Almost Had It – Acts That Didn’t Make ESC 2023

I love Eurovision but sometimes I feel like Eurovision doesn’t love me because every year I end up with a playlist of songs from the various national finals that I would have loved to see on the Eurovision stage that didn’t quite make the cut. These are randomized so there’s no rhyme or reason to the order here but enjoy my list of rejected songs that pretty much wouldn’t have won at Eurovision but for one reason or another I still like them.

Cheryl – “La La Land”

Country: Malta
Some Thoughts: There’s just something that I personally really love about a deep voiced woman with a little rasp in her throat. I think that Malta did a great job picking their song this year but I loved this little song also because it just has so many factors and pieces you don’t usually see at Eurovision, let alone from Malta! The real problem with this song is a lack of decent hook which does make it slightly forgettable but I remembered it out of Malta’s 600 songs because it was just completely something different. Hope they come back next year with a stronger entry!

Mariyah – “Human”

Country: Denmark
Some Thoughts: What I like the most about Eurovision is that it is a contest not just with music and with lyrics but of voice, of politics, and of presentation and art. You have exactly three minutes to give an entire installation where you present your theme and the audience then buys in or doesn’t buy in. Well, I bought this. This is is such an oddly earnest piece of art that at every turn made me wonder how far she was going to push it which is such a unique feeling because so many Eurovision songs feel perfectly crafted to stop immediately as soon as they start so they don’t too weird or too off putting. Anyway I love this and it feels oddly 90s.

Barbara Munjas – “Putem snova”

Country: Croatia
Some Thoughts: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone look like they want to eat me and scream while singing for nearly 3 minutes straight but actually I love it. I assume this was extremely extremely odd for most people but considering what did win in Croatia I can’t say that the mood there isn’t open to something like this. A stylish and jazzy number, if it hooks you then it’ll just stuck in your head it gives me deep candy-coated 60s and early 70s vibes which you just don’t see these days.

Avēnija – “You Said”

Country: Latvia
Some Thoughts: We rarely actually see the Gary Numan/DEVO synth-heavy, almost disco pop. I actually get some Eurythmics vibes out of this one too and I love it’s extremely stripped back vocals and that driving beat that just makes me want to rock out in my own way. I’m not sure Eurovision is the place for this type of extremely sparse production but I certainly was riding this wave.

Lonely Spring – “Misfit”

Country: Germany
Some Thoughts: I guess emo is back! I kind of love this! I was never really an emo girl but this basically like it would be right at home between “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World and
“1985” by Bowling for Soup. It’s extremely catchy and adorable. They wouldn’t have been able to say the fuck word at the contest which would have stripped about 60% of the charm from the song but this is such a pure expression of being young that I’m happy I got to listen to it. Absolutely no notes, great energy.

Rūta MUR – “So Low”

Country: Lithuanian
Some Thoughts: Unfortunately this is just not enough of a song-song for Eurovision and he was up against a contemporary ballad from a returning Eurovision entrant which made this a kind of dead end but man, I kind of love this. I guess I was really feeling like it was a good year to be a stripped back good version of the early 80s dance scene. I not only like the song but I love this mans hat and the stage that is at once somehow too little and too much. What I will say is that the vocals on this are genuinely impressive and I get such a good feeling by the end of the song it might as well have been ASMR. So low? More like so high (I will fire myself, sorry).

Jann – “Gladiator”

Country: Poland
Some Thoughts: Speaking of stripped back…

I love this and I literally won’t hear anything bad about it. Sometimes I like to joke that some artists comes to Eurovision with $5 and a dream but I think that might actually be all Jann has. From the absolutely hand made costume which is like a mash up of things found around a house and the first black top you found in the thrift store to the absolutely empty stage that he rolls around, jumps, and vibrates through this entire productions screams “look! I’m on TV!” and actually, I kind of love it. It’s so earnest and so real. In some ways I’m happy this isn’t going to Eurovision because he needs to work on…let’s say, everything but in other ways I think it would have afforded him some interesting life experiences and opportunity and I have rarely seen anyone so enthusiastic about preforming outside of local theater troops in my life.

Anyway here’s to hoping he gets to achieve his dreams and the bastards don’t get him down.

Celebs – “Doomsday Dancing”

Country: Iceland
Some Thoughts: I actually think they could have won with a few more edits. There is something here even though it ends up a little muddy at the end. I love the idea and the song is adorable and both singers are fine but they don’t quite mesh together and it often feels like they’re in different songs which throws off the whole production. I think it just needed something else to push it over the finish line. However, this song gives me such Monster Mash / Halloween vibes that it’s hard not to love it. Also it does tap into my joyful millennial nihilism, which is cheating.

There were plenty more interesting songs this year but I think this is enough for this year, I look forward to the hectic and strange national finals next year!

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