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Eurovision 2021: What are ‘live-on-tape’ performances and is any country using them?

Eurovision 2021 will be a little different from usual years (Picture: Getty)

Like most major entertainment events in 2020, the Eurovision Song Contest fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, with the annual pan-continental singing tournament being cancelled for the first time in its history.

The good news is that the show is indeed going on in 2021, with fans the world over set to tune in to the semi-finals on May 18 and 20, followed by the grand final on May 22 in Rotterdam – when a successor to the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence will finally be crowned two years after he took the title in Tel Aviv.

With this year’s contest – taking place at the city’s Ahoy Arena in front of a much smaller audience than usual – set to look very different due to the pandemic, producers have pulled out all the stops to ensure it can go ahead come what may, with ‘live-on-tape’ performances also having been prepared as a result.

Just what are these – and will any country be using them in the actual show?

What are ‘live-on-tape’ performances at Eurovision 2021?

Normal Eurovision rules state that the performers from each participating country have to perform their song live at the actual contest – and it’s hoped that the majority of those taking part will be able to perform in Rotterdam this year, with strict safety protocols being put in place to ensure this can happen.

However, given the current circumstances, each country has this year been asked to make a recording of their live performance beforehand.

In the event that a performer is unable to travel to Rotterdam due to current travel restrictions, or if they were to test positive for Covid while in Rotterdam and have to self-isolate, this performance – known as a ‘live-on-tape’ performance – would be used in the show instead.

Australia’s Montaigne will not be able to fly to Rotterdam (Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)

This ensures that all 39 countries are still able to take part and that the contest can still go ahead regardless of what happens.

In order to ensure this was also done fairly, each act was given one hour to record their performance, during which they were able to record up to three takes of their song – with the delegation then choosing the one they were happiest with.

Eurovision representatives, as well as independent voting observers and the host broadcasters, were on hand to supervise all of the recordings.

Is any country using their ‘live-on-tape’ performance?

As it stands only one performer – Australia’s Montaigne – has confirmed their ‘live-on-tape’ performance will be used in Rotterdam, with the current restrictions around travel to and from Australia making it too difficult for her to be there in person.

Montaigne – one of several returning artists from 2020’s cancelled show – is due to perform in the first semi-final with her song Technicolour, and said of the decision: ‘My partner and I had been discussing what video games we would bunker down with in a hotel room in Rotterdam between rehearsals for the final event, and we were excited about it.

Despite that disappointment, it is still an immense privilege to be able to participate and compete in Eurovision, in its fandom and its processes, two years in a row.

‘I have been able to submit two songs that I’m proud of and that have meant significant things to people.

‘I am still absolutely stoked that I can present Technicolour this year, in whatever form my final performance may come in!’

While she may be the only performer to date who will be taking part remotely, we’ll just have to keep an eye out to see if anybody else joins her on tape.

Australia will perform in the first semi-final of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday May 18, which will be on BBC Four from 8pm. The Grand Final of Eurovision 2021 is on BBC One on Saturday May 22 from 8pm.

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