It’s the time of year when the Post-Eurovision depression is in full swing, but there’s no better cure than to reminisce! Together with ESCDaily Editor, Dennis Van Eersel, we will be discussing each of this year’s competing nations – from their results to how we think they could improve in the future!
Predictions, Personal Scores and Results
- Prediction: Qualifier, Top 10
- Personal Score: 7
- Prediction: Qualifier, Top 10
- Personal Score: 7
Results: 9th place, Final
Did Russia live up to expectations?
A: I felt that Russia went into the contest somewhat under the radar, but their strength this year really started to shine after the rehearsals. I’m sincerely glad we didn’t see something generic written by either a Swedish songwriting team or the “Dream Team”, but instead, an inspirational, uplifting, and culturally relevant song. Manizha is an incredible performer, and she really elevates the performance to new levels. The staging was fantastic, with the clash of modern vs traditional. For a while there, I really mourned the Eurovision loss of Little Big, however Manizha really managed to charm me this Eurovision season.
D: When Manizha was selected, many people were still a bit disappointed that Little Big was not chosen to represent Russia again. However, as more people noticed the meaning of the new Russian song and saw how charismatic Manizha was, that tide turned for the better. I thought Russia had the potential to reach up to another top-10 result and they did so in a confident manner.
How do you personally feel about the song for Russia at Eurovision 2021?
A: This is an interesting one, because I am certainly not against listening to this song, but the studio version just doesn’t cut it for me. I find the ‘chant-like’ parts of the song to be so empty in the studio version, as the notes aren’t held for as long as the live performance. All in all, I enjoy the song, but more so in the context of the actual show, rather than a song I would actively choose in my music catalogue.
D: At first listen I had my doubts whether a song that incorporates multiple genres could do well, but personally I liked the song from the first listen. I agree with you Anita, that the studio version is lacking some of the power and energy that we see and hear in the live performance. But since Eurovision is mostly about these live performances, I think this was a very suitable song for the contest.
Could Russia have done anything different?
A: As much as I want to controversially say, they should have sent Little Big, realistically, I think Russia really lifted their game this year. Yes, the nation has achieved some great results with more generic pop numbers, but this year felt much more authentic. The performance was powerful, especially with the imagery on the backing screens, and the vocals were strong. There’s really not much to nitpick here.
D: I hope Russia can persuade Little Big to take another shot at Eurovision soon, despite the fact that Manizha did very well as their ‘replacement’. When it comes to her performance, just like Anita said, I can’t see many things they could have improved to get a better result. It was a very strong year with many good songs and performances, and the bottom of the top-10 was the maximum result for this song.
What can Russia do to ensure success in future years?
A: Russia is consistently very slick with their performances, and they often send great vocalists. The nation is often successful with both televote and jury, so if they can keep that balance of having a good song, strong vocals and a likeable performance, there’s no reason that we wouldn’t see Russia delivering strong results into the future. To gain that strong combination, I think the nation should move forward with internal selections, and I suspect that they will return to that format for 2022.
D: Russia is a big nation with a huge music market. There are still many big names to choose from, but usually they are only willing to go to the music competition if they get a free pass by the broadcaster. Thus, internal selection of big names again. It served Russia well in the past. However, when Russia gave the public a vote, which is not common at Eurovision in Russia, we see acts that tend to connect to the televote just a bit more. We have seen that in 2012 and this year. And that is also worth something.
Which was better, the live-on-tape performance or the actual performance?
A: Going from the Ahoy performance to the live-on-tape performance really reveals that the concept was there, but it was still undercooked. The camera angles and choreography of the backing singers in the live-on-tape were substandard, but improved as they returned to that circle formation. The backing imagery was not as strong in the live-on-tape, and the dress was clearly more impressive in the live version.
In the live-on-tape, Manizha and her singers don’t face the backing screens as the Russian women appear, and I am glad they changed that for the live performance. It felt much more powerful as they chanted to the sea of faces. Overall, the ideas were certainly there, and I’m glad they made those changes for the live performance.
D: I agree, but next to this I also saw that Manizha did not get the funding that some other nations had for their live tape. The concept with the dress in the back-up tape looked like it was ordered from a Wish-ad. They just weren’t there yet and it looks like Russia gambled that they would actually be there in Rotterdam in May. Also, the lack of an audience, boosting and hyping Manizha even more, was also an issue in the recording in an empty studio. Overall, the actual performance when it comes to interacting with the crowd, her other singers on stage and the camera was much, much better in Rotterdam than in the studio.