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Eurovision Tune Contest 2023: Ukraine tributes and sizzling pants

LIVERPOOL, England — Yellow-and-blue flags are in all places. Distributors are promoting borscht soup and cheburek dumplings. Large illuminated birds put in all through this metropolis symbolize totally different areas of Ukraine.

There are additionally heaps and plenty of sequins. And sizzling pants. And glowing onesies.

On the 67th Eurovision Tune Contest — hosted by final yr’s runner-up, Britain, on behalf of final yr’s winner, Ukraine — the wartime tributes jostle in opposition to kitsch and excessive silliness, however it isn’t all that jarring within the context of the most important, strangest, dwell music occasion on this planet.

Saturday’s closing — streaming in america on Peacock and anticipated to be watched by greater than 160 million individuals all over the world — will characteristic soulful ballads, together with bonkers pop tunes, madcap costume adjustments and outrageous set designs.

Why is Eurovision an enormous deal? A information for perplexed People.

Contestants representing 26 international locations have superior to this final spherical, together with Ukraine’s digital music duo Tvorchi, who have been chosen from an underground bomb shelter. They are going to be performing “Coronary heart of Metal,” written in regards to the siege of the Mariupol metal plant a yr in the past.

They may face stiff competitors from Sweden’s Loreen, a earlier Eurovision winner and the bookies’ favourite, along with her energy ballad “Tattoo.” Her staging entails writhing on a platform beneath a suspended panel, as if she’s in the course of a sandwich press.

Käärijä, a Finnish rapper finest recognized for his tune “Cha Cha Cha,” is without doubt one of the favorites to win the 67th Eurovision Tune Contest. (Video: Karla Adam/The Washington Submit)

One other favourite is Finnish rapper Käärijä, who will probably be singing the upbeat, extremely clappable “Cha Cha Cha” whereas wearing neon inexperienced bubble sleeves harking back to “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Käärijä is one among many artists singing in his native language. The refrain of his tune, translated, reads: “I maintain the drink with each fingers like that, cha cha cha …”

In an interview on Saturday, earlier than the finale, he mentioned that his tune was about “freedom” and that he wished to sing in his personal language. “Finnish individuals don’t consider a tune in Finnish can win, however I do.”

He added that it was “loopy” that individuals in Finland have been supporting him by portray their nails inexperienced and knitting inexperienced bolero jackets for his or her canine.

The competitors between Sweden and Finland displays a broader stress within the contest. Voting is break up between nationwide juries of trade professionals, who have a tendency to love highly effective singing and songwriting, and the general public, who need wind machines and pyrotechnics. Lots of the songs are (whisper it) fairly good, however and not using a highly effective stage present, they will fall flat.

In a change to the principles this yr, individuals in nonparticipating international locations, together with america, can take part on-line voting.

A lot is thought in regards to the acts from this week’s semifinals and costume rehearsals. We all know that Norway’s Alessandra is choosing an intergalactic conflict princess look and that the Austrian duo Teya & Salena have penned a catchy, easy-to-remember refrain: Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Edgar Allan, Edgar Allan Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe Edgar Allan Poe.

However that doesn’t rank notably excessive on the bizarre meter.

Croatia will put ahead garishly lipsticked males who will strip all the way down to their white underwear for an antiwar tune known as “Mama SC.” An Estonian singer will carry out with a live performance grand piano that seems to be haunted by a ghost.

One of many standout performances from the semifinals was not from a contestant, however quite from the “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham. The British actress, who is healthier recognized in america than she is within the U.Okay., is co-hosting with the Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina and “Britain’s Bought Expertise” choose Alesha Dixon. Waddingham has gained reward on social media for her presenting abilities, which included displaying off her personal singing abilities and conversational French.

Eurovision was begun within the late Fifties by a handful of nations as a approach to convey collectively war-torn Europe. Underscoring how a lot the competition has grown — in contributors and recognition — greater than 1,000 journalists from 50 international locations have been accredited to cowl this yr’s occasion in Liverpool. Many are from devoted fan web sites, and so they whoop and holler and sing alongside as they’re submitting their tales from the media middle.

The information conferences within the buildup to the ultimate have been memorable.

The lead singer for Germany’s Lord of the Misplaced, who was wearing a pink bodysuit with one pant leg lower off, was requested by a reporter what sort of footwear he was planning to put on onstage. He responded “heels,” and plunked his ft onto the desk for the assembled reporters to see.

Some individuals suppose Eurovision is a joke — too camp, too trashy, too shmaltzy. Others take it very severely certainly.

“Slovenia crushed it,” shouted a Slovenian reporter at a costume rehearsal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested to handle the competitors — a request the organizers denied, saying that it was a nonpolitical occasion whereas stressing that “Ukraine, its music, its tradition, and its creativity would characteristic strongly all through” the competitors.

Many Ukrainians are nonetheless excited, and for a lot of, it’s about uniting by means of music, the theme of this yr’s competitors. Halyna Sladz, 35, a Ukrainian refugee based mostly within the U.Okay., mentioned the competition is “a celebration, an opportunity to have a good time.” She was strolling in a “uncover Ukraine” space alongside Liverpool’s vibrant waterfront. “I hope sooner or later you’ll all be capable to come to Ukraine to have a good time,” she added.

Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian drag queen who gained Eurovision in 2014, supplied a concept of Eurovision’s reputation.

Chatting with The Washington Submit in a makeshift room with a leopard-print couch and golden bathtub full of plastic bubbles, Wurst mentioned: “In Europe, we have now so many alternative little international locations. There are such a lot of totally different approaches to music, tradition, artwork, vogue, so everybody brings their finest sport to the desk.”

Requested if Eurovision hopefuls search her recommendation, she mentioned: “They do generally. There’s no recipe. It comes all the way down to authenticity, because it does with something in life. You need to make it your personal.”



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