The below editorial is the opinion of the author(s), and does not necessarily represent the views of ESC United as a whole and its staff members, and does not represent the views of anyone associated with the EBU and Eurovision.

The wait is finally over!

After a decades-long hiatus, former Eurovision powerhouse Luxembourg is returning to the contest for the first time since 1993. This return had been discussed, rumored, and dreamed about by large swaths of the ESC fandom, and the news of a comeback was greeted enthusiastically by fans when it was announced in May of last year.

But does the five time Eurovision winning champion still have what it takes to dominate on Europe’s biggest music stage? We’ve already heard from #YOU, but who do we here at ESC United think should get the ticket to Malmö? Join our expert panel as we review and rate out of 10 all of the songs competing at the Luxembourg Song Contest. Our panelists are:

  • From The United States- William, Tyler, and James
  • From Belgium- Boris
  • From Denmark- David
  • From Israel- Yehonatan

Angy & Rafa Ela- “Drop”

39 year old singer-songwriter Angy is best known for reaching the Top 4 of The Voice Belgique in 2013. She is joined on the track by 26 year old Rafa Ela,  an up-and-coming performer who won ‘Top Voice Luxembourg’ in 2018. Angy herself is a member of the song’s writing team.

William: This sounds AI generated, like lots of self-empowerment cliches stacked on top of a preset bass line. I’m also not sure that this song makes any more sense as a duet than it would coming from a solo act. I’d personally want to be getting more value out of adding a second voice to a song, if I were putting this together. But, alas, I am thoroughly unqualified for that job and am instead here to sit in judgment of artists way more talented than I will ever be. 😂 Oh well. 3.5/10

Tyler: I want to like ‘Drop’ more, but the song feels more derivative of power anthems than an original entry. I can see this song being submitted for Iceland and then dying in the semi-final, so, at least with this being in Luxembourg, it’s automatically in the final … congrats? The song just feels middle of the road, not breaking new ground to me. 5.5/10

James: The lyrics are complete and utter gibberish. They sound like a random collection of inspirational quotes found on posters hung up in the office of a Bitcoin bro. The track itself sounds like a final project for a Eurovision class for mercenary composers. Not a bad thing, necessarily – sign me up if such a class exists. But it sounds like a song that’s been shopped around a few national selection candidates and lacks personality. It’s merely passable in its current state, though with a few tweaks and some identity (whether to Angy and Rafa Ela or Luxembourg), it could have potential. 4/10

Boris: The hell? Tali Eshkoli-produced? And she was ON THE PANEL?! Hm Okay! “Drop” is like that Italian JESC duet. Absolutely uninspired, a bunch of cliché platitudes strung together into a march towards a climax that feels unearned. Why is this a duet? Do these two have any connection to one another other being paired through the selection committee’s capricious whim? The more you think about it, the worse it gets. 4/10

David: There’s a rhythm to it, but the lyrics … are quite horrid and very out of place. I fail to hear the connection of the melody and the singing, and it just feels like a very random text. It’s not even catchy, but rather all over the place. It’s not badly performed, but just feels very out of sync with the melody, so I’m wondering what I’m listening to. 2/10

Yehonatan: Angy & Rafa are serving a Brodway style of ballad that sounds like it came straight out of Hamilton. Very dramatic lyrics with a great build overall. I’m interested to see how this duet will come across live, but this is a safe choice for Luxembourg that doesn’t really takes any risks. 6.5/10

Total: 25.5

CHAiLD- “Hold On”

25 year old rising electro pop singer CHAiLD is currently based out of Brussels and is probably the most high profile name in the Luxembourg Song Contest line up. “Hold On” comes from a heavy hitter creative team that includes Swedish producers and songwriters Jimmy Jannson, Thomas G:son, and Peter Boström. The number of Eurovision and national entries on those three men’s resumes is too high to list individually, but it’s notable that the latter two are in the middle of a victory lap: they were co-writers of “Tattoo”, the most recent winner of Eurovision. 

William: There was a lot of hype around CHAiLD coming in, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a really interesting, adventurous artist with a diverse and deep well of skills. He can rip your heart out with a synth organ-driven lament on dysfunctional relationships just as easily as he can get your pulse pounding with a banging ode to the fuckability of Italian men. So it’s deflating to press play on his track and hear the kind of rather ordinary Scandipop that finishes, like, 5th at Melodifestivalen every year. This is fine. It could even place respectably in Malmö. I’m just not that interested. Can Luxembourg pull a Malta and just jettison this song if CHAiLD wins? I bet he’s got something more interesting up his sleeve. Either way, this song is a 5/10.

Tyler: Hasn’t Thomas G:son terrorized the Eurovision community enough with his entries? Now he has to go to Luxembourg? ‘Hold On’ is a Melfest reject song that wouldn’t even make it to Andra Chansen (rest in peace), but golly if CHAiLD isn’t trying to sell this clunker for all its worth with his singing. Good job with that, and he seems to be the biggest name that will just make it through anyway, so hopefully the live performance will be interesting. 5.5/10

James: Holy Scandipop ballad, Batman, “Hold On” is boring. This sounds like it was composed while on the toilet during Melodifestivalen camp. Now, CHAiLD himself sounds like a singer with a lot of potential and sounds way above the material he got stuck with (a common enough problem at Eurovision national selections). The lyrics are generic and lame (“walk a million miles,” “climb the highest height,” etc.), lazily slopped over a boring track like watery-y chili on a baked potato sold at a Wendy’s at a bus station in Toledo, Ohio. Song selection is pretty much the only thing I will chide CHAiLD with. I can’t see any staging that would lift this above a mere “meh.” 3/10

Boris: I would love to see the thought process behind this song’s inclusion into the line-up. CHAiLD entered with his own composition, and the professional selection committee that contains Tali Eshkoli and Christerfer Mörningstar were, like, “well, we love your pitch, and we really like you, but we hate your product; we want you to sing ‘Sometimes the World is Bigger than the Universe Against Us’ by the same team that wrote ‘Tattoo’ so we don’t have to taint Melfest with it”. And, of course, they throw in a three week holiday and publicity as The First Luxembourgish Act In Ages in exchange for one performance of a shitty Mello reject in May. Who wouldn’t want to take that deal? (People who respect themselves.) Another victory for international panels in national selections, I guess. 2/10

David: A love ballad … yep, just toss it into the pile. Literally the 101 for making a simple love song. It’s heard so many times before, and it’s just nothing new. I do appreciate the build-up and the alright lyrics and vocal performance, but overall, it’s just nothing new. I’m just well over it. 2/10

Yehonatan: I was excited to see CHAiLD in the list of artists for the national final, being familiar with some of his songs. Instead of his usual style, we got an average Melfest entry wih a pretty solid vocal and production. I’m not complaining as I find the song enjoyable; I just hoped he would bring something a bit more unique than this. 6.5/10

Total: 24

Watch Melanie’s sit down interview with CHAiLD here.

EDSUN- “Finally Alive”

EDSUN, a well-established rising star in Luxembourgish music scene, was named Artist of the Year at the 2018 Luxembourg Music Awards. He co-wrote “Finally Alive” with a team that includes rising indie pop songstress Francis of Delirium.

William: This song is giving me an existential conundrum: Am I rating this song based off my personal opinion or its on potential for Eurovision success? On first listen, this is very ho hum. I’ve heard it before. It’s cute. It’s fun enough. It sounds like a fun diversion that would kill in a Melodifestivalen Andra Chansen semi. But here’s the thing: my wild positive swing on Gustaph’s “Because of You” last year has me doubting my initial reactions to songs like this. There’s a lame sincerity  that can’t help but feel … endearing (?). And the song has a few built in moments that would lend themselves to smart staging. So, if you’re asking me right now, this song is a 4/10, but I don’t think it would be a terrible choice for Luxembourg to send.

Tyler: Possibly my top pick of the selection! I find how breezy and upbeat this song is to be quite refreshing, and I like Edsun’s vocals a lot here. With a dynamic live performance and continuing the good vocals, I can see this winning the selection easily. And it would be deserved! May not be as catchy on the first listen, but I still rate this highly and wish Edsun bonne chance! 8/10

James: A little funk with some positive, if slightly goofy, lyrics. Not as goofy as, say, “fire shots” from Vincent Bueno’s Eurovision 2020 entry “Alive,” but close enough. I suspect that Edsun’s secret weapon will be his staging and choreography, so at least I can look forward to that. If his dancing is on point, then “Finally Alive” could be an appropriate party track to honor Luxembourg’s return to Eurovision. This won’t win any awards for originality, but it should deliver a fun time. 6.5/10

Boris: Somewhere an Austrian is gagging himself at Edsun achieving without effort what Vincent Bueno could not do. “Finally Alive” dips its toes a bit too much into Bruno Mars Sound for my liking, but it can function as fun Eurovision semi filler with the right performance. If Luxembourg is going to be a number in Malmö, they might as well pick a zesty palate cleanser like this one. 5/10

David: Time to get your groove on … well, not me. Who approved this even? This is that kind of very tame and weak disco song that doesn’t even make use of the stylish instruments. Sure, good vocal delivery, but the song itself is just horrible. I guarantee that I feel more dead than alive after this song. 2/10

Yehonatan: I have to give it to Edsun. He is the only one who stayed with his original song written by Luxembourgish writers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that song is very good. It’s a bit too repetitive for my liking, and I’m not too fond of the modern disco genre. Nevertheless, Belgium has done quite good with it in the past, so maybe “Finally Alive” will have an audience for it. 3.5/10

Total: 29

Joel Marques- “Believer”

26 year old Joel Marques comes to the Luxembourg Song Contest mere months after first catching the public’s attention as a semi-finalist on the most recent season of The Voice of Germany. His song comes from a team of up-and-coming music producers, including French electropop duo Noroy.

William: Out of all eight songs competing, this is the only one that’s giving me that little magic tingle on the back of my neck. Joel’s vocal tone is gorgeous, and the song gives him lots of jury point-grabbing opportunities to show it off. The melody is transporting and evocative. Give this song, like, some augmented reality staging or play around with camera angles and light. I can envision a moment happening. This isn’t a Eurovision winner-not by a long shot-but it could serve as a solid statement of purpose from the Luxembourgish delegation. 7/10

Tyler: I used to listen to Imagine Dragons last decade; so glad they found this B-side track lost in their archives! Joel sounds fine, I guess? But ‘Believer’ itself sounds a decade too late, and I don’t find the lyrics interesting. It might be good for some people, but, for me, it’s just fine and nothing more. 4.5/10

James: Joel’s entry is modern pop soul of the Rag ‘n Bone Man variety, and, for its rarity at Eurovision, it should attract more fans than his being a Voice of Germany contestant could take away. The lyrics are inspirational in the “I rose to the top, no-one will hold me down” sense that would appeal to people of working class origin (though I have no idea if Joel’s native Differdange is comparable to Detroit or not) without being political or burdened down by a chip on Joel’s shoulder. “Believer” will not get the pulses racing, but its modernity and inoffensiveness could be an uncanny counterpoint to the high camp a lot of rival countries could go for this year. 7/10

Boris: When i first heard “Believer”, my jaw dropped to the floor. Unfortunately for Joel, it was from yawning. 3/10

David: I guess, a song is a song, even when it’s the most basic thing. I mean, it’s fine as it is, but it’s nothing outstanding, either. It’s very simplified-the message, the music, the overall composition-I’m just expecting something special that isn’t there. It’s performed alright, but, other than that, it barely leaves an impression. 2/10

Yehonatan: A generally fine, radio-friendly pop song. There’s really not much to say about this song. It’s the safest of the national final, and I’m afraid that it will get lost in the mix. 6/10

Total: 29.5

Krick- “Drowning in the Rain”

Nurse by day, singer by night, the 26 year old singer Krick first rose to prominence in 2017 as a contestant on The Voice of Germany. The “Drowning in The Rain” songwriting team is full of Eurovision mainstays, including Andreas Stone Johansson (co-writer of “Fade to Black” for Azerbaijan in 2022 and “Too Late for Love” for Sweden in 2019) and Tom Oehler (co-writer of Germany’s 2019 entry, “Sister”). Also on the writing team is Elsie Bay, the two-time Melodi Gran Prix competitor and fan favorite.

William: Elsie Bay is coming in hot with this year’s mandatory James Bond theme. This wouldn’t be a bad choice for Luxembourg. It’s operatic. It modulates in interesting ways. And Krick has a really evocative, rich vocal. If Luxembourg sends this, they’ve gotta invest in staging. This needs PRODUCTION. This needs DRAMA. Does RTL have that kind of coin? Nothing about this sounds new or especially exciting, but I can imagine a smart staging package really pulling it all together. Strictly as a studio track, this is a 6.5/10, but with potential for much higher heights.

Tyler: I kinda like this entry! ‘Drowning in the Rain’ doesn’t feel like GOAT material, though, and could stand to be longer. (Big first strike!). I like how the song feels like an English-language chanson, and I find the key changes interesting, too. I’m curious if the live performance can change people’s minds to vote for it if it’s a banger. 6.5/10

James: In Pittsburgh, the word creek is pronounced “krick.” So if it’s raining down there, you’d say, “it’s rainin’ dahn tha krick, n’at!” Yinz would also be a jagoff if you pointedly hated this song. It’s an Elsie Bay special, a dippy egg of a song yinz can dip your Gahnt Iggle French loaf into while chugging your Iron City. Sorry, “Ahrn City”. This song’s fine. It’s a little too short but is neat and effective, much like the Pittsburgh Stiller’s legend Troy Polamalu. You know, why don’t Luxembourg just send Pittsburgh to Eurovision? Donnie Iris FTW! 6/10

Boris:Mommy, the elsiedelbayness is spreading!” Krick takes her sweet time to build up an air of ~Epic Mystique~ in her morose ballad, but it never comes. Leave it to Elsie Bay to spread cerulean testitis to countries other than Norway. 4/10

David: A very melodramatic ballad … I’m just sorry, I’m simply just bored, and I honestly can’t be bothered going into further details about why I just don’t care about this song. Fine vocal performance, but this just bores me to death. 2/10

Yehonatan: Elsie Bay has written for us another tragic heartbreak ballad, and it is a great one. The melody as well as the harmonic progression take some really fun turns and create the eerie feeling of almost a movie soundtrack. We will have to see if Krick will be able to perform it well live and finally send Elsie’s song to Eurovision. But shall it go to Eurovision, it should have a huge jury support in the final to possibly get Luxembourg a top 10 result in their comeback year. 8.5/10

Total: 33.5

Naomi Ayé- “Paumée sur Terre”

15 year old Naomi Ayé is the youngest singer in the competition. She reached the finals on the 7th season of The Voice Kids France in 2020. Among the track’s songwriting team are Manon Romiti and Silvio Lisbonne, frequent collaborators who both co-wrote Belgium’s 2022 Eurovision entry, “Miss You”. Lisbonne was also a co-writer on France’s 2016 Eurovision entry, “J’ai Cherché”.

William: This is pretty, very heartfelt. The production on the track is simple, but I’d actually be interested to hear a version that’s even more restrained. Right now, it’s living in an awkward middle ground.  Give me the stripped back, acoustic piano take. Give me the version that’s so quiet that it can resonate across chasms. As it is, it’s a solid track, but other countries will absolutely send stronger versions of this. I would also be very nervous to send Naomi. We have seen what happens to teenagers who are unprepared for the Eurovision stage and all that entails. I would hate to watch a promising 16 year old talent be crushed underneath the pressure of a 30 year contest absence. The song itself isn’t bad. It gets a 5/10 from me. But I need Luxembourg  not to send it. Give Naomi more time to develop. Sending her to Malmö now would be cruel.

Tyler: This is a cute song! ‘Paumée sur terre’ doesn’t blow me away, and I don’t know if it will make the Luxembourgish people pick up the phone unless the staging is killer. I just think this song is neat, but nothing too special to make it a must-listen. Good luck in the contest, Naomi! Maybe we’ll see her again next year with an even better song if Luxembourg doesn’t immediately drop out? 6/10

James: This existential ballad is probably the most Eurovision-y track of this selection. That’s not a criticism. Though it has French lyrics, it’s not a distinctly French track. Record Portuguese lyrics over it, and you’d fancy your chances with this at Festival da Cancao. Switzerland could easily have run with this. The vocal hooks in the chorus are memorable even to non-French speakers, and the core concept of the song can be easily and tastefully shown with some visuals. In a year where many people are yearning for meaning in a world full of chaos, “Paumee sur terre” has potential to catch on. 8/10

Boris: Poor Naomi … a mere 15 springs young and already facing the prospect of getting pawned at by balding middle-aged gay men at pre-parties should she win LUSC. It’s a sad reality that a song that would be considered pleasant inoffensive filler in most selections is a contender in this one, and largely because French is a prettier language than English. 5/10

David: A ballad … in French … which still does nothing for me. Fine vocal, just overall bored. 2/10

Yehonatan: Naomi is bringing a very Eurovision style of ballad. It’s in French; it is a bit overdone in some parts, but overall it comes across as powerful. On the one hand, I wish they took more risks with this French ballad, but, on the other hand, the safe structure of the song does the job well enough. 7/10

Total: 33

One Last Time- “Devil in the Detail”

One Last Time is a five-member alt rock band made up of members Andrea Galleti, Jonathan Fersino, Barbara Salvi, Tom Sagramola, and Alessandro Sorbelli. The songwriting team includes Dansk Melodi Gran Prix vet Albin Fredy Ljungqvist and Jonas Holteberg Jensen, co-writer of the aforementioned Elsie Bay’s 2022 Melodi Gran Prix entry “Death of Us”.

William: I mean … it’s catchy. It’s very easy to sing along with, and I could imagine this being an immediate hit for the right audience. That audience does not include me, but I can respect the energy. Personally, I’m looking for something more current, more ethnic, more audacious from a rock entry. This is pretty square.  Entries from bands, in particular, really live or die based off of the live performance, so I am open to being won over. Ultimately, though, this song would be a pretty unremarkable way for Luxembourg to announce its return to Eurovision after 30 years. With all that build up, there has to be more. 4/10

Tyler: So without going too much into how it should be ‘Devil in the DetailS‘, I find this to be similar to the trash rockpop that was all over the 2000s, and done in a similar quality without updating it for Modern Times (hehe). This song doesn’t do much for me and isn’t interesting to listen to; it’s an easy skip. Maybe the performance will be better live, but I’m not caring too much about it either way. 4.5/10

James: Funny this should be called “Devil in the Detail” when it gets so many of them wrong. Particularly the lyrics because… they suck. Yet again, I smell a Swedish mercenary in this Luxembourg selection, right down to the usual tricks such as the pauses in the pre-chorus and all instruments cutting out except the drums at the bridge. As for the lyrics, mixed metaphors-galore here. What do “rovin’ eyes” have to do with “pies in the sky”? Is “keep your lousy moon” some sort of astrological nonsense, or were they out of sane things to rhyme with “soon”? The lyrics seem to be about a spurned side-piece demanding his lover be exclusive. Maybe? The devil’s in the detail, but maybe an angel kicked him in the nuts and can help us leave this song rooted to the bottom of this selection’s ranking. 3/10

Boris: So… you know how rock music enthusiasts dismiss Nickelback for being too basic and aiming their music at people who don’t particularly like rock but want to dip their toes into something more rugged than your average Ed Sheerab? “Devil in the Detail” seems like a song for those who think Nickelback are Too Much. “Devil in the Detail” is more in line with the brand of Softie Rock Tom Franzis lost with against Laura Tesoro. And like “I’m Not Lost”, this offering is too mellow and mild-mannered to really elicit any emotion beyond tedium. 5/10

David: I don’t even know what to call this … this is probably the most bland and tame rock(?) song I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are borderline, good and behaving, as in, “let’s have something edgy, but absolutely avoid properly expressing… anything!” Lyrics straight up piss me off for how tame they are. I’m convinced that someone poured purified water over this song. 2/10

Yehonatan: In every national final, there’s usually an obligatory soft rock entry. “Devil In The Detail” is one of the better ones we got this season. It has an actually hooking chorus, and it feels authentic and not over produced. While this is not innovative by any means, it creates a good atmosphere and could do perfectly fine on the Eurovision stage. 7/10

Total: 25.5

TALI- “Fighter”

TALI is a 23 year old, New York City-based performer and vocal coach. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Musical Theater last year. The songwriting team includes Manon Romiti and Silvio Lisbonne, previously mentioned as co-writers of Naomi Ayé’s entry, and Italian super producer Dardust, a Sanremo mainstay and co-writer of Italy’s 2019 Eurovision track, “Soldi”.

William: TALI’s potential for success at Eurovision would really depend on what every other country is sending. This is a cute, fun, radio-friendly, upbeat little ditty. In a national selection sorely lacking in pop bangers, I would not be surprised at all to see this win. It stands out. Sections of the chorus just sound like Andromache’s ‘Ela’ played at 1.5x speed; it’s not the most original track I’ve ever heard. And this seems like a deceptively difficult song to perform. There’s variance in tempo and energy that could really fall apart on stage. I don’t have a ton of confidence in how this is going to perform live, but it’s a decent pop track I’d be happy to bump in my car. 6/10

Tyler: A few notes: less English, more French. ‘Fighter’ itself is quite musically interesting, and I like the runs Tali does in this to keep my attention throughout. I think the fighter theme is a little played out in music, honestly, but the song itself is still fun and keeps my interest. I hope the live performance increases the wow factor. Good job! 7/10

James: Of the two French tracks, this is the Frenchiest, despite a sprinkling of English in the chorus. Not a bad thing, even though I feel bad because I am meaning to judge it on its merits as a song from Luxembourg, not France. I guess it’s the novelty of Luxembourg’s long-awaited return, and I hope they stick around so I can learn more about this country again. The pre-chorus for “Fighter” is great, particularly the vocals that are punctuated by claps and foot stomps and launch immediately into the chorus. Those moments give it a punch that most others in this selection lack. Considering some of Tali’s rivals lack that (or have moments you’d rather forget), those moments could be real assets when it’s time to sell your song to a non-Luxembourgish audience. 9/10

Boris: The fake out of an English title into a French-language R&B song is enough to leave a good impression. Once the song gets going, though, it’s fairly mid and whimsical filler. But it could be Eurovision finale filler with a spunky live performance. It will be up to Tali to carry this, as I believe “Fighter” is Lux’s only ticket out of the semi … and it’s a dicey one at best. 6.5/10

David: A song that actually dares to stick out and play around. An enjoyable mix between French and English, with a nice beat and rhythm. It’s not something extraordinary nor special, but it tries. I can see this being more fun if the artist dares to play around with the vocals, but it’s fine as it is. 4/10

Yehonatan: I’m always up for good French pop entry, and Tali is bringing exactly this. This is a proper summer hit with a refreshing beat, and it screams Eurovision. It benefits a lot from being a very light entry in the midst of seven pretty serious songs, and could possibly give it the ticket to Malmö. 7.5/10

Total: 40

And there you have it! Team ESC United have spoken, and we’re hoping Luxembourg gives TALI the best belated graduation present ever and sends her as the country’s Eurovision representative! But will she have what it takes?

Luxembourg Song Contest is scheduled for the night of Saturday, January 27. The winner will be determined via a 50/50 split of jury and televote scores, with international fans reportedly getting a say in the public vote. It will air on Luxembourgish broadcaster RTL.

Which of these acts are #YOU rooting for? What is your favorite Luxembourgish entry of all time, and why is it “Papa Pingouin”? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our Discord, or on our forum page!

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