Australia: Promise by Voyager
I first saw Voyager in 2014, when I took my now-partner to ProgFest in Melbourne for our third date. I think they were headlining, and I disliked them immensely – they seemed too poppy and really full of themselves on stage, and after a couple songs I walked out to grab a drink instead.
Fast forward to 2023 and the ads for Voyager representing Australia have been played on SBS nightly, and every time I roll my eyes and think: “Yep, they’re perfect for this”. But I just watched the official video for the first time and listened to the song in full, and honestly – they could actually be strong contenders this year! There is no key change in Promise, which will hold them back from winning I reckon, but if they have a wind machine to help them whip their hair around on stage, then the lack of key change could possibly be overlooked. Simple and catchy lyrics, synth notes and metal guitar riffs, big eyebrows and a keytar – what more could we ask for?
Ukraine: Heart of Steel by Tvorchi
Ukraine is defending their title this year with a very different act to represent them – Tvorchi are two very cool looking dudes telling us all to say what we think and to be brave about it. They look like club bouncers that you need to be super nice to, lest they throw you out on your ass. The clip is poignant and opens with the pair looking into a bright doorway from the dark, with black ash falling about them – and the song is clearly a staunch ‘middle finger in the air’ in the form of an early 00’s RNB club banger. I am SO here for this song, even without a much-needed key change! The beat is defiant and sexy, and I want to be bravely grinding on the dance floor now please.
I backed Ukraine to win last year, and I’m not as certain this year, but regardless – SLAVA UKRAINI!
France: Évidemment by La Zarra
It’s evident that La Zarra from France doesn’t hide her ability to sing behind those new-fangled voice manipulation doohickeys. She has elegance, a beautiful voice, simplicity and lack of excess (although only when viewed from a Eurovision frame of reference; naturally there is no shortage of strings, sequins and synchronised lights). I didn’t understand the lyrics, though that might have been because she was singing in French. I’ve also no idea what the audience will think of her because she sings like a singer instead of a pop star, but I liked it.
Malta – Dance (Our Own Party) by The Busker
The Busker from Malta have put together a nice tune with a catchy rhythm. It almost got me boppin’ (almost)! Nice to see a Eurovision entry that doesn’t take itself too seriously (ok, they take themselves pretty seriously, but in a light-hearted way). In a refreshing change, some of them can play their instruments, too. I don’t know the Eurovision rules, but I guess there’s a minimum quota of glitter and sequins that all entrants must meet, which explains a couple of the scenes. Possibly not a big crowd pleaser, but I didn’t mind listening to it.