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You are currently viewing NF Season 2023: The Moments That Defined The Season

Photo Credit: SVT, YLE, RTVE and RTÉ

It’s been a fun National Final season from start to finish and like every year, there have been plenty of great and memorable moments! In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best, most memorable and most chaotic moments of the Eurovision National Final season. Let’s take a look!


Starting with the first national final of the year Vidbir. Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the broadcaster decided to host Vidbir in Kyiv’s underground metro station. They produced one of the most well-produced NFs despite the circumstances. Fans watching the broadcast could hear the metros go past in the background which made the NF surreal to watch and it was a reminder just what Ukraine are going through, but it was a testament to the country’s bravery and perseverance. The current winners of the contest put on an amazing show, all 10 acts performed well. After a tense voting reveal, the public with the support of the juries decided to send TVORCHI with ‘Heart of Steel’.

UMK and Käärijä

In recent years, UMK has emerged as one of the strongest and most exciting NFs amongst eurofans. So many of their songs rank highly in the Finnish charts and in recent years have attracted some big names such as The Rasmus and Robin Packalen. 

One of the things that’s special about UMK is how each song is revealed on a different day, meaning that each act has the spotlight on them and gets their moment to shine. 

The reveal that definitely got the most attention and hype was ‘Cha Cha Cha’ by Käärijä. His song was genre-defying. The song begins with him rapping amongst elements of electronic music, but then in the 2nd half of the song, while keeping its melody, the song suddenly becomes more pop and dancey. This unconventional structure made this unique and instantly became a hit with fans domestically and internationally. Within weeks, he reached number 2 on the Finnish charts. 

He didn’t disappoint and he won the televote with over 52% of the vote with his memorable performance which even included cha cha cha dancers and the crowd were singing along to every word. It was an iconic moment and he’ll definitely be one to watch in the televote!

When a Peanut Butter hamper stole the show 

The Late Late Show is one of Ireland’s most well-known and prestigious TV shows and for one night a year, it doubles as Eurosong which is the national final that decides who will represent Ireland at Eurovision. Six artists performed their songs to the live audience, the Irish public, and eurofans across the world. However, not long after all the songs had been performed, the host Ryan Tubridy announced that everyone in the audience had won a €50 voucher and a peanut butter hamper. This was met with rapturous applause and it was noted that the peanut butter hampers received more of a reception than some of the performing artists. Wild Youth may have won Eurosong but the peanut butter hamper also won the hearts of the live audience and eurofans alike.

Photo credit: RTÉ

The Queen of Kings wins MGP

On the day of the Melodi Grand Prix final, Alessandra’s song ‘Queen Of Kings’ topped the Global Viral 50 Spotify charts thanks to its success on the social media app TikTok. She was always going to be the one to watch and she delivered. After winning with the juries, she won the televote in a landslide scoring 129 points. During the announcement, she fell to the floor and hugged all of the other MGP contestants on her way to the stage. Visibly emotional, she thanked the crowd and sang her winner’s reprise to a crowd of ecstatic fans jumping and dancing to her song, while the other contestants joined her on stage. 

Subwoolfer’s face reveal

Staying in Norway, love them or hate them, one of the most talked about contestants of Eurovision 2022 Subwoolfer who were two ‘space wolves’ who sung ‘Give That Wolf a Banana’ and snuck into the Top 10 in Turin. One of the main questions throughout the season, was who were the wolves? This year, the wolves sung in the interval act performing ‘Worst Kept Secret’ and near the end of the performance, they finally took their masks off to an excited crowd and it was revealed that they were A1 boyband star Ben Adams and Norwegian idol runner-up Gaute Ormåsen!

Chérine’s performance at Eurosong

One of the fan favourites Chérine for Belgium was one of the most excitable contestants we’ve had this season and promoted her song in a mall dressed as a cake surprising shoppers. Her song was called ‘Ça m’ennuie pas’ and her performance was memorable but fun. She started her song while sitting down and taking a selfie for her fans putting an Instagram story encouraging her fans to vote for her. She was then joined by a giant octopus and a giant flower, which she then watered with a watering can to bring it to life. She got the crowd going and got lots of cheers from the audience. Although she eventually finished in 4th place, her song and performance will be remembered for years to come. 

Gustaph’s surprise victory

Throughout the course of Belgium’s Eurosong, there were two acts that were on everyone’s lips as potential winners, that was Chérine and The Starlings. Many expected one of these acts to represent Belgium. Sure enough, The Starlings won the televote comfortably but they didn’t do as well with the juries. Chérine did almost win with the juries but finished 4th in the televote pushing her into 4th place. Gustaph did well with the juries placing 3rd with them and 2nd in the televote and after the final score was revealed, he had won by only 1 point over The Starlings producing one of the closest NF results this season. 

Photo credit: VRT

MERLYN in the Eesti Laul Semi-Final:

One of the contestants that took part in Eesti Laul (Estonia’s national final) was MERLYN with her uptempo bop ‘Unicorn Vibes’. It had a mixed reaction in the Eurovision fandom, but the song had its fans. After she performed live, you could audibly hear screams from the audience. 

Later on in the evening, during Eesti Laul, they do an interview with each of the performing artists where the artist themselves walk along a red carpet on their way to see the hosts. When it was MERLYN’S turn, one of the hosts proceeded to scream with excitement as she walked down the carpet, and pretended to faint at the sight of her, causing her and many confused eurofans watching at home to laugh at this unexpected reaction. Unfortunately, she didn’t qualify for the Eesti Laul final.

Opera with Fifi

Festivali i Këngës is one of the longest-running TV shows in Albania and one of the most famous music shows in the country. Nowadays, it’s used as Albania’s Eurovision selection. 

One of the contestants was Fifi who was hotly contested to represent Albania with her song ‘Stop’. Over the years, FiK has changed rules and this year was no different. This time, the audience would be hearing the songs live for the first time on the very first evening, meaning it was important that the artist got it right on the night. 

As Fifi was singing through no fault of her own, people could hear a backing track of someone singing opera loudly over the top of her, confusing many fans and making it unclear how Fifi’s actual song sounded.

The debut live performance of ‘Eaea’ by Blanca Paloma

Although Benidorm Fest is a very new National Final – starting in 2022 – it’s already a hit with Spanish fans and has given us a very diverse range of music that Spain has to offer. There was only one returnee from last year and that was Blanca Paloma. In 2022 she sang the ballad ‘Secreto de agua’ finishing in 5th place with 61 points.

Her great result last year meant she was already on fans’ radars. She described her new flamenco song as a “chant to her grandmother”. The performance began with Blanca singing surrounded by some red curtains where the backing singers clapped in between them, which created some some amazing cinematography. Later during the song, she walked along the catwalk and then shot an imaginary arrow just before the last chorus, this then made lights flash rapidly in red illuminating the stage. She finished her song with a long note that put viewers and the live audience in a trance. Her singing was faultless and the visuals were stunning, she was rewarded by receiving a massive cheer from the audience and in the final, she almost scored the maximum points, 169 out of 176.

OLLIE, Alika and Bedwetters being the VIP guests at a teaparty

In the Eesti Laul final, after the Top 3 had been revealed, the phone lines opened again for the super-final. While fans were voting, the hosts invited the final 3 to a decorated table featuring cups of tea, UK flags as the contest is held in Liverpool this year and had some of the acts hold umbrellas. Tea and rain obviously being two stereotypical things associated with the UK. 

During this time, the hosts played them past UK songs such as Gina G – Ooh… Aah, Just A Little Bit which they all recognized and Alika was dancing to it. Cliff Richard – Power To All Our Friends was played which Ollie bopped too. Other songs played were ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’ and ‘Love Shine A Light’ (which the frontman of Bedwetters gave a rendition of). Although it was unexpected, it was a good way for the hosts to introduce them as well as Estonian and international fans to past British entries. It would be nice to see more national finals do this with the respective host countries in future.

The debut performance of Loreen – Tattoo

When former Eurovision winner Loreen was first announced to participate in Melodifestivalen, the excitement across the Eurovision sphere was massive. This would be her fourth Melfest and first since she was controversially eliminated in Andra Chansen in 2017 with her song ‘Statements’. This was arguably one of the most hyped songs in Melfest for many years and she did not disappoint. As soon as the press first heard ‘Tattoo’ many of them were saying this could be the Eurovision 2023 winner, you couldn’t get any higher praise than that. 

The pop anthem also had some of the most ambitious stagings of the national final season. The song started with Loreen sandwiched between a giant LED panel and the LED floor. As the song progressed the LED panel raised and Loreen then stood tall before the song’s massive crescendo as the stage illuminated in bright orange. It was a spectacle and a testament to Loreen’s artistic vision. 

By the time it came to the live performance on the night, someone invaded the stage halfway through the song and the music had to be stopped while security got rid of the invader. This obviously distressed the audience, but Loreen was unbothered and in an interview afterwards with ESCXtra, she described them as “my beautiful little activist”. After an impromptu five-minute break while they tried to get the staging back to normal, Loreen restarted her song. Like a true professional, she nailed her performance and when it came to the last chorus, it was clear the audience was watching something very special and the crowd went wild after she finished. To no one’s surprise, Loreen successfully won her heat and made it to the final with flying colours.  


It’s not a National Final season without some disqualifications and there were a few this year. These may have been because their songs were released before the September 1st deadline or because an artist broke a rule. Two of the more controversial disqualifications were from fan favourites in Moldova and Malta. 

Lola was tipped to do well with her catchy song ‘Temperatura’ in Moldova but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make the auditions due to a snowstorm in the capital Chisinau because she was stuck in traffic and was ultimately cut from the competition. 

The other and more notable disqualification was Malta’s AIDAN where he was one of the big favourites to win MESC with his song ‘Reġina’ but not long after his Quarter-Final performance, he had breached a social media rule which resulted in his disqualification. This sparked a lot of anger and confusion in Malta and in the Eurovision fandom, with a petition even being made demanding for him to be reinstated in the lineup which received nearly 2,000 signatures but to no avail. However, the ending of this story is happier. AIDAN was invited back to perform a medley of his biggest hits in the MESC Final – his 2022 MESC entry ‘Ritmu’, as well as ‘Nahseb Fik’ and ‘Madam’ to a massive ovation. To top it off, what would’ve been his entry this year ‘Reġina’ has already become a big hit in Malta and has 100,000 streams on Spotify so far. 

Big names in San Marino

San Marino once again used ‘Una Voce Per San Marino’ to decide who will represent the microstate in Liverpool and artists from around the world were invited to take part and travelled far and wide to make the auditions. There were some notable acts who took part in these auditions such as Eiffel 65 who had a Number 1 dance hit all around the world in the late 1990s with ‘Blue’. We also saw 2022 Albanian entrant Ronela Hajati trying her luck for San Marino to take part with her song ‘Salvaje’. Although both acts made the final, they didn’t win the honour to represent the country.

Other recognisable names in the Eurovision sphere who took part in UVPSM included Alfie Arcuri who took part in Australia Decides 2019, social media fan favourite from last year Christopher, and Deborah Lurato who finished in 3rd place in Sanremo 2016. 

Ahlena and her song ‘Booty’

As Ester Peony almost sang, Poland decided their representative on a Sunday. Poland’s national final Tu Bije Serce Europy produced some memorable moments. One of which was Ahlena and her song ‘Booty’ which raised eyebrows across the Eurovision fandom and in Poland due to the interesting lyrics which were about how her man loves her booty. The lyrics were deemed inappropriate and obscene according to former TVP president Janusz Daszczyński. However, despite the backlash, the lyrics weren’t changed and the song went ahead as normal. 

For her performance, she walked around the stage singing the song while some of the lyrics appeared on the LEDs. Unfortunately for her, the jury and public didn’t understand her song from an academic perspective and she finished last. But as it was revealed, she finished last in the jury, loud boos echoed around the studio proving some were unhappy with this decision.

Luke Black’s debut performance of ‘Samo mi se spava’

Serbia once again used ‘Pesma za Evroviziju’ as their national final selection for Serbia. After Konstrakta made the top 5 last year, Serbia were hopeful that one of their 32 songs in the lineup could do even better! There were many fan favourites such as the new Hurricane, Filip Baloš and Zejna. The most talked about performance was by Luke Black and his dark electro pop song ‘Samo mi se spava’ which roughly translates as ‘I’m just sleepy’ in English.

Starting the performance lying on a bed, he sung the first verse and as the song progressed and began to build he walked down the stairs to join his fellow dancers in their choreographed routine. Near the end of the performance, in true video game style, a monster with a health bar appeared on the screen. He then moved towards the dancers who had pipes attached to their costumes which all led to the LED screen. One by one as Luke ripped them off, the health bar on the screen dropped and by the end of the song, the bar had dropped to zero signifying the enemy had been defeated. This performance was unlike anything we’d seen in Serbia’s NF and it really stood out in the lineup. Luke won the jury and finished 2nd in a close televote contest which secured his victory. It truly was game over.

As he won, his good friend and fellow contestant Filip Baloš who finished in 4th place rushed over to congratulate him on his victory. In a world where Eurovision fans are becoming increasingly passionate hoping their favourite songs will win, it was nice to see two contestants who were genuinely very happy for one another.

Who the Hell is Edgar?

A question that plagued on the minds of many confused Eurofans when on the 25th January, Mysterious Twitter account CrystalBallESC had tweeted a leaked snippet of a song which contained the hook “Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe, Edgar Allen Edgar Allen” claiming this to be the Austrian entry performed by Teya and Salena. No one knew what to think and why the song was talking about the writer Edgar Allen Poe.

Over the coming weeks, this mysterious song became one of the most talked about and hyped for songs of the season due to the sheer craziness of these rumoured lyrics and the fans having no idea what to expect. Some fans thinking it would be a disaster, some thinking it could be a great pop song, and some thinking it could be both!

On March 8th, the song turned out to be true, and it was called ‘Who the Hell is Edgar?’ which has already been a fan favourite due to it’s very catchy hook, the deeper meaning behind the song and for it being a strong and well produced pop song.

If you’d like to know more about the lyrics and message of the song, our fellow Phoenix contributor MJ has written a editorial about the song and its message as well as what it means for female songwriters.

Like every year, the national final season is always full of surprises, amazing performances and more! But now the season is over, we move onto the main event of Eurovision itself where we’re sure they’ll be plenty of incredible and memorable moments!

What was your favourite moment of the National Final season, let us know in the comments!

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