Ah Eurovision! How we love you – always oozing zeitgeist. As the fashion of 2023 is virtue-signalling, so Eurovision 2023 is all woke and everything. But not even the po-faced killjoys of intersectionality politics can strip the time-honoured Eurovision Song Contest of its retro, delusional charm and Martian qualities. No! Though it nods to the real world, Eurovision will never be mainstream or proper. It is…Eurovision…
So the 2023 Grand Final (in Liverpool, England because the 2022 winner Ukraine is at war) started true to form with an inexplicable number featuring Cousin-It ‘dancers’ in ghillie-suit-womble ensembles, a bit like those giant vertical mops that escape from the carwash in that tv ad. For some reason they were joined by a man in a very stupid pink fur Gilligan hat. They, and several other apparently hilarious types hopped about to third-rate hip hop music for 2 or 3 hours. Awful. Excellent! Nil points! Following that nonsense there was a flag parade studded with random and spontaneous songs by various previous contestants including the large, threatening, gyrating Ukrainian person with a star headdress that everyone remembers (Verka Serducha, Ukraine) from 2007 (the fear, if not the details) and babooshkas on guitar.
When the hosts, a medium size woman no one knew, a tiny Ukrainian chick, an immense English woman called Hannah and a lackluster Graham Norton informed us, to our horror, that there were no less than 26 acts to follow, we heard the gasps around the world as viewers wondered just how many tequila shots a human can take. Oddly, the nameless woman and the little Ukrainian disappeared early on, returning now and then, apparently to assist poor Graham who was clearly uncomfortable and stunned, staring abjectly at the camera while Hannah towered over him, mugging and cackling like Kamala.
We shall mention at this point (because it doesn’t fit anywhere) that the Australian ‘hosts’ Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasy (with groovy pink hair) were also out of their depth and, despite their determined cheerfulness, rather unnecessary. The ‘interview’ toward the end of the show, when the anonymous woman said how grateful they all were to Myf and Joel for being there and Myf and Joel replied that they were so grateful to be there, was even more cringeworthy than Joel’s drooling all over Marco from Italy.
Now, a reminder of our voting systems. We award points out of 5 for how an entrant’s song might manage when let loose into the real world bare-naked; and we award Euro-points out of 5 for the ineffable “Eurovisionness” of each act. In particular, points are traditionally awarded for: 1. Dry ice 2. Contortionists 3. Bad Dancing 4. Any item of Clothing being Torn Away 5. Dwarves 6. Angel Wings or Mock Flying 7. Clowns 8. Piano as Furniture 9. Bearded Ladies 10. Puffs of Smoke. This year though, having watched the whole ghastly thing, we see that we need to start oozing the zeitgeist too. Dry ice and puffs of smoke are now compulsory for every Eurovision song and not even worth mentioning. Let’s see, as we trawl through all 26 of these magnificent offerings, what might replace them.*
Let us dive into the treacle and garum that is Euovision 2023!
AUSTRIA. Teya and Salena lead us all in snoring through “Who the Hell is Edgar? [Allen Poe]”, prancing about in front of a huge typewriter in awful bomber jackets , stringy corsets and loose pants. Not the worst song of the evening (frightening, we know) and the only vaguely literary (or even literate) entry. 1 point for the song and 2 Euro-points for ugly outfits and guitar girl dancers.
PORTUGAL. Mimi Cat, a blonde woman in an awful floofy red dress and long pink gloves grinned her way through some sort of anti-sultry cabaret mess-up. It’s best lines, ‘”I’m crazy. Completely senile”. 0 for the song, 3 for how awful it all was.
SWITZERLAND. “Water Guns” by a pretty boy, Remo Forret in sheer black. A dreary ballad slightly enlivened by sprinting and interpretive dance with stretchy strings and strobe lighting. “I don’t wanna be a soldier, soldier”. A generous 1 for the song and 3 Euro-points for obvious reasons.
POLAND. By Sir Terry Wogan’s beard! this was terrible. Does Blanka think she is hot or what? No wonder she warbles thinly about being “Solo”. The retro video effects were not the last of the night. Unfortunately, neither were the winking or the hair being blown all over the face by a big fan. 0 for the song but 3 for how Eurovision can turn a girl’s head.
SERBIA. At this point we streamlined the first part of our scoring system, only noting the score for a song on the rare occasion it rated more than 0. Things were looking that bad for the actual ‘music’. The vague resemblance of this stinker to “Fade to Grey” was as good as it got. Another pretty boy, this time lying in a ‘”technological flower'”(his words) in a New Romantics outfit while whining quietly, “consensus is burning” opened the number. Robot dancers jerked and a final screen read “ENERGY DEFEATED”. Horrendous. Worthy of 5 Euro-points right there.
FRANCE . La belle Francois can always be relied upon for providing the snore of the evening – sung in French of course. A Lady Gaga type. ‘La Zarra’ in a sparkly dress “inspired by the Eiffel Tower” (overpriced, outdated and useless) topped a great platform thing with a flat biscuit perched jauntily on her curls. She appeared to be tied to a pole, which would explain the whining. Too dull for even more than 2 Euro-points.
CYPRUS. Now this is cheating. Some tanned Australian guy called Andrew Lambrou, whose grandparents were from Cyprus does publicity on a beach, puts on earrings and wanders onto a stage in Liverpool warbling “Break a Broken Heart” (which as an English speaker he must know makes no sense). Not a bad voice, but a wretched song, Andrew. You get 2 Euro-points only for water effects and bare feet, surfer boy.
SPAIN. Blanca Paloma (where have we heard that name before?) got talked into wearing a burgundy lolly wrapper as a one-shoulder corset accessorised with liquorice straps around the arm. And baggy white pants. That, and the women reaching out to touch her through string curtains hurt our eyes in the proper Eurovision way. The red and black theme, ullulation, clapping and silhouettes were perfectly in keeping with every other dull act in Eurovision night 2023. As Paloma sang, “may your eyes like the sun illuminate me at night”. Cosmology is different in Spain. It was a complete mess apart from Blanca’s white platform shoes (platforms were a feature of the show). The song was called “Eaea” which describes our feelings too. 3 Euros.
SWEDEN. OK, this poor skinny woman (Loreen, a previous winner) was attempting a Cosplay show between two light boxes and got stuck. We gave her 1 point for her energetic song, “Tattoo” which reminded us at times of that other Swedish number, “The Winner Takes it All”. (Near the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s famous Eurovision win. Funny that). Her hideous rat-coloured stringy snake costume was designed by Bjork while watching aerobics on Channel Druid. Loreen looks a bit like Patti Smith and she gives good hair so all that adds up to 4 Euro-points.
ALBANIA. Albina and Kemedi Family represented Albania this year. Well, at least the family were proud of Albina and waved their hankies to show it. What is Albanian for ‘Kudos’. ‘Theresas’? Well, Theresas to Mum or the aunty who ran up Albina’s space suit from a desert planet and wrote the immortal lines, “They’re falling apart. Forgetting they have a home. Kids at the table”. Bless. So dull that they wasted all that potential for just 2 Eurovision points.
ITALY. Surprise! A chap called Marco in leather pants and a spangled vest smouldering away Italian Variety Style. ‘Due Vite’ was the song. We were distracted from Marco’s not too bad voice by the backing dancers bouncing up and down on trampolines in silhouette. Marco sang “And still I don’t know your desert that well”, “And we screwed away another night outside a club” before falling to his knees. 3 for that, Marco. Very good.
ESTONIA. We at TVC want Estonia to win so that we can see Eurovision in its flesh in Tallinn. Alas, that wont be happening anytime soon. Our hearts sank as Alika tripped onto the stage in some weird convoluted periwinkle number with strings, a cut-away leotard, an oversized jacket, draggy skirt pants with a side train and I don’t know what else. She did have a self-playing piano and she did some finger gymnastics which is always good. Her voice was better than the peculiar get-up suggested, so she gets 1 for the song and 2 Euro-points.
FINLAND. Finland, Finland, Finland where I do not want to be if this lot are indicative of its artist class. Kaarija, an odd looking man with odd hair regaled us from a wooden crate with “Cha Cha Cha”. He croaked his way through the metal bit to the dance mix. The segue didn’t hurt because we were distracted by his neon green puffer sleeves and black spiky plastic pants. There was more bondage with big rubber strings (pink this time), gorilla walking and a human centipede. Kaarija tried his hardest for Euro-points – silhouettes, a large shadow, strobes and a lizard tongue effect. “I’m staying on this bar stool until I slide off’ he said, along with thousands of tequila sozzled viewers from Brussels to Bondi. 1 for the not totally tuneless song and 5 Euro-points for the totally revolting style. Eurovision as its best – we thought…but wait, Germany is yet to perform its usual drivel and this year there’s Croatia….little did we know…
CZECHIA. What a shame Turkiye and Eswatini aren’t voting tonight. Vesna, 6 fresh-faced women in pink culottes with one long plait each (which is all they can afford in Czechia) meandered about out of synch, declaiming “My sister’s crown don’t take me down” and “We’re not your dolls”, the latter accompanied with marionette actions. They finished with fists raised for the sisterhood. 1 for the song. 3 Euro-points but sister, it was dull.
AUSTRALLIA. A competent band from Western Australia, Voyager, were too stylishly kitted out in glitter-check. The song began with the lead singer in a car**, a keyboard for passenger. A nicely incomprehensible start with a touch of the European incel about it, but it wasn’t enough. Nor was the long hair and fan action. Just not enough Eurovisionness for Euro-points. 2 points for “Promise”, their anthemic number. Is this ultimate failure – points for a song but no Euro-points?
BELGIUM. Gustaph, an ageing Boy George in pink, white platforms and a big dumb white hat of the type Pharrell Williams like to torture us with, sang “Because of You” quite nicely, all things considered. He was careful to make a great show of diversity, including drag video and a contortionist in white and pink with a tail and pom-pom. Surprisingly we will give Gustaph 2 for his song but, not surprisingly, only 2 for Euro magic because it was a bit try hard (see Germany – every year).
ARMENIA. Like many of the lasses in 2021, Brunette has been practising being Ariane Grande in her bedroom. She warbled away about her ‘Future Lover’, or herself or someone, being “abandoned far away, far away you are” before changing to an elfin hip-hop karate dance number without any singing (if you could call it that anyway). Still, she had long laced boots and thought she was the sexiest thing since Blanka; that’s worth 1 Euro-point.
MOLDOVA. Pasha Parfeni is a sort of earth father hippie crouching Japanese Buddhist Moldovan guy and that’s what you get on stage. His singers wore tall Indonesian style hats. There seemed to be a mystic marriage. Pasha’s flautist was a dwarf in a mask with ear feathers, so 4 Euro-points for that. Curiously we didn’t hate the song and gave it 2. Perhaps for authentic insanity and self-absorption.
UKRAINE. The two guys of Tvorchi were next with Heart of Steel. Actually not a bad song, and we give it 3 points, despite all the sentimental nonsense, the yellow and blue, the glitter gloves, the Earth balloons, the wave effects and over the top retro screen effects. We felt a Daft Punk- Kraftwerk-in-a-cathedral-from-Tron vibe.
NORWAY. Alessandra wore a hideous Anne Boleyn in space outfit whipped-up by Albina’s mum with a steamer for a hat and a cape. She hired bad barbarian folk dancers, gave them light sticks and told them to screech a lot. Despite all her sins we give her 2 points for ‘Queen of Kings’ and 1 Eurovision point.
GERMANY. Germany Germany Germany. Germany has a lot to answer for, and their androgynous (they wish) metal band Blood and Glitter (stupid name of the night) is not the least of it. I can’t read my own writing – was their song called “Lord of the Zop”? Probably not, but it scarcely matters, you so do not want to Google it. A skinny type in a red alien spider outfit with one leg (the outfit, not the skinny type – but see later) screamed at us a bit and a keyboardist hung backwards from his instrument. The skinny type intoned, “We’re so happy we could die”. There was a pyramid. That was the level of it. The skinny type did have Bowie tones to his voice and it wasn’t bad if you like metal, so 1 for the song and 3 Euros, although they don’t deserve it.
LITHUANIA. The only act which we awarded nil points for the song and nil points for the magic Eurovision factor. Is that a win or a fail? Monika Linkyte has a not bad voice which was wasted on a dreary song called “Stay’ and a badly made red frilly dress. She did wear good platforms and kept it all woke with African gospel style singers. Still tho. Dull dull dull.
ISRAEL. The peculiar Noa Kirel mugged her way through the dramatic ditty ‘Unicorn’. Unfortunately, Noa and her (apparently many) supporters were given to making the ‘Loser’ forehead sign, mistaking it for a unicorn horn. More Ariane Grande. “Do you wanna see me dance?” Christ no. But Noa did anyway, on the floor, straight off the pole. Noa is up there with Blanka and Brunette in the would-be sex kitten stakes. Unfortunately her half-closed and wonky eyes made it difficult to distinguish her winking and ‘come hither ‘ looks’ from tics. Voice ok but a bit shrill, so you know how many points we allow for that song. 1 Euro-point for the cargo pants coming off and the plastic underwear.
SLOVENIA. Until we saw Croatia’s entry we didn’t think the Balkan states could get it wronger than this. 5 or 6 mop-top boys dressed and coiffed like the Monkees cavorted around delightfully mugging, winking and casting sexy looks at the camera. They sang, or their name was, Carpe Diem (I really cant care enough to look it up) and they finished with big letters – JOKER OUT. 1 Euro-point for the sheer nastiness of the concept.
CROATIA. Yes, Eurovision, save the best for second to last. Don’t try to tell us that the order is random!! We didn’t come down in the last fake fire rain shower. This one is as bad as it can get and thoroughly deserves its 5 Euro-points because they meant it. Apparently these chaps are a real band with real followers and everything. 5 guys dressed in quasi-military uniforms and marched around large wheels shouting ,”Mama bought a tractor” and “Mama kissed a moron” for our edification. They then tore off their skirts to show us their baggy white underpants. It was discordant, ugly, out of date, bewildering, bizarre, ghastly and pure Eurovision.
UNITED KINGDOM. Mae Muller told us “I Wrote a song” but it must have been quick because she spent ages getting her face photographed and the images blown up as big as Hannah. The song she wrote we’ve already forgotten, although it seemed to wander off into rather poor rap. The dancers in ugly red and black costumes (of course) cavorting in front of huge projections of Mae’s face never will be forgotten at TVC, as long as there are tv adverts for cheap lipstick to remind us. 1 Euro point for Mae’s giant face.
While we waited for the pretend votes to be pretend totted-up they threw more stuff from previous contenders at us in a confused and confusing medley known as “The Liverpool Song Book”. The UK Star Man guy from 2022 (Sam Ryder) cheered us all up a bit with a rousing ditty featuring good-looking people missing body parts and Roger Taylor on drums. A really depressed chap called Mahmood waded through “Imagine” as if he were in a hostage video, which he might have been come to think of it, given how bad a song that already is. Netta, the scary Israeli winner from a few years ago wore spider legs like wings – in fact the only wings of the night! A greasy-haired woman called Sonia slumped on a chair and tried to drown herself in 3 inches of water; reminiscent of Ute Lemper, except miserable. For the finale, Duncan Laurence (he’s Dutch or is that Netherlandish now?) wearing funereal garb, lead the whole solemn crowd (including a white-clad Ukrainian choir) in “You’ll Never walk Alone”, which apparently has something to do with a Liverpuddlian disaster. There were star-lights and staunch looks and everything. Moving? Nup.
Then there was the voting. The jury first. “Hello Liverpool! Thank you for a beautiful evening! Our twelve points go to – OUR NEIGHBOUR!” Then the public vote, which we suspect is largely imaginary. There was suspense, but the favourite won. Sadly, Eurovision 2023 was not a winner. Mostly dull. Mostly harmless. But we’ll be watching next year because it is…irresistible.
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