The BSH Eurovision Finals Round-up

Eurovision?? Oh that's sports, baby.

The BSH Eurovision Finals Round-up
Photo Credit: Heather Barry / Heather Barry Images

In one of the most thrilling developments in this new era of orange so far, the great folks at Broad Street Hockey asked me if I would write about the Eurovision Song Contest on their fine website once more!

This is something I used to do quite often at BSH more than a decade ago without anyone ever asking for it, so I’m delighted and honored to have been invited to resume this tradition! I’ve paid rapt attention to Eurovision for many years now—oddly as a Flyers fan I’ve repeatedly had ample free time to develop other interests each May?—and am excited to give you guys a guide to the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, the final of which is at 3 pm EDT on Saturday, streaming live (and on demand) stateside on Peacock.

Here, in order of the show, are details of some of the most beguiling and bewildering offerings that will take the stage in Liverpool.

#1 Austria — ”Who the Hell is Edgar?” by Teya and Salena — The land of Andreas Nodl has looked toward Philadelphia for inspiration for their song this year; since they’re probably looking from the side of a mountain their aim was slightly off and they landed their sights on Baltimore, home of Edgar Allen Poe. The haunting American writer is the namesake of this song which is one of the boppier bops of the year’s contest, which both is bouncy and catchy and also offers some commentary on the pittance paid to songwriters in the streaming age. The staging in Liverpool isn’t the most interesting, but the song is pretty great.

Teya & Salena - Who The Hell Is Edgar? | Austria 🇦🇹 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#4 Poland — “Solo” by Blanka — This basic, beachy song has caused enormous furore this year in Eurovision circles, with fans accusing the Polish selection process of all sorts of shady shenanigans after Blanka won despite some deeply uninspired vocals that led to relentless meme-making. But on stage in Liverpool she’s upped her game significantly and could finish somewhere in the top half, probably with some of the most chart success of any song in the field.

Blanka - Solo | Poland 🇵🇱 | National Final Performance | Eurovision 2023

#5 Serbia — “Samo mi se spava” by Luke Black — Luke Black (born Luka Ivanović) comes to Liverpool with one of the most relatable songs of the year, about how the world outside is terrible so he just wants “to sleep forever.” It’s all appropriately bedroomy, and his bedroom seems to have a PS4 in it, because there’s a whole bunch of gaming motifs throughout.

Luke Black - Samo Mi Se Spava | Serbia 🇷🇸 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#6 France — “Évidemment” by La Zarra — One of the great things about Eurovision is that you can bring whatever stereotypes you have about a country to the viewing experience, the same way you might for the World Cup or Olympics. Well, no country has as reliably recognizable a flavor as the aged roquefort which France serves up year after year after year, with each night ending with them reading their votes from in front of the Eiffel Tower. La Zarra (who is actually Quebecois like 1988 Eurovision winner Celine Dion) takes the Eiffel effort to new heights this year, turning herself into a tower on stage while a huge French flag appears in LEDs behind her.

La Zarra - Évidemment | France 🇫🇷 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#8 Spain — “Eaea” by Blanca Paloma — This is an interesting one as you might gather from the vowelful title. Blanca Paloma does a lot of wailing in a captivating way, and it entrances lots of folks. I am not one of them, and this is not a song I enjoy hearing, but so much of Eurovision is about drawing people in, and the spell she casts has her as a popular dark horse to challenge the two-horse race I am about to introduce you to…

Blanca Paloma - EAEA | Spain 🇪🇸 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#9 Sweden — “Tattoo by Loreen” — Loreen, the 2012 Eurovision winner with the iconic Euphoria, came back for a second win this year with her song Tattoo. After winning Melodifestivalen, the stacked domestic selection competition that determines Sweden’s entry each year, Loreen has been the oddsmakers’ clear favorite to win, which would make her just the second two-time winning singer in the contest’s 67-year history, tying Johnny Logan who won twice for Ireland in the 1980s. It would also be Sweden’s seventh win, which would tie Ireland’s record. Sweden has been the dominant Eurovision standard-bearer of the 21st century, using their skill as the pop music factory for the world to churn out year after year of slick, polished acts. Tattoo by Loreen is no exception, and she’s likely going to do very well in the half of the score that is determined by juries in each country. But the people’s champion who has emerged as her strongest challenger, and who has her needing to bring her A-game to win, comes from across the Gulf of Bothnia…

Loreen - Tattoo | Sweden 🇸🇪 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#13 Finland— “Cha Cha Cha” by Käärijä — Fierce rivals in hockey, Sweden and Finland are having their biggest Eurovision showdown ever this year, with Loreen’s supremacy hugely challenged by Käärijä, an entrancing fella who wears a bowl cut and a bright green bolero above his Rammstein tattoo. The genre-defying Cha Cha Cha is definitely the most fun and memorable performance of Eurovision 2023 for my money, and he has charmed the pants off Liverpool. He’s nowhere near as slick and artistic as Loreen, which could hurt him with the juries, but he is far more of a party-starter, which is going to win him the public. Which way will the balance fall? Could be one of the closest results in years.

Käärijä - Cha Cha Cha | Finland 🇫🇮 | National Final Performance | Eurovision 2023

#14 Czech Republic — “My Sister’s Crown” by Vesna — Another country with strong hockey output, the Czech Republic (now dba Czechia in Eurovision) is my favorite of the group of entries this year which were clearly influenced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the geopolitical event which is the reason this contest is in Liverpool at all (more on that shortly). Singing in a mix of Slavic languages about sisterhood, this is about solidarity with Ukraine and hair extensions, two winning messages for the Eurovision audience.

Vesna - My Sister's Crown | Czechia 🇨🇿 | Official Video | Eurovision 2023

#19 Ukraine — “Heart of Steel” by Tvorchi — For the first time in decades, the previous year’s winner isn’t hosting Eurovision, because last year’s winner was Ukraine. Ukraine won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest with an overwhelming outpouring of support from the European public, averaging more than 11 points out of a possible perfect 12 from each country to run away with the contest. Their winning song wasn’t the best in the contest, which may sound like a knock, but to me it made the message sent by Europe far more powerful. Because the security and safety situation there was far too unstable to be hosting an international festival more than a year after the Russian invasion and occupation began, the United Kingdom, which finished in distant second after winning the jury side of the points, took on hosting duties this year (the BBC was very eager to put on a big show after not hosting Eurovision in 25 years). The Brits have made repeated, meaningful overtures to make it clear that the contest still is rightfully Ukraine’s this year: one of the hosts is Ukrainian, lots of interval act performers are Ukrainian, and each entry is preceded by a shot of a Ukrainian landmark, followed by one in the United Kingdom and then the artist’s country. The biggest unknown to me for Saturday is what the televote for Ukraine will be like, one year after their landslide. Will Europe want to show up and show out in a massive, overwhelming way again, or will last year’s gesture have been enough? I’ll say this: I don’t think Ukraine is getting many votes on the strength of their song alone, a mid-tempo R&B number that is going to prove very sonically forgettable in this field.

TVORCHI - Heart Of Steel (Eurovision Version) | Ukraine 🇺🇦 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#20 Norway — “Queen of Kings” by Alessandra — One of the bigger hits on TikTok and whatnot, this is a fairly generic-but-satisfying female empowerment anthem with Game of Thrones-esque visuals. Lots of boxes checked! With most of the main presumed contenders (Sweden, Finland, Spain) in the first half, Norway could be one of the most memorable from the back half of the show, which could prove a recipe for a strong result.

Alessandra - Queen Of Kings | Norway 🇳🇴 | National Final Performance | Eurovision 2023

#21 Germany — “Blood & Glitter” by Lord of the Lost — As alluded to with the mention of Käärijä’s Rammstein tattoo, Germany has a strong tradition in metal and hard rock, and they have finally sent an entry in that lane to Eurovision with Blood & Glitter. Will this contend? Almost certainly not, but it’s a lot more fun than Germany’s recent entries, and given that they’ve come last or nearly-last very often in recent years, a middling result would be a big win for them.

Lord Of The Lost - Blood & Glitter | Germany 🇩🇪 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#23 Israel — “Unicorn” by Noa Kirel — Another dark horse has a horn coming out of its head. Noa Kirel is one of Israel’s biggest pop stars, and she puts her hoofs to work in her performance of “Unicorn” after rhetorically asking the crowd if they want to see her dance. Again, with a lot of the favorites in the first half (Eurovision acts draw either a first or second half spot and are then ordered by producers), Israel could get into the top five with a good night here. And yes, they’re not in Europe, but they don’t get along with their neighbors so they hang out up there a lot.

Noa Kirel - Unicorn | Israel 🇮🇱 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#24 Slovenia — “Carpe Diem” by Joker Out — One of my favorites of the year, these guys have an effortlessness rarely seen at Eurovision. Slovenia has never finished better than 7th place despite debuting in the contest 20 years ago, and I have to think this is their time to do that. Joker Out describe themselves as “shagadelic softboi rock n' roll” and sing in Slovene, but good hair and bedroom eyes transcend borders beautifully. I think of the acts in this field, they’re the ones most likely to have breakout success beyond it, a la Måneskin two years ago (they already recorded a collaboration with Elvis Costello, which has to augur well).

Joker Out - Carpe Diem | Slovenia 🇸🇮 | Showcase Performance | Eurovision 2023

#25 Croatia — “Mama ŠČ!” by Let 3 — As I wrote in one of my first Eurovision dispatches here at BSH 11 years ago, you can’t spell Eurovision without WTF, and that is never truer this year than with Croatia. Let 3 formed as a shock rock band during the late days of Yugoslavia and the early days of Croatia more than three decades ago, and they got up to all sorts of wild stuff, I tell ya. My personal favorite story of theirs is when they were fined for performing naked, and argued to the judge that they shouldn’t have been considered naked because they had used cork butt plugs. They are back this year with an entry that is one of the most overtly critically political in contest history, mocking Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko as being a lapdog to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. They do this by singing about a tractor and wearing dresses and all sorts of wild visuals. It’s not supposed to completely make sense, don’t worry.

Let 3 - Mama ŠČ! | Croatia 🇭🇷 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

#26 United Kingdom — “I Wrote a Song” by Mae Muller — The podium finish for the United Kingdom last year was a massive glow-up after decades of pretty pathetic efforts by the Brits, and they happily seem to be committed to putting on a good show, at least for now. At long last, Britain no longer overwhelmingly considers itself prohibitively too cool for Eurovision, and this is a fun song by Mae Muller to close the show.

Mae Muller - I Wrote A Song | United Kingdom 🇬🇧 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

Honorable mention: Latvia — Aijā by Sudden Lights — A favorite of BSH in those halcyon days when Oskars Bartulis stalked the blueline like a wolf of the sea, Latvia’s rough luck at Eurovision continued this year, drawing into the much tougher semifinal and failing to qualify for the big show with the slow-burn but high-quality ballad Aija. Our boys deserved better.

Sudden Lights - Aijā | Latvia 🇱🇻 | Official Music Video | Eurovision 2023

One more thing! For the first time, Eurovision is accepting votes from anywhere in the world, not just the participating countries, so if you want you can vote in a window of about 20 minutes after the last song ends. Annoyingly they charge €0.99 per vote, but it’s still fun to at least cast one vote.

Enjoy the show! Go Flyers.