EUROVISION’21: Open Up & Down

Eurovision is upon us. Gather’ound, ma peoples. It’s time for the annual hot mess of geopolitics, rogue glitter, kitschy costumes and tacky choreography… with a lot of heart! Y’all know, when I am not boycotting it, I always revel in it.

Eurovision talent pool is kinda predictable. There’s gotta be an ABBA tribute band. It came from Denmark and back home it went before the final. One of the Scandinavian entries will stan Nordic metal legacy. Rock on, Finland. However, the bookies’ favorite – Italia – is trespassing on the genre this year. There’d be praise-n-worship, but 2021 went into Christian proselytizing overdrive with not one, but two songs called Amen… from Austria and Slovenia, both eliminated in the semi-finals. In words of Garth Brooks, “thank God for unanswered prayers.” There’s a mandatory song about “everyone” singing in unison with Our Voice (Ireland 1996), A Million Voices (Russia 2015) or now Voices (Sweden 2021). You can sure-fire bet that “founding members” United Kingdom and Spain will produce forgettable pop trash as per their death-pact to never ever win the competition. Is it time to do away with the “Big Five” rule?! YES … Finally, there’s always room for a big fat tolerance anthem. After all, Eurovision itself is product of Cold War propaganda since 1956. However, this year’s German entry is too on-the-nose with the title “I Don’t Feel Hate.” Calm down, Gurrlmany!

Here are the Post-Paris half-dozen notable entries:

AZERBAIJAN: Efendi – Mata Hari

I said – last year – that coronavirus had possibly been unleashed onto the world to prevent Efendi from desecrating Cleopatra at Eurovision. Not content with chaos and undeterred by carnage, the singer returns with a vengeance and updated her cultural appropriation to-do list with a context-less homage to Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod aka Mata Hari, the Dutch dancer turned German spy. If the world breaks out into World War III, y’all know whodunnit.

Efendi is the first-ever winner of the non-prestigious 2021 Post-Paris WHITE BRICK AWARD for Cultural Appropriation at Eurovision:

FRANCE: Barbara Pravi – Voilà

Hard sell from the official website: “Barbara grew up in a harmonious and multi-cultural family, with roots extending through her grandparents to Serbia, Iran, Poland and North Africa. This culturally diverse open-mindedness lies at the heart of Barbara’s ethos…” Insert vomit emoji, facepalm emoji, lol emoji. “”The lady doth protest too much.” THAT SAID, the song is actually really good: a vocal reincarnation of Edit Piaf, Mireille Mathieu with a touch of dark Amelie.

ICELAND: Daði og Gagnamagnið – 10 Years

I really liked them last year and I really like them this time. It’s hipster whiteness at its ironic peak. An unfortunate twist of events saw the band confirm a COVD-19 infection to miss a live final. I still feel the song could win “in absentia” via a pre-recorded performance. And we’d have to learn the names of all the Icelandic volcanos in preparation for Eurovision 2022 in Reykjavik. OMFG, Bjork as a special guest?! In a swan dress?! Swoon.

ALBANIA: Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

Ever since I read Pajtim Statovci’s stunning novel Crossing, I’ve been low-key obsessing over Albania, bucket-listed with priority status. While this song is not on the buzz radar, I actually do enjoy its melodic rollercoaster, bombastic vocals, and a video wherein Anxhela is walking barefoot in a white gown through the snowed-in fields. Oh, I’ve been there… Meanwhile, back in Tirana, she has a cocktail named after her. Now, THAT’S Eurovision 🙂

THE NETHERLANDS: Jeangu Macrooy – Birth Of A New Age

Again, last year, I was into Jeangu’s vision, vocals, and style. Hook, line and sinker. The artist came back, upgraded, with a feel-good exercise in didactic pop. It’s admittedly a bit meh… but. There is poignant agency in narrating his Surinam-to-Amsterdam journey in such a powerful way. Plus, stylist Lissa Brandon went all-out and all-in on the beautiful music video. Even if it doesn’t win Eurovision – it won’t – the track now has a forever home at the Style The Beat Hall of Fame.

The sixth honorable mention is actually two entries that showcase the wideness of cultural zeitgeist margins. Premise: Eurovision (as much of commercial art-at-large) would be nothing without selling sex-sexx-sexxx to the masses. This year’s attractive/attracting opposites come from Moldova and Malta (who was a Post-Paris vote winner last year). The male gaze welcoming fantasy of Sugar versus not-your-baby manifesto of Je Me Casse. How and why you choose to (un)dress is up to you…

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MOLDOVA: Natalia Gordienko – Sugar

MALTA: Destiny – Je Me Casse

Which song/country/artist is your Rotterdam favorite?

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