What an amazing night, what an amazing Contest, and from my point of view, what amazing winner! Congratulations to Loreen and Sweden.
I know that you will have enjoyed the ESC 2023 grand final last Saturday. Kudos to the BBC for producing and delivering a broadcast of just over four hours that didn’t feel like it was that long. Gosh, in Turin last year it felt twice as long!
Much of the joy from the contest didn’t just come from the songs – it came from the presenters. The inclusion of Graham Norton added to the dynamic and during the voting sequence his collaboration with Hannah Waddingham was assured, funny and when it needed to be, strict! Hannah in particular kept the arena audience under manners when they were getting a bit giddy during the voting.
Mae Muller didn’t have the result most of us expected, with many thinking it would be top ten finish or on the left hand side of the leader board. Not to be. Finishing 25th is disappointing, but as has been said, perhaps the message of the song doesn’t easily translate, and the vocal was adequate at best, and the overall vision mixing didn’t fully capture Mae’s personality. That said, I think you can see she is loving life during her performance, with a few cheeky smiles to camera.
As I said last week, life beyond Eurovision week can render the result immaterial. Let’s hope that Mae can build on this result on the socials. She is already an established artist, so whilst we didn’t get the result we wanted, she was part of the most-watched ESC final in the UK – ever!
I was delighted to see Sonia on stage as part of the interval acts. Bless her. Showing the sequence of the voting from 1993 when she narrowly lost to Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh was a nod to how well she had done, and the disappointment we all felt when she didn’t win. A brief reprise of the other Better The Devil You Know doesn’t make it feel like 30 years ago! And how lovely that Niamh herself acknowledged Sonia when she delivered the votes for Ireland.
And so the ESC is back in Sweden next year. And they now tie with Ireland as the most successful countries – with seven wins apiece. Sweden are prolific competitors, and when they rarely miss out on a top ten finish that’s a shock. From the first time I heard Tattoo I *loved* it. And that staging – wow! I was getting texts on Saturday night from people who had not seen or heard the Swedish entry. One of them simply read, “Sweden – perfection”.
The voting sequence gave me what I wanted – a tussle between Sweden and Finland. That didn’t come during the jury voting, but it did with the public vote. Käärijä topped the public vote, Lorraine the jury vote. Some people were moaning online yesterday that the jury vote should be scrapped. I disagree. Juries have criteria that they mark to, and it isn’t just first impressions or their favourite song musically. When we watch at home, we’re going on gut instinct sometimes – and that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making informed choices! There have been winners recently who haven’t topped either vote. Jamala for Ukraine at ESC2016, Duncan Lawrence for The Netherlands at ESC2019.
I hadn’t realised that it is 50 years in 2024 since Abba won the ESC, so how fitting that the Contest will be hosted there. The Swedes know how to host the ESC very well, and it will be mega next year.
I think that our (UK) hosting of the ESC was superlative. To all involved in any way, shape or form, huge congratulations (and celebrations!). It will be hard to top, and will linger in the memory for many years to come. It was lovely to be in the city and to be able to attend the semi-final previews. Liverpool – you were dead good!
So, this is my final post for my ESC blog this year. I have been blogging since 2008 (with a little hiatus) and this year was the twelfth Contest that I have shared with you my thoughts, feelings and experiences of all thing Eurovision. Liverpool represents the ninth Contest I have attended in person, and I think it will be my last. Even the lure of Sweden and 50 years of Abba’s victory couldn’t tempt me! I’m watching from home from now on…
Borrowing from Martin Osterdahl’s voting green light, Eurovision you were good, and now it’s time for me to go.
Thanks for reading, and if I do blog again, maybe you’ll join me again?
любов Phil. xx