It’s become a tradition over the past few years for me to take time, in this last week before show rehearsals, to countdown my favourites from the Contest. Some years it’s slim pickings and I can only muster a top ten, in better years I’ve stretched that to fifteen. Happy to report that this year’s stellar line up means it’s fifteen faves in this preview. Even with quality entries from Spain and Moldova not making the cut, here’s my top choices for 2023…

15. Portugal 🇵🇹

Mimicat – Ai coração

Ever since the trip out to Lisbon in 2018 I live for all things Portuguese. With the exception of the narcacisstic sports pimp that ruined his career in 2022 I adore all things Portugal. Pastel de natas, Super Bocks and, most importantly when it comes to this list, the music.

Imagine my delight then when Mimicat was chosen, bringing with her all the performance and all the strings one would expect of the Iberian peninsula. Ai coração builds beautifully over the three minutes and will be surefire hoot when performed live in Liverpool.

Portugal’s growing confidence at the Contest since their win in 2017 has been a joy to behold. And in Mimicat, they’ll be sure to keep that going.

14. Czechia 🇨🇿

Vesna – My Sister’s Crown

Moving on, we have another country becoming evermore confident in Czechia. It hasn’t been totally smooth sailing since their return in 2015 but they have become high quality repeat qualifiers in recent years.

With Vesna, they are only adding to this strong run of entries. A folk anthem proudly calling for gender equality is going to find a lot of fans. Ignore the somewhat muted performance from the national selection. Let’s face it, nobody came out of that looking good. They’ve had a longer time than most to work on this. I’m sure this will be an unmissable performance.

And with the slogan of “United by Music”, lyrics in Czech, Bulgarian, Ukranian and English, My Sister’s Crown fits the bill perfectly.

13. United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Mae Muller – I Wrote a Song

There are many ways to get back at an ex. Penning a song that explicity deals with the matter before performing it in front of hundreds of millions of people across the globe? Yeah, that’s surely got to rank pretty highly.

The UK ain’t hitting the heady heights of another second place this year but this entry reinforces the BBC’s refreshed approach to the modern day Eurovision Song Contest. Mae is bang up for it and I’m sure the team will have concocted quite the peformance to close off this year’s final. Like Ar Sam, Ar Mae has fully embraced the Contest, it’s fans and it’s ethos. She’ll do for us, thank you.

And she’s wound up the right-wing press by daring to have opinions. G’wan gal, do us all proud!

12. Malta 🇲🇹

The Busker – Dance (Our Own Party)

Feels like these lads have sort of gone under the radar in the build up to the Contest. I cannot fathom this…it just slaps!

Funk is perhaps a genre that struggles at Eurovision, but one feels if these boys can bring the fun they’ve brought to the pre-parties it’s going to be a lively old affair on stage. As soon as they ask “do you wanna dance?, following it with that infectious saxophone, I absolutely do want to get up and dance. The system works!

Like The Busker, it was a funk act that ran second in the running order of the first semi final of 2022. And all the veggies and pussy in the world couldn’t save them. I worry that this joyful bop may end up with a similar fate. For shame.

11. France 🇫🇷

La Zarra – Évidemment

If there’s something I love about Eurovision it’s a country bringing an entry that so clearly represents their style of music but is also a banger. The Keiino effect if you will. Courtesy of La Zarra, France are doing exactly that.

An arresting instrumental opening leads into a chanson inspired verse before unleashing into a catchy disco anthem. All the while performed by an artist who is as stylish as is she is kinda terrifying. You telling me you wanna get on the wrong side of La Zarra? No. I thought not.

This has been getting a lot of love in the previews, we could have ourselves un cheval noir.

This is only the start of my favourites, check back later this week to continue the countdown.

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