Eurovision Finales 2023

The grand finale opens with what seem to be drumming riot police. Or is this a very confusing anti-war statement? I have a feeling there will be quite a bit of anti-war themes tonight!

We endure another rendition of last year’s winner, Ukraine, with folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, before the flag parade of the finalists interspersed by short musical interludes from Eurovisions past.

Finally, our four hosts make it on stage, with Ukrainian singer, Julia Sanina and three UK hosts:  Hannah Waddingham (of Game of Thrones fame), Graham Norton and someone else. Famously, Eurovision hosts are unfunny and lack any charm whatsoever, but Hannah Waddingham absolutely nails it, her French is impeccable, and she is just so so excited to be there. Absolutely adorable!

We kick off the competition with Austria’s Who the Hell is Edgar? Applying minimum dance moves (literally just 2 steps to the left and 2 to right), Teya and Salena are flanked by multiple red wiggles that digitally proliferate into a literal army. Solid performance and 15th place.

More red wiggles for Portugal, a red frilly dress for Mimicat and clashing, fuchsia-coloured gloves, which may have cost points – 23rd.

Remo from Switzerland is next as is the first anti-war song. Remo, in an all-black, oversized, and glittery suit, means well, but in a boring way – 20th.

Sporting the best shoulder-length glove of the evening, Poland’s Blanka lowers the tone considerably, with a vacuous (albeit entertaining) number about showing her ex what they are missing out on – mostly some very energetic dancing in glittery outfits. 19th place.

Insomniac, Luke Black from Serbia is next with a musically and visually confusing performance – why are there deep-sea divers on stage? A deserved 24th place.

Far more comprehensible is France’s La Zara – an unmistakable French chanson that has been pimped up with disco beats and lasers. A glittery dress and dainty little beret (also glittery).  16th place.

Cyprian werewolf Andrew Lambrou is next, howling his way through Eurovision, barefoot in a black (oversized) suit that is missing its sleeves (showing off a nice set of guns). An inexplicable 12th place.

More howling and wailing from Spain – paired with unmotivated stage fog – an unsurprising 17th place

Sweden, one of the favourites is up next, Loreen (who already bagged the Eurovision title in 2012) appears in an outfit reminiscent of the Borg (inclusive of cybernetic fingernails) appropriately staged on a cube. Excellent wind machine action propelled a not very exciting song into first place! Stockholm, here we come!

Albania’s family-friendly Balkan pop makes it onto stage. Albina is dressed as a Klingon queen and brings big emotions, drama and more wailing… 22nd.

Glittery Marco from Italy is next, a gimmick-free and strong performance – a deserved 4th place.

Estonia’s Alika and the first (possibly only) grand piano of the competition… this one can play all by itself, leaving Alika free roam the stage in her mauve-coloured jumpsuit. Europe liked it – 8th place!

Now time to Cha-cha-cha with Finland’s Käärijä, a hot favourite and the entire stadium screams along. Finland clearly won the popular vote, but the jury found the song lacking – second place!

Easily the best plaits of the competition, Czechia’s Vesna struggle to hold the harmony but wear excellent pink pantsuits – and there is glitter! How did they make it to 10th place?

Australia is next and they have brought the 90s with them, inclusive of Kitt from NightRider, keytars and (glittery) shoulder pads. A very energetic performance that catapult Voyager into the top 10, but only just – 9th place.

Keeping with the 80s/90s theme, Gustaph from Belgium gives us a soulful number and has something Boy George about him (is it the hat) – 8th place! Was it the pink jodhpurs?

Armenia’s Brunette has excellent hair and is sending a message to her future lover – 14th place.

Moldova’s ethno-pop (inclusive or drums and annoying flute) takes over – Pasha’s manbun and bare chest came to no avail – 18th place.

Last year’s winner, Ukraine is next. With more Borg enhancements, Tvorchi rides Europe’s solidarity with the Ukraine and makes it into 6th place.

Norway’s Alessandra makes it onto stage, having raided, the Klingon wardrobe. The jury thought the song stank, and they would be right, but somehow the popular vote propelled Alessandra into 5th place.

German glam-rock Lord of the Lost is next and is swiftly relegated to last place. A bit undeserved, as the outfits were excellent!

Wearing an unremarkable orange dress without on-stage gimmickry, Monika from Lithuania delivers a solid and mesmerising chorus and is rewarded with 11th place.

Israel brings bad-ass girl attitude (and a very supportive bra). Clearly, the dance performance carried the song into third place, as Noah was often out of tune and out of breath.

How Slovenia’s boy-band Joker Out made it to the finals, we will never know. Rock clichés and a flat song – 21st place

Joke-entry Croatia delivers a serious anti-war message. The song and staging are nothing short of chaotic, ending with everyone standing in their undies on stage – 13th place

The UK entry is the last of the performances – with a dreadful song delivered vocally flat– at least the red wiggles were back. Second last for the UK!

While the world sends in its votes, we are treated by the ghosts of Eurovisions past performing classics: Beatles, Atomic Kittens, Dead or Alive, and the most relevant for Liverpool – You Never Walk Alone  – bringing everyone to tears.

My favourite part of Eurovision is next – the awkward presentation of the votes from each participating country. You can just watch the life drain from the eyes of hosts Hannah and Graham as the national presenters just go on and on and on….

Sweden ran away with the jury votes, plenty of 12 points to Sweden, and Finland dominated the popular vote, but fell short by less than 50 points.

While Sweden is the winner by points, Hannah Waddingham is the overall Eurovision Queen!

And there you have it! I am utterly exhausted – see you next year!

Mariella Herberstein & Club Douze Points

Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, San Marino

Lithuania: Stay by Monika Linkytė

Monika’s puffy sleeves in the video are only second to Finland’s amazing green bolero sleeves! And rather than belt ‘cha-cha-cha-cha’ at the top of her lungs, Monika and her backing singers incantate the spell: ‘Čiūto Tūto’ over and over again. But to no avail, the song is repetitive and lacks an energetic built up or any change of pace. And all that even though Monika can and will sing!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Moldova: Soarele și Luna by Pasha Parfeni

Here is another attempt to enchant us with electro-folklore sounds: heavy davul-drum beats matched with an ethereal flute. There is pagan imagery: stags, planetary constellations, forests and they even threw in a set of twins! Pasha tries hard to create some otherworldly connection with the audience but is himself less than magnetic (despite the intense staring).

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Poland: Solo by Blanka

Blanka is solo, and boy, is she having a great time! She is dancing in a candy shop, hanging by the pool, driving a vintage sports car, DJing in a club, eating capsicum. Life does not get much better and that douchebag person who did Blanka dirty is probably regretting it big time! The song is quite enjoyable too, with a catchy reggae guitar riff, perfect for summer discotheques, but not for Eurovision finales.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

San Marino: Like an Animal by Piqued Jacks

Piqued Jacks have bought up all of San Marino’s terrycloth headbands for their big Eurovision entry! The sporty look is complemented with shorts and sneakers. The song starts with a great guitar riff and high-intensity vocals, but the energy quickly dissipates with the less exciting and somewhat disconnected verses. Possibly the most controversial lyrics of the competition (come on baby, I want to smell you like an animal), which is refreshing!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Italy, Israel, Spain

Italy: Due Vite by Marco Mengoni

Wow, with this performance, he set himself apart from other singers. I really like his beautiful voice which takes me to different moods during the performance. Marco Mengoni killing it this time. This song is stunning! Sensational! I simply cannot stop listening to his divine vocals. Universal!  Absolutely everything about it is great! From Australia I’m sending my love and my vote.  Brava Italia!

Review by Chathuranga Dharmarathne

Israel: Unicorn by Noa Kirel

Stunning Noa Kirel performs amazingly. I love the meaning of this song, such a phenomenal and upbeat song! I like the “Older stories time to go away”, “I am gonna stand here like a Unicorn” phrases. She just sings effortlessly, and her voice has that superpower. So far, the best performance this year. Israel consistently creates the most creative and excellent unbeatable performance. I’m excited to see this fire girl perform on stage. From Australia I’m sending my love and my vote.  

Review by Chathuranga Dharmarathne

Spain: Eaea by Blanca Paloma

Conveniently enough I just came back from a trip to Spain (where they’re still playing Slow Mo in the bars), and I’d love to incorporate some of what I learned into this review. Spanish culture, especially in southern Spain (where singer Blanca Paloma comes from), is a rich and complex tapestry woven through history. Hispanic, Moorish, Jewish, and Indigenous Iberian influences all left indelible marks on the language, architecture, arts, and music. Unfortunately, the cruel Spanish Inquisition starting in 1492 pushed out the Moors and Jews, among others, leaving behind only their art and music.

Paloma manages to channel much of the sadness of traditional flamenco and cante jondo, evoking a feeling of pain. I mean it. The song is painful. Could function as a torture device worthy of the Spanish Inquisition. Please get exiled to Morocco ASAP.

Review by Scott Fabricant

Georgia, Greece, Lativa

Georgia: Echo by Iru

Georgia’s entry could be best described as an acoustic wall of drums, ethnic pipes and high pitch wailing that persist relentlessly for the full three minutes, coupled with possibly the most incomprehensible lyrics of the competition (‘life is love – thing is known – like in dream’). The flowing gowns could do well with heavy wind machines on stage though! Worst case, it makes it into the finales.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Greece: What They Say by Victor Vernicos

Victor is the youngest entry from Greece at Eurovision ever! He wrote this song when he was 14 and that is exactly what it is – messy emotions, drama, wooden lyrics, homogenous melody and somewhat devoid of rhythm. Despite a great voice and possibly the most excellent pairing of school uniform shorts with high lace up Doc Martins, what I would say is: no more than the semis.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Lativa: Aijā by Sudden Lights

Sudden Lights are a proper indi band performing a complex, delicate, lyrically sophisticated song that playfully pitches the vocals against an instrument heavy background. No key-change, little chance of wind machines, no crescendo, limited scope for on stage shenanigans and no catchy chorus for the in-house audience to sing along to. You know what that means…. exit in the semis.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

UK, Spain, Romania

UK: I Wrote a Song by Mae Muller

A catchy enough tune and some excellent life advice for people to take on board when they feel wronged. If only this song had come out a year and a bit ago. I can hand-on-heart say that the world would be a better place if old mate Vlad had written a sassy song instead of invading Ukraine. Just to add to the mental image I would also encourage him to get a manicure to match Mae Muller. This song is pleasant enough but probably not a title contender, however for giving me the mental image of Mr Putin with huge talon fingernails singing a song about how he feels betrayed I am giving this song a 3.5/5

 Review by Louis O’Neill

Hansani: Energetic and creative performance, love the lyrics and music, very danceable song.

Spain: Eaea by Blanca Paloma

Blanca Paloma has an impressive and powerful voice. The dancers really got enthusiastic with their rowing performance, but it just didn’t feel like it had enough flair or pazzaz to win Eurovision, perhaps they’re saving their full potential for the big night. Also of concern is the fear that the lead singer is heading up the progression from high-waisted trousers to half-body trousers – a risk that we should all keep an eye on. 3/5

 Review by Louis O’Neill

Romania: D.G.T. (Off and On) by Theodor Andrei

The highlight was a sudden wardrobe change which really sums up this entry. It appears to heavily rely on sex appeal, lacking a catchy tune or Eurovision style extravagance. 2/5

 Review by Louis O’Neill

Ireland, Switzerland and the Netherlands

Ireland: We Are One by Wild Youth

Love the beats. Lyrics just blew my mind. Hijacks my heart. Incredible presentation. Love the way they cover their faces and remain covered until the song finishes. What more can I say? Have to create new words for ‘great’. “We are one in one and thousands of the world if exist. Music has the power that can hold everyone in the world and beyond the world together in one frame. Ireland, and this song are definitely the winner for me. Listening to it and trying to get all the energy the song carries.

Reviewed by Shatabdi Paul

Switzerland: Watergun by Remo Forrer

The beats and music are just the thing that caught my attention when I heard it for the first time. No gun, no war, just peace। The desire of this song lies in peace. I feel like this song is a song dedicated to all and has the potential to make connections with many people.

Reviewed by Shatabdi Paul

Netherlands: Burning Daylight by Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper

I can feel the grief in their soft, slow pitch and repetition of the words “goodbye old life”. When listening to this song, I feel like this is my life. Constantly losing here, stumbling, getting knocked back again and again. There is no joy anywhere in life, if there is no joy there is no peace. Life is a burning day, a terrible night. Maybe this song gives sad vibes to some other people, I am getting energy from this song, good for my type. Hope for the best, let’s see how far it can go.

Reviewed by Shatabdi Paul

Ireland, Germany, Finland

Ireland: We are one by Wild Youth

I am usually an absolute sucker for songs that are anthemic and uplifting; with soft vocals with a simple beat and riff that lead to an absolute belter of a chorus that encourages everyone to shout out the lyrics. However, a great anthem needs to work for it, a catchy but refined first verse with enticing lyrics to keep you waiting for that intense chorus. We Are One by Wild Youth fails to create that enticing build-up, which then makes the chorus, with the key change and the newly introduced lead guitar and synthesizer fall flat. Wild Youth really tries to hone in on the key anthemic sounds toward the end by repeating the chorus with an added bass drum, but just feels rushed and unsatisfactory without enough effort or thought into the verse that needs to lead into the more emotionally serious chorus.

My feelings about “anthemic” pop songs aside, lyrically it’s cliche in all the fun ways. Focusing on unity and accepting differences without any substance that challenges any political point of view. Despite my issues with this song, I still know its going to be stuck in my head for a few days before I end up adding it to my listening playlist anyway.

Reviewed by

Chris Irving

Germany: Blood and Glitter by Lord of the Lost

I am 1000% backing this entry to win (even though I doubt they will). Lord of the Lost are what I expect to happen if a bunch of drag queens had babies with Marilyn Manson and I can’t even express how happy this makes me!

Blood and Glitter is a catchy tune, a mix of a sweet lullaby interlude with screamo metal, and is a joy to behold! This clip (which I’ve played about 4 times in a row this morning) gets better with every viewing. The spandex outfits, the glitter lips and monobrows, the intense staring into your soul, the half-naked group worshipping blood shower – I want to meet these guys and talk philosophy with them so bad!

Do your eyes and ears a favour and watch the video clip IMMEDIATELY! Es ist sehr gut!!!

Reviewed by

Georgina Binns

Finland: Cha Cha Cha by Käärijä

Ballroom dancers, be warned – this is not that kind of Cuban Latin cha-cha-cha… on the contrary, it is something far better: an utterly addictive techno-beat with plenty of synth, autotune and a bit of Mario Brothers. The genius is that the fairly abrasive and hammering opening gives way to melodic disco sounds whilst keeping the relentless tempo. Coupled with excellent green puffy sleeves (which I hope will make it onto the stage in Liverpool), this could go far!

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Albania, Armenia, Cyprus

Albania: Duje by Albina & Familja Kelmendi

With the best running mascara of the competition, Albina dishes out big emotions of loss and family. The video is in a dramatic black and white with colourful flashbacks to better times of happy family life. All this delivered in her native language inclusive of the typical wailing and bagpipe sounds we all so detest. The whole family (mum, dad, brother, sisters) will be on stage in Liverpool….possibly a first for Eurovision. Still no further than the semis for me!

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Armenia: Future Lover by Brunette

Sporting impressive cornrows and plaits the length of the country, Brunette delivers a song in two parts. The fragile Brunette with her delicate and ethereal sounds wanting to be good, do good, look good, gives way to badass Brunette street rapping with her cold heart, cold hands and fire in her veins. Both Brunettes are an uneasy union, but it could work on stage. It is a shame the song limps to the finish, rather than set off the much-promised volcano.

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Cyprus: Break A Broken Heart by Andrew Lambrou

Andrew, who could be a werewolf, howls his way through breaking a broken heart, with an impressive vocal range and a decent helping of autotuning. Most of us are probably struggling with the grammatical proposition – is the heart already broken and is it being broken into even smaller smithereens, or is it so broken that it can’t be broken again, or do two acts of breaking the heart actually heal it??? And at that point, we have reached the three minutes and the song is over and already forgotten.

Reviewed by

Mariella Herberstein

Australia, Ukraine, France, Malta

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?

Reviewed by

George Binns

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.

Reviewed by

Jim McLean

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.

Reviewed by

Jim McLean

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