Loreen – Tattoo
With a fringe so highly effective it made Claudia Winkleman’s look meek and retiring, Loreen won the Eurovision song contest in 2012 with Euphoria, which has an excellent declare to be the competitors’s biggest music of all time. Tectonic plates have collided with larger dynamic subtlety however Loreen’s beseeching vocal was electrical, even transferring and her crab dance turned the stuff of legend.
Now she is again to attempt to turn into the primary girl to win twice, and the bookies assume she has it sewn up already. The perimeter is a bit more feathered – didn’t her stylists know the story of Samson? – and Tattoo is possibly 10% much less formidable than Euphoria, however nonetheless: Loreen’s voice stays sensational, going from breathy mids to adrenaline-pumping highs and she or he has the superhuman stage presence of a Gaga or Beyoncé. A real pop star and a noticeable reduce above the remainder.
Käärijä – Cha Cha Cha
Loreen is a really powerful act to beat, but when anybody can do it, it’s Käärijä: he has the laborious stare and bowl reduce of a Berlin intercourse membership bouncer and his music is by some mark the most effective this yr. An unhinged mashup of trance, anarcho-punk and glam steel about how spiritually fulfilling it’s to get extraordinarily drunk, it bludgeons you with two minutes of pure cartoon violence earlier than dropping a refrain of fully wondrous pop perfection. The sector crowd – particularly these from north-west England, the religious house of laborious dance – will completely lose their minds to this.
Tvorchi – Coronary heart of Metal
The cheers may even be deafening when Tvorchi start: this contest rightfully belongs in Ukraine after Kalush Orchestra gained final yr. That win was secured because of voter solidarity – which may very simply occur once more – however in a traditional yr Kalush Orchestra’s stirring, showboating folk-pop banger Stefania may simply have triumphed anyway, and it continued an excellent run for Ukraine since they arrived in 2003: qualifying for the ultimate yearly, they’ve netted 11 High 10 placings together with three wins and two runner-up spots. With a funkily bumping Flume-esque beat, Coronary heart of Metal was impressed by the siege of the Azovstal metal works and whereas the duo can’t be too didactic because of Eurovision’s guidelines on political expression, the music’s themes of cussed resolve and self-definition (“Typically you simply gotta know / When to stay your center finger up within the air”) are as clear as day.
Teya & Salena – Who the Hell is Edgar?
These are the opening traces of Who the Hell is Edgar?:
There’s a ghost in my physique
And he’s a lyricist
It’s Edgar Allan Poe
And I feel he can’t resist
You’ve got my consideration, Teya & Salena. Pray proceed. Ah, your music is about being possessed by the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe who compels you to jot down gothic pop lyrics and carries you to a serious label recording contract? And your extremely catchy refrain goes “Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Edgar Allan, Edgar Allan Poe”? Douzeiest douze factors ever.
Blanka – Solo
Right here’s some Euro-tropical ska that’s about as authentically Caribbean as a tax exile within the Cayman Islands, however it’s cheerful sufficient. Blanka may even win the “dad hovering awkwardly in the lounge doorway” vote, whereas different regulation hotties embrace Cyprus stud Andrew Lambrou whose music is a bit Unimaginative Dragons; Italy’s Marco Mengoni who you sense is telling you one thing very passionate concerning the gentle in your eyes; and Israel’s Noa Kirel who does an impressively athletic dance routine that’s like Flashdance in excessive heels, however her music’s actual attraction is the solely honest declare within the refrain: “I acquired the ability of a unicorn.”
Let 3 – Mama ŠČ
Whether or not it’s dancing grannies for Russia or unicycling gnomes for Moldova, Eurovision wants moments that make you’re feeling as if your mid-contest Chocolate Orange has been laced with psilocybin. Croatia deliver that vibe this yr with a punk group who costume up as lipstick-smeared totalitarian dictators, with one in every of them driving a sit-on lawnmower. Mama ŠČ has the easy catchiness of a nursery rhyme, however it homes one of many political allegories that sometimes flies below the radar of the ostensibly apolitical Eurovision: the tractor within the lyrics is symbolic of how Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko – who as soon as gave Putin a tractor as a birthday current – aided Russia of their battle on Ukraine. Fairly extra prosaic anti-war messaging comes from Switzerland’s Remo Forrer and his dull-but-sturdy Watergun (“I don’t wanna be a soldier, soldier / I don’t wanna must play with actual blood”).
Brunette – Future Lover
The guiltiest pleasure of Eurovision for British individuals is laughing on the English-language lyrics of rival nations. It’s not massive, it’s not intelligent and it’s in all probability a symptom of our totally pathetic post-imperial smugness. However nonetheless, Future Lover rhymes “likes me sufficient to kiss my face” with “cute little issues, like drink smoothies at close to cafes”. The lyrics really find yourself being significantly better than the generically uplifting poetry that’s typically at Eurovision – Brunette quickly delivers a fraught high-speed rap as her anxiousness to search out love consumes her.
Reiley – Breaking My Coronary heart
Eurovision can typically really feel prefer it’s enjoying catchup to the massive UK-US pop tendencies of a few years earlier than, however Reiley is without doubt one of the entrants who feels as if they really come from 2023. His music overtly rips off each I’m So Drained by Lauv and Troye Sivan and the vocal results of Francis and the Lights – however his beautiful falsetto makes it an efficient heist, and his androgynous magnificence could have tweens frantically mashing the voting app.
Pasha Parfeni – Soarele şi Luna
With an antler-wearing priestess, a masked flute-playing dwarf and ethereal twins doing backing vocals whereas gazing into mirrors, Moldova get a full home for A24 folk-horror bingo with this very good pounding observe. Clearly influenced by the final two Ukrainian entries, which have blended folks components with techno and hip-hop respectively, the pagan-robed Pasha Parfeni sings in Romanian “the solar and the moon will maintain our wedding ceremony crown” earlier than a hoe-down and blood sacrifice (latter implied). Parfeni is a Eurovision lifer who represented Moldova in 2012, co-wrote and performed piano for his or her 2013 entry, and has put himself ahead 4 different instances however his mum presumably instructed the organisers to let another person have a go.
Alessandra – Queen of Kings
One other folkloric be-robed anthem right here – pattern alert! – with Alessandra telling a Sport of Thrones-type story of an all-conquering queen rampaging throughout the “north and southern seas” and leaving a path of Nordic symbols and girlboss signifiers in her wake: “A firestone, solid in flames / Wildest card, run the sport”. The grog-chugging heartiness of a sea shanty performed with the drum programming of an Ibizan tech-house producer, Queen of Kings will whip up a storm within the area, and alongside Loreen’s Tattoo has already turn into a multimillion-streaming hit.
Luke Black – Samo Mi Se Spava
The 31 acts exterior the Large 5 nations who routinely make the ultimate because of their monetary assist – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – must make it by way of semi-finals on Tuesday and Thursday. Luke Black could wrestle on condition that his music is extra of a dramatic studying than a present of melodic vocal prowess, however it’s extra fascinating than most: a 9 Inch Nails-style cyberpunk observe about nihilism and apathy within the face of a collapsing planet. The staging is nice – Black rants “battle, violence, rage, virus” in Serbian as he disassembles zombie-replicant backing dancers – and his camply evil giggles, groans and stares are the stuff of memes.
Blanca Paloma: Eaea
As one of many Large 5, Spain can afford to experiment (a tactic that the UK by the way by no means opts for) and ship a daring and interesting entry this yr. The affect of Spanish famous person Rosalía is apparent in how this music updates flamenco with analogue-techno results percolating far off within the combine, and within the keening, near-ululated supply of Paloma, who has this yr’s most fascinating vocal timbre. There’s no actual tune per se, however the music wraps round you want a fluttering bolt of fabric. Eurovision eagerly tells us her songwriting is “primarily based on the concept of a ceremony or ceremony that connects us with what’s pre-rational and instinctive; by way of experimentation and expertise, Blanca seeks to discover the elements of our soul that transcend phrases. As a toddler, Blanca raised a duck in her bathtub.” OK, thanks for that.
Lord of the Misplaced – Blood & Glitter
Australia’s Voyager do have a really entertaining guitar v keytar solo-off of their music Promise, however of the heavy rock entries this yr Lord of the Misplaced have the sting. Think about Nick Cave or Future Islands auditioning for a Broadway musical about Kiss and also you’re type of there with the lead singer, whereas the “pyow! Pyow!” synth noises are brilliantly silly.
Mae Muller – I Wrote a Song
The UK was very a lot the Millwall FC of Eurovision in that everybody hated us and we didn’t care, till final yr, when Sam Ryder’s stratospherically uplifting House Man carried us to second place. Seems we simply wanted an excellent music, and we’ve got one other one this yr – although not fairly in the identical league. The clever-clever metatextuality of I Wrote a Tune is offset by probably the most historically Europop backing of the yr, and a canny wordless refrain; Muller does the most effective “strutting round with the girlies performing such as you don’t care about your breakup if you really type of do” since Dua Lipa in New Guidelines. Alongside Loreen and Noa Kirel, it’s correct pop, and as she’s closing the present, Muller will hopefully surf a good wave of votes.