Marsha’s Handbag does the Eurovision final!

After two long years, lockdown and many bad life choices, mostly involving drinking wine, it’s finally here! The Eurovision Song Contest Final 2021.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this year and already, 11 songs have been eliminated, predictably for most, with a few proving a little controversial.

I previously reviewed all 39 songs for a popular magazine/website, only for them to get cold feet about me being rude about Russia (still here if you want it: https://martyncjames.medium.com/marshs-handbag-does-eurovision-f83d82f95595). However, I’ve completely revised the reviews and put them in order of appearance in the final, just in case you miss something while in the loo / nattering / arguing with a friend with terrible music taste / crying to yourself in a corner.

Without further ado… Eurovision fans, let the competition begin!

Cyprus

In any other year this would have DOMINATED the show. But there’s an elephant in the room here… and she’s called Gaga. This song is so blatantly stolen from Bad Romance it’s astounding it got through the vetting process. But still… it’s pretty epic. And the quiet bits are a thing of wonder. I’d be happy if this won.

Albania

A big Eurovision intro, with a stunning woman, euro drums, ethnic bit, big slutty dress in the video, bigger voice. Might play well on the night. But a bit Eurovision 101. Note: This is the Death Slot. It will still be the Death Slot by the end of the evening.

Israel

How will Israel fare in the contest this year, given current events? Well it sailed through the semis, so put aside your preconceptions and remember it’s a song contest — and this is good. I loved last year’s song from Eden so much I drunkenly bought a Kalimba. It’s still in the box. She’s awesome and this is fab. No chorus though — which is something of an omission. She’s having a crack at a high C in the competition which should be banned, like Mariah Carey’s awful upper register caterwauling.

Belgium

I absolutely adore this fabulous song from Hooverphonic with all my heart and even though it hasn’t got a hope in hell of winning, it’s by far the coolest song in the competition. Features fabulous lyrics, like ‘I took you too my messy place’ which I’m hoping isn’t a euphemism. Some Eurofans hate it, which is how you spot the ones to defriend.

Russia

How do we solve a problem like Russia? This one has a hint of authenticity, or at least it did at first. But despite claims to be fighting against Russian oppressors and supporting diversity, we have to judge the song. It’s fucking horrible. Literally, horrible. An aural atrocity.

Malta

It was all going so well for Malta at first, then things stalled for a bit, rather weirdly. Fortunately, Destiny has had a word with herself and came out fighting in a fabulous semi-final and it makes all the difference. Je Me Casse is a really good song, but it’s fatal mistake — like a third of the songs in this year’s competition — is it doesn’t have a chorus. A rather dull brass bit kills the mood instead. The last 30 seconds are 100% pop gold though.

Portugal

Portugal will never be forgiven for the most ungrateful winner of all time. Which is a shame because it’s a fab country. This one is a real surprise because it’s dull dull dull, but a great, well sung performance during the semi’s has reignited interest. Not enough to win I suspect. Plus we need a banger to win this year, not a ballad.

Serbia

This sounds like something I’d fall off a podium to during Pride Week in the Parthenon in Torremolinos. Another one that seemed destined to go out in the semis but proved to be unexpectedly good on stage. It won’t win though.

SONG NINE IS WHERE WE DRINK A TOAST TO SIR TERRY!!! DRINK!!

UK

This is so close to being a good song. But like Malta, we’ve made the fatal mistake of not having a chorus. It’s a banger though and we’ve spent more money on the stage show than all the other years combined. The Beeb have belatedly realised that a song called ‘embers’ should have fireworks. Dare to dream (but not too hard).

Greece

This year Greece has paid attention. One of the cleverest song in the competition. It’s an unashamed Euro Pop banger. The biggest selling song in the world last year was The Weekend, Blinding Lights… A good bet on top five. The green screen work on this is a bit dodgy though.

Switzerland

Dark, melancholy and rather moving. Black keys kids. But… instead of the stark staging it deserves, he’s chosen to perform this in a beige Tetris atrocity. And for reasons best known to our Gjon, he’s worn his granny’s blouse and his grandad’s trousers. I sense doom.

Iceland

I wish I was Icelandic. But Iceland was somewhat overpraised by wanky newspaper critics last year and I’m not convinced they would have won. But there’s a lot of love for this band, especially now they’re confined to a hotel for the show. This is creeping up the betting odds and it’s so much fun. Expect a lot of love from the fans. And rightly so.

Spain

Sorry Spain but this is the loo break. This is Iglesias by numbers, even with the faux emotions. Apparently it’s nicked from another song. I don’t think anyone will notice. He also has a very big moon (insert joke here).

Moldova

I was an early fan of this nutty Eurobanger. It’s actually pretty good. But this is Eurovision and she’s made a huge error by not bringing the dancing ice cream cones from the video. Without the quirk, it’s harder work.

Germany

Our Germanic sisters. We two are one. But Jumping Jesus on the pogo stick this is AWFUL. This isn’t just the worst song in the competition. It’s one of the worst OF ALL TIME. I’ve tried to see the good in it. I really have. But like all novelty songs, it’s forced quirkiness is like being chased by a rabid pack of clowns who want you to do the macarena with them. I literally want to kill everyone in the world after listening to this. Also: it’s got a fucking kazoo in it. A Kazoo.

Finland

I’ve been to Finland loads. I love the Finns. Unfortunately they’ve fallen back on their default rock. Problem is it’s a Limp Bisquite B-side from 1997. So no progression there. There’s something faintly depressing about EMO kids singing about putting your middle fingers up? Up what, frankly? If you must vote rock though, vote this rather than Italy.

Bulgaria

My favourite in the competition and possibly of all time. It’s a thing of fragile beauty this song from Bulgaria. But… is it too delicate to make an impact? Light years ahead of the competition. I’ve seen the staging and it’s stunning, but it does take a long time to get to the majestic orchestral crescendo (which needs to be louder). Growing up is getting old *weeps*

Lithuania

‘You gotta get a gimmick’ sang the aging strumpets in Gypsy, who knew how to thump it with a trumpet. The Roop are pretty good and the song is better than most. But they do gimmick like your wacky uncle at a wedding. Also the camp dancing wears a bit thin in just three minutes. If a major DJ dropped this it would work. As it is, it’s a bit Right Said Fred. Shame.

Ukraine

I’m obsessed with Kateryna. She was my dark horse winner of last year, but this is a work of bonkers genius. Also, she looks like she could kill you with her glacial coolness. Or a shank. I genuinely think that this is the winner this year. Watch that public vote go mad. To clarify: no she’s not out of tune, that Orville joke has been done already and this is actually a rather moving mediation on folklore, Chernobyl and nature. Lyrically.

France

And so to France… I love France with all my heart. This is a glorious, effortless chanson with wonderful lyrics and a great performance. But why is this doing so well this year? France knocks out songs like this all the time. I’m not sure what makes this one different. It is great though. But I’m not sure a drunken Euro audience will follow the jury votes (where it will win).

Azerbaijan

Azerbaz always spend a zillion pounds on 500 songwriters to get the best tune ever (we don’t talk about that unfortunate vote fixing thing). Unfortunately this year they’ve gone for Fuego. That moment has passed. Also, Marta Hari spied for the Nazis, which makes this a curious female icon to sing about.

Norway

I really didn’t like this at first but it’s grown on me. The frankly bonkers staging will be marmite to the audience though. He seems lovely and has a winning back story (he’s called Tix because of the facial tics he has due to Tourette’s Syndrome). Don’t expect too much when the votes come in.

Netherlands

Let’s face it, this isn’t going to win at all. Nice try though. Love the African beats, but it’s surprisingly beige.

Italy

For the life of me I don’t understand the popularity of ever-divisive Italy in this competition. The only time they sent a winner it came 6th. This is doing well on the odds and will undoubtedly hit the top three. Can someone explain this? I love rock music but this is meh. If it wins I’M NEVER WATCHING EUROVISION AGAIN.

Sweden

*heart breaks* I’m sorry but from the home of Eurovision this will not do. As we know from bitter experience, you don’t let the public vote on things that really, really matter. So in Melodifestivalen the public skipped a bazillion awesome songs and chose this. It’s not awful. But from the Home Of Pop it’s a total fail.

San Marino

We all love plucky San Marino. But let’s not forget it’s a super wealthy principality — which is why they can pull this rather unlikely number out of the bag. It’s a lower octane Fuego though good lord, she’s through the kitchen sink at it. I miss the bald man. Not Flo Rider.

In conclusion

Will win: Ukraine

Should win: Bulgaria

Could win: Malta / France

Please don’t win: Italy