Eurovision 2023: Sweden wins the competition, France finishes 16th

The bettors had bet on it, the Eurovision fans too. They weren’t wrong. Arch-favorite Loreen Datum flew through the contest on Saturday night in Liverpool. The Swede who had already won 11 years ago won thanks to an impressive demonstration of vocal strength with “Tattoo” and its chorus that would make you take off from your couch. Her staging, which pinned her between two oppressive screens and forced her to crawl around in rags with fake witch nails, bordered on the ridiculous. But obviously that didn’t bother many people. Aged 39, Loreen becomes only the second artist in Eurovision history to win the competition twice, and the first woman. She received her trophy from the hands of the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra, the last winners in title.

Behind her, we watched like milk on the fire, the place of Zarra. Roll of honor ? Or dunce cap? Neither one nor the other, it is in the middle of the clification that our representative finished, 16th out of 26 with 104 points Neither a performance, nor a fiasco. A disappointment for sure in view of the crestfallen faces of the tricolor delegation and a furtive gesture that looked like a middle finger or a “toz” (hand gesture to express disapproval) from the singer on the air. Very quickly over the counts of each country, the case was heard with 54 small points from the jury. The 50 from the public did not help.

However, the French candidate has not been unworthy. The first pictures unveiled a few days ago in rehearsal showed La Zarra on a perched dress. A train that seemed to unfold to impose and sing “La Grande France”, as its text says 3 m from the ground. This Saturday evening, she begins by throwing a few kisses at the camera just before her presentation film. Then there she is in this huge dark sequined outfit, suspended in front of an audience that has to roll their eyes to see her. La Zarra dominates its subject, positioning itself in the great tradition of French song.

Close-ups, static staging, magnetic posture, the first verse is reminiscent of the effect caused by Barbara Pravi two years ago. Good sign. Then the gothic queen, black dress and red nails, turns into an electro diva when the chorus arrives and her now famous “Obviously”, taken up in chorus in the Liverpool room. Hardly have we seen her train disappear to reveal a luminous podium that dazzles every corner of the room.

La Zarra shines and makes France shine, but that was not enough

Suddenly the Eiffel Tower all by itself, La Zarra radiates and makes France shine, until it reveals a blue-white-red backdrop behind it as a final bouquet, perhaps a little loaded. One thing is certain, the song has its effect, its impeccable performer too.

But that was not enough against the competition. And especially to the other favourites. The punters had positioned it without problem in the top 10. She was far from it. The other darlings of the specialists, they kept their promise. Sweden of course. But also Finland who chose to do a lot to finish second. His candidate Käärija was a bit of an attraction of the week in Liverpool. Everyone who had seen his performance had warned us. You will see what you will see. We saw… A boy rapping in Finnish, first locked up in a wooden cage from which he manages to escape to launch his chorus: “Cha cha cha… Cha cha cha”. Simple, effective, universal. In such circumstances, one cannot fight.

The Nordic artist suddenly reminds us that the competition can also be a parallel musical world, a spatio-temporal fault. His performance is never far from a Hollywood sausage party with huge Chinese shadows and even dares to end with pink dancers, on all fours, in single file.

There will always be something to eat and drink at this annual evening: rockers from another era, like those who represent Australia, a Moldavian group with drums, electro sounds and a dwarf flautist, gothic Germans out — your choice — a Mardi-gras evening or a sketch of the Inconnus, an Israeli Dua Lipa with an ultra-efficient piece and a spectacular staging that allowed her to finish third, a Ukrainian R’n’B singer who n t has nothing to envy to its Anglo-Saxon colleagues or the Croatian Village People who end up in underwear. With all this, Eurovision will always remain a paradox: a huge musical fair and the most impressive TV show of the year.

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