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Spotter’s Guide: Eurovision 2021 Semifinal Two Written by on May 20, 2021

After waiting two years, we’re about to watch our second show of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Seventeen songs will vie for ten spots in Saturday’s Grand Final, but there’s so much more than just our competing songs. Samantha Ross takes a look at what to expect for Thursday’s show.

Less of a Sawtooth, More of a…Cliff?

Viewers who checked out Semifinal One might have noticed the very gentle, almost predictable sawtooth that the running order provided, with a relatively stable alternation between upbeat and slow songs. Don’t let Tuesday’s show lull you into a false sense of security…Semifinal Two will not afford you that luxury.

Sure, it’ll start you off balanced enough, with upbeat San Marino segueing into Estonia, then bumping up to Czech Republic, but when you hit the run of bops from Poland, Moldova, Iceland, and Serbia, followed immediately by four slow entries in Georgia, Albania, Portugal, and Bulgaria…you’ll start to wonder if it was the same set of producers setting up the running orders for both Semifinals.

One (Not-So-Surprising) Cameo…

After what seems like months of teasing, hint-dropping, and “will-he-or-won’t-he” trolling, it’s been confirmed: San Marino’s Senhit will be joined on stage by multiplatinum-selling rapper Flo Rida. Even though he only arrived in Rotterdam on Tuesday, and therefore missed the first week of rehearsals, he and Senhit seem to mesh naturally on stage together, and look like they’re having the time of their lives.

…and One Unexpected Absence

Even though we know that the EBU was prepared for the possibility of an act contracting COVID-19 while on site in Rotterdam, it was still incredibly heartbreaking to hear the news that Jóhann Sigurður Jóhannsson, one of the members of Iceland’s Gagnamagnið, had tested positive for the virus. Due to that positive test, Iceland’s entry, “10 Years”, will revert to using footage from their second technical rehearsal in lieu of a live performance.

Much like Australia’s entry on Tuesday, viewers might not notice the difference until the end of the song, when the camera zooms out from the stage, showing the band weren’t actually on site. Furthermore, the band will not be present in the Greenroom, instead appearing (at least the four members not in isolation) in a video link from their hotel room. (The other two members will appear as tablets neatly positioned above their logoed jumpers.) We wish Jóhann a speedy recovery.

Subtlety Where You Least Expect It

Some of this year’s quietest, subtlest entries actually involve the most intricate staging, as we’ll see from Bulgaria’s Victoria with her slanted “floating” rock outcropping and falling sand, or Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears with his deconstructing pillar formation and contemporary dancing. Even Tornike Kipiani from Georgia dabbles with some interesting projection effects during “You”. Ironically, some of the songs that you’d expect to be over-the-top are surprisingly subtle on stage, with Latvia’s Samanta Tīna performing a relatively straightforward staging, Poland’s Rafał basically recycling his music video, or Moldova’s Natalia Gordienko not being surrounded by dancing soft-serve cones or hidden cakes…just regular, non-edible dancers.

Everyone’s New Bestie – NikkieTutorials

While all four hosts are doing a more than capable job of keeping the shows running smoothly and professionally, Nikkie de Jaeger (better known as NikkieTutorials to her millions of YouTube followers) has been the true breakout star, literally standing head and shoulders above her colleagues. (No, seriously, she’s 6’3”/1.89 m, and she’s probably rocking a killer pair of high heels to boot.) Her natural charisma and friendliness come through effortlessly, and the segments where she’s in focus (her EurovisionTutorials segments, for example, or her LookLab videos on YouTube) make her feel like we’re looking in on a conversation among friends, rather than an overly-polished, staid interview.

On top of that, even though she was outed against her will in early 2020, she’s taken a subtle, yet powerful stance as a visible advocate of the trans community. In the outfits she’s been wearing for televised shows, there are hints of the colors of the trans flag. Check out the crystal work in her gown tonight…you’ll see hints of pink and light blue.

About The Author: Samantha Ross

Vaguely aware of the Contest since childhood, a fanatic since 2008, and an ESC blogger since 2009, Samantha Ross made her first sojourn to Eurovision in 2011, and was quickly welcomed into the fold at ESC Insight. Over the years, she's been interviewed by BBC World News, SVT, LBC Radio, and many others. She was a semi-regular contributor to Oystermouth Radio's weekly dedicated Eurovision program, "Wales 12 Points". Furthermore, Samantha contributed to BBC Radio 2's coverage of the Copenhagen contest, and was a member of the official JuniorEurovision.tv web team in 2014 and 2015. She also worked as a member of the Bulgarian Delegation, serving as Assistant Head of Press in Kyiv and Lisbon. She is also the creator of the podcast "12 Points from America", an irreverent look at Eurovision from a US point of view. When not at Eurovision, Samantha is a regular on the Twin Cities pub quiz circuit, and has volunteered as a moderator for the local high school quiz bowl for over ten years. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but is wistfully looking for opportunities to get geographically closer to the heart of the Eurovision action. You can follow Samantha on Twitter (@escinsider).

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