Eurovision Song Contest final Waiting for fans BBC

Eurovision Song Contest final: Waiting for fans – BBC

  • By Mark Savage
  • BBC music correspondent

May 13, 2023

Updated 1 hour ago

Image source: Getty Images

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Fans gathered early to watch the final on a big screen at Liverpool’s Eurovision Village

The grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest has kicked off in Liverpool, with Sweden and Finland among the favorites to win.

The show aims to reflect the culture of both the host city and last year’s winner, Ukraine, who were unable to host the show due to the Russian invasion.

The Princess of Wales played the piano in a pre-recorded opening video for the finale.

2016 winner Jamala from Ukraine, 2007 competitor Verka Serduchka and Britain’s Sam Ryder will also perform.

Representing the UK is Mae Muller, whose track ‘I Wrote A Song’ will be the last entry to be performed before the public vote begins.

“When I go on stage I have to take a second to really center myself because those three minutes go by really quickly,” she told the BBC.

The show will again be hosted by Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham and Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, with Graham Norton joining during the voting phase.

Along the way, we see a Vogue dancer dressed as a cat, a man escaping from a suitcase, and many women writhing on the floor (for some reason it is).

During the break, the Liverpool Songbook will be presented with songs by John Lennon, Melanie C and Gerry and the Pacemakers sung by former Eurovision participants.

And for the first time, countries not participating in the competition will be given a say in the results – with viewers from the US, India and elsewhere casting a vote for the “rest of the world”.

Here’s what else to watch out for at night.

1) The power of Poe

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“Who the hell is Edgar?” ask Teya and Salena in front of a giant picture of Mr. Allen Poe

Austrians Teya & Salena are the first acts on stage, with a song about how they’re possessed by the spirit of American poet Edgar Allen Poe, who compels them to write a hit that earns them a deal with Universal Records.

Below that, the song is actually a commentary on the music industry’s mistreatment of songwriters. At one point, the duo chants “Null Punkt Null Null Drei” in reference to Spotify’s meager license fee. “Give me two years and your dinner is free,” they say flatly.

It’s all wrapped up in a snazzy electropop package with the refrain “Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe”. Which translates to “Bum, Bum, Bum, Bum, Bum, Bum” in German. Objectively amazing.

2) Finland’s cabbage worm

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Käärijä and his dancers have one of the most eye-catching looks

Not to be confused with Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, Finnish rapper Käärijä has delivered one of the boldest Eurovision songs of the year.

Cha Cha Cha is a crazy mix of industrial metal, hard-hitting techno and a happycore video game soundtrack that tells of the spiritual fulfillment of getting blind drunk and dancing like an idiot.

He illustrates this by dancing like an idiot in a costume that screams, “The Incredible Hulk got stuck in the middle of his transformation.”

Speaking to the BBC earlier this week, he revealed that his lime green bolero sleeves are nicknamed “cabbage worm” in honor of a Finnish sex shop chain.

Of course, this is one of the favorites to win.

3) A mysterious guest?

Image source: Getty Images

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Paul McCartney and Bono appeared at the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Arena when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008

Rumors have been circulating all week that a mysterious guest will be appearing at the grand finale. Some say it’ll be local hero Paul McCartney, others say it’s Princess Kate. All we know is that we don’t know.

“I thought it would be Charles and Camilla awarding the points, but apparently it’s Catherine Tate,” joked Rylan Clark, Eurovision commentator on Radio 2.

“A lot happened during rehearsals, which were a totally closed set,” revealed his co-host and Eurovision husband Scott Mills. “There’s a lot of secrecy and nobody’s going to tell us what’s going on.”

“But,” Rylan added, “give me two drinks and I’ll tell you everything.”

4) Swede Loreen will make history

Image source: Getty Images

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Loreen is considered the first woman to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice

For months, Swedish star Loreen has been the bookies’ favorite to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

Already a Eurovision Queen, having won the 2012 competition, her latest entry is a precision-crafted catchy tune called Tattoo.

The lyrics are about a love engraved so deep in the heart (like a tattoo, you know?), but it’s all just an excuse to showcase Loreen’s powerful vocals, including an excellent “You-hoo-hoo ’ piece in the song chorus.

She sings it while sandwiched between two giant LED screens – basically a space-age toaster sandwich maker – and while she’s usually sonically perfect, she got a little off track at one of this week’s rehearsals .

When asked about it at a press conference, the diva smiled and gave a slow laugh before replying: “Wasn’t the pitch perfect darling? What are you talking about?” What a legend.

5) The Adele impersonator representing Lithuania

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Nicola Lambrianos from Essex (left) sings backing vocals for Monika Linkyė from Lithuania

Mae Muller is not the only British contestant in this year’s competition. Nicola Lambrianos – an Adele impersonator from Essex – sings backing vocals for Lithuanian contestant Monika Linkyė. In addition, she inspired Monika to get involved.

The two artists met at a bar last year and after starting a conversation about music, Monika revealed that she had sung in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 (she came 18th with the song This Time).

“I was beside myself because I’m obsessed with the Eurovision Song Contest,” Nicola told the BBC. “So I said to her, ‘Do you know anyone who could get me a ticket?'”

“I promised to get her a ticket,” said Monika, “then I went back to Lithuania and wrote the song in one evening.”

A few weeks later, she invited Nicola to Lithuania to sing in the country’s selection process… and they won.

“I saw all this confetti coming down, looked over at her and was like, ‘Didn’t we joke about that four weeks ago?'” Nicola said. “And now I’m doing the Eurovision Song Contest – a dream I never thought possible.”

6) Israel’s amazing dance break

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“Do you want to see me dance?” asks Noa Kirel in her song Unicorn

Nicknamed Israel’s Britney Spears, Noa Kirel has sung four number one singles, won five MTV Awards and served as a judge on Israel’s Got Talent, all while doing two-year compulsory service in the Israeli army.

She co-wrote her song “Unicorn” with Doron Medalie, who composed Israel’s 2018 Eurovision winner “Toy”. The real highlight of her performance, however, is a breathtaking 30-second dance breakdown.

“When I was two or three years old, I was dancing in my living room in front of my family and I was like, ‘Clap your hands at the end of the show.'”

But although she studied ballet, flamenco and hip-hop; and danced on some of the world’s biggest stages, Eurovision is chasing her dreams.

“I dream about the performance all the time. Someone is pushing me onto the stage and I don’t know what I’m going to do and sing and the audience is all staring at me.”

“Being part of it and representing your country on one of the biggest stages in the world is very stressful.”

7) The backstage crew are the silent stars

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Watch the quick stage changes at the Eurovision Song Contest

You won’t see them, but the Eurovision backstage team are the true heroes of the competition. They are responsible for 23,700 lights, 482 costumes, 150 microphones, 100 wigs, 3,000 makeup brushes – and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Each act has its own unique look. At various points the stage is adorned with a vintage Toyota MR2, a giant alien pod, a trampoline, and two nuclear warheads (not real ones, we’re assured). And the stagehands have just 53 seconds between each performance to clear the stage and set up the next set of props.

“Speed ​​is the hard part because everyone’s dreams were pretty far out,” says lighting director Tim Routledge, “but we’re here to make their dreams come true.”

They’ve come up with some nifty tricks to make it all happen. The stage itself is actually a giant LED screen that turns into a “map” for all the props between performances.

“We used to mark the floor with tape, so it got pretty messy,” says set designer Julio Himede. “Now it’s literally just an operator with an iPad pushing a button.”

“The artist even gets a little ‘T’ sign on stage to show them where to stand, and then we know the spotlight is going to hit them squarely.”

8) France’s secret mascot

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La Zarra was presented with a Mr Bean teddy bear on Sunday’s turquoise Eurovision carpet

All week long, French star La Zarra has carried a replica of Mr Bean’s dark brown, button-eyed teddy bear everywhere she goes.

“He’s my mascot,” she told the BBC. “Maybe he’ll be on stage with me. Maybe under my dress.”

There’s definitely a lot of space underneath. La Zarra performs on a huge rising platform, her dress billowing and falling to the floor. It makes her look like one of those toilet paper dolls your grandma used to have, only French and glamorous.

Already a huge star in France, La Zarra is hoping to break the country’s 45-year losing streak in the Eurovision Song Contest.

A chic fusion of Edith Piaf’s sensual majesty and Daft Punk’s filtered disco, her song “Evidemment” features the best lyrics of the night: “I’m looking for love but I can’t find anything, just like in my purse.”

9) Politics penetrates

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Croatia’s Let 3! are famous at home for their outspoken antics

Eurovision was conceived in the 1950s with the dream of uniting countries after war, so politics has always been kept at a distance.

But while Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelenskyy was denied the opportunity to speak, the competition abounds with other references to the Russian invasion of his country.

Croatia’s Let 3! Take the stage in blood-stained cloaks and sing an anti-war song that is a metaphor for the Russian Federation.

They ridicule dictators as “childish” and “psychopaths”, with particular mention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The “tractor”, which is referred to several times in the lyrics, is apparently a reference to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who supported Russia in the war and gave Putin a tractor for his 70th birthday.

Czech participant Vesna sings parts of her song “My Sister’s Crown” in Ukrainian. “My sister won’t stand in the corner / She won’t listen to you either,” they sing. “We are with you in our hearts.”

The Ukrainian participant Tvorchi also refers to the war in his song “Heart of Steel”. A quivering, bewildering piece of synthpop inspired by the siege of Azovstal and the civilians defending the city’s steel mills.

10) Australia is really on the rise

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Voyager singer Danny Estrin is an immigration attorney by day and a Eurovision rock god by night

For the past eight years, Australia has been welcomed as an honorary European in the glittering arms of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The country’s enthusiasm for the competition dates back to Abba – a national obsession Down Under – and millions routinely get up at 5am to watch the song contest live.

In 2014, Darwin-born singer Jessica Mauboy was invited to perform on intermission. The next year, Australia was allowed to participate as a “wild card” participant.

Their contract expires this year – but the Aussies are really giving. Prog metal band Voyager unleash pyrotechnics and keytar solos on a song that sounds like a cross between Duran Duran and Panic At The Disco.

Lead singer Danny Estrin, who works as an immigration lawyer in his normal life, says he’s jumping at the opportunity with both hands.

“I think every artist should strive for it because it’s so wonderful,” he told the BBC.

“And it also gives people a chance to finally see us, whether they like it or not. You will be forced to see it. That presence is so wonderful for a band that comes from a niche market.”

“It’s a big deal. It’s the greatest show in the world.”

A look back at the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is well worth seeing: scandals, exciting moments and controversies.

Will you watch the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest? Let us know where you’ll be watching and let us know your reaction as it unfolds. E-mail [email protected].

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