The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will be held on May 18, May 20 (Semi-Finals) and May 22 (Grand Final).

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  • There are 39 contestants. There used to be 41, but for various reasons (see below) Armenia and Belarus dropped out.
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the audience is smaller than during other years. In addition, every country was asked to send in a ‘live on tape’ performance in which they mimic their performance in Rotterdam. These tapes are used when a contestant falls ill, or when a country is unable to travel to Rotterdam (as is the case for Australia). The EBU has laid down rules about the ways these performances should be recorded, so that the circumstances match as closely as possible.
  • On March 11 the European Broadcasting Union rejected the entry by Belarus because it was deemed too political. The band Galasy ZMesta (which translates to ’The voice of reason’) had shown support for dictator Lukashenko in the past. The lyrics they sang could also be interpreted in that context. On March 26 it became clear that the replacement song was rejected too, which has officially ended Belarus’s entire participation in this year’s contest.
  • Armenia withdrew. Officially because there wasn’t enough time to prepare a good entry. Unofficially it is speculated that the weaponized conflict with Azerbaijan was the reason for the decision.
  • The EBU has made a radical change this year, which might remain a one-time decision: backing vocals (the number of which can be as high as the artist wants) are allowed to be pre-recorded. So there is no need for a live choir anymore, although this is still allowed.
  • The lottery for the Semi-Final allocations has been taken over from 2020’s lottery. This only determines which countries perform in each Semi-Final, and in which half of the show. From that, producers have determined the running order. The Dutch spot in the running order of the Grand Final was upheld too: Jeangu Macrooy will be performing at spot #23.
  • The first Semi-Final will feature performances by singer Davina Michelle and actritce Thekla Reuten: they will do a performance around the theme of ‘water’. The second Semi-Final will be opened by a performance by dancer Redo and singer Eefje de Visser. The Grand Final will be opened by 16-year-old DJ Pieter Gabriel, followed by Afrojack, Wulf, and Glennis Grace later on. Duncan Laurence will perform a new song, but he can also be seen in the two Semi-Finals.
  • A number of countries confirmed that the artist they selected for 2020 would remain for 2021. But some countries decided otherwise:
  • Sweden organized another version of its national final Melodifestivalen. The 2020 artists, The Mama’s, participated again, but placed third.
  • In Estonia singer Uku Suviste was immediately offered a spot in the semi-finals - which he managed to win once more.
  • Norway, too, chose its usual national final Melodi Grand Prix. Ulrikke, 2020’s winner, was offered an immediate spot in the final, which she declined. The group KEiiNO participated again (with Monument) - in 2019 they received the most points from televoting during the Grand Final in Tel Aviv, but this time they placed second in the Nordic national final.
  • In Finland the national selection, UMK, was held again. 2020’s winner, Aksel, participated again, but only came in fifth.
  • The Danish broadcaster organized a national selection again. The artists chosen in 2020, Ben & Tan, had initially indicated they would not be participating. At the end of February it turned out that they had sent in a song after all, but that the Danish broadcaster had not selected them.
  • In Lithuania another ‘normal’ national selection was held. The winning group of 2020, The Roop, was automatically allowed entry into the final of that selection. The group won by a landslide.
  • Croatia’s artist was again chosen via a national selection. Singer Damir Kedžo, who won in 2020, did not send in a song.
  • Italy again chose to select a candidate via the Sanremo Festival. Diodato, who won in 2020, did not enter a second time.
  • In Albania the regular qualification was held. Both last year’s winner Arilena Ara and number two on the list Elvana Gjata were not among the participants.
  • Portugal kept the same format for its preliminary round - 2020’s singer Elisa and her songwriter Marta Carvalho did not participate again.
  • Cyprus announced it would look for a different artist in 2021, and thus that it would not re-elect Sandro (2020).
  • Tom Leeb announced he would not be France’s artist anymore. A national final was held with new artists, in which Barbara Pravi (who had also written the winning song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020) won by a big margin.
  • The German broadcaster again opted for an internal selection process. Ben Dolic, who had been selected in 2020, did not automatically become the 2021 candidate. Although he had been invited to send in another song and had indicated he would, Dolic later reported he had decided to not participate. Instead, the German organization chose Jendrik Sigwart and his song I don’t feel hate.