The Breitbart Guide to the Best and Worst of Eurovision 2023

The Eurovision Song Contest will hold its final competition on Saturday, pitting 25 of the continent’s most musical countries – and Australia, for some reason – against each other in an increasingly unsuccessful bid to prevent them from going to war.

Eurovision is a song competition established in the aftermath of World War II as an alternative to World War III; the countries choose a winner by each granting a series of points to their favorites in a live vote after all the performances.

There is a semi-final stage, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, that leads up to the weekend’s final.

Given the nature of the origins of the contest, Eurovision has a rule banning overtly political statements and discourages political voting. Almost no country respects this rule, leading to the ouster of perennial Eurovision heel Russia from last year’s competition and Ukraine’s ultimate victory (Ukraine last won in 2014, the last time Russia invaded it).

Slovenia entrant Joker Out celebrate getting through to the final during the semi-final 2 of Eurovision Song Contest at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. Picture date: Thursday May 11, 2023. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)

Since Ukraine is currently undergoing a Russian invasion, Liverpool, England, is hosting this year’s contest.
All countries choose their entries independently, though certain years end up having an overarching tone that sets the mood for the entire event. This year, the theme was, apparently, “creepy,” as many countries sent entries featuring unnerving, scowling, dark, angry, or brooding performers. Some of the “creepy” entries, mostly prominently Austria’s decision to submit a song about ghost possession (see below), were just plain weird.

Below is a list of all the songs you just can’t miss, for better or worse, at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.

Will Win: Sweden – Loreen, “Tattoo”

Loreen already has a Eurovision crown to her name, winning in 2012 with the dramatic dance track “Euphoria,” and Sweden has won the contest six times, more than any other country except for Ireland. Bookies are betting heavily on Loreen to deliver again, even with the public still feeling overwhelming political sympathy for Ukraine as the Russian invasion trudges through its ninth year.

Unfortunately, “Tattoo” is basically a worse version of “Euphoria” in every way and, Sweden pop supremacy aside, does not deserve to win over several other truly unique and exciting entries. It feels like Sweden is simply hoping everyone forgot “Euphoria” and won’t notice that Loreen is rehashing her tired tai-chi-dancing routine with even less energy than the first time around, when all she did was flail and yell for three minutes, and in a sandy tan color instead of blue.

Should Win
Finland – Käärijä, “Cha Cha Cha”

As you listen to this, please note that this man is singing about having a nice piña colada at the end of a long work week.

Everything about this just screams (and I really do mean screams) Eurovision: the stupid haircut, the lyrics about feeling liberated to have fun for a change, the manic shouting over a techno beat from 1997. It’s fun, it can’t be accused of violating the “no politics” rule, it will age gracefully – as, again, something that already sounds 20 years old – and it represents Finland’s tradition of sending loud, seemingly angry men to yell at the song contest extremely well.

Rest of the Best

Ukraine – Tvorchi, “Heart of Steel”

Ukraine, the reigning champions, may have won last year as a political statement against Russia’s invasion, but Kyiv consistently delivers some of the most original and exciting Eurovision material (I’m still upset they didn’t win the 2021 contest with a music video filmed in the Chernobyl exclusion zone). “Heart of Steel” succeeds because it has a political message – “we’re not signing any truce” – that is only obvious with political context. Unlike other contenders below, none of the lyrics actually violate the “no politics” rule because the song is smart enough to not have to. When Tvorchi talks about lifting “middle fingers,” the audience knows they are pointed at Russia without having it spelled out.

Australia – Voyager, “Promise”

I know, Australia shouldn’t even be here, but the country has consistently sent some of the best performances to the contest since it officially joined in 2016. Eurovision let Australia in, incidentally, because of the sheer passion the country has for the tournament, consistently logging in some of the world’s best ratings for the content.

“Promise” is a perfect Eurovision song in that it is vaguely 1980s, the lyrics seem to be about performing at or attending Eurovision after a long period of isolation – relatable! – and it spans multiple genres that shift very abruptly. Yes, it becomes a metal song for no reason two minutes in, and it rules. And that’s even before they pull out the keytar.

Serbia – Luke Black, “Samo Mi Se Spava”

“Samo Mi Se Spava” deserves a spot on the best-of list because it, too, is a political song. Serbia is one of Russia’s closest allies in Europe, which means its people can’t join in the rah-rah pro-Ukrainianism that will define this tournament, so instead it submitted a goth song about how much they just don’t want to be there. “Samo mi se spava” means “I just want to sleep,” and without the context the song would come off as just a moody teen goth fantasy, but the double meaning makes it extra interesting. Bonus points for fun post-apocalyptic visuals and classic Eastern European Eurovision synths.

Austria – Teya & Salena, “Who the Hell Is Edgar?”

I vacillated wildly between putting this on the best-of or worst-of list and ultimately decided that nailing this dance between unwatchably cringey and legitimately fun is what Eurovision is all about. It is completely unclear why Austria decided to submit a song about being possessed by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe (who was from Baltimore, not Austria), or why the song is an upbeat electro track. It’s so confusing I had to watch it three times before I realized that, yes, the song is about being possessed by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. And then I just let myself enjoy it, and you should, too.

Should Lose – Should be Disqualified, Really
Croatia – Let 3, “Mama ŠČ!”

Let 3 is apparently a legendary Croatian punk band with a history of pseudo-anarchist political songs and live shows featuring extensive nudity and obscene sex acts, which makes them an absolutely terrible choice for a family-friendly, apolitical song contest. And yet here they are, singing a song about how fascists are bad, I guess? Point taken, but if Volodymyr Zelensky can’t ask for weapons at Eurovision, these guys shouldn’t be allowed to break the “no politics” rule, either. In the video and live performance, the band appears dressed in … Nazi drag? The music, as with all punk, is unlistenable and the visuals are profoundly unpleasant. I’m sorry that you just watched this.

Rest of the Worst

Sweden – Loreen, “Tattoo”

For all the reasons listed above, especially that we have all seen this show already, just skip this one.

Switzerland – Remo Forrer, “Watergun”

Whiny, tired anti-war song that fails in expressing what Serbia’s “Samo Mi Se Spava” does so compellingly. Eurovision is a spectacle, not a therapy session – bring some techno or work out your issues somewhere else!

Greece – Victor Vernicos, “What They Say”

Cyprus – Andrew Lambrou, “Break a Broken Heart”

Greece didn’t even make it into the final, but I’m grouping these together because I can’t actually tell them apart, which should really tell you all you need to know. Both are moody ballad performances by muscular young men with tunes that don’t really go anywhere and generic lyrics. Both feel extremely low-effort – at least Switzerland went all-in on the tear-jerking – and represent inferior manifestations of the European male war fatigue expressed in multiple other entries.

Germany – Lord of the Lost, “Blood and Glitter”

This feels like a ham-fisted attempt at recreating the magic of the 2021 winner, “Zitti e Buoni” by Italy’s Måneskin, with an extra dash of drag queen chic. Drag queen chic is always welcome at Eurovision, but this fails because it doesn’t seem to know what it is. Is this a gay anthem or a metal banger? It doesn’t deliver on being either. The music is just not good enough to live up to the over-the-top visuals or the promise of genre-merging.

Portugal – Mimicat, “Ai Coração”

Only slightly more upbeat than the dreary ballads Portugal tends to send to Eurovision, but not enough to avoid the worst-of list in an especially competitive year. No one will remember this in a week.

Honorable Mention: Best Vocals

Romania – Theodor Andrei, “D.G.T. (Off and On)”

Trust me, like you, when I saw what appeared to be a nerdy gamer kid with a cheesy anti-war message on his chest, I expected the worst. But Romania did the most valiant thing any country could do at the Eurovision Song Contest: send a talented singer. Other than some ladies in lingerie and the iTunes visualizer from 2006, the only thing Theodor Andrei (a high school senior!) brought to the contest was his voice. It should have been enough: husky, amazing range, and perfect for the moody James Bond theme performance that “D.G.T.” demands. It wasn’t – Romania didn’t make it out of the semifinal stage – but we can’t help but hope this young man has a long career, and a couple more Eurovision appearances, in his future.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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