The First Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 has just ended, and the ten qualifiers are on their way to a live press conference at the press centre in Rotterdam. You can watch the conference live on YouTube while we liveblog the highlights below.
Here are tonight’s ten finalists:
- Norway: TIX – “Fallen Angel”
- Israel: Eden Alene – “Set Me Free”
- Russia: Manizha – “Russian Woman”
- Azerbaijan: Efendi – “Mata Hari”
- Malta: Destiny – “Je me casse”
- Cyprus: Elena Tsagrinou – “El diablo”
- Lithuania: The Roop – “Discoteque”
- Sweden: Tusse – “Voices”
- Belgium: Hooverphonic – “The Wrong Place”
- Ukraine: Go_A – “Shum”
LIVE COVERAGE | Live Blog Has Ended
23:33 CET // The press conference is expected to begin within the next 10 minutes. Stand by for updates.
23:40 CET // The press conference has begun. After each country’s interviews, we’ll get their allocation draws for the grand final.
23:42 CET // TIX from Norway enters the press conference stage running, jumping on the table. We’ve got a question from Norwegian press: “How are you now going to improve on your performance for the grand final?” TIX: “There’s still a lot more to be told when it comes to the story I’m trying to tell here in the Netherlands. I feel like I made it. Eurovision is about diversity, acceptance, and finally coming together, and the fact that I get to perform my song one more time just means I’ll be able to reach out to more people out there, for a lot of people who really, really need it.” He explains that he didn’t expect to get to Eurovision, but even just in Norway, he wanted to get the message out that mental health should be given more attention.
23:45 CET // Apparently, each artist goes out on the stage alone for the press conference. A member of the press asks whether TIX liked Azerbaijan’s performance (a reference to their ongoing contest romance). TIX replies that he had a great time altogether.
23:46 CET // An member of the online press asked about the impact of removing his shades, whether that was showing off Andreas instead of the TIX persona. TIX responds that the song is about feeling inadequate and out of place, not feeling your own worth. “You can turn your biggest weakness into your greatest strength. I’m trying to inspire people out there.” “People would just see the show and wonder who’s this guy dressing like an angel: who does he think he is? What is he hiding? What is his weakness?” Removing the shades and fighting the demons on stage reveals that weakness.
23:50 CET // The press conference host, Hila, draws which half the artist will perform in at the final. TIX is being incredibly indecisive. Hila reveals 2nd half. Norway performs in the second half of the grand final on Saturday.
23:52 CET // We’re getting a break from the press conference as they, presumably, reset and clean up for the next act.
23:54 CET // Israel is heading up on stage now. Eden says she is shocked and speechless.
23:54 CET // A member of the national media asks: Israel is having some bad days, but you bring some fun onstage right now. She asks what her message is to her family and friends back home. Eden responds: “I love you, thank you for the support, I love my country, I love everyone. This is for Israel. Thank you for all the love I get.”
23:56 CET // Q: Do you fear the televote or the jury vote more? A: ” I don’t think I fear them, I think I just want to go to the finals.” She just prayed that she would go to the final without thinking about the judges, just that she wanted this for her country so bad.
23:57 CET // A: How did you keep calm during the whistle note? A: “I didn’t!” She said she succeeded because she felt the energy from her backing dancers onstage.
23:58 CET // Time for the allocation draw. Israel draws the first half. Israel will perform in the first half of the grand final.
00:00 CET // Russia is next. She says she feels fabulous, fantastic. She said that it’s amazing that in the middle of a pandemic, that the organization was able to put together a huge crowd for the event.
00:01 CET // Q: What now? What do you want to say to all the haters who don’t believe in you or your song. A: “Oh gosh, again we’re paying attention to the haters?” Manizha says that the last two months were exhausting because of the haters (she hates the word and prefers “not-lovers”). She disliked the xenophobia, that people said she wouldn’t get to the final with a song in Russian. “I’m proud that I’m a Russian woman singing in the Russian language.” In Russian, she says she loves Russia and thanks them profusely. She also wants people to be proud of the Russian language because it is beautiful and melodic.
00:04 CET // Q: Do you have a plan to win Eurovision? A: “There’s only one plan in music, in Eurovision, everywhere: to be yourself. Tonight I was so, so, so myself. I was laughing, we were so happy to be on that stage.” Manizha says she’ll just be herself in the final but just a little bit crazier. She offers some advice: just be yourself.
00:04 CET // Q: What is your message to women all over the world. A: “These horrible things that happen in the world will never separate us.” “The only reason to do art is to be brave and to be honest.”
00:05 CET // The singers vocalize as the host draws an allocation strip from the bowl. Russia will be performing in the first half of the grand final.
00:06 CET // Azerbaijan is next.
00:08 CET // Q: In the first week, you showed a flag that Eldar gave you when he won Eurovision 2011. Where is the flag tonight? Did it bring you luck? A: In Azerbaijani, Efendi says that she’s wearing the flag right now. She called Eldar before she went onstage. He wished her good luck and that she should live in the moment because it’s a special moment with the audience, stage, and everything.
00:10 CET // Q: Are there going to be any changes for the performance in the final? A: “Maybe, I don’t know. There could be some differences in the final, but I won’t tell you right now. We love differences, we love to add new things.”
00:10 CET // Time for the allocation draw. Azerbaijan will perform in the second half of the grand final on Saturday.
00:12 CET // Malta is up next. Destiny says she feels fantastic, grateful that she made it this far, so so happy.
00:14 CET // Q: You have risen in the odds to second behind Italy. What are your expectations? A: “I feel good, I’m so happy to be here. I’m thankful for all of you who voted to see me in the final. I feel amazing, I can’t describe it. You just have to feel it. It’s magical, it’s such a special moment.”
00:15 CET // Q: Your song is about staying true to yourself. What do you say to everyone who didn’t believe in you? A: To answer this question, I need to stand up. “My song is about female empowerment. My song is to all you women out there. This is my life story, but it’s not just about me. It’s about me, it’s about you, it’s about us.”
00:17 CET // Q: Do you think your grandfather is proud of your performance? A: “It was his dream, it was my dream.” She thanks everyone for believing in her, and she can’t describe the feeling of how grateful she is.
00:18 CET // Hila has drawn: Malta will perform in the first half of the grand final.
00:20 CET // Lithuania will be attending the press conference next.
00:21 CET // How are they? Happy, comfortable, and sleepy. Vaidotas: “I see that you guys are sleepy too, a bit. But it’s normal, we are people.”
00:22 CET // Q: What are your thoughts? Are you thinking of the grand final? A: “Yes, we are thinking about that. But first, sleep. But we are ready for the final. We know what we want to achieve there and we are extremely happy to be in the finals. I think all Lithuanian people are very happy. I think Lithuania had the chance to win last year, but it was canceled, so they are very looking forward to this year. I don’t know what the end will be, but Lithuanians will be happy.”
00:23 CET // Q: Did the 3500-person audience in the arena give you a boost? A: Yes, of course, Vaidotas says. They all felt the energy from the crowd.
00:24 CET // Q: Koos picks from the allocation bowl. Lithuania will perform in the second half of the grand final on Saturday.
00:25 CET // Cyprus will be taking the stage next.
00:26 CET // Hila gives a shoutout to the volunteers who “work their asses off” keeping everything running and the surfaces clean.
00:27 CET // Elena says she was incredibly excited to qualify. “I was screaming like crazy! I don’t know what happened.”
00:27 CET // Q: You made people dance and enjoy themselves again. How did you feel about that? A: “It was the best feeling ever after COVID life when we didn’t see so free.” She feels that now it would be great to feel all the freedom that everyone missed.
00:28 CET // Q: You were so consistent in rehearsals. Did you feel nervous on stage tonight? A: She says she has to be in the best position in her mind when she gets on stage, and once she gets that feeling, she can’t get off the stage anymore.
00:29 CET // Hila draws from the bowl: Cyprus performs in the first half of the grand final on Saturday.
00:30 CET // Sweden’s press conference is up next.
00:31 CET // “We went crazy,” Tusse said. “It was torture” waiting for the qualifier announcements.
00:33 CET // Q: It can be tough to stand out among a field of songs with strong messages. What was the message you wanted to get across? How do you feel about getting Sweden to the finals for the 10th time in a row? A: Tusse shouts “We did it!” He adds that he was blown away with the message of the song, that you can unite people with the message from a song. “My voice counts, your voices count, all our voices count.” He’s glad and grateful that Sweden are in the finals again, and that he didn’t betray Sweden.
00:34 CET // Q: You had some trouble with your voice before the contest. How nervous were you to injure your voice? A: One month before the contest, Tusse said that it was very uncertain that he would be able to sing onstage. He feels proud and happy that he was able to do it, that his voice is back and functional. “I only feel joy.”
00:35 CET // Q: Who do you dedicate tonight’s qualification to? A: “I dedicate it to everybody that feels or has felt lonely, or has felt that their voice hasn’t been counted or hasn’t been heard. If a small child from a small country, from a small place, can get this far, then anyone can.” He says that everyone all has emotions, everyone feels all these things, and that he dedicates the song to “all us lonely souls in the world, who are not lonely at all.”
00:37 CET // Koos draws for Sweden. Sweden will perform in the second half of the grand final.
00:38 CET // Belgium is coming up next.
00:40 CET // How did they feel when they qualified? It was nervewracking, Alex says. “We can go back to our country now without being killed or decapitated.”
00:42 CET // Q: You received many video messages from Belgian and Dutch celebrities. It made you very emotional. Which video message touched you the most? A: Alex says all of them were great. He and Geike list some of the people who gave them messages of support. Alex says it felt great to receive them and adds that all bands in Belgium should go for the Eurovision experience because it’s worth it.
00:44 CET // Q: Would you call your qualification a victory for music? A: Alex says it’s just amazing. “When I got offstage, the first reaction I had was I was speechless. Geike says there’s a different impact between watching from the green room and watching onscreen and that there were so many great performers. Raymond: “It’s a victory of believers.”
00:45 CET // Geike says it’s been so much fun to perform again in front of a big audience, and that she’s very happy about the band’s qualification. Alex adds that it feels so long since they performed in front of the crowd.
00:46 CET // Q: Geike, how does it feel to be back in the band. A: It’s been an amazing experience so far, she replies.
00:47 CET // Hila draws a half for Hooverphonic. Belgium will perform in the first half of the grand final.
00:48 CET // Ukraine is the last qualifier from the first semi-final, and will close tonight’s press conferences.
00:49 CET // How did it feel to be called as the last qualifier? Taras: “It’s quite difficult to express our emotions right now because we cannot scream anymore.” “But we can dance. We’re very very very happy,” Kateryna says trying to be deadpan but she can’t help but crack a smile.
00:50 CET // Q: Why did you think when you were the last called? What are the next plans? A: Kateryna answers in Ukrainian, Taras translates: She voted for Australia and that if it won’t be Ukraine, it should be Australia. He adds that they are all very happy about qualifying.
00:52 CET // Q: What makes Ukrainian music so special, being the only country to have always qualified from the semi-final? A: Kateryna answers in Ukrainian again, and Taras translates. For the band and for every contestant from Ukraine, they all tried to be themselves to just perform and make music. Eurovision is very important in Ukraine, he says, so every Ukrainian contestant prepares very hard for the event.
00:54 CET // Q: How does it feel to qualify with a song completely in the Ukrainian language? A: Since the national final, Go_A’s goal was to show Ukrainian culture and heritage as the core of their music. They are very honored to represent Ukraine.
00:55 CET // Koos draws the last roll for tonight’s allocation. Ukraine will perform in the second half of the grand final.
00:56 CET // That’s it for tonight’s press conference. Thank you for following our live blog! Tomorrow’s schedule includes a press conference with the four hosts of the show this year. See you next time for our next event!
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