From Loreen's second win for Sweden to insane outfits and props or social media's new love affair with remarkable host Hannah Waddingham, Euronews Culture runs down the most memorable moments from this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.
Liverpool paid host to the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of last year’s winners Ukraine, as it was decided that it would be too risky to stage such a huge event in the war-torn country. There was more controversy surrounding Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was barred by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) from delivering a message to millions of viewers at the Eurovision final. Organisers explained there are rules in place to keep politics out of the singing competition, but praised his “laudable intentions”.
Zelenskyy, who today met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, drew criticism from some Eurovision fans too, after he was reported as saying he’d rather the Song Contest had been held in a neighbouring country to Ukraine so citizens could attend more easily.
Although Loreen’s ‘Tattoo’ was the bookies’ favourite to win from an early stage, many fans in Liverpool and across Europe felt as though Finland were ‘robbed’. While Käärijä ‘Cha Cha Cha’ was an undeniable bop and featured some of the best costumes of the entire contest, it won in its own way - already chalking up more than 24 million streams on Spotify alone.
Moldova was another country which fans considered to be ‘robbed’, after coming in a disappointing 18th place, out of the 26 acts in the grand finale. The eastern European nation is well known for its wacky, stand out performances and Pasha Parfeni’s ‘Soarele și Luna’ was one of the most entertaining ever, with its cult leader vibes, 'devilish' hairstyles on backing singers and oversized drums.
Historically, solo acts at Eurovision have performed better than groups - and this year was no exception. 2023’s top five - winner Loreen, Finland’s Käärijä, Israel’s Noa Kirel, Italy’s Marco Mengoni and Norway’s Alexandra - was entirely made up of solo performers, despite some strong offerings from group acts.
An iconic interval
While some of the performances at the contest were criticised for being a little lacking in energy, the interval acts were a fan favourite for much of the audience.
A performance from last year’s runner up, Britain’s Sam Ryder accompanied by Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor, and a medley of some of the best music to come out of host city Liverpool took the arena by storm.
The 14-minute medley of songs by acts native to Liverpool featured a cover of the late Beatle John Lennon’s classic, a reimagining Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round’ performed by Israel’s Netta, who won Eurovision in 2018 and a highlight of the entire contest - Iceland’s Daði Freyr, who covered ‘Whole Again’ by Atomic Kitten spectacular style.
Also performed were Spice Girl Mel C’s ‘I Turn To You’ and ‘Better the Devil you know’, by Sonia, who came second place at Eurovision in 1993. Rounding off the powerful tribute was a rendition of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’; performed by 2019’s Dutch winner Duncan Laurence, which left barely a dry eye in the audience.
The greatest hosts of all time?
The British are well known for their sense of humour and this year’s stand out hosts didn’t disappoint.
Main host Hannah Waddingham has been hailed as a national treasure for her infectious enthusiasm, dance moves and bilingual skills and she didn’t let the side down at Saturday’s final, instilling energy into the night while looking glorious in two stunning gowns. Euronews Culture has written a glowing tribute to the ‘Ted Lasso’ star here.
Former ‘Great British Bake Off’ host Mel Giedroyc had a smaller role than Waddingham but she was deservedly one of the most talked about people in the entire Song Contest. As well as entertaining audiences with her witty commentary, Twitter sung her praises after she dressed as a milkmaid and seductively pretended to churn butter as Waddingham discussed the upcoming acts.
Giedroyc was paying tribute to one of the most bizarre Eurovision moments of all time - Poland’s 2014’s entry by Donatan & Cleo which saw similarly dressed ‘milkmaids’ apparently churning butter for the entirety of the performance.
Graham Norton, who took turns commentating and presenting, commented that Giedroyc was, “literally milking it” and fans online demanded she be crowned the rightful winner of the whole night.
The high price of Scandinavia
One thing Eurovision fans were not so excited about is the potential cost of visiting Sweden for next year’s contest. Although it won’t be decided for several months which city will have the honour of hosting the show, Sweden is famously one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Some tweets have shown low-end hotels in the capital Stockholm charging thousands of euros for a night’s accommodation next May, even though there’s been no official announcement as to when the Song Contest will take place in 2024.
However, with unconfirmed rumours (which could just be wishful thinking) of an ABBA reunion to mark 50 years since they won Eurovision with ‘Waterloo’, some diehard fans will think the expense is more than worth it.