The 2021 Eurovision Song contest could be one of the most competitive for a while with a great range of diverse entries all vying for the top spot.
The first semi-final saw entries from Lithuania, Sweden, Russia, Cyprus, Norway, Belgium, Israel, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Malta all go through, while another 17 nations battled it out in the Thursday second semi-final. Among them, Switzerland’s entry Tout l’Univers sung by Gjon’s Tears which is already one of the favourites in the Eurovision odds from Betfair, being priced at 7/1 despite not having qualified yet.
UK Rank Outsiders
Much further down the betting list is the UK’s entry Ember which will be performed by singer/songwriter James Newman. With some bookmakers offering odds as long as 500/1, victory would put it among the highest winning odds Eurovision has ever seen. But does it actually stand a chance? Well, the short answer is no.
The song was praised when it was first revealed for taking a fresh approach and Newman was chosen because of his track record for writing hit tunes for other artists including the likes of Ed Sheeran. However, as other nations’ songs were revealed, the UK’s effort started to sound a little bland in comparison. Taking the safe route rarely pans out well in the Eurovision Song Contest and the UK seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking a pleasant and catchy song that might make the domestic charts could win over voters Europe-wide.
Last Place a Real Possibility
By the time the semi-finals had got underway, Newman’s effort had slipped to down the pecking order and was even favourite to finish last with some bookmakers. The high hopes of a respectable score began to fade as the realisation that the many years of disappointment were set to continue. The UK have not won the event since 1997 when Katrina and the Waves beat off stiff competition with the sing-along-anthem “Love, Shine a Light.”
The bookies are not always right of course and James Newman could pull off a surprise, but it would be the biggest shock in Eurovision history. When you hear the likes of Italy, France or Malta’s entries, it becomes clear that the UK still doesn’t quite get what it takes to make a great Eurovision song in the modern age.
The track Embers lacks an edge, there’s no wackiness, it contains little emotion and there is no quirky ingredient to make it stand out from the crowd. It is destined to be drowned out in the frenzy of the might and will do well not to finish bottom of the pile. Let’s just hope it fairs better than Jemini’s 2003 effort Cry Baby which is the only UK entry ever to score zero points in the competition.