Eurovision 2021: 16 best songs from the semi-finals
James R | On 22, May 2021
Tonight sees Eurovision back on our screens, after a year of no contest due to the coronavirus pandemic – and it’s never been more welcome, as countries from across the continent (and Australia) compete in the Grand Final of the international singing contest. A panel of juries and votes from viewers in all countries will help determine who will be crowned the 2021 champion – but that means a whole host of unsung heroes were voted out during the week over two semi-finals. The good news is that you can stream all of them on BBC iPlayer, which broadcast the two Semi-Finals, or on YouTube, where all of the songs are available individually in perpetuity.
Getting in the mood for a Eurovision party this evening? Catch up with the highlights of the 2021 Eurovision with out pick of the 16 best songs from the tournament so far – not including the Eurovision with our pick of the 16 top tracks from the competition so far (not including the Big Five – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – who get an automatic pass to the final).
The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest begins at 8pm on BBC One on Saturday 22nd May, with a host of other programmes on BBC iPlayer. Find out more here – or read on below to get a taste of what’s in store for this evening’s final, plus the best of what you won’t get to see.
Montaigne didn’t make it to the final, which in itself makes the song worth checking it for curiosity’s sake. Fortunately, that curiosity pays off with some trippy visuals, 80s-worthy outfits and a Vox Lux vibe that doesn’t quite detract from the upbeat message at its heart.
If Frozen were turned into a pop-up kids’ book, you’d end up with this unintentionally hilarious but undoubtedly Eurovision-esque number that, again sadly, didn’t get through to the final. With apologies for the weird dreams you’ll have afterwards.
Flo Rida joins Italian singer Senhit for this bold, memorable pop tune. Repeatedly saying the word “adrenaline” has never been so fun. Expect this to do well on the night.
Sometimes, you can tell from the opening line of a song, and this black-and-white beginning to Portugal’s crooning ballad is powered a stunning vocal performance that’s as cool as the white hat sitting on top of it. That rare Eurovision track you’d actually buy as a single.
Prepare to get Timothee Chalamet vibes from this earnest but undoubtedly well sung ballad, which doesn’t lose any of its disarming intensity by being performed on top of a game of Tetris.
Sadly notable because the band won’t be performing live, after a member tested positive for coronavirus – we wish them a speedy recovery – this is nonetheless a fun and distinctive ditty, thanks to its unique combination of 8-bit video game vibes, a Power Rangers-style circular keyboard and the nattiest jumpers this side of the Weasley family. Just wait until they strike a pose at the end.
If you wondered where Linkin Park went this is your answer and the presence of early-noughties rock at Eurovision is something we’re undoubtedly here for.
“It’s taking over me… I can’t control… I don’t wanna end it…” If you’ve ever wondered what it be like to make your own outfit from a rain mac and watch yourself dancing in the mirror, this is the song for you. Oddly catchy.
Eden Alene’s singing range is worth watching this one for alone, while the costume and choreography is genuinely slick.
“I’m not your baby.” Britain’s Got Talenter Destiny is clearly having a ball here with this catchy jazz-tinged pop number that is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for a week – or at least inspire you to buy some silver boots of your own. This may well be the big winner of the tournament.
Swedish Idol winner Tusse delivers the mix of earnest pop ballad and bagpipes that you never knew you needed in your life. While also wearing the best red velvet cut-off suit you’ve seen this year.
Somewhere between Elton John in Rocketman and Claire Danes in Romeo+Juliet, with John Lennon’s sunglasses, this bizarre ballad about a fallen angel with inner demons – literally surrounded by fallen angels and hidden demons – is wonderfully literal. Right down to the bit where fire gets involved. (Warning: No feathers were singed in the making of this music video.)
Because who doesn’t want a song dedicated to Mata Hari? Treat this like a live cabaret version of a James Bond opening titles sequence, though, and it works.
Green fur! Tiny trees! Lights! Those rings from Tron! Someone who may or may not be Carrie Anne-Moss! If you’re going to give yourself one out-there Eurovision song this year, make it this one. Did we mention the menacing flutes?
“We’re going break the wall!” cries Manizha, who essentially spends 3 minutes telling the audience that they’re strong, creative and shouldn’t be afraid to fight against prejudice and for equal social rights. For the sheer self-confidence to shout that message, the song deserves plaudits – it’s tellingly divided audiences in its home country. Even more confidence is required to pull off that dress at the beginning.
From the shiny jackets to the cheesy grins, this is pure 80s cheese – and it even comes with its own neon dance mat so you can join in too.