Fans choose seven songs for Eurovision 2023's Super Saturday

Robert Mengoni

If you enjoy sports, picture yourself having to decide between the FA Cup final, the Wimbledon singles final, and the last Test match of The Ashes.

On Super Saturday, seven countries will air massive TV programs to choose a representative for the song contest in May. In the world of Eurovision, that's sort of what fans will have to deal with.

Ethan Wilshaw, 20, of Plymouth will be sitting down with his parents 13 weeks before the song contest's final round to listen to performances from Italy, Estonia, Denmark, Malta, Latvia, Croatia, and Romania.

He tells BBC News, "It's quite stressful, but I think that sort of chaos and overwhelming nature is inherent to Eurovision.". The good thing about the various time zones is that you can dip in and out. I'm not sure how I'm going to prioritize them.

He began watching the national final season in 2019, and one of his favorite lessons was "how important it is for other countries," given that these finals are often the biggest night of television in Europe.

Ethan Wilshaw with friends
For Eurovision week in May, Ethan (on the left) and his friends will travel to Liverpool.

An act is typically chosen for a Eurovision entry in one of two ways: either through an internal selection, which takes place behind the scenes, or through a national selection, which is a TV contest where the winner gets to fly their nation's flag in Liverpool.

A winner will be selected from the 28 competing acts in the 73rd edition of Italy's legendary five-night Festival di Sanremo, which has become essential viewing for Eurovision fans. Additionally, there are notable guests like Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Depeche Mode, and the Black Eyed Peas.

With the assistance of my Italian friends, who also provided translation assistance and background information on the contestants, I watched the second night on Wednesday. Thank you to my Italian friends for not ejecting me for bringing a Hawaiian pizza.

After pizza (and tiramisu), I was still unable to come up with another cultural event that unites a nation the way Sanremo does, but I ultimately came up with a hybrid of the Royal Variety performance, the Super Bowl halftime show, and the New Year's Eve countdown.

The president of the nation, Sergio Mattarella, attended the opening night while other politicians and celebrities filled the seats for the remainder of the week in black tie. A significant portion of the population watched at home, with the number of viewers peaking at over 16 million and a 62 percent share of TV viewers.

Andrea Bocelli
Although Italy didn't compete in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, Andrea Bocelli became famous after winning Sanremo.
In order to compete in and win the song competition in 2021, Mneskin first had to win Sanremo, the event that served as the model for Eurovision.

Mneskin, who recently dropped a new album and was nominated for best new act at the Grammy Awards last week, still consider winning the festival to be "one of the top three achievements" in their professional lives.

Frontman Damiano David told BBC News: "It makes sense that we won Eurovision because we had cool outfits, a strong song, and were very different from all the other contestants. It makes sense to me.

"To triumph in the oldest and most prestigious Italian music competition. It's not what we do, it's not rock 'n' roll; it's soft pop or extremely thoughtful songwriting. I've never been able to explain it, but it is still among the most astounding things to have ever occurred.

The favorite to win this year is Marco Mengoni, who represented Italy at Eurovision in 2013. However, he is adamant that all he wants to do is "go on stage and feel like I'm on tour.".

On the Eurovisioncast podcast from the BBC, he describes the event as "a cultural event with an amazing cast this year.". "Sanremo is a reflection of Italian music; on stage, the entire musical spectrum is represented.

Mandy Huibregtsen
Mandy started following all the national finals in 2021 and has this weekend marked in her calendar ever since.

On Saturday, Italy's national final will undoubtedly draw the largest crowd, but the Eesti Laul in Estonia and the Melodi Grand Prix in Denmark will also draw sizable domestic crowds as well as viewers from other countries.

Fans who follow the contest all year long may find the conversation to be "a chaotic mess" on WhatsApp group chats and on Twitter.

Mandy Huibregtsen, a 22-year-old Rotterdam, Netherlands resident, says, "I will try to watch as many as I can.".

"Estonia's selection this year is very strong. She has been keeping me informed about my brother's Maltese girlfriend. Smaller artists are given a platform during national finals in other nations.

Reiley, who has over 10 million TikTok followers, wants to win Denmark's Eurovision selection contest.

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which takes place in Nstved arena, about an hour outside of Copenhagen, dwarfs Italy's 28 acts with eight performers from Denmark. Kalush Orchestra, last year's Eurovision champions, will perform during the intermission.

Just before rehearsals, Reiley, who resides on the self-governing Faroe Islands, which are a part of the Kingdom of Denmark's external sphere of influence, tells the BBC, "I wanted to have a deeper connection to my home territory.".

"I've performed music all over, but I've never been to Denmark. I simply adore performing and any chance to put on a fantastic show for audiences.

Although he says "it's awesome" that fans from outside of Denmark will be watching him compete on Saturday night, the majority of his fans are in South Korea as a result of a previous song that became popular there.

With the same management firm that approached Sam Ryder last year, the BBC is using an internal selection process for the United Kingdom this year.

Ben, a listener to Eurovisioncast, enquired if I thought the BBC would use that format again in the future given how popular these events have become across Europe.

Ethan in Plymouth disagrees with me, despite the success of Sam Ryder, who was selected internally, and the pressure on the UK to maintain its success.

He chuckles, "I've actually been able to get my Mom and Dad to watch them with me and we get a takeaway. "I do believe that one would help us now that we've found our mojo.

"I think the UK would be engaged with one. We now have the public interest for it.".

Weekly episodes of the new BBC podcast Eurovisioncast explore all the build-up, insights, and analysis.

I call it Eurovisioncast. offered on BBC Sounds. or conduct a search wherever you typically access podcasts.

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