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Our New Music Friday top 10 of 2021

Check out our round-up of 2021 and how the team ranked the entries!

Over the past few days we at ESCXTRA have poured over the archives of New Music Friday releases throughout 2021. Here we have picked out ten of the best and asked the team to rank the contenders. So which songs made the cut and what was the team’s overall ranking? Let’s find out!

10. 🇮🇪 Sarah McTernan & HalfTraxx – ‘Loving You’ – (20 Points)

First up on our New Music Friday best of 2021 countdown is Ireland’s Eurovision 2019 representative, Sarah McTernan. Despite an extended break from music and personal tragedy, the former The Voice star has remained committed to her true passion. During the last year, Sarah has made her late grandmother, who raised her, proud with multiple Irish Homegrown Chart hits. Such as ‘Close My Eyes’ and ‘Heavy On My Heart’. In ‘Loving You’, Sarah teams up with Limerick electronic duo HalfTraxx for a laid-back anthem of love, backed with enough saxophone beats to get Epic Sax Guy excited.

Spotify: 59k/YouTube: 11k

Best scores: 5 – Lisa.

9. 🇷🇺 Little Big – ‘Sex Machine’ – (44 Points)

Sadly it seems we have missed the opportunity to see Little Big represent Russia on the Eurovision stage for now. However that has not stopped the satirical pop band still holding the record for the most viewed Eurovision entry of all time on YouTube. Over the past year Little Big were a well oiled, music machine. Releasing a string of hits, such as ‘MOUSTACHE‘ with Eurovision 2018 winner, Netta. As well as ending the year with ‘A Lot of Money‘, a parody of hit Netflix show Squid Game.

Yet, it was ‘Sex Machine’ that got people talking in 2021. Many believed this catchy anthem would be the return entry for Little Big. Despite the rumours, they did not participate in the national final. Instead it was Manizha who represented Russia in 2021.

Spotify: 2.3 million/YouTube: 28.3 million

Best scores: 8 – Dominik. 7 – Isaac. 6 – Nathan W.

8. 🇳🇱🇬🇧 Armin van Buuren feat. James Newman – ‘Slow Lane’ – (50 Points)

It certainly was not a slow lane for James Newman in 2021! After much speculation following the cancellation of the 2020 contest, the BBC announced James’ return for Rotterdam 2021. Although the ‘Embers’ singer received the dreaded ‘nul points’ and last place, the dignity and grace in which James accepted the result, won hearts across Europe and Australia. Of course this triumph over adversity would come to play later in 2021, as James won a legal case over ‘Waiting All Night’.

Early last year, James joined forces with Dutch DJ icon, Armin van Buuren. Together the good friends released ‘Slow Lane’. One of seven tracks on Armin’s Euthymia EP, the EDM number is a reminder to enjoy the road with the ones you love, no matter where it leads in life.

Spotify: 7.5 million/YouTube: 1.7 million

Best scores: 7 – Lisa. Nick. 6 – Nathan P. 5 – Isaac, Maria.

7. 🇦🇲 Athena Manoukian – ‘You Should Know’ – (63 Points)

Late last year Armenia announced their return to the 2022 contest. Since then rumours, as well as hope, has grown that perhaps Athena Manoukian could also return. Previously she represented Armenia in the lost contest of 2020. After Armenia’s winning return to Junior Eurovision last month, many believe it is Athena’s time to do the same. However it is not yet known who ARMTV will select for 2022.

Meanwhile Athena has continued to release music. Recently she dropped the beats on, ‘OMG’. But it was ‘You Should Know’ that surprised us. The powerful mid-tempo ballad showed us another side of what Athena is capable of.

Spotify: 63k/YouTube: 434k

Best scores: 10 – Dominik, Nathan P. 8 – Costa, Lisa. 6 – Isabella, Maria.

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Lisa Bird

My first Eurovision memory was watching 1994 as a hatchling. I've been tapping my talons to the bops and bangers from Europe and beyond ever since! I finally spread my wings to attending the contest in Lisbon 2018 and am now a regular at many events and national finals - especially my regular nest at Eesti Laul.

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