Each contestant has three minutes to combine catchy tunes and eye-popping spectacles into performances capable of winning the hearts of millions of viewers.
LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom — Final of Europe Regional Song Contest kicked off Saturday in Liverpool, with a Swedish diva and a party-loving Finnish rapper among the favorites to win a fun music competition, for the second year in a row. , overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.
Britain hosted the event on behalf of Ukraine, which won last year but was unable to win the right to host the competition because of the war. With the slogan “united by music”, the grand final combined the soul of the English port city, birthplace of The Beatles with The spirit of Ukraine was ravaged by war.
Ukraine’s sights and sounds run through the show, starting with an opening film showing Eurovision 2022 Winners Kalush . Orchestra sing and dance in the subway in Kyiv, with tunes chosen by musicians in the UK — including Kate, Princess of Wales, playing the piano.
The folk rap band themselves then appeared on stage at the Liverpool Arena with giant arms outstretched, accompanied by massive drummers.
Contestants from the 26 finalist countries entered the arena in an Olympic-style flag parade, with the sound of live performances from Ukrainian artists including Go A, JamalaTina Karol and Verka Serduchka — all former Eurovision rivals.
Now in its 67th year, Eurovision bills itself as the biggest music competition in the world — an Olympics of party-friendly pop music. Each contestant has three minutes to combine catchy tunes and voyeuristic sight into performances that won the hearts of millions of spectators.
Favorites include Swedish singer Loreen – the winner of Eurovision 2012, tipped by bookmakers to reclaim the title with the powerful ballad “Tattoo” – and Käärijä of Finland, a performer with the energy of the Energizer bunny and the blue bolero leaves, who went from a metal planter to someone who sang sweet croons during the party’s national anthem “Cha cha cha.”
Italy’s Marco Mengoni also has a strong following with “Due Vite” (Two Lives), a captivating ballad with enigmatic lyrics.
Austrian duo Teya & Salena perform for the first time with “Who the Hell is Edgar?” — a satirical ode to Edgar Allen Poe, while also criticizing the meager royalties that musicians earn from streaming services. Another strong contender is the antiwar rock opera “Mama ŠČ!” by Let 3 of Croatia, who mocks militaristic dictators amid Monty Pythonesque images before taking off his panties on stage.
Rock performed unusually well this year at a contest that tends to favor playful pop music. Slovenia’s Joker Out, Germany’s Lord of the Lost and Australia’s Travel all feature crunchy guitar entries.
The defending champion Ukraine is represented by Tvorchi, an electronic music duo that pays tribute to the country’s resilience on “Heart of Steel”. British contestant Mae Muller is expected to be the last performer of the night with her hilarious farewell song “I Wrote a Song.”
Around 6,000 fans watched the show inside the arena and tens of thousands more at the Liverpool fan zone and at big-screen events across the UK. The global television audience is estimated at 160 million people.
In the spring sunshine, thousands of fans flocked to the city’s pier – now a huge party zone – near the Liverpool Arena competition venue. Many people wear the flags of their favorite countries or dress up as their favorite acts. A large number of England fans wore Union Jack red, white and blue jackets or coats.
“Just coming here and meeting people from all different nationalities, all different cultures – it’s fun,” said Martin Troedel, an Australian fan, wearing a kangaroo on his hat.
“Honestly, there is some pretty odd behavior, which is what I like about it. You never know what to expect.
Liverpool has accepted Eurovision and Ukraine, with businesses across the city flying the Ukrainian flag and a program of cultural events introducing locals to the art, music and cuisine of the Eastern European country.
In the midst of musical celebrations, viewers were reminded of the brutal cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though organizers say they have denied the request. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to create a video address. The European Broadcasting Union said it would violate the “non-political nature of the event.”
Winners will be decided by Eurovision’s notoriously complex system of public votes and judges, with each act hoping to escape the humiliation of receiving “nul points” — zero points.
Founded in 1956, Eurovision is a European cultural organization that has spawned breakout stars — ABBA and Celine Dion are both past winners — alongside artists whose careers have sunken. no trace.
In recent years, it has once again become a platform that can launch stars. Italian rock band Måneskin, who won in 2021, performed at major US festivals and opened the Rolling Stones tour. Last year’s British runner-up, Sam Ryder, had a number one album and performed at the Glastonbury festival.
“People know the value of stepping on that stage in front of 160 million people, knowing they can go huge,” said Steve Holden, host of the official Eurovision Song Contest podcast. “ABBA did it in the 1970s, then it was quiet and not considered the launch pad like it is now.
“Now the music industry, the world, knows that if you show up at Eurovision, you can participate in something great.”