By Chris Revelle | TV | May 15, 2023 |
By Chris Revelle | TV | May 15, 2023 |
The world is a slog of injustice, rich white “business geniuses,” and AI art. We deserve a little candy, a little fluff to help take the edge off. Eurovision gets this! For anyone here who’s unaware, Eurovision is a song contest in which one music act from each European country (and Australia) competes for the best song of the year. There are two votes to determine that: a viewer vote via text and a vote via delegations from each competing country. The winner’s home country becomes the host of the next Eurovision. This past week saw the number of acts whittled down over the semi-finals into 26 acts for the finals, which were broadcast on Saturday the 13th. The UK-hosted festivities featured Hannah Waddingham as one of the hosts; what a treat! Waddingham popped, giving us funny asides (“I feel like a geography and maths teacher,” she said as she gestured to a leaderboard), but also saucy emcee energy that matched the proceedings perfectly. As some in the Pajiba Slack noted, her work through the semi-finals and finals is a great argument for her canonization as a national treasure.
I’ll get into thoughts on each act and discuss who won, so if you haven’t watched yet and don’t want to be spoiled, you can find all the Eurovision semi-finals and the grand final streaming on Peacock.
Austria | Who The Hell Is Edgar? by Teya & Salena
This is a staccato song about being possessed by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. It’s kind of a bop, but the second you listen to the perfectly deranged lyrics it’s impossible not to laugh. “Who the hell is EDGAR?” indeed.
Portugal | Ai Coração by Mimicat
A fast-paced flamenco-inflected stomp-and-clapper. The low-fi production makes it feel more like a charm number in a stage musical than pop, but it’s fun! Loving the pink feathery dress.
Switzerland | Watergun by Remo Forrer
My notes say, “Such interpretive dance, much wow.” People sway and dramatically reach while tethered to each other while a boy in a sheer black suit jacket sings about how he doesn’t want to be a soldier. It feels like a softer Imagine Dragons.
Poland | Solo by Blanka
The song is a solid mid-tempo beachy number about being better off without a dickish ex. I would dance to it! I could see it on a poolside playlist.
Serbia | Samo mi se spava by Luke Black
A goth boy sings a sort of Muse-ish ballad from a white flower that strobes with light as figures in robotic suits zombie-dance around, tethered to the flower. At some point, a giant mecha with knife wings is on screen. This is a bit like discount Hatari, but I’m not mad; Hatari is awesome.
France | Evidemment by La Zarra
The giant dress lewk has been done before, but this is glittery so my inner magpie is pleased. The song is catchy and groovy and the lady nails her choreography. Her voice is also pretty stupendous, especially when she belts.
Cyprus | Break a Broken Heart by Andrew Lambrou
This guy was pretty hot, but it was another (re)Imagine Dragons and I was thoroughly bored. The water and fire animation did nothing to lift this workman-like exercise. His voice is perfectly lovely, but this song is as basic as can be.
Spain | EAEA by Blanca Paloma
Some harmonized wailing paired with a looping backing track makes for a witchy, somewhat hypnotic experience. Arms danced through walls of red thread and the floor of the stage pulsed with red stripes. Weird, but meditative, like we’ve all been inhaling intoxicating fumes from a wormwood fire.
Sweden | Tattoo by Loreen
Loreen wore this unbelievable catsuit that’s equal parts Druid and Borg Queen. She has this flute-like voice with an airy-yet-solid quality. Loreen sings about walking through the fire and the rain as she and her cool metal talons hold up a giant block threatening to crush her. I love it all. It’s on a playlist next to Alanis Morriesette’s cover of the Yellowjackets theme song.
Albania | Duje by Albina and the Familja Kelmendi
This family band gives us a whirling, wailing, percussive pop-folk performance. There’s lots of root imagery, fitting for this literal family band. Albina herself is in this elaborately embroidered mantle with big shoulders that I want immediately.
Italy | Due Vite by Marco Mengoni
Marco, also hot, comes out in a beaded top and leather pants to sing us a fairly straightforward ballad. Two dancers bounce and dance on trampolines behind him with a big image of the moon projected in the background. It’s all very sweeping and passionate. I stan.
Estonia | Bridges by Alika
A dramatic ballad in which a lady with great bangs sings about love and loss and striking out on her own. She’s got a wonderfully powerful belting voice, and they do some business with a player piano. It sounds quite a bit like a potential Bond song to my ear.
Finland | Cha Cha Cha by Käärijä
This was my pick to win. A twink with a demonic voice filter and a lewk I can only describe as “Liefeld supervillain” sings an aggressive metal-inflected screamer before becoming a dance song in an explosion of rainbows.
Czechia | My Sister’s Crown by Vesna
This band wants you to know they are not your dolls! Mixing Czech and English, this hip-hop song features pink jumpsuits, long braids, and feminist themes of sisterhood and support. The layered vocals and harmonies are great.
Australia | Promise by Voyager
From the driver’s seat of a Delorean with a flux capacitor, this guy sings us our ’80s-flavored song of the evening. There’s usually at least one! We’ve got a Keytar, video game bleep-bloops, a Tron-like background, and even a glitter-beard.
Belgium | Because of You by Gustaph
Gustaph, in a white suit with pink accents and a big white hat, serves us a voguing bop with a very ’90s video of drag queens playing out behind him. It’s bouncy, it’s queer, there’s a great duck walk. This has it all.
Armenia | Future Lover by Brunette
Brunette had a very Ariana Grande-esque ponytail and crooned about her future lover and how she resolves to “be good, do good, look good.” There’s a rap interlude and some fun play with lights. Decent, but I don’t see this winning.
Moldova | Soarele şi Luna by Pasha Parfeni
This country usually brings zaniness. This time we’ve got another pop-folk song that seems a bit serious and then someone in a Thor helmet comes out for a badass flute solo. A man in a robe just whales on a giant drum. Not as kooky as I was expecting, but very catchy.
Ukraine | Heart of Steel by TVORCHI
This was where this year’s was meant to be hosted, but for obvious reasons, it was relocated to the UK. Their song is an electric ode to having a “heart of steel” and the dance performance is like the resurrection of robo-Christ. It’s been stuck in my head since I heard it.
Norway | Queen of Kings by Alessandra
It’s all about how you can’t cage the queen of kings nor stop the spread of her wings. It’s propulsive and I love the costumes quite a bit. The warrior-queen lewk reminded me a lot of Six.
Germany | Blood & Glitter by Lord of the Lost
Here’s another flamboyant metal number! Bathed in bloody red, the band rocks out in their finest fetish gear singing a dance-metal number about how we’re all of the same blood. It’s one of my favorites of the night. Eurovision is best when it’s its weirdest self.
Lithuania | Stay by Monika Linkytė
Monika sings a lovely piano ballad about needing a loved one’s healing. It’s very uplifting and sweet. Beautiful linework illustrations fill the screen behind her.
Israel | Unicorn by Noa Kirel
She’s got the power of a unicorn! You can’t mess with her, okay?! This was fine. It’s mostly a nonsense pop song with vaguely feminist messages. The dance break was pretty fantastic though!
Slovenia | Carpe Diem by Joker Out
A cute pop-rock song in Slovenian that gave me some Franz Ferdinand vibes. Great dance-rock number, they made a meal of the stage, and l love a rock moment at the mostly-pop Eurovision.
Croatia | Let 3 by Mama ŠČ!
Did you ask for more camp? Like a musical straight out of your subconscious, this experimental number had everything: missiles, military propaganda stylings, white briefs, and funky hats. I still have no idea how to process it all.
UK | I Wrote A Song by Mae Muller
I HOOTED when I saw the song title. Perhaps she listened to this? Anyway, this is about how instead of telling everyone in her ex’s life that they’re a cheater, she wrote a song. It feels very 2008.
And the winner is… Sweden! Hooray! Super fun night overall. I’m thrilled about Loreen’s victory even though I wished for my dear Cha Cha Cha.
Chris Revelle shrieks into the void with his friends on Why Did We Watch This?