Eurovision final 2023: Loreen from Sweden is making history in an astonishing way (2023)

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Liverpool is alive

Hosted by Liverpool representing Ukraine, Eurovision 2023 is a dazzling party that shows Britain at its best

two minutesEnterEurovision Song Contest 2023I'm already getting chills. I'm watching something many Brits think we'll never see: Eurovision in the UK. After years of poor performances and setbacks, England.FinallyChanged the story last year to finish secondbehind Ukraine.because Russia invaded their country,UkraineUnable to hold, so the city in the north of the UKLiverpoolto havestep up to host on their behalf.The program is produced byKalush orchestra, last year's champion of Ukraine, returns in triumph with the blood-curdling hit "Stefania".

eurovision isexplain a tricky concept to peopleWho hasn't grown up watching games with their family every year. (I was once allowed to "stay up late" for the results.) It's an annual competition that started in 1956 and only seven countries took part. But now, over the course of a week, it has grown into a powerhouse competition involving 43 countries, with two semi-finals and an estimated 180 million viewers worldwide. This year, the rest of the world will also be allowed to vote for the first time.

ShareThe allure of Eurovision- and sometimes maddening - the variety of music and performances on show. One minute you're watching a timeless pop classic, and the next you're seeing something so weird you wonder if there was something special in that brownie you just ate. As the 26 finalists paraded across the stage - accompanied by a soundtrack of iconic British music from Eurhythmics to The Chemical Brothers, and performances by former Ukrainian contestants such as Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka - the diversity and quirkiness of this year's competition was fully demonstrated . .

Performances suitable for at homethe Beatles, tonight's show is brought to us by the BBC and is hosted by British singer and TV personality Alesha Dixon, Ukrainian rock star Julia Sanina, British actorHannah Waddingham(vanTed Lassofame) and Irish comedian Graham Norton, a British national treasurestand forUkraine. From the very beginning, Ukrainian and British musicians played side by side in the intro of the show. The linked video shows the finalists and landmarks in the UK and Ukraine.

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Even in the first five shows, there are many moments you won't get anywhere else. Austrian duo Teya and Salena kicked off the show with a very Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly coded performance. Polish entry Blanka's "Solo" brought a Caribbean-inspired beat to Liverpool, complete with flames and dramatic dance crashes. Then there's Serbia, a brooding sci-fi electro-rock song about astronauts and aliens.

Next up is our first major contender: France. France often turns to boring and haunting love songs. But this time, La Zarra brought a dotted look, hanging above the ground in a shimmering dress. This is camp personified. As if gay men hadn't already done enough, France followed Cyrus. His competitor, Andrew Lambrou, probably won't win the race, but he definitely has the best biceps. Then another favourite: Spain, where the service can only be described as "Game of Thronesexcellence. "

Suddenly, Sweden took caliber to a whole new level. The second return isflowers, who won for Sweden in 2012. If successful,flowersBecomes the first woman to win the race twice -- and only the second ever. Victory for Sweden would also tie the country with Ireland for the most ever Eurovision wins. Loreen sings heartbreaking folk song 'Tattoo' - one of her songstell the rolling stonesShe recorded it in just an hour and a half - and it never sounded so powerful. The dramatic staging has her struggling with the elements and writhing on stage. At this point, it's easy to believe she's making history.


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A few scenes later - including Marco Mengoni in Italy, who is literally one of the most handsome men in the world - we arrive in Finland. Käärijä's heart-pounding "Cha Cha Cha" - performed in barely there neon green costumes, why not? - got the crowd on their feet and the whole stadium shook. It gave me the same adrenaline rush you'd expect for a split second when you're accidentally texting the person you're swearing behind your back and yelling at them about how bad they are.

Sweden and Finland may be geographically close to each other, but tonight they represent two very different song festivals. If Rowling represents the "believable" side of the game, Finland represents its novelty. In different ways, both are excellent examples of what the Eurovision Song Contest is best at, so whoever wins can tell us where the game goes next.

After a few performances - including Belgium's national anthem for queer empowerment - we were reminded of a very real conflict when Ukraine took the stage. Link video featuredTworks, entry of Ukraine, the background is Kiev and Belfast in Northern Ireland. This was the right choice, as Northern Ireland was a conflict zone until 1998. Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, ushering in an era of peace that once seemed unthinkable. Given the context of war, it's almost impossible not to be moved by the song 'Heart of Steel'Tworks tell the rolling stones, designed to inspire people to overcome obstacles and become the best version of themselves.

After Norway gave us a Scandinavian fantasy from Anne Boleyn that I never knew I needed, Germany's Lord of the Lost provided some poignant rock songs, it's kind of a tradition. Then we got to the end of the show and Croatia reminded us how crazy the Eurovision Song Contest was. The entrance is a group of bearded men, all dressed in various forms of cross-dressing and costumes as the show begins. Then the group took off their underwear as a giant missile rocketed out behind them. It's unhinged in the best possible way.

Eurovision final 2023: Loreen from Sweden is making history in an astonishing way (1)

The show was closed by Britain, where Mae Miller somehow managed to walk down an incredibly high flight of stairs without falling on her butt. It's a cold, low-key break-up pop song that reminds me of Dua Lipa's "New Rules." Miller has become a much-loved figure in the UK since she was chosen to represent the host country, and despite the chance to win, she makes us proud. I want to have a drunken chat with her in the smoking area of ​​a gay bar and tell her she looks great.

When I watched Sam Ryder - the man who made this night possible last year by finishing No. I felt deeply moved when a group of former Eurovision participants - Mahmood from Italy, Sweden's Cornelia Jakobs and Sonia from Liverpool - won the award. on stage to sing a British pop classic, remixed by Liverpudlian artist The Medley, featuring John Lennon's "Imagine", Mel C's "I Turn to You" and Atomic Kitten's "Whole Again", ending with the official song of the city, "You will never walk alone."

Eurovision 2023It is a moment of resistance for Ukraine. With Russia still banned from the competition, the show was a remarkable expression of solidarity with a country that continued to be bombed while the music played. Ukrainian culture, music and talent are incorporated into every part of the show - and everything is better for it.

The evening was also a triumph for Britain's public broadcaster, the BBC, which managed to strike just the right balance between excited hosts and gracious Ukrainian co-hosts. The BBC has been embroiled in high-profile scandals in recent months, one of which led to chairman Richard Sharp's resignation after he failed to disclose an £800,000 loan he took out to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But this show reminded me why the BBC - public service broadcaster, really - matters, and how powerful it can be when done right.

Eurovision final 2023: Loreen from Sweden is making history in an astonishing way (2)

By extension, Eurovision shows us the best of Britain - a country caught in a repetitive culture war imported from the US, while ignoring the real problems of its citizens. There's something special about a country that has spent so much time avoiding its neighbors in recent years, finally realizing that it's at its best when it's active and outgoing. Tonight's program is solidarity with Ukraine and an olive branch for the world.

The last night I can remember was the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The idea that the ceremony would be a highlight for the UK is controversial - after all, the Conservative government has been in power for two years and is already short of money in the public service. A year ago there were riots in London. But others think we should embrace and celebrate the progressive roots of ritual.

Judging by the decade after the 2012 Olympics, the opening ceremony can only be fondly remembered because it predates the decade of British decline. It's impossible to know if the Eurovision Song Contest will break that trend, but these two cultural moments have something in common: they showed us just how good Britain can be if we let it.


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Whether this is a moment of redemption - or one where Britain decides to change its narrative - remains to be seen. Honestly, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Finally it isRowling who made history for Sweden, cementing Sweden's place as next year's host country on the 50th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision victory. Perhaps the two most important aspects of the Eurovision Song Contest - the new and the more serious music - are not actually in conflict. They thrive together. As for the UK, it might be second to last, but one night I thought how good we are when we're outgoing and open. This is a bigger lesson than winning.

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