Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Eurovision 2023 – The Nordic countries’ entries in the spotlight

Yes, that time is almost here again folks, the annual glitter & glam fest with a handful of really good songs that is the Eurovision Song Contest; this time – the 67th staging – being held in the UK on account of last year’s winner, Ukraine, not being able to host it for obvious reasons.

It is the ninth time the UK has hosted it and the fifth time it has been on behalf of another country (we don’t win that often)!

The event, located in Liverpool (more of that later) embraces five days, including semi-finals, being Tuesday May 9th – Saturday May 13th, which is the date of the final.

Last year NMC did a rundown of the Nordic country contenders just prior to the big day, including Denmark which failed to get through its semi final while all the other four did. This year we’re starting earlier, with all five songs from the semi finals (none of the Nordic countries is ‘seeded’).

Reiley (Denmark) – Breaking my Heart (Second semi final)

I believe Reiley (Rani Petersen) might actually be from the Faroe Islands originally from where so many excellent musicians have featured in these pages at one time or another. There is precious little detail about him on social media other than that he is also a ‘social media influencer’. Hm. Not on Viking Facebook he isn’t.

His ambition, as declared on Facebook, is “I want to sell out arenas”. Well this one definitely will be, so here’s his chance.

He’s 25, cute and looks about 15. Wearing a couple of tears, or hearts on his cheek he will certainly break the hearts of a myriad of swooning girls (since this is 2023 I’ll add “and boys”) but unfortunately for him there aren’t many of those on the judging panels.

To be fair the song, which is about as Scandipop as you can get, isn’t bad. There’s a catchy hook that permeates it throughout and the early pointless vocal manipulations are soon forgotten. Speaking of manipulations it sounds like a recorded song that hasn’t fully been realised yet as a live version so it is possible there could be some changes to what you hear in this video.

Reiley offers up something that we rarely cover in NMC and probably won’t be doing any time soon but as (un)qualified as we are to pass judgment, ‘Breaking my Heart’ is possible Top 10 material.

Find him on:


Diljá (Iceland) – Power (Second semi final)

Last year Iceland’s entry was from Systur, three wholesome siblings who did it for themselves and who had gorgeous harmonies but there wasn’t enough staying power in their song.

You can’t say that about the ‘hyperactive’ Diljá (Pétursdóttir), who, it seems, is only a part-time musician, as are so many in Iceland where it’s hard to pay the bills with a market of less than 400,000 people.

Putting in multiple shifts like much of the population does obviously keeps her fit because she prances around the stage, seemingly wearing her boyfriend’s suit, from beginning to end. And she’s really up for it, she’s got a great voice, the song is as ‘Euro’ as it could be, suiting all tastes, and there’s a strong hook in it. She really turns the ‘Power’ on.

She has sung this song in both English and Icelandic and there is speculation she might combine the two languages on the night.

I hope she brings the signer along with her. Watch the video just focusing on her. She’s spectacular.

I’ll take a wild shot at Top 5 with this one.  

Find her on:


Käärijä (Finland) – Cha Cha Cha (First semi final)

Finland: home to the metal magnificence of Nightwish at one end of the scale and the embarrassment of Lordi at the other.

But Dave, you will say, Lordi won Eurovision while Nightwish never will. And I’d have to concur. Last year Finland threw up yet another heavy rock/metal offer by way of The Rasmus’ ‘Jezebel’.

This time it’s the turn of a rapper, believe it or not. Käärijä is 29-year old Jere Pöyhönen. His stage name comes from a joke with his friends about gambling, a recurring theme in his music. Hm.

The first job of a rapper is to rhyme and he does that straight off with the title. But that’s where traditional rapping ends. If you’re thinking along the lines of Eminem or Kendrick Lamar forget it. ‘Cha Cha Cha’is metal rap; an entirely new genre he seems to have invented.

He’s just taken over where Lordi left off and added a few rap lines. And the video suggests that one of Lordi is his ‘second’ in the ring; aided later by Brian Connolly from The Sweet.

I honestly don’t know what to say about this; it’s off my radar altogether. So much really good music comes out of Finland and they serve this up in an intercontinental competition for all to see? Sometimes I think they’re taking the piss out of the competition.

The only thing I’ll say for sure is that it won’t win. Prediction: Below 25th. At best. Possibly last.

Why isn’t something like Stinako’s ‘Pelasta mut’ or ‘Ave Maria’ representing Finland? Lord(i) knows.

Find him (if you must) on:


Alessandra (Norway) Queen of Kings (First semi final)

Now having said that, I’m reminded that last year I panned Norway for choosing Subwoolfer and their awful ‘Give that Wolf a banana’ (“pure novelty Eurovision 1990s kitsch anachronism”) to represent them while their own Amanda Tenfjord from Trondheim sang for Greece (and finished higher).

But they did manage 10th or so, to my great surprise.

This is utterly different and so representative of what Norway can do when it tries. Finland pay attention.

Alessandra (Mele)’s ‘Queen of Kings’ is extraordinary. I’d never heard of her before. Apparently this is her first single. I don’t think it will be her last.

It has got everything to win Eurovision. A powerful, sustained and memorable melody, a thumping beat, a ‘look what I can do’ scream (D6 I’d guess) and playful little things; the foreign language at the start (Italian, Latin?) the sort of thing Sol Heilo might throw in randomly to her songwriting (the ‘li-li-li-li-lah’), a bridge that lets her show off her vocal range, and enough ‘heys!’ to bring the audience on board with her and keep them there.

Vocally I could imagine her standing in for the likes of Floor Jansen, Tarja Turunen and Simone Simons if asked to in the not-too-distant future.

And it doesn’t do her any harm that despite her evident youthfulness she has the physique of an at-her- peak Madonna meets Xena Warrior Princess. A Viking Queen. Perhaps a Norwegian version of those characters is what she had in mind when she wrote this little gem.

Prediction: 2nd

Why not first? On any other occasion it could well win but on this one there’s an unstoppable late entrant. Read on.

Find her on:


Loreen (Sweden) – Tattoo (First semi final)

I’ll keep this brief. I don’t have to say much.

Loreen has let it be known she didn’t really want to take part in a Eurovision ever again. You could have fooled me. Having waltzed through the qualifying rounds and straight into the Melodifestivalen final, by-passing the semis, the 2012 Eurovision winner, the now euphoric Loreen, cake-walked that final on Saturday night with a song, ‘Tattoo’, co-written by at least one person responsible for ‘Euphoria’, Thomas G:son.  

I don’t think Tattoo has quite the impact of her 2012 winner (the best ever in my opinion) but in other ways it is Euphoria 2:0, tremendously powerful with a gripping vocal and stage performance again, and, well, downright sexy.

I can’t imagine how it can be beaten if Loreen can pull off her fabulous stage show on the night (and she will). Any song that does that is going to have to be bloody good and with staging to match. Alessandra comes closest to it but the Moroccan Swede will prevail I believe.

Find her on:


The UK entry? Well, at least someone wrote a song…

I might as well comment on the UK’s entry I suppose.

Where this competition is concerned the UK is like a once successful football team that is now languishing in the relegation zone of the Premier League and then suddenly beats Manchester City or Arsenal 7-0. Away. That is the equivalent of what Sam Ryder did last year with a song which should have won Eurovision had it not been for a sympathy vote for Ukraine’s mundane entry. (I don’t anticipate the same thing happening a year on).

Then in the next game, it loses at home to a team that is the only one below it in the league.

That’s really what so much British music has become in the last decade or so and especially so where Eurovision is concerned. Predictable, formulaic middle class pop bangers and I’m afraid that is pretty much what Mae Muller’s effort, ‘I wrote a song’ amounts to (she even sings about “trashing his Benz” while singing/speaking in a faux Estuary English accent that could be straight out of ‘The Only way is Essex’).

Sorry, I wish her well but I have to say this while declining to take the cheap shot tabloid newspaper option of “no you didn’t” (write a song) because there have been far worse examples than this in our wretched recent history.

Because it is on home ground it might manage 15th or so. It won’t get nul points for sure, but that’s the highest placing I can anticipate.

Why in Liverpool? You tell me…

While I’m writing can anyone tell me why Eurovision is being held in Liverpool? I have no argument about Liverpool’s hugely impressive musical heritage, which runs to much more than The Beatles although you wouldn’t know it the way the Fab Four are still hyped up there.

But pragmatically? Liverpool doesn’t have the same experience of running major events as some other UK cities. The arena venue holds 11,000. 30 miles down the road in Manchester the biggest one in the country (until another one opens there this coming November) holds 21,000. In London, the biggest one holds 20,000.

Both cities were bidders and both have vastly more hotel accommodation than Liverpool. Many visitors will have to take a day trip in from somewhere else to see Eurovision. And will the trains be running when it ends? Or at all? Can John Lennon Airport (‘Above us only sky’) handle a mass influx of passengers or will foreign attendees have to slog it over from Manchester on a ‘Pacer’, a converted lorry chassis on rails that feels like a fairground ride?

And many of the dedicated Eurovision fans from across Europe and the world won’t be able to get tickets, a shed load of which are probably in the hands of touts by now with the price increasing every day. “Supply and demand innit, mate.”

The host broadcaster, the BBC, made the decision from a roster of 20 cities which put themselves forward but the European Broadcasting Union sets the criteria, which are heavily weighted on “the capacity, capability and experience to host an event of this scale and complexity.”

Go figure.

I just don’t get it. I suspect it may all end in tears and I wouldn’t even be surprised if they have to change the venue and delay Loreen’s inevitable victory.

Eurovision 2022 review –

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