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The Inspirations At Benidorm Fest 2023 Written by on January 31, 2023

How did Benidorm welcome the eighteen acts to Spain’s National Selection this year? And what inspired those acts to compete in this year’s competition? Ben Robertson asks the questions from the Benidorm Palace. 

Welcome to the Opening Ceremony for Benidorm Fest 2023. The local tourist board won’t thank me for starting this article saying this, but it was absolutely bucketing down with rain for the planned Orange Carpet welcoming event.

The downpour was of such epic proportions that the event to meet the press was moved inside the Benidorm Palace instead, and held along the balcony corridor. This venue, no more than a short stagger away from the main strip of Benidorm, is a local institution hosting concerts and dinner galas for a history spanning over 45 years. This is a glitzy, shiny, glittery venue that may architecturally feel like it is from the 1970s structurally but rather than falling apart has been renovated this century and is still a much-used and much-loved venue to this day.

During the night we were treated to both Rosa Lopez of Eurovision 2002 fame and Carlos Higes who represented the nation in Yerevan at Junior Eurovision, securing a second-place finish in the public vote. However, I have to say the highlight was undoubtedly the great live performances from both Union Musical de Benidorm and the Societet Musical La Nova who, as two bands of at least 50 members on stage gave extra power to some classics of Benidorm musical history as well as the Eurovision Song Contest. Either that or the mainstream EuroClub (the most obscure track played was Eric Saade’s ‘Popular’) we got afterwards where I was surprised with how many of the locals clearly not here for Eurovision thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some conversations at the back of the room with guests suggested that many of the attendees for the extravaganza were employees from the city and their families – this wasn’t a Eurovision audience but an invited one, and one that was still very appreciative to having a boogie to ‘Trenuleţul’.

Anyway back to the artists at the Orange Carpet. The Plan B location was a tight squeeze for the journalists but I managed to interview a few of the acts to hear just a little snippets of their stories. My approach for this evening was to ask the acts about their inspiration to enter this newly rebranded National Final here in Spain.

One girl stole the show.

Make You Want More

I start with Twin Melody, the duo with 18.4 million followers on TikTok and participating with the song ‘Sayonara’. They immediately tell me that the influence for them to take part in Benidorm Fest was down to Chanel. Chanel’s victory in last year’s competition was backed up by a 3rd place finish in Turin, the best result for Spain this century by a distance.

“She is a star,” the girls explained. “We always liked Eurovision but this year we have the option to bring our song and our dances and that’s what we wanted to show off.”

Alfred Garcia, who was part of the duo that represented the nation in 2018 with ‘Tu canción’, saw how Benidorm Fest transformed expectations last year and wanted a piece of the pie.

“I think [the inspiration] was the competition for me to see my friends like Chanel or Raidan. Last year at Benidorm Fest they were amazing and it was a really great show.

“Chanel is a great entertainer and she did it so well and it is such an inspiration to all”

José Otero, competing with the ballad ‘Inviernos en Marte’ grew up a Eurovision fan, watching the show with his father as it was “the biggest representation of performing and production.” For him, following Chanel on the Song Contest stage would be a “beautiful pressure.”

“When I saw her perform for the first time I thought wow, I was very happy that Spain are sending something like that to Eurovision. Now after her the bar is set high it will be hard for us to beat it.”

The Chance To Shine On Stage

The other common theme that goes beyond last year’s zero-to-hero transformation for Spain’s Eurovision modern history is the focus that Benidorm Fest created. The investment into this National Final means not just a higher level of buzz and excitement but also a higher level of production quality.

That attracted Alice Wonder. She described her inspiration as the possibility of “having that stage with those visuals” as essential to allow her music to have a visual concept to “create what I have in my mind.” Alice sees herself, similarly to Chanel, as an international-style artist and understands that this platform is one of the best out there to “send that message through the world.”

Agoney, bringing the song ‘Quiero Arder’ has a similar desire to go to Eurovision, believing that his “strong show” is part of the reasoning behind his debut this year. He is no stranger to the TV musical circuit as an alum of Operacíon Triunfo and a second-place finish on La Mejor Canción Jamás Cantana, and described how part of the dream is to also “be here with my friends and the artists and to shine with my own song.”

Finally in this bustling press area did I get a chance for two minutes with one of the pre-contest favourites Vicco. Her song ‘Nochentera’ was the first of the 2023 Eurovision season to pass the one million stream mark on Spotify and complete with a key change and 80s vibe it was no surprise that many of the fans and press alike have this as a favourite (this was second in my press poll I did while waiting for the red carpet to start, which was won by Fusa Noche’s ‘La Familia’).

Vicco believes that Benidorm Fest is the perfect platform because of the song.

“I think because ‘Nochentera’ is a song that brings happiness and I think it is catchy. It is for that reason [I enter] because in Europe people could sing this song and therefore is a great song to represent Spain.”

“It is all the right point for my career, and it is time to show people who Vicco is.”

Benidorm Fest’s first Semi Final takes place on Tuesday January 31st (handily after the Semi Final allocation draw is over), and a system of 50 percent jury (4 international members, 3 national members), 25 percent demoscopic jury (350 members of the public across Spain) and 25 percent televote will decide which four of the nine acts will qualify for Saturday’s final.

Disclaimer: ESC Insight’s coverage of Benidorm Fest is supported by Visit Benidorm.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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