European music puzzle: song-contest Eurovision 2023 in the eyes of international students

Foto by Oscar Keys  – Unsplash

Performance, culture, talent – what is in the spotlight?

Spring is about emotions, about feelings. It’s the season, when everyone and everything wake up from winter: trees bloom and so show that it’s getting warmer, mood is getting better with more sunny days. And, of course, how not to mention about one of the traditional spring events – the song contest “Eurovision”, which for many years united all European countries and music fans all over the globe around cultural property.

The world doesn’t stay in one point, that’s why also the contest has changed with time: it isn’t anymore only about emotions and representation of the country by voice of singer and performance, but also about bright show, which brings emotions, such as fun, amazement and many others.

After the win of Kalush Orchestra with song “Stefania” in Turin in 2022 the decision was made that this year Eurovision will take place in Liverpool, United Kingdom due to security measures after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Student magazine bAStA is happy to represent you an exclusive material about the most famous European song contest, where international students from University of Mannheim share their impressions and opinions about the song contest and their memories with one of the most expected spring music event annually:

Starting from the beginning. What’s your first association with the song contest “Eurovision”? For how long have you watched the contest?

Monica, Spain: I remember watching Eurovision with my mum ever since I was a little kid, and I watched the final every year without fail. If I have time I also watch not only semis, but also Benidorm Fest in order to see who will represent Spain.

Fabian, Austria: My first impression is, that there is no such focus on music, rather more on who is the most extravagant.

Therefore, I don’t really take the song contest seriously. In total I have watched it about three times.

Roberta, Latvia: I associate Europe with Eurovision. I know, there are countries outside the EU who participate as well, but for me, it’s really about the European spirit and coming together. I have been watching the show ever since I was a little kid, I stopped watching for a while, when I moved to Germany, but got really into it again in 2019.

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: It was the 2009 New Year’s eve. Turkey showed its Eurovision song on that day on the national channel. It was a song called “Dum Tek Tek” by Hadise. I remember really liking the song and not searching for Azerbaijan’s song until the finals. Then I really liked that song and watched the finals, really loving. Between 2009-2013 I watched every single one of the finals (Tbh, didn’t watch any of the semi-finals). In 2012 Turkey left the contest due to political reasons. Then I had to watch from internet and I wasn’t motivated enough to watch them. However, watched all of Azerbaijans performances. However, I watched 2017 and 2022.

Olivia, Australia: I don’t usually watch Eurovision. The time difference is too big.

Loona, Estonia: It’s something that I’ve been watching since I was a kid, so my first association would be staying up late to watch it 🙂

What song stuck in your head from all time of Eurovision or which performance you will always remember? Why?

Monica, Spain: The song, that has stuck with me is “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak [Norway, 2009 – author’s note]! I was very young when he won the contest and I thought the song was very cool and I loved the violin.

Fabian, Austria: The Song „Love Is On My Side“ by The Black Mamba [Portugal, 2021 – author’s note]. For me, absolutely the best song in the years I’ve watched.

Roberta, Latvia: “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak will always stick with me because the song is iconic. Also “Satellite” by Lena [Germany, 2010 – author’s note] because it was really popular in Latvia at the time. And of course “Dancing” Lasha Tumbai [Ukraine, 2007 – author’s note] and “Party for Everybody” Buranovskiye Babushki [Russia, 2012 – author’s note].

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I think it will be “1944” from Jamala in Eurovision 2017. It was during the Russian invasion of Crimea and the song was about the Turkic genocide by Stalin in 1944. My family faced a similar massacre in 1920s. So it was pretty personal for me. Also the song had some Tataric parts (which as a version of Turkic language) also the instruments were domestic as well. All of these make me feel emotional.

Olivia, Australia: I must say I know the Australian performances the best. We only entered the competition in 2015 so all of our competitors have been popular singers that I quite like and there’s not too many to think about. I like Jessica Mauboy and was very proud when she represented Australia.

Loona, Estonia: I would say „Fairytale“ by Rybak cause it was a very popular one when I was little.

What singer do you remember the most? Why?

Monica, Spain: My fave fave fave of all time not including Abba is Loreen! I really loved her performance of “Euphoria” and I have loved other songs she has released since.

Fabian, Austria: From the times I watched: Conchita Wurst, The Black Mamba. In general also: Abba, Lena, Stefan Raab.

Roberta, Latvia: There are a lot of artists to which I still listen to and discovered on Eurovision like: Alexander Rybak, Lena, Citi Zēni, Måneskin, etc. I don’t really have one specific artist I remember.

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I think it might be Manga from 2010 Eurovision. They became second in the contest and people were sort of furious how they couldn’t become the first. Still it is meme in Turkey and Azerbaijan that they should have been the winner.

Loona, Estonia: I don’t have a specific singer who I remember the most…

Maybe you also had the chance to watch Eurovision live, if yes, share your impressions? Or do you want to visit Eurovision in the future, if yes, in what country?

Monica, Spain: I’ve never watched it live but I hope I will be able to someday!! I don’t care where I just want to go even if I do think Eurovision is very fun to watch from home.

Fabian, Austria: I would not watch it live.

Roberta, Latvia: I would love to visit Eurovision someday, I don’t really care in which country as long as I get the chance.

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I missed 2012’s Eurovision in Azerbaijan. So, I’d like to watch in that beautiful concert area.

Olivia, Australia: This year I was planning to go to Liverpool and watch Eurovision live. But, unfortunately, I didn’t get a ticket. I will still travel to Manchester and watch it on TV with a friend.

Loona, Estonia: I have not, but I’d love to see it live one day. Maybe somewhere close to my home country so the Baltic states or Scandinavia.

About performances of your country, which one do you think was the brightest?

Monica, Spain: The best performance from my country in my opinion was Pastora Soler with “Quédate conmigo” [Spain, 2012 – author’s note]. She came in 10th but I think she should have won because she has such a powerful voice and the song was beautiful. Though the funniest performance will always be “Baila el chiki chiki” by David Fernández Ortiz.

Fabian, Austria: „I Am Yours“ by The Makemakes [Austria, 2015 – author’s note].

Roberta, Latvia: I loved “Angel in Disguise” by Musiqq and “What for?” by Aisha (honorable mentions: 2000, 2005, 2022, amazing songs).

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I think it was 2009’s “Always” by Aysel and Arash. It really showed the Azerbaijani folk that I really like.

Olivia, Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke [has represented Australia in 2019, – author’s note]! She has such a unique voice and I felt like her performance was interesting and quite enchanting.

Loona, Estonia: That’s a tough one, I haven’t liked many of them actually (laughing) but I’d say “Rändajad” at Eurovision 2009.

What do you think about the song, which will represent your country this year and how do you think, what chances does it have to win?

Monica, Spain: I looove “Eaea” and Blanca Paloma. I love that the song is in spanish and has big spanish influences. The staging is beautiful and I think we have a good chance of coming in at a good spot since we broke our last spot streak last year with Chanel.

Fabian, Austria: In general an okayish Song. Qualifying: Maybe. Win possible: No.

Roberta, Latvia: We have no chance of winning. The song is (in my opinion of course) really not that good, it’s mediocre at best. It was only chosen because they sing two sentences in Latvian at the end of the song

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I think this one’s the worst in a long time. I don’t think it will win. However, Turks around the Europe will vote for them so they will have some success probably.

Olivia, Australia: I don’t generally listen to this genre of music. But I think it will look really cool on stage and people can easily dance along to it. I think Voyager have a good chance!

Loona, Estonia: I think it’s a great song, mostly because Alika has a great voice. But I think it’s too classic ballad. I think it should be more interesting for winning.

Have you listened to artists from another countries? Which did you like the most or which you find interesting and unusual?

Monica, Spain: I have not listened to all of them but I think my favorite songs right now are from performances of Portugal, Austria and Sweden. The most interesting for me is definitely Finland in terms of sound and staging.

Fabian, Austria: Haven’t listened to.

Roberta, Latvia: France is really amazing this year and in my top 3 definitely. Czechia is amazing and I really hope they win this year because the song is amazing and represents a lot of European countries. Croatia is iconic ofc. I think Spain is very unique and I’m glad to see something different and extraordinary like that on the show.

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: From this year, I really liked “Queen of the Kings” by Alessandra by Norway is good and I think “Carpe Diem” by Joker Out [Slovenia, – author’s note] is really good and I really liked that they sing in their own language.

Olivia, Australia: I like Zara Larsson, who is Swedish. She has some good songs including the one she performed with. And I know Måneskin have become quite popular since they won a couple years ago but I think their music is a bit too out there for me.

How do you think, who has the most chances to win this year?

Monica, Spain: I think Sweden is going to win because: a) they always win and b) Loreen is a powerhouse and her song sounds very very good.

Fabian, Austria: As said, not listened to any except Austria but normally whoever I say wins, never does.

Roberta, Latvia: I think the Nordic countries have the best chance of winning, just from the public consensus so far.

Mehmet, Azerbaijan: I think “Queen of the Kings” will win.

Olivia, Australia: I know Loreen, who is also from Sweden, is popular and I think she’s got a good chance of winning (again!).

The first semi-final will take place on 9th of May, where we will hear Norway, Malta, Serbia, Latvia, Portugal, Ireland, Croatia, Switzerland, Israel, Moldova, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Finland, in the second semi-final on 11th will meet the following countries: Denmark, Armenia, Romania, Estonia, Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece, Poland, Slovenia, Georgia, San Marino, Austria, Albania, Lithuania and Australia.

Ten best-rankings from each semi-final, previous edition’s winner Ukraine and the „Big Five“ will meet 13th May in the final, after what we will find out the winner of Eurovision 2023.

by Arina Vlasova

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