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Eurovision 2023

The glitter has settled, Graham Norton has packed away his snark, Loreen is carrying her trophy back to Sweden, and half a million scousers are recovering from Europe's biggest party. Eurovision certainly lived up to its reputation of camp, dance and a lot (I mean a lot) of ballads, but now that the party's over, our writer's have gathered their thoughts and feelings to bring your their highs and lows from the night, and maybe bring some justice to the tunes that didn't win.

Eurovision presenters Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham, Julia Sanina, and Graham Norton wear glamourous clothes standing against a multi-coloured background

Amy


What a night! Finland (Käärijä - ‘Cha Cha Cha’) got my vote this year so it was disappointing when they didn’t get to lift the trophy. The winning song from Sweden (Loreen - ‘Tattoo’) was a strong contender and it’s understandable why the juries voted for it. ‘Tattoo’ was an emotional performance with powerful vocals. Surprisingly, it wasn’t in my personal top ten. There’s not a clear reason why I didn't feel anything for the song. Eurovision is so subjective which is what makes it exciting. Anything could happen.


Except for the winner, who was a fan favourite from the start, most of the voting was a surprise. Points were being scattered everywhere. It was nice that no one went home with the dreaded nil points! It was sad that the U.K (Mae Muller – ‘Wrote a Song’) didn’t achieve more points. I love the energy of the studio version but the live performance didn't quite match it. Poor Mae was drowned out compared to the bangers that came before.


But quick, I must talk about ‘Cha Cha Cha’! My personal winner (and the public vote’s). Energetic, colourful, catchy, and a little unhinged. It’s everything Eurovision should be. A tune that seems to change genre halfway through and a dance you can attempt yourself at home. There’s a lot to love about this song. Käärijä, is charismatic behind the scenes too. Reminiscent of how Sam Ryder’s friendly personality garnered him many fans across Europe last year.


Talking of Sam, his performance of ‘Mountain’, accompanied by the legendary Roger Taylor from Queen, was captivating. Perhaps we should’ve brought him back as our representative (no hate on Mae Muller intended!). It was exciting to see so many familiar faces during the interval acts. The combination of past Eurovision faces performing songs made famous by Liverpudlians was a welcome twist. Dadi Freyr made a brilliant Atomic Kitten with his off-beat performance of ‘Whole Again’. Cornelia Jakob’s rendition of ‘I Turn to You’ was beautifully, almost hauntingly sung. Not sure what the purpose of having her sing it in a paddling pool was though. But then again, anything goes at Eurovision.


As was evident from some of the performances, Eurovision is renowned for gimmicks. I was unsure about Italy’s (Marco Mengoni – ‘Due Vite’) use of trampolines. It seemed to distract from the main performance. Being so far away from the main act, it was like they were doing their own thing and were not in shot much of the time.


But Croatia (Let 3 - ‘Mama ŠČ!’) had to be one of the gimmickiest. A noisy, busy song performed by a comedy troupe in military drag. I get that it’s an anti-war song but it did not please my ears. I loved Switzerland’s (Remo Forrer – ‘Watergun’) which I felt was more sincere about the topic and straight to the point. It even made me well up. Perhaps sometimes, it’s better to keep it simple. But then, Croatia must’ve made an impression since they came 13th whilst Switzerland only came 20th!


What I love most about Eurovision is the variety. One minute you’ll be listening to a heart-felt ballad and the next you can rock out to heavy metal. For someone who loves everything from cheesy pop to rock, it was a magnificent feast for the ears. Apart from the ones already mentioned, a special shout-out to my other faves. Norway (Alessandra - ‘Queen of Kings’) and Australia (Voyager – ‘Promise’). The staging for these songs was amazingly powerful. The lighting engineers did a brilliant job this year!


There’s so much to pick out of Eurovision that I can’t possibly talk about everything. I could go on for pages! Overall, it was a busy, colourful, full-on night of entertainment. From seeing the crowd reactions and all the positive responses online, the show succeeded in uniting us with music. Just what the world needed right now.


Loreen, a woman with fair skin and long, dark hair holds a crystal microphone: the Eurovision trophy
Loreen pulled off a narrow victory this year, much to the chagrin of the Käärijä stans © Getty Images

Gazal


As someone who has always enjoyed the absolute chaos that erupts during Eurovision, this year was no exception, especially considering it was being hosted by Britain after 25 years: in Liverpool! This time it was on behalf of last year's winners Ukraine, who were not able to host due to the war with Russia, which made sense as to why this year’s theme was ‘United by Music’. So, yes there was no surprise seeing many political gestures made during this year: Austria’s Edgar Allan Poe song (TEYA, SALENA) that was a statement against musicians making 0.003p from Spotify. Italy (Marco Mengoni) pioneering the pride flag as well as the Italian flag with an emotional performance, as well as Croatia (Let 3) with their baby pink dictator costumes caricatures akin to Mario (or should I say Wario)!


Graham Norton didn’t fail to delight us with his hilarious and witty remarks, along with Mel Giedroyc who was quite literally churning butter, paying homage to Poland's 2014 performance. Last year’s runner up Sam Ryder came in with a performance that I very much appreciated as it was very inclusive towards people with disabilities by choosing performers who were either in a wheelchair or had prosthetics. Catherine Tate making Doctor Who references even appeared, and who doesn’t love her? Personally, the vibes were immaculate, with lots of contestants choosing to use similar colour schemes of red, baby pink, and the occasional pastel neon which I thought was quite interesting. My personal favourites were France with their contestant (La Zarra) standing high in her glittery gown belting a ballad, along with Belgium (Gustaph) who had a very catchy and uplifting song. I was rooting for Spain (Blanca Paloma) as I felt that they were robbed last year when their performance was exceptional. This year Spain’s entry was incredibly powerful and felt similar to the music that Spanish singers such as Rosalia perform, though I was not surprised that they didn’t win this time round as it wasn’t as memorable as the other contestants. Israel (Noa Kirel) wasn’t my personal favourite, however they stunned Europe with both a dance and a performance that left an impressive mark on everyone and scored very highly.


Though it was Sweden, of course, who won with Loreen, who also appeared in 2012 with her song Euphoria which left me feeling both impressed and dumbfounded since no one has ever won the competition twice, despite the fact many former contestants have re-entered in the past. It truly made me question whether returnees should even be allowed back as how does someone win it twice? Yet there was no doubt that Loreen’s performance and singing ability was faultless, and her outfit and stage presence felt very contemporary. Finland's ‘Cha Cha Cha’ (Käärijä) was on everyone’s mind and came in at a close second, but I initially couldn’t get into it as I only found the chanty chorus catchy rather than the rest of the song. However, after watching it again, you could argue that they were on some level robbed of victory as they delivered on the catch, camp and crazy energy with their performance and outfit which everyone expects to see on Eurovision – yet Loreen clearly prevailed in the eyes of the public and jury regardless.


Not sure whether I felt fully satisfied with Eurovision this time around, but one thing is for sure that it felt wonderful to know that the UK was hosting and I felt that our hosts did a wonderful job of representing the UK! Yet, perhaps it is fitting that Sweden won as they not only have a high number of wins, but they won in time for the 50th anniversary of ABBA winning the contest, who are arguably some of the greatest talent to come from Eurovision!

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