Well, Turin’s turn at hosting Eurovision has ended, and now Ukraine will take on the song contest in 2023, assuming that all’s well and Putin has given up on his big-dick quest to become the next great asshole of the world. One has to hope that all the members of Kalush Orchestra can return to the show next year to celebrate the next winner’s victory. Dark to imagine that you can win one of the biggest competitions on television one day and then head off to war the next.
Anyhow, all the scoreboards have been published, and I’d like to go through them and give one or two sentences about what I thought of all the tracks. Late criticism? Sure. But this is an online diary, not an established news platform. If you’re coming here for hard-hitting journalism, artistic analysis, or professional opinions, you’re in the wrong place, Padre. All scores, by the way, come from Eurovision World and are official.
The semi-finalists: Those who didn’t make it
Note that for this section, I’m only mentioning entries that didn’t make it to the finals, as well as the amount of points each of the entries scored in their respective semi-finals. Scoring is different between the semi-finals and the finals, but you know this if you watch Eurovision.
Slovenia: LPS – “Disko” – 19 points. The Slovenians scored the lowest amount of points across both semi-finals. “Disko” was forgettable, but not without fun; every Eurovision has to have a standard fare dance track that everyone loves in the moment but doesn’t remember the next day. Respect to Slovenia; better luck next year.
Georgia: Circus Mircus – “Lock Me In” – 22 points. Again, nothing remarkable. Something they’ll blast at the clubs over in Tbilisi, I assume. I did like the staging.
Bulgaria: Intelligent Music Project – “Intention” – 29 points. A fun rock number. I can see why the audience didn’t go for it; compared to Finland’s “Jezebel”, it didn’t seem to have the same oomph.
Montenegro: Vladana – “Breathe” – 33 points. A smoky number that probably could have done a little better in the rankings, to be fair. I think the performance at Eurovision was a bit rough, but otherwise I enjoyed the song. Certainly should have come higher than third-last among the semi-finalists.
Austria: LUM!X & Pia Maria – “Halo” – 42 points. Hard to see this song not even break the top ten. I didn’t think it was a terrible pop number. To be quite honest, many finalists needed a little extra energy, and if Austria had advanced with this track, they would have brought it.
Malta: Emma Muscat – “I Am What I Am” – 47 points. I thought for sure this would become a finalist. The juries and the rest of the audience didn’t, I suppose. Positive self-affirming pop bangers seem out of fashion, I guess.
Ireland: Brooke Scullion – “That’s Rich” – 47 points. The Irish entry didn’t fare as well as their UK neighbors, unfortunately. Was it a bad song? No. Was it a good song? No. I can’t say it wasn’t a good effort.
San Marino: Achille Lauro – “Stripper” – 50 points. Not even a mechanical bull and San Marino’s usual fare of sexiness could save this track. The stagecraft was fun, but that only gets you so far. Remember when Flo Rida represented the country?
Latvia: Citi Zeni – “Eat Your Salad” – 55 points. A loss for the contest. This song was the viral hit that seemed set for a spot in the finals. Perhaps it was the censorship of the famous opening line that tossed Latvia’s chances right into the trash. But not every semi-finalist in Eurovision who doesn’t make it to the finals is forgettable. Latvia certainly proved that this year.
Denmark: Reddi – “The Show” – 55 points. Unfortunately, unlike Latvia, I couldn’t remember the Danish entry. The song was a good rock number, but like Bulgaria, it just didn’t pack enough of a punch to beat Finland for the designated hard rock entry. (You may say there’s room for multiple rock entries. Look at last year, you say! Well, that’s because both Finland and Italy had fantastic rock tracks in 2021. This year, that wasn’t the case.)
Albania: Ronela Hajati – “Sekret” – 58 points. Albania’s sultry showing seemed like a finalist, and it came quite close to breaking the first semi-final’s top ten. But the gyrating of both hips and hair couldn’t help it over the hump. I liked the song and – admittedly – the visual aspect of the performance, so the paltry finish was disappointing.
Israel: Michael Ben David – “I.M” – 61 points. Unremarkable, frankly. Even if the song was any better, you have to wonder if Israel would have made it to the final given their current political happenings. Look, I know we like to say that Eurovision’s about the music and the love for each country’s people and not about any particular government or group or belief. But sometimes Eurovision goes there, and we just have to accept that. It sucks, but it happens. Moving on.
Cyprus: Andromache – “Ella” – 63 points. The performance was a bit flat, but the stagecraft seemed nice. Not sure if I would have rather seen this in the final over some of the other entries, but it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.
Croatia: Mia Dimšić – “Guilty Pleasure” – 75 points. Among the entries in the first semi-final, this had the most points of those that didn’t move on. I liked this track, and the sparse stagecraft with the dancing made it clear there was passion behind it. However, the juries and audience found it just okay.
North Macedonia: Andrea – “Circles” – 76 points. This track was part of the second semi-final, and frankly, it should have beaten out some of the other songs that performed that night. Andrea’s voice echoed through the hall and the composition of the track was excellent. I assume the lack of any stagecraft hurt the song’s chances of advancing, but sometimes you don’t need any. It’s either all about the song, the stagecraft, or a balanced mix of both. In this case, the strength of the song alone should have sent this semi-finalist into Saturday night’s contest.
Now we’re going to go through the finalist scoreboard, listing the country, the artist name, the song name, and then how many points they scored in the final.
Germany: Malik Harris – “Rockstars” – 6 points. No nul points acts this year, although Germany came close. The half-American half-German rock rapper Malik Harris tried to pull off a Machine Gun Kelly act, but the Eurovision audience didn’t buy it. The juries gave it nothing and the televoters threw it a bone, but otherwise “Rockstars” was a dud that didn’t seem poised for anything greater than the bottom right of the scoreboard.
France: Alvan & Ahez – “Fulenn” – 17 points. France held some sort of spiritual ritual on stage. The beat was there, the stagecraft was there, but unfortunately the vibe came off as strange. It did much worse than I expected, but I understand the low ranking.
Iceland: Systur – “Með hækkandi sól” – 20 points. I had to copy and paste the title from Google because my keyboard can’t type those characters. Systur eked through their semi-final to qualify for the big show, and while their mellow song held its own, apparently the other viewers found it a little too mellow. Not deserving of such a low spot, in my opinion.
Czech Republic: We Are Domi – “Lights Off” – 38 points. After doing quite well in the second semi-final, the Czech electronic banger from We Are Domi didn’t fare as successfully the second time around. It only received five points from the televoters, and you could tell that the low vote was unexpected when there was silence from the live audience. It seemed to go over well in Turin, and I thought it should have been in the left column for sure. Perhaps going first harmed We Are Domi’s chances; often the placement makes a difference.
Finland: The Rasmus – “Jezebel” – 38 points. Tying with the Czech entry, The Rasmus brought the usual Finnish edge to the contest. Was it as good as Blind Channel’s song “Dark Side” from 2021’s contest? No, but it had its own drive to it, and I liked it very much. The visual aspect of the showing seemed fun in a dark way as well.
Armenia: Rosa Linn – “Snap” – 61 points. This folk-pop track seemed poised for a greater showing, as during the semi-final it received the fifth-most points. However, by the time the final came around, it was forgotten and smothered by the other entries. Unfortunate; I liked the song as well as the smart theatrics with all the paper.
Belgium: Jérémie Makiese – “Miss You” – 64 points. Not a great televote, but the jury thought “Miss You” deserved some merit. I agree with the ranking; while I thought it was a good song, it didn’t really impress me as much as some of the other songs in the final.
Romania: WRS – “Llamame” – 65 points. Another mediocre dance track joins the pack of middle-listers. Again, I agree with the ranking. Not a bad song, but it just didn’t have what a Eurovision song needs to grab the attention and the votes of the juries and public.
Switzerland: Marius Bear – “Boys Do Cry” – 78 points. All of these 78 points came from the jury. Not a single public vote went to Switzerland. The song put many television viewers to sleep. Was it a bad song? No! But if you’re going to do a solemn song on the Eurovision stage, you’ve got to keep the audience awake or else they simply won’t vote for you. Frankly, Switzerland received the lowest televote in its semi-final, so maybe Albania should have taken its spot and treated the final audience to some gyrations.
Azerbaijan: Nadir Rustamli – “Fade To Black” – 106 points. Here’s another song where the juries made a big difference. The televote gave Azerbaijan three votes; the juries provided the other 103. Note that this entry did not receive a single televote in the second semi-final; the juries sent it through. This is why the split public and jury vote is a blessing and a curse; it provides a more democratic platform, but songs that the public hated might get the blessing of the juries over other tracks that might have excited the audience more. “Fade To Black” is not a bad song; it just didn’t stick with the viewers. It didn’t stick with me, anyway; I just remember two guys laying on stairs.
Australia: Sheldon Riley – “Not The Same” – 125 points. Once again, a sad boy gets blessed by the juries. Only two of Sheldon’s 125 points came from the public, who are apparently tired of the shtick that Sheldon, Nadir, and Marius provided at this year’s contest. Eurovision is a time of celebration and camp, and if you’re going to get sad, you’d better get a little weird with it. Frankly, I think Australia should have brought back Montaigne and apologized for stiffing her in 2021. “Technicolor” was a surefire winner. (Surprisingly, Australia placed second in the second semi-final and did well with the public. Televoters are fickle creatures, I guess.)
Lithuania: Monika Liu – “Sentimental” – 128 points. I loved the homage to Liza in this smooth jazz number. Liu rocked the stage with subtlety and grace; that was how you deliver a slow song and wake up the audience at the same time! While it only just squeaked through to the left column, it could have landed a few rungs higher in my book.
Estonia: Stefan – “Hope” – 141 points. This Edward Sharpe-styled track was pretty good, but honestly I found it similar to the songs that were just okay in the semi-final and didn’t make it into the Saturday show. I agree it should have been in the final, but ranked so high? I’m not sure. The televote came through for this one; maybe the song just wasn’t my bag. The stagecraft didn’t do it for me either.
Poland: Ochman – “River” – 151 points. The televoters loved this one, and I think it was because of its similarity to 2019’s winner. Yes, you can mash up “River” and “Arcade” if you try hard enough. I liked the song, but I agree with the vote; it wasn’t a top ten track for me. The stagecraft was pretty slick though, what with the lightning.
Netherlands: S10 – “De Diepte” – 171 points. S10 got the second-highest amount of points in the first semi-final, beat out only by Ukraine. Sparse stagecraft worked for this song, as S10’s soulful voice along with the beat made this song a guaranteed resident of the left column of the scoreboard. It didn’t rank as high as I thought it should have, but Eurovision’s a strange beast where every entry is at the whimsy of the juries and the public.
The top ten
#10… Norway: Subwoolfer – “Give That Wolf a Banana” – 182 points. Perhaps the most Eurovisiony of all Eurovision entries this year, Subwoolfer’s viral track only placed tenth! The juries didn’t seem to go for this one, but at least the public tried to give it a well-deserved boost. In a year of weaker entries among the top ten, I would have argued for a higher ranking for Norway. But I understand why it’s at the bottom of the top. It just didn’t seem like the year for camp, but as Norway showed, just the right amount of camp will get you places in this contest no matter when it happens.
#9… Portugal: Maro – “Saudade, saudade” – 207 points. The harmonies of the track were absolutely beautiful, and the grace of Maro on stage sold the performance. I think this could have ranked a little higher, but its existence in the top ten sits well with me.
#8… Greece: Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – “Die Together” – 215 points. Greece ranked third in their semi-final, so it seemed fair to assume that Amanda would go far in the final. Eighth place makes sense for this track; good enough for the top ten, but doesn’t beat out the more emotional and stronger pop songs in the mix like Sweden’s or the UK’s.
#7… Moldova: Zdob și Zdub & Advahov Brothers – “Trenulețul” – 253 points. Talk about the televote coming through. These Eurovision regulars for Moldova got 239 of their final points from the public, who apparently loved the mix of polka, stadium pump-up rock, and hip-hop. 239 televote points are the second-most among this year’s finalists. I didn’t think this one was even going to make it past the semi-final, but you know what? They struck gold with their level of camp this year, and I get why they placed where they did. Good job, Moldova!
#6… Italy: Mahmood & Blanco – “Brividi” – 268 points. The host country’s entry didn’t shake me as much as it did the juries and public. I thought the harmonies were off, the song was a little too slow, and it didn’t get a rise out of the live audience. It was a beautiful slow nonetheless, and I know that Mahmood is a celebrated artist outside of Eurovision, so I understand why the vote landed the way it did. But I don’t think I would have placed it in the top ten. To me, it just didn’t have much going for it.
#5… Serbia: Konstrakta – “In Corpore Sano” – 312 points. This track got 225 televote points, the fourth-most among finalists, but it got enough points from the juries to push it into the top five. Konstrakta’s dark pulsing beat and hand-washing theatrics made the audience fall in love with their entry. I like its fifth place finish, although I didn’t expect it one bit. I’ll admit that it’s stuck in my head for sure.
#4… Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – “Hold Me Closer” – 438 points. Sweden’s fourth-place finish is a big jump from Serbia’s. Jakobs had pain in her voice that translated well to the emotional nature of the song, and the spinning background behind her was a good piece of stagecraft that worked well to shape the mood of the performance. I expected this to land in the top five for sure.
#3… Spain: Chanel – “SloMo” – 459 points. Spain’s third-place finish was brought about by tight on-stage choreography, a beat that wouldn’t quit, Chanel’s fantastic voice delivering the at times rapid-fire lyrics, and a good rapport with the audience. “SloMo” received the third-most televote points behind Ukraine and the UK, and I can just imagine viewers all over Europe compelled to get up and dance with Chanel and her backup crew. For sure I thought this song was going to take the #2 spot behind Ukraine. That is…
#2… United Kingdom: Sam Ryder – “Space Man” – 466 points. …Until the UK showed up. I didn’t expect “Space Man” to rise as high. After James Newman received nul points across the board for “Embers” in 2021 – a feat I didn’t think was deserved – I expected Europe to vote just as harshly for Sam. I liked “Space Man” as well as Sam’s performance of it on stage; the cool 3-D dome around him made for a great piece of stagecraft, he hit every high note in his passionate delivery of the vocals, and the guitar solo at the end was the cherry on top of a fantastic showing. “Space Man” received the most points from the juries out of all the finalists, but the public vote just wasn’t there to get it over the top. Still, to go from dead last to second place is a feat which the United Kingdom should celebrate. Hopefully they’ll fare as well – if not better – next year.
#1… Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – “Stefania” – 631 points. There was no beating Ukraine this year. Everyone involved with the contest knew they’d win as soon as Kalush Orchestra’s involvement was announced. “Stefania” is a hard-hitting track with traditional Ukranian, hip-hop, and rock influences with a catchy hook and beat, so the musicality alone made Ukraine a real contender this year. But of course, current events do play into the vote, and while the juries didn’t give Ukraine as much of their love, the public did. Ukraine’s 439 televote points are the most in the contest’s history for any entry. The showing of support for Ukraine in its time of crisis was expected, but had it been any other group, Ukraine might not have fared as well. Kalush Orchestra is excellent in their own right, and even if better times were upon the nation, Ukraine would have made trouble for the other entries.
Major congratulations to Ukraine and to all of the contestants of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. While it’s not set in stone where the next contest will take place, here’s to celebrating together, getting just as crunk, and pretending to be wisecracking commentators in 2023.