By Kevin Sherwin
Liverpool is all ready to host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest at the M&S Bank Arena on the shores of the river Mersey. The city, famous for the birthplace of the Beatles will have the eyes of the world staring down at it to see who will win the famous glass trophy and be crowned winner of The Eurovision Song Contest 2023.
Normally as tradition has it the winner the previous year would have the honour of hosting the event but with the ongoing war in Ukraine it was decided that it would not be possible to stage the contest in Ukraine so it was decided that runner up United Kingdom would host the event on behalf of Ukraine.
Every Eurovision has its controversial moments and this year is no exception. Many fans booked hotels or an Airbnb but lots of hotels cancelled the bookings because they could charge over inflated prices, shame on the city of Liverpool to allow that – add to that a national train strike on the day of the Grand Final making many fans having to rearrange their travel plans to attend the show.
But Liverpool has certainly put up the decorations, I’ve been to many Eurovision host cities & you visit some where it’s not promoted to its full potential but everywhere you turn in Liverpool you can’t help notice that the whole city is right behind the event.
31 delegations are all set to participate over 2 Semi-Finals to see who will join the Big 5 plus Ukraine in Saturday’s Grand final. Just to remind you of the way it works, the “Big 5” are France, Germany, Spain, Italy & the United Kingdom. These countries pay the most to the European Broadcasting Union to take part in the show and as a result of that they all get automatic entry in to the Grand Final along with the previous year’s winner which was of course last year was Ukraine.
Of the 31 countries taking part in both Semi-Finals the top 10 to qualify from each Semi- Final progress to the Final, so that reduces the 37 countries down to 26 leaving 11 countries checking out from their hotel early and returning home before Saturday’s Grand Final.
To kick off Eurovision week we have had the Grand Opening Ceremony which included the red carpet event where all the artists parade down a red, or rather this year it was a turquoise carpet, all dressed in their finest to be photographed by the waiting press.
After a week of rehearsals the drama and excitement starts on Tuesday 9th with Semi-Final 1.
15 acts are taking part in the first Semi-Final which includes Moldova and representing Moldova this year is Pasha Parfeni with the song “Soarele si Luna”.
No stranger to the Eurovision stage as he represented Moldova in 2012 in Azerbaijan and came 11th.
He will be up against strong opposition to qualify because also in Semi-Final 1 is Sweden, & making a comeback is 2012 winner Loreen with her song “tattoo”, & already the bookies are putting her as favourite to win the whole event.
Another notable entry in Semi-Final 1 one is Finland who of course won the contest back in 2006 in Athens with Lordi. We remember those strange alien like creatures with their song “Hard Rock Hallelujah. This year they have sent another “weird” creature by the name of Kaarija, the song is called “Cha Cha Cha”, sung in Finnish & it’s creating a lot of media interest – don’t be surprised if we’re heading to Helsinki in 2024.
Other notable entries from Semi-Final 1 are 7 times winners Ireland, Wild Youth will sing “We Are One” & 4 times winners Israel have Noa Kirel performing “Unicorn”. I feel I must mention Croatia, Let 3 are the artists with a song called “Mama SC” , surely a contender for the “what are they wearing?” category.
Another country high up in the betting odds are Norway, Alessandra will perform “Queen of Kings” Fast becoming a Tik-Tok star she also co wrote the song.
We also have twins taking part this year, not unusual at Eurovision as the Jedward twins from Ireland participated a few years back, this year the twins are from Azerbaijan with “Tell me more” – personally this is my favourite from Semi-Final 1.
Thursday 11th May is Semi-Final 2 which features Romanian singer Theodore Andrei with “DGT” (off and on) sung in Romanian with a little English. This song won the Romanian National Selection by a tele vote so the Romanian public thought this was a winner.
Not a stranger to television Theodore made his debut on The Voice Romania in 2017.
Can Romania make the Final for two years running?, betting suggests they won’t.
He will be up against tough competition with Austria as one of the Semi-Final 2 favourites, Teya & Selina with their song “who the hell is Edgar?” It’s a song all about the writer Edger Alan Poe, a catchy tune and I admit it’s my favourite from Semi-Final 2.
Australia are once again invited to participate in Eurovision and it now looks almost certain that they will be a permanent part of Eurovision for the foreseeable future.
One of the youngest competitors this year is from Denmark, born in the Faroe Islands, Reiley who is a TikTok star will sing “Breaking My Heart” & is the first singer from the Faroe isles to appear in the Eurovision Song Contest.
It all kicks off on Tuesday with Semi final one and by midnight on Thursday we will know the 26 countries that will take part in the Grand Final.