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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury 2021 #7 Written by on May 3, 2021 | 10 Comments

Show seven of Juke Box Jury, with only a handful of songs to go. But everyone gets their chance in front of the judges. 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.

The end of Juke Box Jury is almost here, but that’s good news because it means Eurovision rehearsals are close! Until the performers take to the Eurovision stage, lets carry on reviewing the songs… although it’s time to introduce a little twist to this year’s song selection…

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #7
with Donna Sluggett and Fin Ross Russell

Denmark: Iron Heart, by Ben and Tan.
United Kingdom: Embers, by James Newman.
Portugal: Love Is On My Side, by Black Mamba.
Finland: Dark Side, by Blind Channel.
The Netherlands: The Dawn Of A New Age, by Jeangu Macrooy

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

  1. Marc says:

    I had the same journey as Ewan in pinpointing a song I thought was evoked by “Love Is On My Side”. I came up with ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera. She sings “Words won’t bring me down”, they sing “Love is on my side.”

    I have been alive for all five of the UK’s victories. Sadly I don’t think I’ll live long enough for a sixth. I’ve long felt that James Newman just doesn’t have the performance experience and it was no surprise to me that he just revealed (on Saturday Mash-Up) that he’s taking singing lessons. Yes the song is chart friendly, but will the charts be friendly in return? I hope so.

  2. Shai says:

    Denmark – For moment I thought that your way telling us what you think about the actual Danish song. In a way it is, but mostly a filler for a 5 songs broadcast.

    U.K. –
    It’s not an embarrassment, which is a lot considering U.K.’s track record in the last decade(exceptions exist)and if they get it right, they might get a decent results. In a decent result I mean somewhere in the middle of scoreboard. Top 10 is too high for this song and the song is better than a finish in the bottom 5. I agree that a decent result is what the U.K. need. It might give the U.K. the energy it needs to make a better effort in the contest – MAYBE

    Portugal in English, what happened?
    This is like a lullaby song. The one that get you to sleep. Only you can’t sleep because he sings from his nose and therefore sounds a bit nasal. It’s the ultimate toilet break. You won’t miss anything if you don’t hear the song. Yes, I am calling the song boring. And after him we have Bulgaria. I hope they have something up their sleeves, which will wake everyone who fell asleep during the Portuguese song – MISS

    I think it’s a song written by young people( 20-30 year old) and its target audience are the young people out there. I am way above that target age and have difficulties to find this song an appealing one.I”ll give them credit for the catchy chorus, which carry the song a bit- MISS

    The Netherlands-
    To its credit, the song makes the best use of the pre-recorded backing vocals. I think, this kind of backing vocals would not be possible to achieve if the backing vocals were to be sung live. I think Jeangu was trying to create a different kind of an anthem song but he is not fully there. Something in the orchestration misses the mark to make it a full anthem song. If it wanted to be an inspirational song, it also misses that mark a bit. I am not sure it’s a competitive song but it does sound different from anything else in this yea’s contest. Unfortunately,the song doesn’t excite me or move me the way it should have been – MAYBE(at best, because it could have been much, much more)

    Can we have the last JBJ of this season, on Saturday 08/05/2021, the day the rehearsals start, and not on the usual Monday when rehearsals have already stared?

  3. Ewan Spence says:

    We’ve always finished JBJ off before the rehearsals for the last few years following feedback, so the plan is to do that this year as well.

  4. DENMARK: Let me comment on the official Danish entry here. If performed as vibrantly as during DMG, and ‘if’ they manage to add this 1980’s Hot Eyes retro vibe, they could qualify based on the televote results. And, in these dire times? It puts a smile on my face. Remember what San Marino did in 2019. (Ben and Tan with ‘Iron Heart’: I actually think Fyr Og Flamme with ‘¥ve Os På Hinanden’ is more competitive): “HIT”.

    UNITED KINGDOM: This is the best UK entry since 2009, but in a weird development I also think the 2021 contest has one of the best line-ups in recent years, thus is more competitive. Malta, Iceland, Moldova, Lithuania, Cyprus and Germany all over better ‘stories’ I think and can be trusted more on their staging capabilities. I’m also not entirely certain yet if James Newman can sell this entry and its ‘story’. However, this is an overall improvement, and should give the UK a 2014/2017-esque result: “MAYBE”.

    PORTUGAL: You have to give the Portuguese credit for escaping their own fado bubble. Which can not be said of neighbour Spain. I get warm from this song personally, but will the lead singer ‘connect’? Thanks to juries I have this 11th in the SF. It could qualify surprisingly. And let’s be honest, these songs deserve a spot in the grand final. However, Eurovision is still a ‘cold’ competition too :-): “MAYBE”.

    FINLAND: Like Portugal, I have Finland as a borderline qualifier (9th now). Not the style of music I would listen to. Same with Måneskin, but thère I think juries will perceive it as quality rock which we haven’t seen before in #Eurovision. Finland’s a bit too ‘teenage metal’, while Italy really brings top notch quality within its genre: “MAYBE”.

    THE NETHERLANDS: Let’s not forget that until the semi finals and the grand final mostly the Eurovision fan bubbles respond to the entires, including us on here. I agree with Ewan here that ‘Birth Of A New Age’ has this almost gospel-esque quality. When I heard the song for the first time on “DE VOORAVOND”-talkshow I immediately got goosebumps. Was it the backing choir? The “Oooowh Oooh” echo chant? Jeangu singing something very uplifting in Sranang? Or the wonderful yet relatable infused African climax (People disrespectfully refer this to a bit of ‘Lion King’, but I think that could actually help it gaining points)? It is defintely a unique song in the contest. Sadly fans sometimes forget Eurovision is a stage for EVERY type/genre of music. We all knew what Conchita and The Common Linnets did in 2014: defy all odds, and infuse that contest with stories (feel free and be who you like to be) and a-typical music genres (country). Will it win? Nope. I actually think The Netherlands will do better with televoters I think than with juries. But the chance we see Jeangu on the left hand side of the scoreboard I think is bigger than many give him credit for: “HIT”

  5. mark dowd says:

    Denmark: don’t like the dated country Ben and Tan feel. Full stop. Reserve judgements on official entry until later.

    UK: maybe. Think we’re still comparing James’ improvements to other recent awful UK efforts rather than the 2021 songs competing against it. If it gets first half draw, may open the show..and get forgotten. It’s a 6/10 song for me.

    Portugal: why didn’t they choose Neev? He hammered the televote. This is sophisticated and easy/mellow and borderline to squeeze through. maybe.

    Finland: Hit. I don’t do metal but its place in SF2 as wake up number has it sailing through.

    Netherlands: will end up bottom five but for all of Fin’s very eloquent and moving reasons, it’s a hit and will be played long after 2021.

    Another excellent show. Mille grazie.

  6. AM2PM says:

    The Danish entry was kind of controversial as Ben & Tan were not invited back to compete this year. Thus it’s highly suspect that you all of a sudden pull this alternate reality stunt and not review the actual entrant. It’s pretty disrespectful to the actual representatives. At least have the cahones to state why you’re not reviewing the actual song.


  7. Ewan Spence says:

    As mentioned in the podcast,
    …Denmark’s actual entry for Eurovision 2021 will be in the next episode of Juke Box Jury.
    …with 39 songs the maths for eight episodes was a bit awkward.
    …it’s trailing two special shows over on our Patreon site.

  8. Ben Pitchers says:

    United Kingdom: MAYBE. An improvement on last year’s entry. It’s great to see the UK send a banger and be on a more consistent track in terms of entry quality. It gets going really quickly and grabs your attention. It sounds contemporary and British and gives televoters more reasons to vote for it than previous entries. Last year it sounded like they had some really promising staging ideas so I hope that’ll be the case this year too. My reservations are that there are so many other uptempo entries this year. Also, many of them have similar choruses with a repeated short phrase and lots of instrumental. I do think it’s higher quality than say Moldova and Azerbaijan and the lyrical content captures coming out of lockdowns and living life again. I’m also not completely sold on James stage presence. I think the song gives the UK a chance to make it to the left hand side, with a good jury score being the most likely yet again.

    Portugal: MISS. The song starts off promisingly and I like the verses. Pedro has a unique singing style and delivery which is at times charming and off-putting. The problem here is the chorus, which is a real missed opportunity. It’s too simplistic and clichéd and there’s not much development in the song. It’s a pleasant but forgettable three minutes, after the power of Albania’s ballad and before the contemporary and much more powerful ballad from Bulgaria. Therefore I don’t see it qualifying.

    Finland: MAYBE. This will definitely stand out in SF2. They launch into the song pretty immediately so it makes you want to hear the whole song and see what happens. The performance at UMK was great and I think they’re keeping it pretty similar for the staging at Eurovision. That would be appropriate and works for the song. It reminds me of Linkin Park too so there’s a familiar sound if you remember that era. Finland has done well with rock songs in the past and Hungary and Iceland have been able to qualify with songs with a harder sound like this too. I don’t think it’s a guaranteed qualifier but is on the bubble. In the final I could see it maybe reaching the maybe 15th-20th.

    The Netherlands: HIT. I liked Jeangu’s song last year but it was too slow of a burn. This is so much better and so memorable; I loved it from the very first listen. It’s so timely and appropriate that he’s making a statement about the movements trying to break structural racism. ‘Your rhythm is rebellion’ is the hook I remember most when listening to it. I don’t know how well it will do in the final. I hope the juries give it the points it deserves as the home entry is often overlooked by televoters. A win regardless for the Dutch on home soil.

  9. Eurojock says:

    UK – The Eurojury jury vote gives some hope that the UK might just scrape on to the left hand side of the board following the jury vote and keep out of the bottom 5 following the televote.

    Portugal – Listening to the official Eurovision CD today, my wife picked this one out. The Eurojury vote gives some hope that it will come top 5 with juries in Semi 2 and do just enough to scrape into the final.

    Finland – Coming after a load of slow songs in Semi 2 this is well placed to sail into the final, where mid table is probably its limit.

    Netherlands – Another one my wife picked out of the CD. The authenticity of this BLM anthem puts Sweden’s sanitised foray into the same territory to shame. The reward for all this authenticity? Bottom 5.

    Ps – Good to see Songfestivalwerk (Gert) back on the site.

  10. Borza says:

    I think the panel are showing nationalistic tendencies, as the UK has no redeeming features. It has nothing that would make you pick up the phone and it has nothing for juries either. Dreadful lyrics and it is not contemporary, unless we are living about 7 years ago!

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