ESC 2023 Song Review: “Aijā” by Sudden Lights (Latvia)

1) The Result

Unfortunately for Latvia, the controversy around the opening line of Citi Zēni’s chirpy if risqué entry “Eat Your Salad” wasn’t enough to save the country from a 5th straight non-qualification. The song ended up performing better with juries than the televote, and finished 14th in the first semi.

2) The Process

Latvia’s Supernova is the most modest of the Baltic national selection processes, with a single semi-final removing a few acts from the contest before the 10-song final. Sudden Lights won both the jury and televote.

3) The Artist

One of the more established entries of this year’s crop, Sudden Lights debuted in 2015 with their first single, followed up by their debut album in 2017 — they’ve released another two since then. They finished second in Supernova 2018 so have been on the Eurovision radar for a while now.

4) The Song

“Aijā” has the sort of indie rock vibe you might expect when you mix the more experimental side of Radiohead and the stadium appeal of Coldplay.

5) The Verdict

This song took a while to grow on me: the apparent disconnect between the skittering percussion and soaring guitars felt disjointed initially. But since then I’ve come to love the idiosyncratic nature of the song, as it is fairly similar to music I listen to beyond the contest. While I don’t hold out much hope for its qualification from the highly-competitive first semi final, I’m glad it’s here and I look forward to exploring the band’s back catalogue.

My ranking: 5th