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Eurovision 2023: The best of National Final season

04 May 2023 at 16:00 CEST
Filip Balos took part in the Pesma Za Evroviziju final Boris Subotic / RTS
Heading into Eurovision week, we take a look back over Eurovision year - and pay homage to the best non-selected pre-selection gems of 2023.
Benidorm Fest finalist Fusa Nocta
Benidorm Fest finalist Fusa Nocta RTVE

Every year, the Eurovision Song Contest presents a diverse selection of music competing to win that coveted Contest trophy. In the 2023 Contest, there are 37 entries. But how did they end up here?

Well, in some cases, a country's broadcaster will go about finding the best song to pair with the best artist. Or perhaps the perfect combination will present itself to them, and the decision is made easy. But in most cases, a participating broadcaster will put it in the hands of its viewers, and host a national final.

UMK23 participant Benjamin, from Finland Yle / Nelli Kenttä

A national final, or a pre-selection as it's also called, can take many forms and sizes. It's a selection of songs presented to TV viewers and voters. During a live television spectacular (sometimes lasting as long as 6 weeks - 'hej' Sweden!), the public will then get to choose the song that will get to represent their country at that year's Eurovision Song Contest. Often, a broadcaster-appointed jury assists with the decision-making too. 

However, as well as the winning song that goes on to fly its country's flag at the Eurovision Song Contest, there are inevitably a lot of top-quality tunes that don't earn that right, but which nonetheless go on to become huge hits in their country, or earn a special place in the hearts of Eurovision fans - a lot of whom watch as many of these national finals in pre-selection season as possible, for that very reason.

Melanie Wehbe competed at Melodifestivalen 2023 in Sweden Magnus Ragnvid

To give you an idea of the kind of songs you may have been missing out on, take a listen through a few of the highlights of Eurovision's 2023 pre-selection season - via this small sample of just some of the national-final gems that might well make a welcome new addition to your playlists.

And if you want to keep track of national-final season in 2024, has got you covered, of course. Once the summer is over, keep checking back here for dates, announcements and details. Plus, for every national final that takes place, we'll be putting together an easy guide to each one, on what's competing and how to watch.

Chérine competed in Belgium's Eurosong 2023 VRT

🇪🇪 Estonia | m els - So Good (At What You Do)

The Baltic nation’s annual Eesti Laul had 20 songs reduced to a grand final of 12, via two semi finals. Amongst the keepers that the selection gave us was this low-key yet hook-laden number from m els. The singer and songwriter from Tallinn funnelled plenty of retro-radio vibes into the composition of this.

🇮🇹 Italy: | Rosa Chemical - Made in Italy

The music competition that’s even older than the Eurovision Song Contest, Festival di Sanremo, has contributed a plethora of hit singles to the Italian charts in 2023. One song that made a big impact is the suitably titled Made in Italy. Sounding like a cross between last year’s Sanremo breakout hit Ciao Ciao (by La Rappresentante di Lista) and the sub-genre of Balkan dance music ‘popcorn’, there’s a lot to love within this glamour-puss of a pop song.

🇳🇴 Norway | Maria Celin - Freya

“Let’s hit the drums” commands the first line of the chorus of this song from Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix selection. And that message pretty much sets the tone for this three-minute pop song. Ethereal Nordic folklore meets icy Scandinavian synths. And drums. Lots and lots of drums.

🇭🇷 Croatia | Harmonija Disonance - Nevera (Lei, Lei)

Techno-folk is a genre that’s gained in popularity a lot in recent years across a broader section of Europe. And Nevera (Lei Lei), from the Croatian pre-selection Dora, is a mighty-fine example of the sound at its very best. Harmonija Disonance have given us three minutes of ethno-electronica to cherish throughout 2023.

🇫🇮 Finland | Benjamin - Hoida Mut

When it comes to chart-toppers, there were few national finals that were churning them out this year like Finland’s UMK. The 7-song competition saw 6 of its entries grace the all-important Top 5 on Spotify Finland’s daily chart, with two of them reaching the number 1 position. One such hit-parade botherer was Hoida Mut by Benjamin. It’s an ‘80s-esque synthpop bop that isn’t subtle about being suggestive. Its forward manner meant that plenty took an instant shine to it.

🇪🇸 Spain: Fusa Nocta - Mi Familia

Benidorm Fest returned for the second year of its new 21st-century incarnation. And after Chanel’s result in Turin, the quality was strong at the Costa Blanca in 2023. One particular highlight was Mi Familia by Fusa Nocta; most probably because it’s a sonically-thrilling slant on the sound that Spain has been exporting to the rest of world so well over the past five years or so. Mi familia? E' lo primero!

🇷🇸 Serbia | Filip Baloš - Novi Plan Drugi San

He brought the house music with which to bring the house down. Serbia’s Pesma Za Evroviziju participant Filip Baloš merged ‘70s disco strings, ‘80s pop nostalgia and ‘90s piano house on Novi Plan Drugi San, somehow coming out the other end with a banging track that fits right into place in the '20s. 

🇩🇪 Germany: Patty Gurdy - Melodies of Hope

Germany’s one-night national final, Unser Lied für Liverpool, saw the inclusion of an instrument we hadn’t seen in a while - the faithful hurdy-gurdy! The artist wielding it was the aptly named Patty Gurdy. And her song Melodies of Hope had us all jigging merrily to a Celtic-flavoured beat.

🇸🇪 Sweden | Melanie Wehbe - For The Show

Swedish singer Melanie Wehbe has written two Eurovision Song Contest entries in the past (Denmark 2019 and Sweden 2020), but in 2023 she stepped out onto the Melodifestivalen stage to perform as an artist in her own right. The result was For The Show - a beautiful ballad that starts off slow, but soon builds into an epic that goes, as we say at the Eurovision Song Contest, big in the hall.

🇧🇪 Belgium | Chérine - Ça M'ennuie Pas

This Francophone firecracker gave national-final season a heady kick-start back in January, as Belgium hosted Eurosong 2023. This electrifying electropop was fast-paced, foot-loose and fearless in showcasing its freaky side. If your day needs a bit of bounce to it, this song should keep you going until sundown.

🇷🇴 Romania | Andreea D Folclor Orchestra - Periniţa Mea

If Moldova’s Eurovision Song Contest entry in 2022 was the party train from Chișinău to București, this song from Romania’s Selecția Națională will have seen to it that the party very much carried on in București. Less rock n`roll but a lot more ‘folclor’, this Romanian riot will have you dreaming wistfully of Balkan dancefloors. 'Noroc'!

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.

Listen to all 37 songs from Liverpool 2023 via your favourite streaming services, and watch the official music videos on our YouTube channel:

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