By Sadie Neufeld-Wall
Eurovision: the best time of the year, where all (well, most) of the European countries (and also Israel and Australia) come together to perform in a contest campier and more entertaining than anything America could dream up. As both a fan of global studies and cheesy pop songs, I love Eurovision, and I have a lot to say about it. So today, I am word-dumping all my thoughts about this year’s entries into one blog post, and you, dear reader, are coming along for the ride. Quick Disclaimer: I respect these artists and their work, this is just my personal opinion, feel free to agree or disagree with me. I am not a serious music critic, and I’m not here to get super deep and analytical. These are just the ramblings of a crazy Eurovision fan so please don’t take it too seriously. Going in alphabetical order, let’s begin:
1. Albania – “Duje” by Albina & Familja Kelmendi
From a group of family singers comes a song about family. Who would’ve guessed! While “Duje” pales in comparison to Albania’s 2022 entry, a seductive number called “Sekret” that tragically did not make it to the finals, it’s still a pretty good song. The vocals and instrumentals are strong, and I admire Albania’s commitment to sending in ethno-pop entries year after year amid increasing numbers of generic pop songs. Never change, Albania!
2. Armenia – “Future Lover” by Brunette
Many Eurovision fans adore this song, and I cannot understand why for the life of me. While it’s not that bad, I think this song feels very disconnected. The premise is uninteresting, and every time Brunette softly moans, “be good, do good, look good” in her slightly off-key, faux-Billie-Eilish voice, it makes me want to immediately hit skip. There’s also a section where she raps, which is an…interesting choice.
3. Australia – “Promise” by Voyager
I would describe the band as the Walmart Bon Jovi. Or maybe Guns N’ Roses. That’s not a bad thing – I love a good 80s rock song, so I’m bound to appreciate the knockoffs! This song has some good instrumentals, and its message of clinging to hope in the face of an apocalypse feels increasingly more relatable with each passing day. “Promise me it’s gonna be all right,” indeed.
4. Austria – “Who The Hell Is Edgar?” by Teya & Selena
This is perhaps the most delightful song in the entire contest. The premise of “Who The Hell Is Edgar?” is that the narrator is being possessed by the spirit of the Great American Emo himself, Edgar Allan Poe. The music itself is a bit like if Billie Eilish started writing upbeat songs. As bizarre as that sounds, “Who The Hell Is Edgar?” is a great and undeniably catchy tune. Underneath the goofy tone, however, Teya and Salena take a subtle jab at the music industry. The number 0.003 is repeated during the bridge, which is the common amount of money in cents that songwriters are paid per stream. It’s a brilliant addition that Poe, himself a poorly-paid artist, truly would be proud of. See you in the final, ladies (fingers crossed)!
5. Azerbaijan – “Tell Me More” by TuralTuranX
“Tell Me More” begins with some pretty bad voice acting, but I find that the phoniness is part of its charm. The music itself is quite nice; it’s kind of in the same soft grunge rock vein as The Pixies. I’ve also seen people make comparisons to early Beatles music. Given the utter lack of attention paid to it by fans, I doubt we’ll be seeing it in the final. It’s a shame, as the song is a great departure from the standard Eurovision entry.
6. Belgium – “Because Of You” by Gustaph
The first time I heard this song, I was overcome with the uncontrollable urge to start Voguing. When I played this for my Dad, he asked, “Is this a RuPaul song?” God, I love it when Eurovision panders to its gay audience. “Because of You” is a solid song, and I for one am excited to see it used as a lip-sync number on the next season of Drag Race Belgique.
7. Croatia – “Mama SC” by Let 3
“Mama SC!” is probably the most divisive song of the year. People either hate it or love it. Personally, I really like it. It’s a strange yet bizarrely catchy song with an equally strange music video, and somehow it all works. I also really like the political message. The members of Let 3 dress up like Russian dictators of the past and sing about going to war, referring to…someone (whose name I won’t mention for the sake of my own safety) as “crocodile” and “little, vicious psychopath.” The bleak lyrics contrasted with the nonsense-word rhyming chants demonstrate that for the people in power, war is just a silly little game.
8. Cyprus – “Break A Broken Heart” by Andrew Lambrou
This kinda sounds like an Imagine Dragons ripoff. It’s not bad: the execution is good, but the song itself is just basic.
9. Czechia – “My Sister’s Crown” by Vesna
By far my favorite of the female empowerment anthems this year, mostly because it actually feels empowering. Many recent “girl power” songs, brought to public attention via TikTok, have this sort of hollow feel to them that make me think that the only reason why they exist is to pander to a certain demographic, not actually promote women’s equality. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel like a strong and defiant Slavic woman. The harmonies of the singers really capture the feeling that the song is about something much bigger than them. It also has a rap section, which, while not a highlight of the song, is still way better than what Armenia came up with.
10. Denmark – “Breaking My Heart” by Reiley
Despite looking like a 17-year-old TikTok star who was created in a factory to sell merchandise to preteen girls, Reiley is (supposedly) a full-grown man who will be representing Denmark this year with his song “Breaking My Heart.” It is exactly the kind of sugary, autotuned pop song that music snobs hate. I didn’t like it at first either, but upon my second and third listens it slowly began to grow on me. After catching myself humming it too many times, I realized that I don’t care if it’s generic; it’s still catchy as hell! Perhaps my brain is rotted from listening to so much trashy europop that I can longer differentiate a good song from a bad one, but either way, I like this one.
11. Estonia – “Bridges” by Alika
As someone who has to get herself back on track every few days and who lives in self-delusion about her bad habits, I found the lyrics of “Bridges” to be strikingly poignant and relatable. I found myself getting emotional over them more times than I would care to admit. The singer has a great voice. However, despite all of this, it is still a musically uninteresting, standard ballad number.
12. Finland – “Cha Cha Cha” by Kaarija
“Cha Cha Cha,” along with its bowlcut-sporting, bizarrely-dressed singer Kaarija, might be the most chaotic Eurovision entrant of the year. This is a fan favorite, and unlike with Armenia, I get the hype. This song is just fucking fun. As usual with Finland, it’s metal-inspired, but about halfway through the song, it jumps into a hyperpop dance chorus. It’s basically both a headbanger and a club song, and for that, I salute it. Also, the background dancers, who all seem to have eight rows of teeth, scare me so much that I wouldn’t dare say anything else.
13. France – “Evidemment” by La Zarra
This is exactly the sort of entry you’d expect from France: a sexy chanteuse dressed in all black singing something in French on a simple, backlit stage. But just because this number screams ~oui oui baguette omelette du fromage Edith Piaf~ doesn’t make it bad. The song has a low-key, funky beat that sounds sorta like something Daft Punk would do. Only instead of two robot dudes, we have La Zarra (or according to fans, Mother), who emanates a sense of style and coolness that any American could only wish to replicate. It’s nothing special, but it’s carried by a great beat and the sheer charisma of the singer, which is enough for me.
14. Georgia – “Echo” by Iru
This might be Georgia’s best entry in the past few years. The lyrics don’t really make any sense, but given that English is not the singer’s first language, I’m going to be forgiving. Besides, the lyrics don’t really matter. The song itself is what matters, and it’s great: Vocals! Production! Drama! There’s a sense of big, sweeping, grandeur that accompanies it (ironic for such a small nation). I really hope that Georgia can defy its country’s losing streak and make it to the finals.
15. Germany – “Blood And Glitter” by Lord of The Lost
Eurovision has been a bit rough for Germany in recent times, as they were in the bottom five for the past three years in a row. It seems that this year, they finally got sick of it and decided to send in a halfway decent entry! Beneath the glitter, this song is about learning to let go of….something (it’s a bit vague as to what exactly) and just live, letting the blood and glitter flow. Overall, it’s a pretty fun rock song. Nice job, Germany. Let’s hope this isn’t a fluke.
16. Greece – “What They Say” by Victor Vernicos
“What They Say” sounds like a knockoff Avicii song and Victor Vernicos has the worst case of cursive singing that I’ve heard since Halsey. Other than that, there really isn’t anything to say about this song. It’s pretty unremarkable.
17. Iceland – “Power” by Dilja
Iceland’s entry has much in common with the nation itself: it’s sweet and adorable, but with a very small impact. The singer’s got a strong voice, but other than that, “Power” lacks power. It’s a nice song; I just can’t imagine anyone caring enough about it to love or hate it.
18. Ireland – “We Are One” by Wild Youth
I hate this song. When I informed my father that it was Ireland’s entry, he fell into a state of utter disappointment. We are both fans of Irish traditional music, so it was a bit of a personal blow that Ireland had sent in something so detached from its own culture. Ireland remains the country with the most Eurovision wins of all time, but lately they’ve been slacking and sending in generic pop song after generic pop song. I did like their (generic pop song) entry last year, but it was a generic pop song that at least you could dance to. Moreover, the performer was very charismatic and had an entertaining personality. The same cannot be said of Wild Youth and their offensively bland song. My father said, “this song sounds like it would play at the end of the Olympics,” and he is absolutely right. “We Are One” attempts to send a message of world unity that rings incredibly hollow. Not since the 1985 charity single “We Are The World” has globalism sounded so forced and empty. Do better, Ireland. I know you can.
19. Israel – “Unicorn” by Noa Kirel
Upon listening to this song, my dad said, “It sounds like it was written by a Chat GPT.” And indeed, there are parts of this song that sound eerily similar to K-Pop hit single “How You Like That” by Blackpink, as well as a dozen other pop songs. In it, Noa Kirel proudly states that she’s “gonna stand there like a unicorn.” What on earth does it mean to stand like a unicorn? Why, on four hooves, of course, as Noa helpfully demonstrates for us in the music video. To its credit, “Unicorn” is very catchy, and one could argue that despite its faults, it’s at least interestingly bad. And to be fair, I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of Noa Kirel as a centaur out of my head.
20. Italy – “Due Vite” by Marco Mengoni
Ah, Italy. So beautiful…and boring. Mengoni’s got a good voice, but I simply cannot summon the energy to care about this ballad.
21. Latvia – “Sudden Lights” by Aija
The music video for “Sudden Lights” is definitely among the weirder ones this year. The first time I watched it, I didn’t even pay much attention to the song as I was too busy being baffled by the visuals. Having listened to the song on its own since then, I have developed a newfound appreciation for it. It’s very unconventional (at least by Eurovision standards), and it has some pretty sick guitar riffs thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, I don’t understand what it’s about or what it’s trying to say, but at least it sounds interesting.
22. Lithuania – “Stay” by Monika Linkyte
This song is definitely a grower. You might not love it on your first listen, but you will by your tenth (or maybe not. Who am I to predetermine your music preferences?). With “Stay”, Monika Linkyte adds a new entry to the genre I affectionately refer to as “mom music.” It’s a warm, sweet song, and Linkyte propels it forward with a rich set of vocals. There’s a real element of pleading in her voice – not pathetically so, but just like she’s laying all her emotions out with no pretenses in a genuine attempt to ask for forgiveness. I doubt the jury will give it any attention, but this song is going to stay (get it?) with me for a while.
23. Malta – “Dance (Our Own Party)” by The Busker
From Malta comes a party song for the introverts of the world. It also features one of the greatest Eurovision stars of all time: the saxophone! Yeah, it’s a fun number. Will it make it to the final? Who knows. I’m happy enough to just groove along with it.
24. Moldova – “Soarele si Luna” by Pasha Parfeni
The entry from France last year was a spectacular little Breton number called “Fulenn” which I can only describe as “midnight pagan rave in the forest extravaganza.” That was one of my favorites, and I was crushed when it ended up coming in at second-to-last place. I bring it up because “Soarele si Luna” is very similar to it in terms of the vibes it’s putting out, just with a more Balkan twist. We’ve got some creepy ladies wearing antlers, some traditional flute music, some giant drums and menacing background grunts… While it’s not nearly as good as “Fulenn” (at least in my opinion), this song does help to fill the hole it left behind.
25. The Netherlands – “Burning Daylight” by Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper
Guys…I think someone needs to check in on the Netherlands and make sure they’re doing okay. Their entry this year, just like “De Diepte” (their entry last year), is extremely depressing. I mean, the first line of “Burning Daylight” is, “I don’t find any joy anymore.” It’s definitely the kind of song that you listen to when you’re sad to make yourself feel even worse. It’s not a bad song, but I find myself skipping this one a lot in order to keep myself from falling into an existential crisis. Also it’s kinda basic.
26. Norway – “Queen of Kings” by Alessandra
A female empowerment song, this is a number that I want to like more than I actually do. On the first few listens, it was good, but it wore out pretty quickly for me. Maybe it’s just because it reminds me too much of that Ava Max song, “Kings & Queens”, which I thoroughly dislike. Remember how I complained about how a lot of female empowerment songs these days seem hollow and pandering? This is the type of stuff I meant. In the end though, it’s a pretty harmless techno-pop girl power song, and Alessandra does have a beautiful voice. I guess this just isn’t for me.
27. Poland – “Solo” by Blanka
This is easily the most universally disliked song of the year. There was quite a bit of controversy when this won the Polish National Final, as many thought that the contest had been rigged. Watching her live performance from the event, it’s easy to see why. The song itself is not actually that bad. It’s your typical generic pop song, but it’s got a catchy beat and a nice hook. The problem lies in Blanka. On one hand, I kinda feel bad for this girl, because the entire Eurovision fanbase is hating on her (and I am not suggesting that you do the same! Please do not). On the other hand, she is, to borrow a phrase from Internet music critic Todd In The Shadows, a sucking black void of charisma, and her voice isn’t the strongest either. I think the reason her stage name is Blanka is because she has about as much personality as a blank piece of paper. I mean, I’m sure she’s a nice girl. And “Solo”, when stripped of its controversial context, is a perfectly enjoyable song. But I doubt any of the fans are going to be voting for this. Well, if there’s one bright side, at least the song has provided us with an endless supply of bejba memes! https://youtu.be/Jj5KuGySvLc
28. Portugal – “Ai Coracao” by Mimicat
Let’s get one thing straight: this song is fabulous. Mimicat uses a lot of traditional Portuguese sounds, and by that I mean this song makes you want get up and cha-cha-cha (no, not that Cha Cha Cha). It’s the song of a desperate woman being driven mad by love, the fast-paced pounding of the rhythm like the frantic beating of her heart. On top of that, Mimicat has a killer voice that fully conveys the woman’s anguished passion. It all builds to a climactic final note that leaves the listener feeling breathless. Bless you, Portugal. You certainly know how to put on a show.
29. Romania – “D.G.T. (Off And On)” by Theodor Andrei
If you can get past the dreadful staging, this song is pretty good! My dad said that it reminded him of a Lenny Kravitz song. While I can’t speak to the accuracy of that, as I’ve never listened to Lenny Kravitz (sorry Lenny Kravitz fans), I can confirm that this song fucks. It’s a sultry R&B rock number about a toxic relationship where they hate each other but they just can’t stay away from each other. My personal favorite lyric is “All of your demons keep screaming my name.” Damn, never has a bad relationship sounded sexier. I’m rooting for Romania to go to the final, just…work on your staging, guys.
30. San Marino – “Like An Animal” by Piqued Jacks
Ah, San Marino, the most consistent non-qualifier in Eurovision history! This is is a decent enough rock song, I just cannot stand the lead singer’s voice. Maybe it’s called “Like An Animal” because he sounds like a cat yowling in anguish.
31. Serbia – “Samo mi se spava” by Luke Black
From Serbia comes a dark techno pop song about being so overwhelmed with the problems of the world that all you want to do is take a nap. Very relatable. I was really surprised that this ended up being one of my favorites, because usually I’m not a huge fan of techno music. But every time I listen to this song, I feel like I’m being transported to a higher plane of existence. There’s a quality to it that’s both soothing and eerie, and the instrumentals are sublime. It’s unlike any other entry on this list, and while I feel like the ending lets it down a little bit, it’s still one of the strongest contenders for me this year.
32. Slovenia – “Carpe Diem” by Joker Out
“The lead singer definitely thinks he’s good-looking.” – My dad upon listening to this song for the first time. Joker Out are an indie band of boyishly charming and attractive dudes in their early twenties (I think?), so obviously they’re the fan favorites. Not gonna lie, I can see the appeal. The song itself is really upbeat and catchy while still retaining that small indie artist feel. It delivers on the title as it definitely makes you want to carpe diem, throw all your responsibilities to the side, and go party (or in my case, go procrastinate). Slovenia’s been having trouble qualifying in recent years, but this song just might be their ticket to the final.
33. Spain – “EAEA” by Blanca Paloma
This is a piece of art. I can only really describe this song as a sort of “witchy lullaby”, but that doesn’t do it justice. The atmosphere is very mystical, and there’s an element of traditional flamenco, with a clapping rhythm and a harmony of background voices calling out. It’s almost like the singer is summoning her ancestors via song and they are responding to her call. Blanca Paloma also has an incredible-sounding voice – like, this girl can sing. I’m not even Spanish, and this makes me want to get in touch with my inner bruja. I’m sorry if I’m not describing it very well, but it’s really one of those songs you just have to hear (aren’t all songs, to be fair?). Every single time I listen to it, I get goosebumps. Absolutely beautiful number.
34. Sweden – “Tattoo” by Loreen
Loreen, winner of 2012’s contest with her song “Euphoria”, is once again gracing the Eurovision stage, this time with “Tattoo.” Let me tell you, the fans are eating this up. Everyone is so excited she’s back and they’re all ready for her to win again. I’ll say it: I think this song is overrated. It’s a great pop song, and her vocals are amazing, but I highly doubt people would be hyping it up this much if she wasn’t the singer. If she does win again, I won’t be mad, because “Tattoo” IS good, but I might be a little bit disappointed.
35. Switzerland – “Watergun” by Remo Forrer
After the utter flop that was “Boys Do Cry,” Switzerland has returned this year with an antiwar song (what a very Swiss sentiment). I really do love the message, which is especially relevant in these troubled times (then again, this song could be relevant at literally any time ever, because there’s always a war going on somewhere in the world). However, as much as I appreciate the sentiment, it doesn’t save this song from being generic.
36. Ukraine – “Heart Of Steel” by TVORCHI
I say this as a compliment: this song sounds like you would hear it as an audio for one of those ~badass~ character edits on Instagram. “Heart Of Steel” gives no fucks, and I cannot say I blame Ukraine for sending it in. It’s a strong song, and I love the techno organ instrumentals (which I know might sound kinda weird, but trust me, it really elevates it). Whenever I listen to this song, I like to imagine the singers flipping off / punching Putin in slow motion. Slava Ukraini!
37. United Kingdom – “I Wrote A Song” by Mae Muller
This is another song that falls into the category of “yeah, it’s kinda generic, but it’s fun!” It’s an ever-so-catchy pop number about a breakup that reminds me a bit of Dua Lipa’s “New Rules”, only instead of writing rules, Mae Muller’s writing songs. Forget about being exes with Taylor Swift, start worrying about being exes with her! (sorry, that was a bad joke. I doubt any of us will have to worry about that.) Just like France, the song itself is carried by the charisma of its performer. Mae Muller seems like a fabulous and lovable human being and I want to be her friend. But yeah, it’s a good song.
So, that’s all of them. I probably used the phrase “this song” so many times it might have caused you a minor migraine. But I hope this was at least entertaining to read and maybe even sparked your interest in Eurovision. This year it’s being held in Liverpool (the winner last year was Ukraine, but due to the war, it’s being held in the runner-up country). If you want to to watch it, the semifinals and final will be streaming on Peacock, as well as Eurovision’s official Youtube channel and TikTok account, on May 9, 11, and 13 at 2:00 pm. To quote Kaarija, “it’s crazy, it’s party.” Also, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your Eurovision opinions, I’d love to hear them!