A night like no other, this year’s Eurovision was an extravaganza of musical legends and royalty, show-stopping acts and political statements – despite President Zelenskyy’s ban on sharing a message during the show.
Hosts Graham Norton, Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian TV star Julia Sanina and Alesha Dixon guided Eurovision fans through 26 performances and the lengthy voting process that follows.
If you missed the four-hour show or just want to remember the best bits, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the biggest moments of the evening.
Rumors had swirled about a surprise appearance, but while many thought maybe Sir Paul McCartney might be involved (spoiler – he didn’t), it’s real royalty rather than pop royalty who made an appearance.
The Princess of Wales gave a pre-recorded piano performance in the opening of the show, wearing a one-shoulder blue dress against a backdrop of sparkling chandeliers.
And as if that weren’t enough, Queen star Roger Taylor accompanied a very brilliant Sam Ryder on drums as he performed his latest single Mountain and Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus informed potential Eurovision winners “life-changing” effects to win the show.
Who the hell is Edgar?
One of the most talked about artists of the evening, Austrians Teya & Salena kicked off the competition with a spirited performance of Who The Hell Is Edgar?
Dressed in black and white jumpsuits and accompanied by a crowd of dancers dressed in black and red on video screens behind them, they recalled being possessed by the ghost of literary great Edgar Allan Poe.
A sort of ode to the late 19th century American writer, their song also paid homage to Shakespeare and explained how small artists are paid by streaming sites. An eclectic mix, but they somehow pulled it off.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was not allowed to deliver a speech during the grand finale, but that didn’t stop some of the acts from taking steps to “politicize” the content.
The Eurovision Grand Final as it unfolded
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in pictures
Ukrainian act Tvorchi’s song, Heart Of Steel, was inspired by the siege of Mariupol, and specifically the defense of the Azovstal steelworks. It later emerged that the duo’s university hometown of Ternopil had been targeted by Russian missiles around the time they took the stage.
Let 3 from Croatia performed Mama SC! in front of two giant nuclear warheads filled with giant lit sparklers with their lyrics including the phrase “Mom bought a tractor” which is believed to refer to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who bought a tractor from Vladimir Putin for his 70th birthday, and another online making fun of dictators for being “psychopaths”.
And Czechia’s Vesna sang part of their song, My Sister’s Crown, in Ukrainian, with part of their lyrics translating to: “You are so strong, brave and the only one, the crown is yours my beautiful sister” .
Many of the famous spokespersons who voted for their country’s jury also expressed their solidarity with Ukraine.
The novelty acts
With one of the wackiest acts of the night – Kaarija’s hyper-pop-rap track Cha Cha Cha – nearly winning the show, the bar was set high for the most bizarre acts of the night.
German pop-metal band Lord Of The Lost bellowed Blood And Glitter with an enthusiasm the 2006 Hard Rock Hallelujah winners would have been proud of. They came ninth overall.
Croats Let 3 (five mature guys in bloodstained coats and military gear) stripped down to their pants and vests in the middle of their Mama SC song!
Belgium’s Gustaph hit impressive high notes in his performance of the ’90s-inspired hit Because Of You in a bizarre outfit of pink cotton candy pants and an oversized cream cowboy hat. Australia clearly loved it, giving them the best score of 12 points.
Meanwhile, other rather unusual stage devices and props included a meter-long skirt drop (France), a rave in a box, a very large neon pink and shadow pole (Finland of course), and several female numbers writhing on the ground (Israel). and Poland). Welcome to Eurovision.
History is made
They were favorites to win and Sweden has kept its promise.
Country actor Loreen has now made history as the first woman to win more than once after winning the crown in 2012.
(Irish singer Johnny Logan won the competition twice, in 1980 and 1987, in case you were wondering).
The 39-year-old’s win for dance-pop anthem Tattoo also means Sweden have tied Ireland for the country with the most Eurovision wins – seven each.
Why is Australia here?
Despite being located on the other side of the earth, Australians are honorary Europeans for the sake of Eurovision.
Membership of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – a union of publicly funded broadcasters around the world, which any country can join – gave them the right to enter.
Long-haired lead singer Danny Estrin – immigration lawyer by day and singer by night – rocked on the bonnet of a vintage Toyota MR2 as he performed Promise, and was well received by the fans and voters.
It might even have been Australia’s last chance to win the trophy – their contract with Eurovision expires this year, so it will have to be renegotiated ahead of next year’s contest in Sweden.
Hannah Waddingham: Queen of Eurovision
And a special mention has to go to Hannah Waddingham – a new host on the Eurovision scene, but a fan favorite after just a few weeks.
She impressed with her language skills right from the start (she is fluent in French and Italian), her tirelessness (always ready to bring that extra bit of fun to the proceedings), her impressive singing voice (she is also a star of the West End and Broadway by the way) and not one but two great outfits during the show.
Of course, Ted Lasso fans couldn’t have been more thrilled to see in a very different role than headstrong football team owner Rebecca Welton in the surprise Apple TV+ hit that drew a league of enthusiasts around the world.
Hopefully his longtime friend Graham Norton is happy to concede his position as Britain’s most beloved commentator now that Eurovision has found a new queen.
And with that we sign off from Eurovision 2023 – see you in Sweden next year!