Eurovision 2023 How to watch and what you need to

Eurovision 2023: How to watch and what you need to know

The Eurovision Song Contest has been an annual fixture on the global pop calendar since 1956 – with the exception of 2020 when the competition entered a forced Covid-19 year hiatus – and this month the competition is taking place in Liverpool, England.

Organized by public service broadcasters from the Swiss-based European Broadcasting Union, the Eurovision Song Contest is a colourful, hard-fought competition in which each participating country sends an artist to perform an original song no longer than three minutes. The winner will be determined by voting at the end of the “grand finale”.

More than 160 million viewers from around the world watched the competition last year and Eurovision’s popularity is growing steadily. Even in the United States, a country generally immune to the extravagant celebration of popular music, the Eurovision Song Contest has already begun to take hold.

Below is an overview of this year’s top acts, tips on how to watch the event from the US and why the event is being held in England this year.

Only seven European countries took part in the first Eurovision Song Contest, which took place as an experiment in international live broadcasting on television.

Today, 52 countries have participated in Eurovision at least once. Since 2008 there have also been two semi-finals to limit the field before the grand final. This year, the top ten countries from each semi-final advance to the grand final.

The 2023 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest features a total of 37 entrants, including the ‘Big Five’ – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – who are the EBU’s biggest funders. These five countries go straight to the finals, skipping the traitor elimination round.

Bulgaria, Montenegro and North Macedonia are not officially participating this year due to the costs involved in participating. Belarus has been suspended since 2021 following the disputed 2020 election and subsequent crackdown on dissent, with the EBU citing “the repression of media freedom” in the country.

The Eurovision Song Contest has in the past invited seemingly unlikely contestants, provided they were members of the EBU. Morocco, for example, joined the struggle in 1980; Israel has won four times since its first appearance in the competition in 1973.

These two countries are at least closer to Europe than Australia. But Australians have long followed the competition in impressive numbers, despite it being broadcast live at 5am in Sydney, and have been taking part since 2015. However, Australia’s current agreement with the EBU is due to expire after this year, so who knows what will happen next time.

As in 2022, Peacock hosted live streams for both semifinals and will also do so for the grand finals on Saturday starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

At the finale, viewers can optionally watch commentary from Olympic figure skater and longtime Eurovision fan Johnny Weir, who made a safe debut hosting the live stream last year.

Traditionally, the country that wins the Eurovision Song Contest hosts the event the following year. Ukraine won last year with the Kalush Orchestra’s ‘Stefania’, but with the country still at war, Britain – last year’s runners-up – stepped in as hosts. (And not for the first time: Britain has won five Eurovision competitions but has hosted nine, including this year.)

Russia was banned from the 2022 edition after its invasion of Ukraine. The EBU then suspended Russia from competing this year.

With overtly political songs banned in the Eurovision Song Contest, some acts use generic messages of empowerment, such as Ukrainian duo Tvorchi’s song “Heart of Steel” about bravery. Even more brazenly flirting with the disqualification was Let 3’s Croatian entry Mama SC, a zany, highly theatrical anti-war number that employs one of the Eurovision Song Contest’s most popular creative devices: allegorical satire.

The Eurovision Song Contest’s notoriously complicated voting rules and protocols have changed numerous times over the decades, including this year. Previously, points were awarded to each country based on a combination of votes from home viewers and judges in each participating country.

After competition organizers discovered “voting irregularities” among the juries of six countries in the semi-finals last year – many of whom appeared to have voted for each other – the rules were adjusted so that the semi-finals are now decided solely by the spectators, adding up the grand totals are scored by spectators and juries.

Oh, and all the voting is live, which explains why the grand finale takes about four hours to broadcast.

Traditionally, voting was restricted to viewers in the countries participating in the competition who could not vote for their own performance, meaning American Eurovision fans could not vote.

But what illustrates the Eurovision Song Contest’s global ambitions is that this year, for the first time, non-participating countries will be able to vote via an official online hub. This includes viewers in the United States.

The bookmakers’ favorite for the title is “Tattoo” by Loreen of Eurovision powerhouse Sweden. Loreen is a household name, having won the competition in 2012 with ‘Euphoria’ – a 21st century Eurovision classic. There are no restrictions on artists competing multiple times, and other notable faces this year include Italian Marco Mengoni and Moldovan Pasha Parfeni.

Should Loreen regain the top spot, she would become the second player to win twice, after Johnny Logan, who won for Ireland in 1980 and 1987.

Finland is another favorite with an insane performance, Kaarija’s “Cha Cha Cha,” which is essentially electronic body music set in a glittering thunderdome. For Weir, who hosts Peacock’s Eurovision coverage, it all shows the daring taste of Eurovision viewers. “The fact that the odds makers think Finland will do so well this year shocked me because I didn’t know if anyone could stand behind this wild, over-the-top figure of Kaarija,” he said in a recent phone conversation .

The competition’s shadow horses include Spain, who have not won since 1969; This year the bookmakers are betting a few euros on Blanca Paloma and her song ‘EAEA’, which sounds a bit like the Cocteau Twins experimenting with flamenco.

It’s often the countries that most Americans would struggle to find on the map that deliver the most memorable performances at the Eurovision Song Contest, even if they don’t necessarily make it past the semifinals.

“The reaction I got last year was how impressed people were that there was a performance for Moldova where they stood on their couches and danced,” Weir said.

This year’s sensational numbers include the Austrian song “Who the Hell is Edgar?”, in which Teya and Salena sing about being obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe, and Germany’s outré mini-rock opera “Blood and Glitter”. from Lord of the Lost.

The competition for the most embarrassing Eurovision lyrics is fierce as ever, but let’s nod in approval to Israeli Noa Kirel for inventing a tongue-twisting battle cry in her song “Unicorn”: “It’s going to be phenomenal phenomenal/ phenomenon phenomenal/ Female-female-female.”

Classic Eurovision poetry.