Georgia’s search for their representative at Eurovision 2023 got underway this evening with the first episode of Georgia’s edition of The Voice franchise.

Based on the participants tonight, it would not be a surprise to see Georgia enter an alternative rock or blues song, given all but one contestant auditioned with a song from those genres.

Indeed, the only contestant who auditioned with a pop song – 23 year old Levan Gutejiani – was eliminated fairly quickly and with little comment after his rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” failed to get any of The Voice coaches to turn around their chairs.

Nine contestants auditioned, with seven finding at least one coach to put them into the next round. Avid TikTok user and former Voice Kids contestant Barbara Uridia was the other contestant eliminated, as her version of Amy Winehouse’s “You sent me flying” convinced no coach and sent her packing.

The first successful contestant was Likuna Tutisani, whose version of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” convinced all four coaches to turn their chairs around. She chose to be on Stephane’s team.

Next up was the first Salome to perform an Alanis Morissette song, with her rendition of “Uninvited” being promising enough for David Evgenidze to put her on his team. The other Salome chose “You Oughta Know,” with just the right amount of vim and disgust when she sung the infamous line of David Coulier being on the receiving end of a sex act in a movie theater. Unsurprisingly, coach Sopho picked her fellow rock girl.

Whittier’s Rio Hondo College got a call out on the show, and by a young Georgian not afraid to sport a bushy moustache. Kakha Aslamazashvili did an acoustic rendition of Whitesnake’s “Is This Love?,” and he somehow pulled it off despite it being the double offense of an acoustic cover of a rock song and attempting David Coverdale. All four coaches were impressed, and Kakha went with coach Dato.

As was the case with the two seasons of Georgian Idol when it was used as the national selection process for Eurovision, the specter of Russia loomed large, with the next contestant 41-year-old Aliona Tsintsadze being a refugee from Ukraine. All four coaches turned around, and it was not surprising she picked Stephane as her coach given his history in not backing down from telling Putin what’s what.

Hipster indie rocker Giorgi Datiashvili found himself having to choose between the jazz coach (David) and the indie rock coach (Dato) after his version of Nothing But Thieves’s “If I Get High” attracted those two.

’90s Nirvana fangirl Lika Siradze pour her all into Leadbelly’s “Where did you sleep last night?” (though she picked the version from Nirvana’s 1994 album Unplugged in New York). All four coaches turned around, and she went with coach Sopho.

The last contestant was 18-year-old Tsotne Barbakadze who surprised everyone with a different take on Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.” All four coaches turned around, and he went with coach Dato.

Given that The Voice is being used to select Georgia’s Eurovision entrant, two coaches have a direct connection to past Georgian Eurovision entrants.

Sopho Toroshelidze was the lead singer of Georgian nu metal band Eldrine. Eldrine’s “One Fine Day,” which was entered at Eurovision 2011, is currently Georgia’s joint-best entry coming in 9th (Sofia Nizharadze’s “Shine” also came in 9th at Eurovision 2010). Eldrine won the Georgian national final, and Toroshelidze later replaced original vocalist Tako Vadachkoria due to a contract dispute between GPB and Vadachkoria.

Stephane Mgrebishvili was kicked out of Eurovision 2009 as part of Stephane and 3G when the band refused to change lyrics to their entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” in response to the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) political content rule. Stephane was also a judge on the season of Georgian Idol that selected Oto Nemsadze to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2019. He was also a judge on The Voice Season 3.

The man with the bandanna that everyone recognizes as the third judge is Georgian musician and film composer David Evgenidze. He was previously a judge on Georgian Idol when Tornike Kipiani was selected to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2020 (he was internally selected to compete at Eurovision 2021 after the cancellation of Eurovision 2020). Evgenidze is also a regular judge on Ranina, Georgia’s method of selection for Junior Eurovision. He also wrote “We Need Love” for Giorgi Rostiashvili, which came in 14th at Junior Eurovision 2019.

Lastly, Dato Porchkhidze returns as a coach on The Voice of Georgia having been a coach on the first two seasons in 2012 and 2013. Dato’s proteges Salome Katamadze and Mariam Chachkhiani won Season 1 and Season 2, respectively. A musician in his own right, with over 600 compositions to his name, he was also a part of the famous Georgian group Face.

Georgia have not qualified for the Eurovision Grand Final since Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz’s “Midnight Gold” at Eurovision 2016. Though Georgia is often highly regarded in the Eurovision fanbase (see below for one of many ESC United endorsements of Georgia), their cult status has not translated into qualification for the Grand Final.

Georgia’s last entry, Circus Mircus’s “Lock Me In,” came in 18th and last in Semi-Final 2 at Eurovision 2022 in Turin, Italy.

The Voice airs at 22:00 local time on Thursday, December 8, 2022. The Voice is presented by Gvantsa Daraselia. Non-Georgian viewers will be able to check it out directly on TV-1’s livestream on their own website or The Voice’s Facebook page.

Do #YOU think the Voice of Georgia is the right method of selection for Eurovision 2023? Do #YOU think this and the recent change to Semi-Final voting rules will bring Georgia’s first Grand Final qualification since 2016? Let us know in the comments below, our social media, our forum or Discord.

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