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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury 2021 #3 Written by on April 5, 2021 | 7 Comments

Round three of Juke Box Jury, and we continue our review of the songs for Rotterdam 2021. You can listen to Juke Box Jury and the ESC Insight podcast online, add the RSS Feed to your favourite podcast application, or click here to follow us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

Our socially distant review of this year’s three-minute gems reaches the third episode this week, so settle back for personal our thoughts on five more songs heading to Rotterdam.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #3
with Ellie Chalkley and Ross Middleton.

Austria: Amen, by Vincent Bueno.
Russia: Russian Woman, by Manizha.
Moldova: Sugar, by Natalia Gordienko.
France: Voilà, by Barbara Pravi.
Latvia: The Moon Is Rising, by Samanta Tina.

As we get closer towards May and the Song Contest, you can stay up to date with all the Eurovision news and reviews by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunesGoogle Podcasts, and SpotifyA direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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7 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury 2021 #3”

  1. Eurojock says:

    Austria – As a ballad drawn in the first half of Semi Two, the running order helps this. It’s the archetypal jury song, but it probably needs to come top five with the juries, as I can’t see much televote support. It may come down to a head to head battle with the Czech Republic for jury votes and qualification .

    Russia – The more I listen to this, the more I like it. And Manizha is very watchable. One note of caution. On first viewing, my immediate reactions were ‘Hot Mess’ and ‘Julia Samoylova’ style NQ.’ It will depend on how this plays with a non-Russian audience. Ellie is probably right. She needs to ‘keep it in the press.’

    Moldova – My guilty pleasure this year. Ross, it was well worth the wait! And you just know Moldova can stage this. Can I put in a special request for Rotterdam for the dancing pokey hats?

    France – France don’t need staging this year. Barbara is the staging. (And, I agree with Ewan, we don’t need to understand the words). For me, the best performance of this was the tryout for the National Final, when it was just a camera on Barbara. In terms of winning ESC, the televote is the concern.

    Latvia – Without the need to go through Supernova this year, Samanta has well and truly gone for it. All credit to her. Whether it will pay off in terms of Grand Final qualification, it’s touch and go. Now we know the running order for Semi Two, she does at least have a good draw.

  2. Hans says:

    Thank y’all for Juke Box Jury. Because, for me this year this will be the highlight of Eurovision 2021. I hate, loathe and despise 37 of the 39 entries with a passion. I’ve never been there before, but yee gods this year is dire. So Juke Box Jury is my contest despite the fact that I’m listening with mouth agape and arms akimbo at the comments. As I’ve stated before, I may not even watch the contest itself. The first time living in Europe that has happened. And my first memory of the contest is the 1959 Kessler Twins on a turntable when I was 6. This particular Juke Box jury did discuss one of the 2 songs that I really like: France. The other one – Ta da! – is the entry from the UK. The rest is, to me, noise and most of it very very unpleasant noise. Thank you again for Juke Box Jury. It gives me life.

  3. mark dowd says:

    Austria: hard to hate hard to like with gusto. If it squeezes through, it’ll end up in last five in final. A Maybe.

    Russia: congrats to country for a daring entry. Personally prefer the choral anthemic sections to the rappy bits. Not a fave musically. Will make final.

    Moldova. Cheap, trashy “click bait.” It’ll qualify and lose out to superior uptempo numbers.

    France. Jury winner potentially, but televote? She’s gorgeous, appealing, strong but vulnerable. Echoes of Portugal 2017??

    Latvia: endorse Ross’ views. A chaotic mess. All attitude and zero melody. NQ for sure.

  4. Jake says:

    AUSTRIA: This is one of the few downgrades from a ‘returning’ artist of the never-was 2020…last year’s song had more opportunity to stand out with televoters…this needs to work as juri bait and it feels like it doesn’t give enough opportunities to showcase his voice…also, can’t help but hear A Man instead of Amen and it gives the song a total different point of view MISS

    RUSSIA: A personal hot mess for me and not in a good way…this is bound to ZERO out with non-Eastern juries so it’ll need to get enough votes from the public and the Russia-friendly countries’ juries…an early draw might hurt it enough for it to be only a MAYBE

    MOLDOVA: This is a cheaper, less sexy, less sophisticated version of Maruv’s Bang…I like it when I listen to it, but in the rearview it doesn’t stay with me…Moldova’s good track record of staging will help this through, but to me she reads like an old aunt trying too hard to stay relevant on social media…also, can she sing or will this be 100% canned vocals…still, HIT

    FRANCE: Pure perfection and when France is at it’s most French–it always succeeds…I think it’s easily the best ballad this year…my only reservation is in the high repetition of the lyrics…HIT

    LATVIA: I was never into her entry from last year’s and this fails to measure up even by those standards…I give her credit for keeping a strong identity and I can’t fault her voice…but this hurts my musical taste and it’s a MISS

  5. Shai says:

    Austria –
    Let me first talk about the text(and thank you to your friends at who actually pointed this first). He is comparing an end of a relationship to death & funeral. Not very cheerful isn’t it? While the music is not good, bad or even exciting, it is the better Amen of the 2 we have on offer this year. The question is if Europe will be ready for a sort of funeral song after the year we had. I am not so sure-MAYBE

    Credit to Russia(can’t believe I just wrote that) there are going for something completely different than what you would have expected. Unfortunately this is the best thing I can say about this song. When someone is singing is a language I don’t understand, I need to feel what she is singing about. Make me connect to the song even if I don’t understand a word.Unfortunately, I just don’t feel anything and I can’t connect to the song on any level .For me it is a song combined of 3 or 4 songs(each could have been an Eurovision entry) and the end result is just so messy I can’t relate or connect to it at all. Looking at the semi, I am not sure they have enough support to get to the final, which will be a blessing, if it happens – MISS

    My first reaction was that this is fluffy material. I can’t take it seriously but sometimes you need this kind of thing as a distraction. It will make people happy. It will make people smile. It will probably be staged in a way that enhance the silliness and the sugariness of this. Hopefully she can sing this live. It will be a good diversion in the final. The juries will kill it, though – (semi)HIT

    My absoluut favourite this year. I love this song and will be happy if this win. This is the best song France have sent in many years. It sounds very French and has familiarity to it but it’s not retro. Just very French. The chorus with the piano and strings is very effective and get into your head in a way you start humming it when it is finished. Even if you don’t speak French you are connected to the song and feel it.
    In the official video, there places where she put a smile on her face if she will manage to that during her performance, she will win people over her. There is no doubt she can sing this live. Her performance during the French National Final was simple and very effective. She should keep it that way. If Amar Pelos Dois(Portugal 2017) manage to win in Portugees, there is no reason that Barbara shouldn’t win in French – HIT(if there was a doubt)

    I think she is coming from a point where she wants to prove how unique and special she is. While the song just does this, she forgot she need an accessible song. This is not such a song. In fact it is a song which push the viewer away instead of inviting him to get closer – MISS

    @Hans – Eurovision is like marriage – for better and for worse. You remain faithful even if a year is not to your taste. So just the watch this year and think that things can and will get better.

  6. Hans says:

    Yeah, okay, you twisted my arm, I’ll watch the darn thing.

  7. Ben Pitchers says:

    Austria: MISS. This year ballads have a chance to stand out amongst all the uptempo entries but I fear this is another one of those pleasant and competent entries that gets forgotten. There is a build up to as the song progresses but the lyrics are too repetitive to really let it fly. Austria often struggle in the televote and I think they’re unlikely to qualify this year.

    Russia: HIT. I watched the surprise NF they put on and this was definitely the best choice of the three. One day I hope we find out how the broadcaster got to the 2021 selection process went because that’ll be a fascinating read. This is one of the best Russian entries for a while. Last year was a fantastic choice too, given that they were a popular band allowed to do their own thing. Manizha has such a strong artistic voice and vision and I like how she has something to say with her song. The way it sounds is unlike any other recent Russian entry and any other song this year. Being more risky with their choice, qualification isn’t guaranteed or being top 10 in the final.

    Moldova: MAYBE. It’s another fun but featherlight entry and better than her song last year. There would need to be a lot more to it to be really successful and I’m not convinced by Natalia as a really engaging performer. The choreography in the video is lucklustre too. However, if Kirkorov spends lots of money & creativity on the staging like with DoReDos it should have a good chance to qualify. I think there’s too many similar songs with more obvious hooks for it to be top 10.

    France: HIT. I’m so happy France forgot last year’s internal selection folly and remembered that recently they’ve been good at national finals. I just love it. Barbara draws you in from the écoutez-moi in the beginning. The progression in the music builds to an almost dizzying end. She has the most beautiful singing diction too. I think this has a great chance to win this year. She’s such a fantastic performer and there’s been many winners that have a simplicity to them, like 2019, 2017 and 2016. It’s a ballad, yes, but defiant and not introspective to be considered similar to our last winner.

    Latvia: MAYBE. Samanta has a very unique style and sound and I always end up liking her songs a lot, even if it takes a few listens to get there. This is such a hard entry to predict any success for. It takes risks and isn’t forgettable so that scores points in its favour but if it isn’t immediate enough it could fall short. I’d love to see it in the final if everything comes together on stage.

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