“United by Music:” Eurovision 2023


Eurovision is returning for the 67th year! Photo via BBC.

Robert Morse, Reporter

The Eurovision Song Contest, a yearly music competition held between European countries, is returning for its 67th year, with two semi-finals on May 9 and 11, and the Grand Final on May 13!


Organized by the European Broadcasting Union, Eurovision was created in 1956 as a way to unite European countries. The inaugural competition was held in Lugano, Switzerland, with each of the seven participating countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland) entering two songs. Denmark and Austria expressed interest in competing, but missed the entry deadline, and the United Kingdom was busy with their own competition. In the end, it was Switzerland and Lys Assia’s “Refrain” that won.


Last year’s competition was held in Turin, Italy. Ukraine was crowned the winner, with 631 points, given by jurors and  televoters from every country. Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania” represented them in the competition. For context, the runner-up for 2022’s competition was the United Kingdom, with Sam Ryder’s “SPACE MAN”, receiving 466 points. 


The next years’ competition is usually held in the winner’s home country. But, due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a competition in Ukraine would not be possible. As such, the runner-up is offered the hosting rights, on behalf of the winner. This is the case for this year’s competition, with the United Kingdom hosting, on behalf of Ukraine. 


On Jan. 31, the host city of Liverpool held the formal hosting handover ceremony and allocation draw. The draw helps to separate the 37 participating countries into two smaller semi-finals. It also determines when each of the “Big Five” countries (Italy, Germany, Spain, France, United Kingdom) and last year’s winner, Ukraine, will have their votes counted, since they automatically qualify for the grand final, and do not need to compete in a semi-final. This event was live-streamed on YouTube on Jan. 31 at 1pm Central Time (7pm Greenwich Mean Time), and is still available on demand, at time of writing. You can also go back and watch some of the full grand finals from years past on that same YouTube channel.


This year adds a new change to the voting system. In the past, both the votes of the Jury and the public decide who moves to the Grand Final. However, this year, only the viewer votes will be counted in the semi-finals. Martin Österdahl, the Eurovision Song Contest’s Executive Supervisor said: “Throughout its 67-year history the Eurovision Song Contest has constantly evolved to remain relevant and exciting…In 2023, only Eurovision Song Contest viewers will decide which countries make it to the Grand Final and, reflecting the global impact of the event, everyone watching the show, wherever they live in the world, can cast their votes for their [favorite] songs.” Wherever you live in the world, you can vote and still be counted in a new “country” called “Rest of World.”


Participating countries are already choosing their songs for this year’s competition. Ukraine’s entry, TVORCHI’s “Heart of Steel” was announced on Dec. 17, 2022, after they won “Vidbir,” Ukraine’s selection competition, becoming the fifth act confirmed for this year’s competition. Norway announced, on Feb. 4, that their song will be Alessandra’s “Queen of Kings,” chosen in Norway’s “Melodi Grand Prix.” 


Visit eurovision.tv to learn more about the participants and the Eurovision Song Contest. Who will win the iconic microphone trophy this year?

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