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Eurovision 2023 Lagoon Femshayma
Lagoon Femshayma and The Beatles at Eurovision 2023Photography Vanessa Hsieh

When Lagoon met Loreen: watch a magical mystery tour of Eurovision 2023

We went on the ground as the UK hosted the song contest for the first time in 25 years, chatting to contestants and crowds of fans who descended on Liverpool for ‘The Olympics of Music’

TextVanessa HsiehPhotographyAlice WadePhotographyVanessa Hsieh

Sequins, spandex, a night of songs ranging from earnest appeals for peace to invocations of the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe – it can only be one thing: Eurovision weekend. Hosted in the UK on behalf of last year’s actual winners Ukraine on account of the ongoing war, this annual high camp fever dream took over Liverpool for the past two weeks, culminating in a live show on Saturday that was watched by millions across the world, including thousands in the arena and surrounding Eurovision Village. With diehard fans flying in from as far as Australia to take in the competition in person, we sent Lagoon Femshayma on the ground for a magical mystery tour of the madness that ensued at the first Eurovision Song Contest to be held in the UK in 25 years. 

Flying the flag for the UK, Mae Muller gave us a lesson on the enduring legacy of Scooch, while we exchanged energies with eventual history-making two-time winner Loreen, who followed 2012’s breakout hit “Euphoria” with this year’s “Tattoo” – a song with Rick Owens-esque staging that made her the first woman ever to win Eurovision twice. Back for another one despite not being contestants this year, Jedward also shared a message about the value of being fan favourite over winning in a hectic hotel encounter, while Drag Race UK’s Tia Kofi made the case for their entry into the competition, should anyone happen to ask. 

Throughout this all, the continual chants of Finland’s “Cha Cha Cha”, and appearance of puffy neon green arm sleeves across the week spoke to the power of the fans as a driving force behind the contest, which opened up voting across the whole world for the first time this year. Flooding Liverpool with Sam Ryder masks, Sydney Opera Hats made out of paper plates and seemingly every sequin in production in their recreations of previous looks from ABBA to Måneskin, Eurovisionmania was palpable in the air. While Finland came second overall despite the “Sauna On The Road” they brought to Albert Dock, the carnage even amongst journalists in the media centre when they performed is a testament to how an act like that will capture the imagination of Eurovision fans long after the neon bright spots in their vision have burned off. 

As “The Olympics of Music” the contest has, particularly in recent years, attempted to reinforce the same pillars of political neutrality, peace, and unity through friendly competition, but the state of the world is so dystopian it undoubtedly peaks through, however warm and welcoming this notion is. Reports that the hometown of Ukraine’s Eurovision act was bombed as they performed served as a violent reminder of why the contest was being hosted here in the UK instead. Acts like Switzerland’s may use their platforms to highlight these issues, but in the topsy-turvy world of Eurovision politics often becomes absurdity personified. Where else can a banana pound the pavement advocating for peace, and a faux Boris Johnson hand out EU flags in a full 180 from the real PM who led us through a catastrophic Brexit deal, and no one really bats an eyelid? 

You’ll famously never walk alone in Liverpool, and this weekend you didn’t sing alone either. Watch what happened in the video below.

@dazed Watch @ZooeyGleaves as he hits the streets of Liverpool for a magical mystery tour of @Eurovision 2023, chatting to contestants and the crowds of fans who descended on the city as the UK hosted the song contest for the first time in 25 years. 🇪🇺 @Loreen @Mae Muller @Gustaph @remoforrer @JedwardTiktok #loreen #eurovision2023 #eurovision #maemuller #gustaph #remoforrer #jedward #liverpool ♬ original sound - dazed