Belgium, Czech Republic, Serbia

Belgium: Because of You by Gustaph

Did I just witness voguing in a Eurovision music video?? And gorgeous drag queens, too! Love it. The song and video give me 90s vibes with the outfits of dancers, the three backup singers and the cheery tune. The song is no doubt better than most that make it to Eurovision and takes repetition well. I fear that it lacks the needed kick to stand apart from the rest of the competition, as it must stand out memorably from tens and tens of other contestants. However, seeing the theme of the music video, I can’t wait to see the actual show in Liverpool!

Reviewed by

Sanni Silvasti

Czech Republic: My Sister’s Crown by Vesna

I am rather taken by this song; it feels unique and sounds lovely. Wikipedia reveals that Vesna is a Czech folk band, which shows in both the music style and the video. The song is half in Czechs and half in English and is mostly choir type of group singing, which sounds beautiful. For me, the fluent alternation of languages makes the song well approachable while maintaining national identity as a signature element of this contest piece. The music video captures attention with its choreography, unconventional makeup, and interesting costumes that I (want to) believe are inspired by Czech style traditional wear. Even better, the group sings of gender equality and how its everyone’s business, making me give two thumbs up for this one.

Reviewed by

Sanni Silvasti

Serbia: Samo Mi Se Spava by Luke Black

Luke Blacks’ Samo Mi Se Spava is a surprisingly modern take from Serbia, displaying a sci-fi gamer dystopia with more than a hint of anxiety. And why not, things have been quite fucked up in Europe lately and all that stuff is pushing closer to the everyday lives of Europeans. Blacks’ interpretation appears to be the perspective of a gamer with a tendency to escape the burning reality into a game world or perhaps just sleep through it all. The song, however, isn’t very catchy and I’m afraid this one might not go very far in the contest.

Reviewed by

Sanni Silvasti

Azerbaijan, Croatia, Iceland

Azerbaijan: Tell Me More by TuralTuranX

Eurovision is awash with twins – from the Kessler twins (Germany 1959) to the worst twins of all times: Ireland’s Jedward (2011 and 2012). Tural and Turan are comparatively agreeable and cordial – their song best suited for the closing credits of a Netflix rom-com.

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Croatia: Mama ŠČ! by Let 3

I so want to love Let 3’s punk song about mommy who got herself a tractor and kissed a moron (well, haven’t we all, at some stage?). But, man, the song is hard going and likely to divide the voters – those who appreciate the anti- war and right-wing message and those who think it’s simply dreadful. Both would be right!

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Iceland: Power by Diljá

Iceland’s Dilja is a force of nature bringing energy, power and on-stage fog. Wearing a glittering oversized suit, Diljá’s voice sores over a thumping beat with a catchy chorus of female empowerment… yet, the song is somewhat repetitive, without the build-up that takes us to the much-anticipated key-change.  In a year with many strong female contributions, Iceland might just not stand out enough.

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Estonia, Austria Denmark

Estonia: Bridges by Alika

Inspirations from the glorious Kate Bush are not uncommon at Eurovision, but Alika has certainly taken it to new heights: piano: ✅; elements from ‘Breathing’: ✅; expressive barefoot dancing on red rose petals: ✅. A big voice that taps into familiar territory – definitely a chance for the finales.

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Austria: Who The Hell Is Edgar by Teya & Salena

Packaged up in high octane dance pop comes an unexpected piece of satirical social commentary. There is reference to how little artists are paid (0.003 cent per stream) and how female songwriters struggle to be taken seriously. And all that with reference to gothic poet, Edgar Allan Poe! Some consider this kaleidoscope a bridge too far, I say – let this insanity interrupt the long intervals of horrible sanity!

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Hansani: very creative and dramatic performance.

Denmark: Breaking My Heart by Reiley

Primary colour enthusiast, Reiley is not afraid of love. Indeed, he is loved by millions of TikTok followers and all the way to South Korea. The song, which seems to only consist of a chorus without a beginning or an end, is light, sweet and catchy synthPop – perfect for the small screen, but will it work live on stage? Enough for the finales, for sure!

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Good evening Liverpool!

It’s 2023, forget the war raging in Europe or the cost-of-living crisis, it is time to flock (for most of us, virtually) to Liverpool to witness the reality defying spectacle that is Eurovision!

Liverpool, I hear you ask? Does this mean the UK won Eurovision in 2022… nah! Well, to be honest, the UK came pretty close to it with Sam Ryder snatching second place. The sentimental favourite, Ukraine won Eurovision 2022, but since Europe and the Eurovision officials are not inclined to sit under a hail of Russian drones, the UK is hosting Eurovision 2023!

And what better country to do so – the UK has won Eurovision five times (albeit most of them several centuries ago) and has only just conducted its Eurovision dress rehearsal, abound with outrageous costumes, bewildering traditions, dramatic choreography – although I have been assured that all swords will have to be checked in at the cloak room.

So, what can we expect from Eurovision 2023? Soaring voices, thumping beats, a millinery of hats, broken hearts, and of course a fair number of ho-hum tunes and inane lyrics. The hosts will hail from the UK and the Ukraine, a sure recipe for some very tedious on-stage banter!

Who stands to gain from all this? The economy in Liverpool, apparently, having swiftly exchanged coronation souvenirs with cheap blue and yellow flags, fridge magnets, beanies and scarfs. Semis are on Tuesday and Thursday this week and the finales Saturday May 13.

So, hang in there with us, Club Douze Points, who will bring you expert reviews of all entries!

Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia and Spain

Portugal – MARO: Saudade, Saudade

Beautiful voices, excellent harmonies, transcending melodies in a stripped down delivery. Consumed in isolation, this is great, but wedged between similar arrangements (think Iceland’s Systur trio) and highly explosive pumping beats with outrageous onstage shenanigans (e.g. Norway’s banana wolf), I fear that Portugal’s lovely song will be forgotten.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

San Marino – Achille Lauro: Stripper

San Marino is really shaking it up this year and I love it! Rock legend Achille is here to shock with his references to sex toys and strip clubs (well, maybe 20 years too late, but I am sure it sent shockwaves through San Marino). Still, the rock and roll performance will shake up the audience as will his confident and captivating charisma! Definitely the finales for me!!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Slovenia – LPS: Disko

This adorable high school band promises us Disko, but falls way short. I hope they can get a refund on the tuxedo rental after the semis.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Spain – Chanel: SloMo

With more legs than Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies, and some high octane latin pop, Chanel is set to thrill the audience! This could easily be the crowd-pleaser of the finales! How all this booty will go down with the voting grandmothers of Eurovision land, is less predictable.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Lithuania, North Macedonia and Poland

Lithuania – Monika Liu: Sentimentai

With a pair of excellent shoulders and the best bowl haircut in the whole competition, Monika is probably the most elegant performer in Turin and deserves points just for that. The song however is a modern version of the ‘tuba-piano accordion-drum’ axis of evil. Probably more suitable for a beer festival somewhere in the Baltics.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

North Macedonia – Andrea: Circles

What an excellent start: gritty, edgy with a smokey deep voice expressing what we are all thinking – let’s have a conversation and fix this situation. Sadly, the chorus just lacks the emotional (and musical) explosion we were hoping for, leaving Andrea behind in the semis.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Poland – Ochman: River

Ochman’s excellent voice paired with the solo piano helps us forget that the lyrics were written by a heartbroken 15 year old, aspiring to become a poet. Still, one of the better entries we have had from Poland over the years (remember the milk maids?). I am sure Chris Isaak also doesn’t mind the plagiarism either Definitely the finals.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Serbia, Finland and Latvia

Serbia – Konstrakta: In Corpore Sano

Look, I’m grateful you’re encouraging handwashing in 2022. But also you’re spreading some medical misinformation, and by that I can’t abide. For one, deep under-eye circles say nothing about the status of your liver, unless you’ve been up all night drinking. Two, those spots around your lips say nothing about the attractiveness of your spleen – it’s probably just herpes, and that’s ok. Three, Meghan Markle’s hair secrets are simply beyond our feeble medical understanding. And four, the autonomic nervous system is also the reason why you’re sweating as you eye the vastly superior competition. Serbia, let me clarify one last piece of confusion for you: Fomites are surfaces that can spread infection between people by contact, and hand-washing will help you here. FOMO is what you’ll experience watching the Finals you didn’t make, and no amount of hand-washing or hand-wringing can save you now.

Score: 6/10 for scrub technique, 3/10 for the music 

Review by Scott Fabricant

Finland – The Rasmus: Jezebel

Glam rock is back and ticking all the right boxes: heavy mascara, screeching guitars, biblical references, thundering percussion, a chorus snatched from Alice Cooper’s Poison and, best of all, one hell of a key change!

What’s not to love??? Douze points!!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Lativa – Citi Zēni: Eat Your Salad

Being green is hot, cool and sexy!!! Set against a big-band sound, the non-sensical lyrics (some of which so shocking, they were censured…) and the controlled chaos of this high energy performance is most enjoyable. Joke entries can sometimes go far in Eurovision (Ukraine Verka Serduchka made it to second place in 2007), but I am not sure Latvia is in the same league, although I like the message!!!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Estonia, Ireland, Montenegro

Estonia – Stefan: Hope

Estonia is going full country on Eurovision! Surely bringing a spaghetti western to Italy is nothing short of genius! Stefan has the right voice and attitude to carry this off and he can even ride a hose (a white one, of course) – certainly the video is high class. Could be the dark horse of the competition?

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Ireland – Brooke: That’s Rich

Surrounded by solid 80s synth, and dressed in pyjamas, Brooke’s cheeky girl-pop is audacious and fresh. I, for one, highly appreciate the departure from the folk-inspired songs that Ireland likes to throw at Eurovision (as well as the occasionally turkey). Brooke won’t win Eurovision for Ireland, but she will definitely do better than recent years when Ireland came last in the semis. You go girl!

Review Mariella Herberstein

Montenegro – Vladana: Breathe

Following a period of hiatus, Montenegro has decided to come back to Eurovision with a classic Balkan ballad. Vladana, probably a vampire, laments the fragility of life with an impressive vocal range. Undoubtedly, Montenegro’s best performance to date, yet the song lacks a catchy chorus to hook into and to propel it into the finales.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Romania, Ukraine and the Netherlands

Romania – WRS: Llámame

Hola, mi bebébé… This track takes me back to my Oxford Street days.. The sleeveless white shirt, the tight faux leather pants, the underwhelming but sexy choreography… 
I was definitely low-key dancing in my seat, but would I get up and vote for Romania’s low-key entry to this year’s competition? No. Not without that much-needed key change, I wouldn’t. The beat was great, but I won’t be calling you, bebébé.

Review by Georgina Binns

Ukraine – Kalush Orchestra: Stefania

I was ready to already vote for Ukraine to win the entire Eurovision this year without even having heard their entry (Yes, political bias in Eurovision is real but unspoken), but WOW Kalush Orchestra has an absolute banger with Stefania!! The track leads with a harmonious Ukranian folk lilt and jumps right into some excellent hiphop rap that will have you out of your seat and looking for the nearest set of adidas sneakers – and just WAIT until the lead singer pulls out his traditional wood flute-thing…. honestly, I never thought I’d fall for wind-instrument player, but this nymph-voiced lad can GET IT. I think we all know by now how easy it is to win me over with some excellent harmonies, but coupled with some heartbreaking English translations such as “I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed” and a lullaby-dedication to his mum, and I’m ready to go into battle for this entry.

5 out of 5 molotov cocktails!! SLAVA UKRAINI!

Review by Georgina Binns

The Netherlands – S10: De Diepte

Goodness me, Stien has THE most beautiful voice! This song, De Diepte is about being young and lost in love, something we can all relate to. The video clip is confusing, because there’s a lot of motorbike riding and she gets on the back of this young man’s bike without a helmet, and I must be getting further away from ‘young’ because I was very worried for her? No wonder she looks so sad, maybe she asked him for a helmet and he wouldn’t give her one? You’re right to dump him Stien, even if he did give you an excellent moth neck tattoo. Tattoos are forever, and so is brain damage from motorbike accidents. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. 

Review by Georgina Binns

United Kingdom, Georgia and Moldova

United Kingdom – Sam Ryder: SPACE MAN

Entirely pleasant to listen to, with a wonderful voice. The lyrics didn’t shout out to me, and I couldn’t detect much depth to them. He looks like a lovely chap, and I wish him all the best. This song however doesn’t have the necessary flamboyance and pizazz to rock Eurovision.

Review by Louis O’Neill

Georgia – Circus Mircus: Lock Me In

DJ Casper meets Run DMC, with cameos from other genres. A very welcome guest appearance from a sesame street puppet added to the experience. It’s a pity that this group didn’t make it in the circus realm, because unfortunately the music realm doesn’t seem to be a good match either. The costumes made up for the weak lyrics. Hoping for some extravagance in their performance on the night, with a nod to their circus past.

Review by Kiara L’Herpiniere

Moldova – Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers: Trenulețul

Hey Ho! Folklore and Rock’n’Roll!!! This performance is high energy, led by a masterful combination of accordion and violin. When the music is this good, and your feet are tapping this much, you don’t need to worry about the lyrics having a deeper meaning. This certainly makes me want to use the Maldovan train network, for an experience like this, I would pay top dollar. The song was great, the rhythm was catchy, the energy was contagious, and I love the sudden halt when the ticket inspector entered. Very much looking forward to seeing their stage presence, and hoping the carpet makes an appearance. Go Moldova!

Review by Kiara L’Herpiniere & Louis O’Neill