I listened to every Eurovision 2023 entry, so you don’t have to

The Eurovision 2023 logo
A series of overlapping hearts in different colours

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The largest music festival on Earth — the Eurovision Song Contest — is nearly here.

This year the contest returns to the United Kingdom for the first time since 1998 on 9, 11 and 13 May. The city of Liverpool is hosting, on behalf of last year’s winners, Ukraine.

Every year since 2015 I’ve shared my gut reactions on this blog for absolutely no reason other than to give me something fun to do. Well, here I am again.

Usually I have some fairly strictly imposed rules: I’m only allowed to listen to each entry once, and I’m allowed a tweet-sized comment on each one.

But what even is a tweet-sized comment any more? Since Space Karen took over the bird site, you can post up to 10,000 characters now. So, much like Dua Lipa, I’ve got new rules.

This year, I’ve listened to the entirety of the official Eurovision album in one go, without looking at which song is which. I’ve then gone back and listened to each song again, before putting finger to keyboard.

As for length of commentary, I am ditching my 280 character limit. It’s all about vibes now. If it’s a crap song, I’ll write a little. If it’s a great song, I’ll write a lot.

So let’s get stuck in…

The entries

Toggle entries

Albania Duje by Albina and Familja Kelmendi

If you want melodramatic female warbling, you’re in luck! But pure Albanian zeitgeist this is not; after a mere 30 seconds, we get vibes of Ruslana’sWild Dances”, circa 2004.

It’s an impressive female vocal, but the pacing of the instrumentation is a bit too inconsistent for my tastes.

Armenia Future Lover by Brunette

A light piano and many layered vocal define the first 90 seconds of this Armenian entry.

It switches up a bit after that, introducing some marginally heavier instrumentation and some more rapid lyrically gymnastics.

The core hook is unpleasantly droning and screeching.

Australia Promise by Voyager

2022 was a disaster for Australia. Honestly, I don’t know what happened. But look, I’m on record as a fan of the Australians at Eurovision. They had a strong start when they were first invited to participate, and they produced arguably one of the best not-winners in the contest’s history.

Eurovision is better with the Australian element, and we need our antipodean friends back on form!

This year the Aussies have discovered a new genre for the first time in their contest history: rock. “Promise” is a mix of shiny, 80s glam rock and — honestly slightly alarming and mercifully short lived — heavy metal. Glam rock synths and soaring electric guitars, I can get behind, but I cannot endorse the false stop and frankly alarming descent into vocal fry.

Austria Who the Hell Is Edgar? by Teya and Salena

Move over Charlie Brown, you’ve been upstaged.

This is obviously a very daft song, and I am living for it. It’s whacky. It’s dramatic. It’s camp. And yet, it’s still very polished.

I challenge you not to be bopping along to this poetic pop party.

Azerbaijan Tell Me More by TuralTuranX

Whilst this duo claim to be inspired by the 60s and 70s, all I’m getting is 90s and Brit Pop. The acoustic guitar in the intro gives strong Natalie Imbruglia “Torn” vibes. It kind of goes off the rails after that; spoken word, rock crescendos, false stops. It’s all a bit too shiny and just a bit naff.

Belgium Because of You by Gustaph

Imagine the scene…

It’s the early 2010s. It’s 1:00AM, or thereabouts. You’re “out out” in some random club you’ve been dragged to in Shoreditch. You can’t even point to Shoreditch on a tube map; but you’re there. There’s a camp as Christmas singer up on the stage. Everyone is into it, but not too into it, because this is Shoreditch, and people play it cool in Shoreditch.

That’s what’s this is like.

It’s a cool, dance-anthem bop.

(For clarity, I don’t have to imagine this scene. I’ve been in this situation, at XOYO. The performers were, I think, Hercules & Love Affair. I didn’t know who they were, because I was not — and still am not — cool enough.)

Croatia Mama ŠČ! by Let 3

There’s a lot of strange noises going on in this bizarre track.

Whilst it’s sung in Croatian, I encourage you to go and read the lyrics — because they are even more unhinged.

I’m sure there’s something profound we are collectively supposed to take from this, but honest I’m lost on the link between tractors, alligators, old-age pensioners and armageddon.

Cyprus Break a Broken Heart by Andrew Lambrou

Cyprus has been consistently sending scantily-clad women with gay club, slut-dropping beats for the past few years, and it has been wonderful.

For 2023? Something new!

A male vocalist with a mid-tempo, high energy ballad about heartbreak. It’s a big song, a big vocal and a wall of sound in the instrumentation, rising to a powerful crescendo on the crest of a soaring falsetto hook in the chorus.

Czechia My Sister’s Crown by Vesna

The Czech Republic has ripped a page out of the Ukrainian Eurovision playbook for its 2023 offering, with a song that’s reminiscent of Go_A’s “Shum”, which for some reason was very popular and I never really got it.

A blend of 6 female vocals atop a mechanised and intentionally overproduced instrumentation makes for an intense three minutes.

Denmark Breaking My Heart by Reiley

If Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen were to collab, I imagine that this would be the result.

It’s got light and bouncy vocals, with a vocoder making a memorable appearance in the chorus. The instrumentation is crisp, with a vibrant and thumping rhythm. It’s pop brilliance.

It’s the first song of the second semi-final, too; so it’s should set a high bar for the rest of the pack to meet!

Estonia Bridges by Alika

You could be forgiven for mistaking this song for the lament of a project manager at a failing construction project. If you did think that, you would be wrong; and that’s the power of metaphor, my friends!

What is the bridge construction metaphor banging on about? Damned if I know, but Alika seems awfully passionate about it as she belts out this primarily piano-accompanied ballad.

Finland Cha Cha Cha by Käärijä

Käärijä is clearly the kid whose parents allowed him to smash guitars up in their garage to let out his teen angst.

“It’s crazy, it’s party!” says the artist when describing this “rap-electronic-schlager-metal fusion” anthem to the bods at Eurovision. Crazy it certainly is. A party, for me at least, it is not. More of a confused, noisy, crashing mess. Yes, I realise that makes me sound like an old man, but I’m in my 30s now and that’s my vibe.

Questionable stylistic choices aside, I can at least get behind the spirit of the song which – if I were to summarise – appears to be suggesting you get absolutely mullered on pints and forget the horror of the daily life.

France Évidemment by La Zarra

Is it another very French chanson? The first fifty or so seconds lulls you into that trap, as La Zarra does a riff on “Heads shoulders, knees and toes”. It’s sultry, it’s en francais. It’s exactly what you would expect from this proud nation.

And then… disco, obviously!

I’m generally not a fan of the French chanson style, so throwing a few glitter balls in on top? Well, c’est super!

Georgia Echo by Iru

TikTok is doing a weird thing to songs; its making them start the wrong. More and more, artists are starting with their key hook; usually the chorus, not the verse.

That’s what this former Junior Eurovision entrant has done here. Meat first, vegetables second.

It’s a forceful start to this mid-tempo entry. The problem with forceful starts is that it doesn’t give you anywhere to go; which is not helpful if your song is pretty flat and your lyrics make literally no sense.

Germany Blood & Glitter by Lord of the Lost

I, for one, am glad that the Germans have taken a long, hard look at themselves and realised that their 2022 Eurovision entry was pitiful, and that they needed to do something drastically different. Different is what we got.

You get 10 seconds of male vocal layered on top of a few quiet piano chords, and then WHAM! High-octane, face-punching, “genre-fluid” rock music, replete with excessive vocal fry. It’s not my style, of course, but I can appreciate it for what it is — a moshing good time.

Greece What They Say by Victor Vernicos

Victor’s got a voice that reminds me of James Arthur. It’s a rich tone but he’s evidently got a limited range; so all the musical interest in this fairly swift track comes from the instrumentation.

It’s got all the bells and whistles; piano breakdowns, chippy acoustic guitar, clapping, a choir. This is the kitchen sink of male pop ballads.

It’s pleasant, and interesting, but not stunning.

Iceland Power by Diljá

There’s a message of personal empowerment that punches through this track. It starts in a pretty chilled fashion, before turning up the drums and bass to deliver a decently rhythmical pop track.

But let’s be honest, Iceland peaked in the one year that Eurovision got cancelled. This is no “Think About Things”. It’s a song you’ve heard a million times before; you won’t remember it by the end of the show.

Ireland We Are One by Wild Youth

The Emerald Isle has produced more Eurovision winners than any other nation. They are royalty in these parts. Unfortunately, in recent years they’ve fallen off the wagon, struggling to qualify year after year. This is their latest effort to right their recent wrongs: a male foursome. The Irish love a boy band!

The track is zippy, it’s energetic and it’s a bit U2 crossed with Coldplay. A kind of soft pop rock. The band apparently also have pedigree, supporting major international acts and with number ones under their belt.

I’m not convinced this will be enough to change Ireland’s recent fortunes, though.

Israel Unicorn by Noa Kirel

This is a song of mixed musical styles and bonkers metaphor.

After a powerful triple blast of dramatic strings, we are thrown into a pretty predictable and generic pop bop. We never see those heady blasts again, and they are honestly the most interesting part of the song.

Lyrically, Noa spends her time espousing the virtuous characteristics of mythical beasts.

Italy Due vite by Marco Mengoni

My God is this dreary.

It’s very stereotypically Italy at Eurovision. An attractive man singing a overly dramatic love song in his native tongue.

And that’s why it’s boring.

I mean, come on, my amici. You gave us Måneskin only two years ago, and now you give us this? For shame.

Latvia Aijā by Sudden Lights

It’s been 10 seconds of this song, and I already hate it. It’s soft rock in the blandest possible way.

The wonky vocals are disorienting, almost as if the vocalist is intentionally struggling to hit what are pretty unadventurous melodic highs and lows. To round it out, the ending whimpers away to nothing. Hardly worth the effort!

Lithuania Stay by Monika Linkytė

Lithuanian magical incantations adorn this desperately sad but beautiful ballad. The choral “čiūto tūto” throughout adds a unique and intriguing punctuation to an already powerful vocal from singer Monika, herself a second time Eurovision entrant.

Given the mystical lyrical references, fingers crossed that we get some extraordinarily earthy and quirky staging.

Malta Dance (Our Own Party) by The Busker

According to the bods on the official Eurovision Song Contest website, this song is about social anxiety and leaving a party to go off and join your other friends in a quieter environment. This makes me think that the trio comprising The Busker are just as socially awkward as me. To this, I say buddies, I’m here for you.

Social anxiety, however, is not what I get from this saxophone-laden, sultry, pop number. No, instead, I’m getting the distinct message that chunky-knit jumpers are sexy. Again, I am here for it.

Moldova Soarele și luna by Pasha Parfeni

Moldova has been a reliable source of quirk and comedy in recent contests. Friends, I regret to inform you that they’ve abandoned that this year.

Instead, they are leaning in heavy on drums, bass, and some kind of flute.

It’s reminiscent of last year’s Ukrainian winner, but without the cultural resonance of, you know, rocking it when your country is a war zone. No, no big picture message here; dear Pasha is just singing about how horny he is for his wife.

Netherlands Burning Daylight by Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper

Someone give these two a hug? The lyrics of this mid-tempo ballad are utterly without hope.

For a duet, it doesn’t make much of the possibilities. There’s a lot of singing in tandem, and not much in the way of interesting harmonies.

There is a pretty big crescendo near the end that bursts forth, seemingly out of nowhere, and then evaporates just as rapidly. That’s a shame because despite the desperate lyrics, the track itself is a quite lovely and reminds these ears of The Script.

Norway Queen of Kings by Alessandra

Apparently this song is blowing up on TikTok. I’m too old to keep up with all these fads that the youths are into these days, but to me TikTok seems like YouTube speed-running. Everything is overclocked to the point where quality gets crunched in something shorter and with less room to breathe.

This song is very that; a song that’s the result of a lot of caffeine! Its tempo is blazingly fast, and it hits you like a wall of sound.

As a song, it feels pretty unimpressive. But, its the first performance we’ll see in the first semi-final, and in that position I can imagine it’ll hit you like the first espresso of the morning.

Poland Solo by Blanka

This is unexpected.

Whilst Spain and Cyprus have abandoned their recent horny phase in Eurovision, it seems Poland have picked up their mantle and run with it.

It’s a bright and teasing slut-drop, popsicle. I for one am hoping for some over-the-top backing dancing from a cast of at least three alarmingly attractive men. Top marks.

Portugal Ai coração by Mimicat

In this entry, we have something obviously and recognisably from Portugal – sung in Portuguese, and with stereotyped instrumentation. It’s also obviously not Portuguese too. It has a vague chanson vibe to it; reminiscent of the wildly popular French entry, “Voilà”, from 2021.

Mimicat’s performance has a furious and confused power. The instrumentation is wild but controlled. The lyrics are like a fever dream. This is a lot of fun!

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

Apparently this is a rock song. It just sounds confused to me.

The opening is interminably dull, with no real redeeming features – either in the instrumentation or the vocals. Around the one-minute mark it starts to wake up and kicks into some bizarre instrumentation and painfully weak vocals. Another minute or so passes, and we’re listening to someone screaming out of tune as the song wraps up.

Absolute car crash.

San Marino Like an Animal by Piqued Jacks

I joke pretty much every year that there might not be any talent left in San Marino. This tiny country with a population no larger than Cardiff seems to churn out terrible music more often than most. It’s the country that churned out this guy. Twice. So yeah, dire.

It’s not always bad though. 2021 was legitimately a banging year, with Senhit being kind enough to let Flo Rida join her on stage as she rode around on staging that was intentionally designed to look like a giant vagina.

This year, we get another good entry. It’s a well-produced rock tune, with driving electric guitar and over-sexualised lyrics. What’s not to love?