17 April 2023

Eurovision Song Contest 2023: Our experts’ picks

Expert comment
Last year, we asked some of our expert musicians to pick out the most notable songs from the 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

And wow, did they deliver.

They picked out 5 songs from the starting list of 40, and they all successfully landed in the overall top 10.

Nobody could’ve predicted 20th-place finisher Rosa Linn and her song ‘Snap’, representing Armenia, would go viral courtesy of TikTok before hitting the Billboard Hot 100. (She’s arguably the true winner of last year’s competition — bagging herself a recording contract with Columbia Records, and a spot opening for Ed Sheeran on the upcoming American leg of his Mathematics Tour.)

Nor did our experts select the winner, Ukraine — although there were suggestions that public sympathy helped their song outperform its merit. But they did get 3 of the top 5 right, including Sam Ryder, who scored the UK’s best result since 1998 with a second-placed finish.

Now the world’s biggest live music event is preparing to return to screens in May 2023. Winning the competition (created in 1956 to build bridges between nations in a post-war Europe) typically bestows the right to host the following year’s edition. But understandably on this occasion, the runners-up are stepping in.

Two semi-finals and the live final will all be held in Liverpool, home of The Beatles and just an hour’s drive from our Manchester global headquarters, from March 9-13. It should attract a global audience approaching 180 million, and features several songs to lyrically reference the current turmoil on the continent’s eastern fringes.

With this in mind, we asked our resident experts to once again gaze into their crystal balls, and pick out another 5 songs likely to feature at the sharp end of the competition. But before we get into it, here’s the official supercut showcasing all 37(!) entries taking part this year….

 

Our experts mentioned lots of songs in discussion (listen out for Finland’s hooky hyperpop, Germany’s anthemic glam metal and Slovenia’s mid-2010s radio rock), but in the end have selected these:

The runaway favorite: Loreen – Tattoo (Sweden)

A&R manager Calvin Sproston has picked out Sweden’s Loreen, who is bidding to be just the second ever entrant (and first woman) to win the competition twice. Her dominant 2012 winner, Euphoria, was a nexus that upped the ante for every subsequent competition, and she is the clear favorite with bookmakers to do it again. He said:

“Loreen has come a long way since finishing 4th on Swedish Idol way back in 2004, and she’s back at Eurovision with another banger (and what could easily be the longest nails this competition has ever seen!). Tattoo is more of a slow burner than Euphoria – you don’t get the full flavor until the second chorus – but when it drops, you’re thrown straight onto the dancefloor. Her powerful vocals are hypnotic, drenched in delay, and warped around immersive electronic texture.

“If all goes well on the night, Loreen could be bringing home a record-equalling seventh victory for Sweden and giving them the right to host in 2024. Which, Eurovision fans know, would be very romantic – being 50 years since Sweden’s first victory, secured by a little-known band called ABBA…”

 

The Eurovision-by-numbers romp: Alessandra – Queen of Kings (Norway)

Senior composer Callum Stubbs has picked out Norway’s entry for the second year in a row. Last year’s attempt sneaked into the top 10, and this year’s entry seems destined to fare better still:

“Alessandra’s ‘Queen of Kings’ was a last-minute entry into Melodi Grand Prix, the Norwegian national selection competition. Heir-presumptive Ulrikke – who was set to represent Norway in 2020, before the contest was cancelled – was beaten into second spot, and Queen of Kings has been racking up millions of streams across Scandinavia ever since.

“It harks back to a more traditional Eurovision sound, with Alessandra’s powerful and extensive vocal range re-enforced by chanting hooks, dramatic and impactful percussion and massive half-time builds, before dropping into a fist-pumping Eurodance chorus. Its lyrical reference to self-belief, power and victory certainly lends itself to winning in Liverpool, and it has a strong live performance concept to back it up. Bet against it at your peril.”

 

The tongue-in-cheek industry critique: Teya & Salena – Who the Hell is Edgar? (Austria)

Composition team leader Louis Hurndall has picked out Austria’s bid to win a third Eurovision title, which is an irreverent comment on today’s music industry monopoly and performed by two soloists who met while participating on a TV talent show:

“The storyline behind the lyrics is the kind of ridiculous that can really succeed at Eurovision: that the lyricist has been possessed by the spirit of famed American writer Edgar Allan Poe, with profitable consequences.

“The line ‘0.003, give me two years and your dinner will be free, gas station champagne is on me’ is an overt reference to the royalties paid by Spotify, and supporting the humorous lyrics is a driving 146BPM pop track, led by a simple yet dutiful guitar lick. With splashes of opera placed around the arrangement, it allows for a truly memorable and unique composition that will have you head-bobbing and humming their message of defiance and frustration.”

 

The one with pedigree: Brunette – Future Lover (Armenia)

Mary Miller, also a composition team leader, has picked out Armenia’s latest entry as one to watch. The Caucasus country has never won the grand prize, but it has a fantastic track record – placing in the top 10 in half of all their 14 entries. Not only that, but they scored a win in the annual Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2021, and now they clearly have a taste for victory:

“Rising star Brunette has been announced as their 2023 act, whose singles ‘Night’, ‘Smoke Break’ and ‘Light Blue Eyes’ have achieved millions of views on YouTube and earned her a loyal fan base.

“The song captivates you from the opening moments, with mesmerising piano lines mirroring her haunting lead melody. This intro develops into a grand orchestral arrangement, where strings and percussive hits build to a grand crescendo. And the dynamic nature of this song holds your attention from start to finish, with dreamy vocals that evolve into an emotive spoken word section. All things considered, Armenia are in good standing to secure not just another Top 10 spot, but a potential win.”

 

The vengeful anthem: Mae Muller – I Wrote a Song (United Kingdom)

Last year, senior composer Liz Mann picked out Serbia’s fifth-placed finisher. She’s explained why, this year, she’s picked out the hosts’ hopeful:

“In recent years, the UK’s approach to the Eurovision Song Contest has been apathetic at best. We’ve consistently and deservedly found ourselves at the bottom of the points table, cursed by dreary ballads and unremarkable pop. However, things took a dramatic turn for the better in 2022 and now, determined to prove last year’s second-place finish is no fluke, it seems we’re finally taking things seriously.

“Mae Muller wants you to know that revenge is a dish best served on the dancefloor. Her track is a perfectly calibrated mix of sing-along pop á la Dua Lipa, combined with a heavy helping of waltzing rhythms, pounding syncopated basslines, and just a sprinkle of camp. The resulting track is formulaic but nails the trend for female revenge anthems, akin to Miley Cyrus’s ‘Flowers’ and SZA’s ‘Kill Bill’ – and what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in its clubby hypnotism.

“Mae has big pop star energy, and her track is the first in over 10 years to hit the Official UK Charts before the contest. Could this finally be the song to seal the UK’s first win since 1997? There’s every chance.”

Will it be one of these, or another that takes the crown? Tune in on the night (or the morning, if you’re in Australia) to watch – the European Broadcasting Union has published details of where you can watch around the world, including Peacock in the US.

And you can stream all 37 songs on Spotify right now.

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