14 May 2023
It’s crazy. It’s party. It’s Loreen! With her dramatic and stylish representation of Tattoo, Loreen becomes only the second artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice, when she finished ahead of Finland and Israel in a spectacular grand final in Liverpool, United Kingdom. In equaling the achievement of Ireland’s Johnny Logan, Sweden also equals Ireland as the most successful Eurovision nation by recording their seventh win. For the people’s favourite, Käärijä from Finland, performing Cha Cha Cha, even with a whopping 376 points from the public vote, he could not overcome the mammoth 190 lead that Sweden accrued during the jury phase. Sweden won with a total of 583 points, ahead of Finland on 526, and Israel a distant third on 362.
While we can thank Finland for offering a minor glimmer of an upset after scoring 376 points from the public and leading Sweden by 186, the reality was the hammering the juries gave Finland made the task too great. Sweden won the jury vote with 340 points, ahead of Israel on 177, Italy on 176 and Finland on 150. It looked ominous very early during the jury phase where Sweden racked up 12 points after 12 points, whereas Finland pulled zero from the first three juries and it wasn’t until Nordic neighbours, Norway and Sweden, much later in the voting, that Finland got their only sets of 12 points. Next best points was 10 from Netherlands, Estonia and Iceland, with those latter two being neighbouring countries as well. The crowd were way beyond agitated by this point, chanting “Käärijä” and “Cha Cha Cha” in hope for more jury points. They had to wait for the public vote to be revealed to really cheer their hero.
To put the magnitude of Finland’s popularity into perspective, their 376 points from the public included 18 sets of 12 points vs zero sets for Sweden. Finland scored from every country with 6 points the lowest score. Sweden only missed from Finland as Finns tried their best to offset the predicted jury bias in favour of their main rival. Sweden still gave Finland 12. Next worst for Sweden was 1 point from Germany and then 2 points from Croatia. Finland’s public vote is the second highest ever, only beaten by Ukraine’s 439 last year, which was juiced by a ridiculous sympathy vote. They are stunning statistics. Käärijä really is the people’s winner, and will be forever remembered that way.
Unlike recent years when revealing the public votes, there wasn’t much chaos this time. No one got the dreaded zero points, unlike the four countries that did at Rotterdam 2021. The biggest smackdowns were against Spain (5 points vs 95 from the jury), Austria (16 vs 104), Australia (21 vs 130), Estonia (21 vs 146) and Czechia (35 vs 94). It’s a damning result for Australia, and it means every year of their participation there’s been a disparity between the jury and vote. It’s been a huge disparity too, except for 2019 when Kate Miller-Heidke was only 20 points behind with Zero Gravity. Given the shockingly low scores some entries received over the years, there’s definitely a resentment factor involved, and adding to the disparity is obvious jury favouritism towards Australia.
For those entries that got significantly more votes from the public than the jury, they were typically the more fun or sillier songs, or Europe simply being stupid. Those being Poland (12 jury vs 81 public), Croatia (11 vs 112), Ukraine (54 vs 189), Norway (52 vs 216) and, of course, Finland (150 vs 376). It’s actually the second straight win for Sweden where the jury had a dominant say in their victory. In 2015, Måns Zelmerlöw, with Heroes, finished only third behind Italy and Russia with the public while winning the jury by over a hundred points. The reality is, that’s the system, and Sweden typically send songs that will attract votes from both sides. There was plenty of online grumbling about juries having too much say. While these claims have merit, petition for change beforehand, not afterwards because of the results. Russia in 2016 were crushed far worse by the juries than Finland this year and there weren’t many complaints then, except from Russia.
Curiously, I’ve thought previously, if a show should go 100% public for results, it should be the grand final. In the semis, you still want to attract distinctive, diverse and artistic acts in the first place. If they constantly get beaten in semi finals by silly acts due to only the public voting, you diminish the contest as a whole, as was the case in the 2000s that saw juries return. Alternatively, try a super final. The jury and public vote is combined in the old way to get a top three. Then the public vote alone decides the winner from there. This year it would be Finland, while Italy would have won in 2015 and Russia in 2016. This also removes so much attention from the jury vote. Why do their 12 points matter more than the public’s that those are the only ones celebrated? It’s ironic in a year of “power to the people” in the semi finals, it was the grand final lacking such power. Not just in the final result, also that Finland’s 18 sets of 12 points from the public went unacknowledged. Perhaps remove the current public vote section and the national spokespeople read the 12 points from both the jury and the public instead. If it happens to be year of a runaway winner, so be it.
Grand Final Review
01 Austria – Teya & Salena – Who The Hell Is Edgar? (120 pts, 15th)
Great choice to open the grand final. Lost some impact and wasn’t as fun as the semi final. Going first, and that there were so many other quality uptempo songs, didn’t help achieve a better place than 15th. While the jury rated Austria, it looks like the public prioritised their votes to the likes of Finland, Israel and Norway. Nine more points would have put Austria 10th, so it was close in this part of the table. 7/10
02 Portugal – Mimicat – Ai Coracao (59 pts, 23rd)
Red colours like Austria again? Normally the producers like to separate colours. Another that lost impact. Still good, especially the ending. 6/10
03 Switzerland – Remo Forrer – Watergun (92 pts, 20th)
Great voice and the song was portrayed really well, especially the lighting effects. 7/10
04 Poland – Blanka – Solo (93 pts, 19th)
So catchy, and with an infectious rhythm. Seemed to lose a note near the end. Still good. 7/10
05 Serbia – Luke Black – Samo Mi Se Spava (30 pts, 24th)
I never found much in this; all a bit of jumbled histrionics with poor vocals. Was actually lucky to make the grand final, beating Latvia by only four points. Their qualification at least made it a good year for the Balkan nations, as they all advanced in 2023. 4/10
06 France – La Zarra – Evidemment (104 pts, 16th)
The best entry to this point. Seemed a little nervous or scratchy at the start, before powering through and provided a withering finale. Loved the platform raising and the lighting was spectacular. 8/10
07 Cyprus – Andrew Lambrou – Break A Broken Heart (126 pts, 12th)
On fire with the vocals and stage lighting. Probably the artist that lifted their song the most from before Eurovision. Greece only gave Cyprus four points, so Andrew really is Australian. Or were Greece simply jealous because they didn’t qualify for the final? 7/10
08 Spain – Blanca Paloma – Eaea (100 pts, 17th)
This would work much better with the sound off. Otherwise, it’s just random yelling, even if it’s quality yelling. The public nailed it with their 5 points. 2/10
09 Sweden – Loreen – Tattoo (583 pts, 1st)
Why is she between two boxes? That’s really how it seems. The smaller props than seen at Melodifestivalen and bigger stage meant the performance lost some intimacy. There’s also probably some fatigue with this song, having seen it so often, and some online sentiment suggested people were beginning to cool on Sweden. In truth, for first time viewers, it would have had much the same impact as at Melodifestivalen, and the strength of the song and overall performance carried it through. 8/10
10 Albania – Albina & Familja Kelmendi – Duje (76 pts, 22nd)
One of those most distinctive entries of the night, and a passionate performance. Song structure, as discussed in the semi final 2 review, probably hampered it a little from achieving higher. 22nd spot is a bit harsh. 7/10
11 Italy – Marco Mengoni – Due Vite (350 pts, 4th)
Another passionate display, and benefitted from the paucity of ballads in the final to achieve its fourth place. 7/10
12 Estonia – Alika – Bridges (168 pts, 8th)
I probably should have realised Estonia were in for a strong result given the 12th spot assigned in the running order. Unlike the semi final performance, I didn’t mind the stage wandering this time. Ignoring the solitary shaky note towards the end, the vocals were stunning (easily the best in the competition), and the song dramatic. Even though I preferred the Eesti Laul performance and consequently withheld one point of my score here, Alika thoroughly deserved 8th place and Bridges was one of my favourites of the grand final. 8/10
13 Finland – Käärijä – Cha Cha Cha (526 pts, 2nd)
Finland seemed to dial up the stage antics even more, and I noticed this time a large shadow effect on the background screen mirroring Käärijä dancing. Running around the boxes, Käärijä nearly clipped a guy rope. This performance was simply impossible not to like, and after all those times I’ve seen it since the Finnish national final, I enjoyed it just as much. While Käärijä might not have officially won Eurovision, he’s still a winner. We’ve seen many acts finish second or third, and sometimes much lower, that really capitalise on their Eurovision experience and launch big careers. Käärijä, you are already a Eurovision legend and will never be forgotten. Cha Cha Cha! 9/10
14 Czechia – Vesna – My Sister’s Crown (129 pts, 10th)
Following Finland probably affected their relatively low score from the public. Overall, the ladies did great. I loved the uniform pink of their outfits and the performance was well choreographed. Perhaps the song needed a bit more for a better result. 7/10
15 Australia – Voyager – Promise (151 pts, 9th)
Essentially a carbon copy from the semi final, which is good. Don’t change anything if it’s not broken, and nothing much could have been broken because they won semi final 2. The song was always a bit limited by its simplicity, and the poor sound quality of this year’s event meant it didn’t resonate like it should. Other countries, like Albania, suffered similarly. 7/10
Indications are that 2023 will very much be Australia’s last appearance at Eurovision. The contract is up (as only associate members, Australia are ineligible for Eurovision events and must rely on special invitations), broadcaster SBS dialled back much activity by cancelling the national final, Australia Decides, and providing no extra programming, and even the commentators quipped when interviewed during the broadcast about potentially not being back. Without anything official, it looks like SBS are the ones more interested to bail. Ratings crashed since Australia began competing and the participation fee is huge (could be $200k AUD) to enter. Financially, it’s not worth it, and Eurovision worked best as a TV spectacle when viewers were corralled into watching delayed broadcasts over the weekend.
16 Belgium – Gustaph – Because Of You (182 pts, 7th)
Seventh is a great result, and Gustaph was rapt to get 12 points from Australia’s jury, and then got two more sets. Such a nice guy, and I loved his hat. For me, the song was a bit too cliche and flat. 5/10
17 Armenia – Brunette – Future Lover (122 pts, 14th)
That’s how you do a solo presentation on a big stage. Kept it focused, brought an interesting prop (a ramp that could show graphics) and vocals were super. 7/10
18 Moldova – Pasha Parfeni – Soarele si Luna (96 pts, 18th)
This one sort of went a bit missing. Repetitive song and random dancing, augmented with two horny women (that’s women with horns – on their head) and an attempted leg sweep of a flute-playing midget. 6/10
19 Ukraine – Tvorchi – Heart Of Steel (243 pts, 6th)
Staged really well; song was lame. Definitely the greatest inversion between presentation and song quality at this year’s Eurovision. The 189 points from the public were ludicrous. 5/10
20 Norway – Alessandra – Queen Of Kings (268 pts, 5th)
The grand final was in a slight flat spot following Finland until Norway revitalised it. Compared to the performance in the first semi final, where Alessandra was first to perform, this was far superior. By now, our ears were well and truly adjusted to the crap sound (and raised the volume in advance) and she was excellent vocally. A fifth place finish is probably as most expected. 7/10
21 Germany – Lord of the Lost – Blood & Glitter (18 pts, 26th)
I was never sold on the vocals with this song. At Eurovision, it sounded like he had a sore throat. Fairly uninspiring song too. Last place is fair enough in that context. 4/10
22 Lithuania – Monika Linkyte – Stay (127 pts, 11th)
Monika was looking good in the early stages of the jury vote, and I thought, here we go! Eleventh is ok. Monika really knows how to warm the heart, and it was another performance where I shed a small tear. Stay has really grown on me since first hearing it. It’s such a beautiful, enchanting song, Monika delivers it so well, and I was expecting it to rise to new heights in the grand final. Monika seemed distracted by something early and then adjusted her earpiece, and that broke the connection. While she did restore it and the finished off well, it didn’t quite do enough to get the extra point from me. Trust me, I really want to give her one! 8/10
23 Israel – Noa Kirel – Unicorn (362 pts, 3rd)
Definitely channelling Spain’s Chanel from last year with those dance moves. An epic finale to a quality performance, both in staging and vocals to give Israel a thoroughly deserved third place. Staging was among the best and vocals in the top three, behind Estonia and Lithuania. I still wish it ended with one or two lines of the song, not solely the dance solo. 9/10
24 Slovenia – Joker Out – Carpe Diem (78 pts, 21st)
Tough to follow Israel, and lost a little impact from the semi. Still a good effort. 7/10
25 Croatia – Let 3 – Mama SC (123 pts, 13th)
Just too stupid. Needs a song in it. 2/10
26 United Kingdom – Mae Muller – I Wrote A Song (24 pts, 25th)
Very flat and one-paced. I really expected more vocally from Mae, and when she finally provided a moment, it wasn’t that good. 5/10
My Top 10
01 Finland 9
02 Israel 9
03 Lithuania 8
04 Estonia 8
05 France 8
06 Sweden 7
07 Albania 7
08 Poland 7
09 Austria 7
10 Australia 7
Norway, Armenia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Czechia just behind.
Average score of 6.4 makes it quite a decent Eurovision show. It beat the semi finals (both scored 6.1) as you’d expect, as some bad songs were eliminated. It’s a bit lower than last year’s 6.5 in Turin, and way below the 7.3 of 2021 in Rotterdam. The 2019 grand final scored 6.5, 2018 scored 6.3, and the two grand finals before that scored 6. Malmo 2013 was a strong year and scored 6.7 for its grand final. The next highest scores of any show are the 6.9 for the second semi final at Rotterdam 2021 and the first semi final in Malmo.
My Overall Top 10
01 Finland 9 (+1)
02 Israel 9 (+9)
03 Lithuania 8 (+4)
04 Estonia 8 (-)
05 France 8 (+4)
06 Azerbaijan 8 (-5)
07 Sweden 7 (-6)
08 Albania 7 (-2)
09 Poland 7 (+1)
10 Austria 7 (+6)
The only eliminated song from the semi finals in the overall top 10 is Azerbaijan (TuralTuranX – Tell Me More) from semi final 1. Two songs did drop out of the top 10 that were there prior to Eurovision, those being Norway (5th to 11th) and United Kingdom (8th to probably around 30th – ouch!). In their place came Israel and Austria. The biggest improvement would be Cyprus (31st to around 15th). The +/- represents the change in positions from prior to Eurovision to after Eurovision.
Rest Of The World
They were able to vote in this Eurovision, with votes combined into a single “country”. They gave 12 points to Israel, 10 to Finland, then it was Armenia 8, Sweden 7, Albania 6, Ukraine 5, Norway 4, Croatia 3, Spain 2 and France 1.
Semi Final 1 Results
Close between Serbia and Latvia for the final spot in the first semi, and I would have taken Latvia any day. Netherlands and Azerbaijan scored poorly, which is a note of concern given the semi finals were decided solely by the public. They don’t favour artistic songs, and we don’t want a situation where Netherlands start sending middle aged men in lipstick and Azerbaijan revert to generic Swedish pop. Even Estonia in the second semi, while in clear 10th spot, that’s insultingly low.
15 Finland – Käärijä – Cha Cha Cha – 177
11 Sweden – Loreen – Tattoo – 135
09 Israel – Noa Kirel – Unicorn – 127
13 Czechia – Vesna – My Sister’s Crown – 110
10 Moldova – Pasha Parfeni – Soarele si luna – 109
01 Norway Alessandra – Queen Of Kings – 102
08 Switzerland – Remo Forrer – Watergun – 97
07 Croatia – Let 3 – Mama SC – 76
05 Portugal – Mimicat – Ai coracao – 74
03 Serbia – Luke Black – Samo mi se spava – 37
04 Latvia – Sudden Lights – Aija – 34
06 Ireland – Wild Youth – We Are One – 10
14 Netherlands – Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper – 7
12 Azerbaijan – TuralTuranX – Tell Me More – 4
02 Malta – The Busker – Dance (Our Own Party) – 3
Semi Final 2 Results
Ouch for Romania and San Marino that scored zero! Romania was a shocker; San Marino at least deserved something.
Interesting how the top three countries of Australia, Austria and Poland scored poorly in the grand final with the public. It’s simply different dynamics at play. The audience is much larger and more mainstream, and countries only voting in SF2 could now vote for songs from SF1. SF1 always had the big favourites of Sweden and Finland, plus Norway and Israel at a secondary level, and no doubt many votes were transferred there.
16 Australia – Voyager – Promise – 149
13 Austria – Teya and Salena – Who The Hell Is Edgar? – 137
09 Poland – Blanka – Solo – 124
15 Lithuania – Monika Linkyte – Stay – 110
10 Slovenia – Joker Out – Carpe Diem – 103
02 Armenia – Brunette – Future Lover – 99
06 Cyprus – Andrew Lambrou – Break A Broken Heart – 94
05 Belgium – Gustaph – Because Of You – 90
14 Albania – Albina and Familja Kelmendi – Duje – 83
04 Estonia – Alika – Bridges – 74
07 Iceland – Dilja – Power – 44
11 Georgia – Iru – Echo – 33
08 Greece – Victor Vernicos – What They Say – 14
01 Denmark – Reiley – Breaking My Heart – 6
03 Romania – Theodor Andrei – D.G.T. (Off and On) – 0
12 San Marino – Piqued Jacks – Like an Animal – 0
Punters got it spot on with the top two. They missed their prediction of France and Spain reaching the top five, and that’s because those countries contain large populations and were betting a bit on sentiment. They sort of pegged that Ukraine would do well, finishing sixth rather than third. Both Israel (especially after rehearsals started) and Norway were well liked. After that, it’s pot luck. All countries were at quite long odds, so quantifying betting accuracy beyond the top five or six is pointless.
Happy to say I nearly got the top three exactly! The only variation being Finland first then Sweden second. I got Israel for third. My heart was no doubt speaking more for Finland.
Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey were simply awful and the mute button on the remote control became my best friend. Too much inane chatter and talking over important sections of the broadcast, including the end of performances and through the recaps. During the postcards it was mostly juvenile jokes and spoilers. After Australia’s lowly 21 points from the public, Myf felt the need to constantly remind Australians of Australia’s “extraordinary” result, because apparently we’re such insecure soft petals that we can’t handle a bit of rejection. Credit, at least, to Voyager for laughing it of as part of the Eurovision experience. The pair were also bemused by some of the jury points awarded, like when Latvia gave Estonia 12 points. Ever looked at a map? It was embarrassing.
Aside from the flat sound emanating from broadcast, Liverpool 2023 put on a majestic display and was a stunning success. The hosts were brilliant, as were the support acts. The postcards linking the three respective countries of Ukraine, United Kingdom and the performing country was innovative.
The grand final had a stunning opening, and there were many tears with the rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone led by Duncan Laurence at the end of the Liverpool Songbook interval act (thanks also to Cornelia Jakobs for the splash she made). The finale to that Songbook really summed up Eurovision. As much as there’s winners and losers, ultimately, there’s never a need to feel alone in this grand community and may the next one be just as good as this one. Ta ra la!
Liverpool 2023: Semi Final 2 Review & Grand Final Preview
Liverpool 2023: Semi Final 1 Review
Liverpool 2023: Full Preview, Betting Odds & Predictions
Sweden: Loreen Wins Melodifestivalen 2023 With Tattoo – Review
Finland: Käärijä with Cha Cha Cha wins UMK 2023 – Review