After Duncan Laurence won in 2019, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Rotterdam this year for a socially-distanced edition! As ever, there’s a real buzz around the event, but which countries stand out? And which acts are projected to take the top spot? Podcaster extraordinaire and Eurovision fanatic GJ Kooijman is one of only 500 journalists invited to be on site at Ahoy Rotterdam. Luckily for you (and for us!), he’s here to give you a preview of what to expect for next week’s show!
Stage for the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest (Image: EBU/Nathan Reinds)
GJ, congrats on getting to attend Eurovision 2021! You visited the set in Ahoy in the last few weeks. What were your first impressions of the set and what are you most excited about seeing?
The first thing that hit me was the staging. The set has a huge LED-screen which is 52 meters wide and in the middle there are two doors which can spin around 360 degrees at great speed. There are only 3,500 people in the audience but they’re setting the stage fit for a fully sold-out arena, including pyrotechnics and new uses of Augmented Reality. This production is going to be an incredible live experience that Europe has never seen before with incredible technical advances but still making sure that the artists shine first.
The artists, and the character they bring, are one of the most important parts of the live show. Can you share with us your ideas about the acts that stand out this year?
I’m excited about Greece, who are sending Stefania from the Netherlands. Apparently they will try to attempt to do something that’s never been done before at Eurovision with her performance of Last Dance. Her outfit had to be flown in early for the technical rehearsals so that’s going to be something spectacular. Absolutely one to watch!
Germany is one of the six acts already confirmed for the Grand Final, and rightfully so. Jendrik is a very enthusiastic act which you will either love or hate: there’s no in between. I think his energy will really translate well on stage when he performs I Don’t Feel Hate.
Barbara Pravi (France)
Another definite stand-out is the entry from France. Voilà is a very honest chanson by a young singer named Barbara Pravi who will really grab your attention and hit you in the heart right from the first note.
Senhit (San Marino)
San Marino are working hard to bring some extra star power, hoping that Flo Rida will come to Rotterdam to perform the pop track Adrenalina with second-time Eurovision performer Senhit. He was part of the production and is featured in the music video as well but it’s unclear if he will actually perform in Rotterdam. If he makes it to Eurovision, their performance is going to be something we will talk about for years to come.
Every Eurovision Song Contest has some stand out performances, for all the wrong reasons. Who can we expect to see in that category this year?
Blind Channel (Finland)
Finland are sending Blind Channel with a punk/pop vibe. Originally the song talked about waving your middle fingers in the air but they have been censored. There’s not a lot of rock in Eurovision this year which is a shame, but I don’t see this entry translating well to the audience.
TIX from Norway is a performer who is mostly known for his uptempo songs but now wrote a ballad about several struggles he has had throughout his life. The message of the song is great, however the staging is so weird that it will grab your attention but it might not be for the right reasons!
And finally: no competition is complete without a favorite. Which act do you think will be crowned this year’s winner?
My prediction is Malta. Destiny is a young 19-year old artist coming from a talent show who has vocals comparable to divas like Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey. She’s got an amazing fresh attitude and the song really sticks in your head. She’s number one with the bookies for all the right reasons and I think she will blow you away.
The semi-finals of Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast live from Ahoy Rotterdam on May 18th and May 20th at 21:00 CET. The Grand Final will be broadcast on May 22nd at 21:00 CET. For more information about the Eurovision Song Contest, you can visit their website: eurovision.tv!
GJ Kooijman hosts several podcasts, including Ding-A-Dong, a Dutch podcast dedicated to the Eurovision Song Contest. You can follow Ding-A-Dong on Spotify for daily content straight from ESC and follow @gjkooijman on Instagram.