Eurovision 2023: Why Did The Host UK Do So Badly, Coming Second Last?
So the 67th Eurovision Song Contest was a game of two halves for the UK: stepping up as host nation in place of Ukraine, it delivered a flawless extravaganza, perfectly walking the tightrope between paying solemn tribute to Ukraine’s current plight and presenting an undiluted celebration of the unity of music with all the humour, goodwill and sometimes outright bonkers business that offers.
And, then on the night of the Grand Final, it could only start to shuffle its score sheets awkwardly as, pretty soon, it became clear the UK’s entry, sung by Mae Muller, was not going to do very well. Ultimately, while Sweden scored a historic victory with Loreen winning for a second time, the UK came second from the bottom of the board with a measly 24 points.
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So what went wrong? Already, by Sunday morning, the opinions were flowing in the British press. The BBC – who hosted the event – wrote that:
“No-one votes against you at Eurovision, they vote for the songs they like. And if your vibe is hyper-catchy, female-fronted pop, you were spoiled for choice.
“Sweden’s Loreen won the contest with the supersonic club anthem Tattoo – even though Norway’s Alessandra beat her in the public vote with Queen Of Kings, a thunderous pop anthem that was equal parts Lady Gaga and Nordic folklore.
“Both of them were stronger singers, with stronger songs, than Mae, and they soaked up a lot of her potential votes.”
And they added: “In a contest where the top songs all featured sincere, straightforward messages about overcoming adversity and standing up for love, Mae’s post-modern, meta-textual lyrics failed to find an audience.”
Meanwhile, The Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, a longtime observer of the Contest, wrote that:
“A winner needs to cross several language barriers, and get it right on many levels. It requires a level of preparation that the UK never bothers to apply.”
Some fans complained on social media that Muller was upstaged by the performance of last year’s UK runner-up Sam Ryder – who has enjoyed a massive fan following since he sang ‘Spaceman’ in the 2022 Contest and was the reason the show came to Liverpool.
Muller herself said afterwards: “I know I joke a lot but we really put our all into the last few months, not the result we hoped for but so proud of everyone & what we achieved on this journey.
“Congrats to all the countries, I’ll never forget this journey and I love you all.”
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