My Eurovision 2023 Picks

It's the most wonderful time of the year: time for the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST! I figured it would be fun to list my top 15 favorite songs from this year's batch. So let's go!

15. Germany: Lord of the Lost - Blood and Glitter

So here's a fun fact: Blood and Glitter wasn't even originally on the first draft of my list. My original #15 spot was Cyprus' entry. Why the last minute change? I could chalk it up to Blood and Glitter being more akin to what I typically listen to in my day-to-day, or how it's more "wacky" and "out-there" than Cyprus' fairly safe entry. But honestly I wrote both names down, hemmed and hawwed about it for about six seconds, and then picked Germany. Both Blood and Glitter and Break a Broken Heart are great songs, I think I just like Blood and Glitter a smidge more.

14. Denmark: Reiley - Breaking My Heart

Being American, I don't have any local pals to talk Eurovision with. My interaction with the Eurovision fan community typically begins and ends with skimming through the Eurovision subreddit or the Eurovision tag on Cohost. All that to say: I am often out of the Greater Eurovision Fandom loop. So imagine my shock when I see people online completely savaging Breaking My Heart. Dang, it's not that bad y'all! It's a little bland, but I've heard worse. I can't entirely explain why, but the chorus reminds me of Instant Crush by Daft Punk. I think it might be the quick-singing and voice modulation. And maybe by reminding me of a considerably better song, I give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows.

13. Croatia: Let 3 - Mama ŠČ!

The fuck is this? Whomst among us didn't have this reaction when we heard and/or saw this song for the first time? I'm on record hating this bonkerstown song the first time I heard it, but you know what? I've come around. The Crazy Frog samples, the warheads, the ominous TRAKTORRRRRRRR, it's all great. And just like I predicted in that initial post, this song is crawling with symbolism. Is it my pick for winner of the ESC? Sadly no, but if it won I wouldn't even be remotely upset. ŠČ!

12. Malta: The Busker - Dance (Our Own Party)

Why, yes. Yes, I would like a combination of Sunstroke Project and The ROOP. But seriously though I think Dance is a fun lil bop. That sax does a lot of the heavy lifting, but the overall groove is no slouch either. Also, I'm practically obligated to love the song about being introverted at parties.

11. Slovenia: Joker Out - Carpe Diem

For weeks now I've been trying to figure out what this song reminds me of, and right now as I am typing this I think I figured it out: This song reminds me a lot of Venezuelan rock band La Vida Bohème. I think it's in the guitar and some of the melody. And much like Denmark's entry, I wonder if I'm being very lenient because it reminds me of a group I already like. Either way, of all the bands listed so far, Joker Out is the first band I would actually dive into their back catalog to check out.

10. Sweden: Loreen - Tattoo

Eurovision 2012 was the first ESC Grand Final that I ever saw, on some bootsy pirate live stream of the Swedish broadcast. It was amazing. But nothing was more amazing than the song that won, Euphoria. Euphoria is still the Gold Standard by which I judge all Eurovision-winning songs. What I'm getting at is that Loreen looms large in my own personal Eurovision history.
So why don't I like this song as much? Have I put Euphoria on such a pedestal that no other song, not even a Loreen one, can compare? Do I miss her little barefoot MC Hammer scoots across the stage? It's a great song, and I never went into it expecting Euphoria Two. But I just can't help it, part of me is sad that it isn't Euphoria Two. Or rather, Euphoria Two-hoo-hooo.

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

I know putting this song over Loreen is going to rankle people. Hell, saying it out loud rankles a small part of me deep down. But I don't know what to tell you, I like D.G.T. I really like the way the song lopes along, and the way the guitars stay constrained until they explode out in the chorus. It's not an overly hard song, but there's still enough edge and bite to make me sit up and notice.

8. United Kingdom: Mae Muller - I Wrote a Song

Sam Ryder's incredible SPACE MAN was my 2nd-place pick for Eurovision 2022. I'm glad that for the second year in a row UK's got a good song! Since I'm an ocean away from the EBU, I like to think about what songs could possibly break into the US airwaves. I could totally see I Wrote a Song getting some traction. Who doesn't like a fun-yet-also-angry breakup song? Side note: jeepers creepers, those nails.

7. Czechia: Vesna - My Sister's Crown

So here's a fun fact: We Are Domi's Lights Off was actually my personal top pick for Eurovision 2022. Europe didn't agree with me, and Domi came in 23rd out of 25. Ah well! While CZ isn't my personal #1 for Eurovision this year, I have a hunch they will do much better overall with My Sister's Crown. That chorus is killer, and the sung/rapped verses are great too. As a final aside: CRT computer monitors have skyrocketed in value, I hope they didn't break two perfectly good screens to make that music video!

6. Belgium: Gustaph - Because of You

Holy shit, 90's House lives on in Belgium! It even uses the Think Break as a sample! It's probably reductive and unfair to call Because of You a throwback, but it's true. If I had heard this back in '93 where I heard all my house music (the local roller rink, obvs) I would have fallen in love with this song. Thirty years later I am still very much into this sound. Also, I absolutely must give Gustaph his propers: The dude knows his Eurovision, which is super refreshing after watching other contestants give middling answers.

5. Austria: Teya & Salena - Who the Hell is Edgar?

Fun. That's the best way to describe this song. It's just fun. It's a got a dance. It's got bleeps and bloops. It's got a single-syllable thing you can chant over and over. The music video largely takes place in a mid-century wood-paneled office, AKA Primo Beeky Bait. It's got a question you can ask in a goofball valley girl accent, and this question has compelety changed my playthough of Final Fantasy VI. It's just fun! The one time I visited the Edgar Allan Poe museum in Virginia it was a gross, swampy, drizzly day. But this song is all sunshine.

4. Norway: Alessandra - Queen of Kings

The very first time I heard this song, I referred to it as "pirate/power metal with a beat" and I stand by that. Well, okay maybe it's more akin to folk metal than power metal? Either way, the chorus' melody reminds me of a sea-shanty. Is that the intention? Who knows! Alessandra's got an amazing voice, singing over pounding war drums. And then YARRRR MATEY, HERE BE THE CHORUS. The war drums get traded out for a thumpy drum machine and I love it. I mean look if any country is going to have a thumpy powerful sea-shanty song, it's gonna be the viking country, right?

3. France: La Zarra - Envidemment

I was a little worried on my first play through. La Zarra sung her first few notes, and I thought to myself Aw, I guess France is doing a ballad again. Not that there's anything wrong with ballads (I love Voila) but ballads and I usually just don't get along. It's not you, ballads, it's me. But I don't have to worry about any of that nonsense, because 54 seconds into the song, a four-on-the-floor disco beat kicked in! The tempo shot up! The grand, swelling strings that had been in the song earlier were now sharper, funkier. Envidemment is a bit of a throwback, but not on the same level as Because of You. I'm completely okay with that. I think it mixes the new and the old perfectly.

2. Australia: Voyager - Promise

From what I remember, I didn't really care for Promise the very first time I heard it. And then I heard it again. And again. And then I couldn't stop listening to it. And now I can't ever imagine hating it. The vocals, the sweeping sound of the verses, the "uh OH, uh OH, uh-OH-OH-HO" of the chorus, the quick little taste of harsh vocals, the squeedly little keytar. Fuckin' wow. Of all the bands and artists listed, Voyager is the only one so far where I've actually delved into their back catalog. Also, I gotta mention the recently released House Mix of Promise that Voyager did for A Little Bit More. I LOVE how much fun it looks like all the Voyage folks are having with this year's Eurovision.

1. Finland: Käärijä - Cha Cha Cha

Two months ago I got Covid. Finland's national selection occured while I was delirious with fever. In between small bouts of terrible sleep, I would grab my phone and check my various feeds, and this weird little chilibowl haircuttèd, poofy shirtèd, spiky pantèd tongue-waggling gremlin kept popping up everywhere. Eventually whatever the fuck this was was completely unavoidable so I finally checked it out. Yeah man. Yeah. I get it. I mean, I don't GET it, but I get the hype. Käärijä is dripping with style and charisma, all 5'3" of him. (I only mention this as a fellow guy under 5'4". Short kings have to stick together.) But all one hundred and sixty point zero two of those centimeters set out to whallop you, and they achieve their mission. I am whalloped. From what I can tell, the lyrics are about wanting to grab a drink and cut loose and free yourself from your various anxieties (relatable), but that's not really what the song is about. The song is about yelling CHA CHA CHA CH-CHA CHA CHAAA as loud as you can and acting like a complete goober and then riding your background dancers like some sort of human centipede horse. I'm not sure what else you could want from a Eurovision song.
The vibe I've seen from ESC 2023 is you are either a Tattoo Person or a Cha Cha Cha Person. I am wholeheartedly aligned with Team Cha Cha Cha. I don't know if Cha Cha Cha will win. Honestly, I don't even know if Cha Cha Cha needs to win. It's out in the world, it's loose. You can't un-hear or un-see Cha Cha Cha.

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