course.

Combining alt-rock, funk and glam, Zitti E Buoni is a song that wouldn’t be out of place at your local indie bar alongside The Black Keys. Plus, their glam rock tendencies give the group the much-needed bit of sparkle and pizazz needed for the Eurovision stage.

We sometimes worry that rock groups sometimes don’t take the contest seriously enough, but Måneskin have smashed their live performances at Sanremo, and could be on their way to a top five finish.

Lesley Roy – Maps (Ireland)

Ireland is still the country with the most wins at Eurovision (seven), but hasn’t claimed a win since 1996 and last broke the top 10 in 2011 (thank you, Jedward).

However, they are back this year with one of their strongest entries in years, courtesy of Lesley Roy. This anthemic track with sincere lyrics feels like a radio hit, and we mean that as a compliment.

Ireland failed to qualify in 2019, but if Maps gets out of the semi-final stage – surely! – it could be on track its strongest placing in almost a decade.

Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers (Switzerland)

OK, we’ll level with you – after the year we’ve had, as much as we loved Arcade, we’re not really excited about the thought of another man with a ballad and a piano winning Eurovision. But that doesn’t mean Tout l’Univers won’t do well.

This moody, dramatic number is accompanied by Gjon’s Tear’s soaring falsetto and if it weren’t fully in French, we’d say it was a shoe-in to soundtrack an ITV drama. If it wasn’t following Arcade, Switzerland could have been on for a win, but Tout l’Univers might have to settle for a top five finish.

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals take place on May 18 and 20, before the final on May 22.

Credit: Original article published here.

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