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Eurovision 2023

What I can say about this year’s edition is that there was no question about the best act and that the two semi-finals differed greatly in quality, with the second one being pretty hard to watch. But the final turned out well enough, at least as far as I could tell, since I watched it while working on dinner, though the typical problem of some good songs being harmed by the low show value remained, and it was strange that it seemed that the microphone was turned off for the first couple of seconds after the song ended, during that brief period when singers are allowed to say something, so the first word or two tended to get lost. On the other hand, if I’m to move past the music, the fact that Ukraine came only fourth in the televote, with no points from ten countries, serves as a very worrying poll result, showing that many are unfortunately playing right into the hands of the Russian regime and growing weary of the war and the need to support Ukraine, meaning that the counteroffensive can’t come soon enough and needs to deliver notable victories.
Returning to the songs, I didn’t look at or read anything about the rehearsals, but I more or less knew what to expect, having watched the songs as they were posted on the official channel, the recordings from the national finals also offering an idea about the planned show, though it’s possible that there were some songs that I moved on from before they finished, while on the other hand there were obviously a few that I listened to quite a number of times. I even glanced at a few of the other entries from a few national finals at some point, but pretty much only in passing.

In terms of the overall quality of the act, there was no question about Sweden being first. Perhaps there were a few parts of the song that weren’t performed quite as well as they could have been, but the song itself is great and the overall performance was more than good enough to be unchallenged this year, if the voting would be fair, and in this case it was. While that may not be that hard these days, I must say that it just about moved me to tears. And, despite the fact that we’re talking about a single person on the stage, the show value was notable as well. So I fully agree with the jury score, since the juries gave it almost twice the points of the second placed entry, and wonder what the public was thinking, since it didn’t win the televote in as much as a single country… And it wasn’t even in the top ten in one country… Which country, interestingly, was Finland.
It seems that Finland ending up second was completely expected, but while I’ll admit that it’s a catchy song with a pretty notable show value and my opinion of it improved in the final, I just don’t like the song enough to be able to get myself to rank it so highly. Is it one of the better entries? Definitely. But second seems too much. So the fact that it won 18 televotes, so just under half, and it wasn’t lower than fifth anywhere once again makes me raise an eyebrow when it comes to the voters.
Israel also had one of the better entries, and while I found myself wondering why was it battling Italy for second place as the jury votes were presented, it did well enough in my classification as well, its position being a bit of a surprise when I noticed it, so I can’t say that I can’t understand why it appealed to voters… And then there’s the visual appeal of the singer as well. It’s a matter of the numbers speaking rather than a subjective impression, so I wouldn’t have said so if asked during the competition, but now I find it hard to come up with serious reasons to complain about it ending up third.
Well, if you don’t count the fact that Israel being third puts it in front of Italy, that is. Sure, Italy was fourth in my classification as well, but that still put it in front of both Israel and Finland, and I guess that in this case the show value triumphed over the song, since there should be no question that Italy had one of the better songs of the competition. It couldn’t challenge Sweden in any way, I already said that nobody could, but I consider it the entry that was most objectively justified to aim for second place.
As for Norway, that’s an entry that I was rather fond of from the beginning, but there were problems with how it was performed that prevented me from ranking it higher. Or maybe I just overcompensated for that good initial impression. Either way, I’m rather glad that it ended up higher than in my classification. Catchy song, pretty powerful performance, some show value as well. Not one of the very best from any one point of view, but one of the better overall packages if you put it all together.

Since I didn’t even give any more thought to changing my ranking system, even if I sometimes disagree with the results, I’m just sticking to the one I’ve been using for so long, giving one mark for song and another for show value, plus a positive, neutral or negative modifier, and ranking first according to the overall mark that is the result of averaging the song and show ones, then according to the song mark and then, if both marks are equal, according to the modifier. In case all three are equal, the ranking is the result of me trying to quickly compare the performances in question at the end.
Once again, still largely for my own use, I’ll list all the information here, with the first number being the position in my classification, the one between parentheses that follows it being the actual position, the first number that follows the country name being the overall mark, the second being the song mark and the modifier, if not neutral, being listed at the end. All links are from the official channel, so they shouldn’t vanish.

1. (1.) Sweden (7.25, 7.5)
2. (9.) Australia (6.75, 6.5)
3. (13.) Croatia (6.75, 6)
4. (4.) Italy (6.5, 6.5)
5. (20.) Switzerland (6.5, 6.5)
6. (3.) Israel (6.5, 6)
7. (2.) Finland (6.5, 6, minus)
8. (7.) Belgium (6.5, 6, minus)
9. (16.) France (6.25, 7, minus)
10. (8.) Estonia (6.25, 6.5, plus)
11. (26.) Germany (6.25, 6, plus)
12. (5.) Norway (6.25, 6, plus)
13. (25.) United Kingdom (6.25, 6, plus)
14. (22.) Albania (6.25, 6)
15. (23.) Portugal (6.25, 6)
16. (18.) Moldova (6.25, 6)
17. (19.) Poland (6.25, 6)
18. (21.) Slovenia (6.25, 6)
19. (10.) Czechia (6.25, 6)
20. (17.) Spain (6.25, 5.5)
21. (14.) Armenia (6.25, 5.5)
22. (11.) Lithuania (6, 6, plus)
23. (6.) Ukraine (6, 5.5, plus)
24. (24.) Serbia (6, 5)
25. (12.) Cyprus (5.75, 6, plus)
26. (15.) Austria (5.75, 5.5)

My ranking matched the actual result for Italy, Serbia and Sweden, was one place off for Belgium, and two or three places off for Estonia, Israel, Moldova, Poland, Slovenia and Spain. On the other hand, it was at least ten places off for Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

This time I’ll add the comments about the semi-finals before those about my top ten, starting with the fact that it’s weird how all the songs started with low volume during the first, the fact that the behavior was so consistent making it hard to see it as a sound problem. Either way, I had Ireland, Latvia and Malta in the top ten instead of Czechia, Finland and Serbia, but Malta was only there thanks to the show value and replacing it with Finland was definitely right, but I’m unhappy about the other two, and about Serbia making it in particular, despite the show value, since the song struck me as just awful, one of the worst in quite some time. As for the second semi-final, it was much poorer and there were only a few entries that I actually wanted to see again in the final, but if I had to pick ten, I had Denmark and Iceland instead of Lithuania and Austria, but Denmark was in Malta’s situation from the first semi-final, only being there thanks to the show value, so I’m rather glad that it didn’t make it and Lithuania replacing it was fair, since it was 11th in my classification, but Austria being there instead of Iceland really bothered me, as you can see by the fact that I placed Austria last in the final.

And this is how far I managed to get before midnight, which is why I put those comments about the semi-finals first, since there were all I still had time for, editing the post later in order to add the rest. After all, I did the same thing last year as well, though in that case I moved the part about the semi-finals back at the end after I added the rest while now I don’t want to do that anymore. I did consider giving up on this idea and making a second post for the comments about my top ten when I didn’t just fail to even start writing them before going to bed in the morning, but could only get myself to write five the following day, but after adding a few things to the parts about Sweden and Finland above Monday evening, I stuck to the original plan, adding the comments about my top five in the early hours of Tuesday and those about the next five Tuesday evening.

Sweden’s entry grew on me before the competition, my opinion of it continued to improve even between the semi-final and the final, where it almost moved me to tears, and now I’m rather stuck on it. The best song in a competition where few entries were notable thanks to the quality of the music, enough of a show value despite just having a single person on stage and a good, albeit not perfect, performance make for an entry that was, or should have been, unchallenged.
Ask me now about Australia and I’d tend to move it a few places lower, but during the final I found the entry enjoyable enough and maybe the better one that had something to do with rock or metal, even if some people will frown at that. It doesn’t actually stand out in any way, but it remains one of the better entries overall and if the opinion I had of it during the actual competition made it end up second according to my ranking system, that’s where it is.
Croatia is obviously where it is strictly thanks to the show value and the message about Putin and his regime. The fact that it’s in Croatian and not in English is probably why the organizers closed their eyes and allowed it to compete, but the key words are clear enough even so, which is the whole point, and what’s presented on stage makes things even clearer, if needed. There are actually a few parts of the song that aren’t that bad either but, again, that doesn’t exactly matter.
Italy had one of the few other songs that were actually good in this competition. It couldn’t challenge Sweden, but it probably should have been second… And it would have been second in my classification if they wouldn’t have pretty much ensured that most people would miss the fact that it actually had some show value as well. They put some effort into it, but then relegated all of that to the back of the stage, with the camera staying on the singer. I have no idea why they chose to do that, but I do believe that it hurt them.
While not at the same level in itself, Switzerland also had one of the better songs of the competition, helped by the message that suits the current situation, and parts of it even stuck in my mind. Even considering how weary of the matter so many people unfortunately are, it deserved to do better than it did.
Israel’s position in my classification surprised me, but I can’t really argue against the numbers in this case. Nothing stood out, with the possible exception of the singer’s good looks, but a show value that was good enough to be remembered and a song that wasn’t bad in a competition with few good ones combined into a package that seems to justify this position if you analyze the data in this manner.
My opinion of Finland’s entry improved in the final, enough to make it end up in seventh place, but I’ll rather grudgingly allow even this. Yes, both the show value and the catchy song ensured that it’ll be remembered, but in my opinion the show was of poor taste and the song wasn’t something I’d actually enjoy either. Looking at the facts, it was one of the better entries in a competition where few stood out, but let’s just say that I rather it wouldn’t have been…
I was also surprised by Belgium’s position in my classification, especially after I had completely forgotten the song pretty much the instant it finished and then spent quite some time trying to remember what it was, but a song that wasn’t bad and some attention paid to the show value means that the marks are quite clear and, according to them, it can only be in this position.
On the other hand, France’s entry was one that I wish I could have ranked higher, because the song deserved it, even if it was probably too typically French, so much so that an AI might have produced it if asked to come up with something to represent French music. Unfortunately, the entirely static performance dragged it down, and I’d even be tempted to say that the pedestal and the singer’s gestures gave a feeling of haughtiness, arrogance, something along those lines.
Not at the same level, but Estonia also had one of the competition’s few better songs and it was performed well. On the other hand, all I can say about the show value is that at least it wasn’t a static performance, so I couldn’t place the overall package any higher, though I’m pretty glad that it did end up a couple of places higher in the actual competition.


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