By Neil Durham
WHEN?: Saturday 13 May 2023 8pm (UK time)
WHERE?: Liverpool Arena
HOW DO I WATCH?: BBC1
The UK hasn’t won the Eurovision Song Contest for 26 years and we think this year’s entry – Mae Muller’s I Wrote A Song – is its best shot since then although it does have 2012 winner Loreen (pictured) to beat.
- Read on for reasons including out thoughts on other acts including Noa Kirel and La Zarra
Below are our predictions for the qualifiers from Tuesday night’s semi final 1 and Thursday’s semi final 2 as well as the pre-qualified finalists including the UK.
- AUSTRIA: Teya and Selena Who The Hell Is Edgar? (Teodora Spirić, Selina-Maria Edbauer, Ronald Janeček, Pele Loriano) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
Super catchy tune overwhelmed by a bizarre Edgar Allen Poe-inspired lyric. ‘Poe, Poe, Poe’ indeed. We did see this track with Gwen Stefani vibes sneaking through on the televote and so it proves although opening is tough.
2: PORTUGAL: Mimicat Ai coração (Oh heart) (Marisa Mena, Luís Pereira) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
We absolutely love this because it is so camp and theatrical. Emma Bunton’s Maybe ran so this could fly. Very 60s and Portuguese – and an utter banger.
3: SWITZERLAND Remo Forrer Watergun (Argyle Singh, Ashley Hicklin, Mikolaj Trybulec) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
Co-writer Hicklin’s biggest Eurovision success was with Tom Dice and Me And My Guitar in 2010 which finished 6th for Belgium. Watergun‘s theme is the futility of war which should strike a chord. Perhaps just a little too earnest to do well however.
4. POLAND: Blanka Solo (Blanka Stajkow, Maciej Puchalski, Mikołaj Trybulec, Bartłomiej Rzeczycki, Marcin Górecki, Maria Broberg, Julia Sundberg) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
Poland was 1 of the countries whose jury votes were questioned last year which results in juries now only appearing in the final. This national selection was also mired in controversy and Blanka’s rather limited vocal is cruelly exposed in her national final performance. The song itself however is a huge domestic hit and reminds these ears of early Britney. Could also be the low-rent version of last year’s still astonishing SloMo. This performance however is much improved.
5: SERBIA: Luke Black Samo mi se spava (I’m just sleepy) (Luka Ivanović) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
We loved the audio and had high hopes for the live performance which is even more angular and difficult than we ever could have wished. Serbia finished 5th in 2022 with an act and song that fans’ enthusiasm for grew and grew as the Contest progressed. Buckle up for a similar dark horse result in 2023.
6: FRANCE: La Zarra Évidemment (Evidently) (Fatima Zahra Hafdi, Ahmed Saghir Yannick Rastogi, Zacharie Raymond) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
France won Junior Eurovision in December but haven’t triumphed at the main event since 1977 when Marie Myriam sang L’Oiseau et l’Enfant. It has been making progress however and we loved last year’s Eurovision France c’est vous qui décidez although it produced a disappointing result. La Zarra is an internal selection and is clearly a star, her song is very French and we think it’s a potential winning entry. Very impressive staging and performance.
7. CYPRUS: Andrew Lambrou Break A Broken Heart (Jimmy Jansson, Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thornfeldt, Marcus Winther-John, Thomas Stengaard) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
Lambrou competed in much-missed Australian selection show Australia Decides in 2022 and we thought he gave a weak performance of a strong song. As we write, 1 of his song’s co-authors has credits on half a dozen of the entries in Sweden’s Melodifestivalen finalen and we wonder whether he might be repeating his 2022 fate this year on an international stage. We love the song though.
8: SPAIN: Blanca Paloma Eaea (Blanca Paloma Ramos, José Pablo Polo, Álvaro Tato) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
Blanca’s song didn’t feature in our preview of Benidorm Festival because we didn’t think it strong enough. It’s traditional fare with an uncompromising vocal that is staged memorably. We love flamenco and it’s job done if Spain wanted to bring something authentic to the Contest however we thought runner-up Agoney was so good they might have had a shot at winning for the 1st time for a country we love since 1969.
9: SWEDEN: Loreen Tattoo (Jimmy “Joker” Thörnfeldt, Jimmy Jansson, Lorine Talhaoui, Moa Carlebecker, Peter Boström, Thomas G:son) PREDICTION: 1st
We thought Sweden’s best chance of a Eurovision win in 2023 was to pick 2012 victor Loreen in Melodifestivalen who is the red-hot favourite to triumph again with this memorably staged and catchy song. It reminds us a little of the ethnicity of Madonna’s Frozen in its relaxed middle 8 but it is the claustrophobic staging and hooks of a Cazzi Opeia co-write that has us most buzzing for this. Sure, Loreen’s diction can be worked on but we think this would do very well in Liverpool in May. And who wouldn’t love a Eurovision in Sweden in 2024 – the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s 1974 victory?
10. ALBANIA: Albina and Familja Kelmendi Duje (To love) (Enis Mullaj, Eriona Rushiti) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
Albina Kelmindi and her family won the Eurovision ticket at Festivali i Këngës back in December. This slight revamp gives the entry orchestration and we’re expecting a strong performance of what is a pleasant and authentic song to Albania. Reminiscent of the classic Balkan ballads of old.
11. ITALY: Marco Mengoni Due Vite (Two Lives) (Marco Mengoni Davide Petrella Davide Simonetta) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Mengoni finished 7th for Italy in Malmo in 2013, our last live Eurovision final, and this has the feel of an album track rather than a hit single. Well sung which juries will like, melodic and he’s easy on the eye but struggling to repeat his previous success we think.
12. ESTONIA: Alika Bridges (Alika Milova, Wouter Hardy, Nina Sampermans) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Before seeing the performances we had this as our 6th favourite in Estonian selection Eesti Laul. We said then: ‘The less good Hometown Glory-ish, early Adele-type effort. Hardy co-wrote 2019 Eurovision winner Arcade with Duncan Laurence for the Netherlands and we expect that pedigree to lift this into a strong challenger for the Estonian ticket to Liverpool 2023.’ The live performance was strong, we love the self-playing piano and this could well be top 10 come May.
13: FINLAND Käärijä Cha Cha Cha (Aleksi Nurmi, Johannes Naukkarinen, Jere Pöyhönen, Jukka Sorsa) PREDICTION: 2nd
We rated this 4th in Finland’s extremely strong UMK. We said: ‘Its simple title is a bit of a red herring because there is a lot going on here with a number of genres at play including rock, pop and electro. Likely to find its fans in the more hardcore Eurovision element of the fandom we would imagine.’ It’s gathered far more momentum than we would have predicted however. The angry dancers add to its appeal but it’s the juries we suspect that will need to be won over.
14: CZECHIA: Vesna My Sister’s Crown (Patricie Kaňok Fuxová, Tanita Yankova, Kateryna Vatchenko) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
Combining an ethnic melody, with a professional presentation and a clear feminist message, this makes for an extremely strong entry. There’s rap and a sound that’s bang up to date that should see this finish strongly in Saturday’s final. Strong not tacked-on anti-war message also.
15. AUSTRALIA: Voyager Promise (Alex Canion, Ashley Doodkorte, Daniel Estrin, Scott Kay, Simone Dow) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Electro rock group Voyager won the public vote in Australia Decides last year and we didn’t rate the 80s prog rock effort at all but this is a completely different kettle of fish while being true to their musical genre. It’s super catchy, not a style we’re fans of at all but we’re unashamed to say we got winner vibes the moment we heard it. It’s unsure whether Australia will compete in Eurovision after this year and we suspect its broadcaster will hope a strong result will work in its favour.
16. BELGIUM: Gustaph Because Of You (Stef Caers, Jaouad Alloul) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
There’s a great deal to love here: a queer artist writing their own song of self-empowerment and it’s impressively performed although we’ve doubts over Gustaph’s frontman credentials and the staging needs work. Went big in the hall in Semi 2.
17. ARMENIA: Brunette Future Lover (Elen Yeremyan) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
The later songs to be revealed have always got a lot more work to do to raise interest in the Eurovision fandom and this has succeeded with many although we remain to be convinced. Brunette looks every inch a pop star although the song is a little wanting we think. Easily elevated if the vocal is strong and this is a wide-open semi without clear favourites.
18: MOLDOVA: Pasha Parfeny Soarele și luna (The Sun And The Moon) (Pavel Parfeni, Andrei Vulpe, Iuliana Parfeni) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
Listening to the audio 1st, we were surprised this beat SunStroke Project in the Moldovan selection. Parfeny finished 11th at Eurovision in 2012 and used to also front SunStroke Project. We’re enjoying the nose flute and folk vibe but think in this competition it may not be enough.
19. UKRAINE: Tvorchi Heart Of Steel (Jimoh Augustus Kehinde, Andrii Hutsuliak) PREDICTION: 5th
We saw 2022 victors Kalush Orchestra at Glastonbury Festival last year and still think they triumphed at Eurovision thanks to a sympathy vote. Tvorchi’s song has a title that will play well given the ongoing war with Russia but we think the song and performance is less voter friendly. Important for the Contest we think that this year a song deserving of winning does so.
20: NORWAY: Alessandra Mele Queen Of Kings (Alessandra Mele, Henning Olerud, Linda Dale, Stanley Ferdinandez) PREDICTION: 4th
This placed only 6th in our ranking for this year’s Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix. it’s well-performed and is the sort of mix of both Norwegian and Irish folk which many would assume would be a natural fit for either country at Eurovision. We don’t really understand how it went viral after its selection but is a domestic chart hit also having topped the chart in Norway.
21: GERMANY: Lord Of The Lost Blood And Glitter (Anthony J. Brown, Chris Harms, Pi Stoffers, Rupert Keplinger) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
Unlike France, Germany has rather lost its way and we can find little to redeem this. Masquerading as heavy rock, this has a whiff of the 70s about the keyboards and is essentially Lordi without both the masks – and tunes.
22. LITHUANIA: Monika Linkytė Stay (Monika Linkytė, Krists Indrišonoks, Jānis Jačmenkins) PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
Linkytė finished 18th for Lithuania in 2015 with Vaidas Baumila and This Time. Stay boasts strong vocals and there’s quality here but it is a rather mediocre song. A mouth-watering spot in the running order nevertheless. Terrific vocal and backing singers strongly staged.
23: ISRAEL: Noa Kirel Unicorn (Doron Medalie, May Sfadia, Yinon Yahel, Noa Kirel) PREDICTION: 3rd
Co-writer Medalie was 1 of the authors of Toy by Netta which won for Israel in 2018. Noa topped the charts in Israel with 4 singles between 2019 and 2021. Over the top intro, handclaps, potential for many stand out moments and great build to the chorus. ‘Feminine, phenomenal’ indeed. Love the very Israeli breakdown too three-quarters of the way through and ‘U-NI-CORN’ chanting. World class performance on Tuesday of a slightly disjointed but memorable song with particular impressive closing dance break.
24. SLOVENIA: Joker Out Carpe Diem (Joker Out) PREDICTION: 11th to 15th
With a song that occasionally reminds of Metronomy, this is 1 of our favourite dark horses of this year’s competition. They strut and peacock like a credible band and there’s a real energy about their performance which we can see going down a storm. Boyband good looks too (main picture)! Love the jumping audience surrounding them in the fab video and yet there’s also Maneskin rock band realness here.
25: CROATIA: Let 3 Mama ŠČ! (Mama) (Damir Martinović, Zoran Prodanović) PREDICTION: 21st to 26th
A change in the rules means this year the semi finals are televote only and we can’t help but think this madcap nonsense is going to benefit from the lack of a jury to snuff it out. Unfortunate. Perceived as anti-Russian, that may be its only redeeming feature in the current climate. The rehearsal clip gives it a cartoonish feel that starts to make sense.
26. UK: Mae Muller I Wrote A Song (Karen Poole, Lewis Thompson, Mae Muller) PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
The last time a woman represented the UK at Eurovision was Surie in 2018. I Wrote A Song is a female empowerment anthem which is upbeat, sounds contemporary and is extremely catchy. Sample lyric: ‘Wanted to trash your Benz, tell all your friends how cruel you were to me. Instead I Wrote A Song ’bout how you did me wrong. I could’ve cried at home and spent the night alone.’ We really wanted it to be Rina Sawayama but we think Mae will do the UK proud. Little Mix with extra sass. Even a touch of Spanish guitar. Best UK Eurovision entry since Gina G. We’ve concerns over the live vocal however.