Today the first semi-final wrapped up sending 10 artists through while showing us a taste of what’s to come over the next week. The semi-final was full of campiness and gimmicks which made for some amazing meme content and laughs.
Who went through to the final-
These artists are not listed in any particular order as the contestants are not given a ranking or points in this round.
According to my guess a couple weeks back as to who would go through I said-
The few I got wrong were Iceland, Slovenia, and Serbia. While i genuinely like Iceland’s dystopian screamo style I was convinced they would protest Israel and get automatically disqualified. From the looks of it they made no effort to protest…yet. I still stand behind my dislike of Slovenia’s song. I feel it was quite boring and bland and still feel it should not have made it through. Serbia’s song however was a nice surprise as she performed very well and executed with a lot of emotion.
The show itself was executed very well. It did not appear as if there were any hiccups or bumps in the production from the viewers side. However, the hosts seemed a little flat and the contestants did not seem to want to play along in the banter. The interval acts and bits between voting and results were quite good. They helped explain Israel’s importance and history in the contest and were entertaining. The appearance of Dana International was a nice treat with her inclusive interaction with the audience through a “kiss cam”.
While explaining this is all very fun unless you watch it you are missing the full story. I was faced with the issue of being blocked from watching it in the US but that is nothing a VPN can’t solve. I used Tunnel Bear while not free it is reliable and extremely quick. There are many options that are free and easy to use. To watch download a VPN server to access from another country and go to Eurovision’s youtube and watch it live or click here
Every Eurovision during the semi-finals and finals the host country brings in local celebrities and well-known artists to perform during the opening and middle of the finals. This year is no exception and it is looking as if Israel is bringing the heat with their featured artists.
While some of those names may sound familiar others will only sound important to fans of the contest.
A well known Israeli, Gal Gadot, is known by Americans for her role as wonder woman. To Israelis, she is known for much more. She has won Miss Israel, had a singing career, and become a well-known krav maga instructor. Gal Gadot is said to be making an appearence in the final, as to what she will be doing we do not know yet.
As cover before Netta is the previous years’ winner who brought the contest home for Israel with her song toy. She will be opening the first semi-final. She will be preforming her winning song toy as well as preforming a new song.
All of the artists have preformed in previous Eurovisions. Conchita is a drag queen who won the contest in 2014 instantly becoming iconic. Verka Serduchka is another drag queen who placed second for Ukraine in 2007. Serduchka is well know for their flamboyant sparkely outfit and have been featured in some popular movies, the most notable being the 2015 american film Spy. Måns Zelmerlöw is the winner for Sweden from 2015. His song Heros was immediatly memorable due to his creative staging. Since Eurovision he has seen popularity in his holme country as well as some internationally. Eleni Foureira was the second place finisher from last year whos song Fuego found huge popularity in Israel as well as internationally. These artists will all be covering each others songs as well as sing other famous eurovision songs. This will be huge for all Eurovision fans as is will bring in some of the biggest stars singing the most famous and favourite songs.
Raichel is a well known singer in Israel. While not as well known in the United States Raichel has done tours in the US extensively. His song Shevet Schim Ve’achayot will be preformed with him and 24 artists at the final. This song has become a huge hit, the lyrics talk about the beauty of israel
The band Shalva is a group of artists with disabilities who were in the running to represent Israel this year. However despite being the favorite they dropped out as the timing of the contest would clash with the weekly timing of Shabbat. The group will be in the second semi-final with their song Million Dreams.
The Israeli mentalist has appeared on many American and international programming making him a bit of a more well-known name. He is featured in the Israeli airline, El Al, safety video before take-off. He will be performing his illusions in the semi-finals and final.
The second semi-final is taking place on May 16th at 10 pm Israeli time, 3 pm NY time. 18 countries will be participating while Germany, Italy, and the UK will participate along with the other countries in voting on who will go through. 10 participants will go through to compete in the final.
Armenia’s Srbuk will be singing “Walking Out” to open the second semi-final. A powerful and strong song that will start the semi-final with a jolt. The lyrics are however lacking due to the lack of Annunciation. The lyrics are hard to understand at times and therefore lacks the message it’s trying to convey. When looking at a live version it carries the same power and with good staging, it should do well.
Sarah McTernan will sing for Ireland with her song “22”. This song starts out with a strong base that carries throughout the song. The song has a very retro sound similar to Amy Winehouse. An upbeat song that will continue the energy. The song does not necessarily stand out though and a song like this does not expect a large staging.
Anna Odobescu brings in the first ballad with “Stay”. This song does not automatically slow down the pace of the semi-final, this ballad brings power and emotion. The song, which is in English should do well by voting time. With pyrotechnics and dramatic staging, this song could do very well. Although looking at the odds right now she is not in a good place at 14th place, which would not qualify her for the final. Hopefully, with good staging, it could carry it.
Switzerland’s Luca Hänni is bringing his song “She Got Me” to the second semi-final. This song sounds like a mix of every male artist on the top 40, nothing special but not a bad song in general. That being said songs are in the top 40 for a reason. Hänni is in 4th place in the semi-final according to the betting odds. That being said it is almost definitely making it through to the final.
Carousel is representing Latvia with their song “That Night”. This song is going to have a hard time following a song like Switzerland. The slowing in energy can play to their downfall as it will cut the mood. Along with what looks to be bland staging this song will have a hard time standing out.
Ester Peony’s song for Romania, “On a Sunday”, will bring the energy back up. An almost dark sounding song with a strong beat it will help it stand out, which is key with Romania’s 6th running spot in this final. Stong dramatic staging will also help the song further stand out. Despite the strong song the betting odds placed Peony in 12th place in the semi-final which could play either way, as she is two spots away from qualifying.
Denmark’s Leonora will bring her song “Love is Forever” to this semi-final. Watching the video the creepy staging stands out far stronger than the song. The constant eye contact has to go to even have a chance. The song itself is in 10th place according to the betting odds which would put her through but it would be close . The mix of English, French, Danish, and German is an interesting touch. With better staging, it may help but the 7th place running it is difficult to stand out in.
John Lundvik is representing Sweden with his song “Too Late For Love”. An upbeat catchy tune expected from a Eurovision powerhouse like Sweden Lundviks song is almost an automatic qualifier. Being right in the middle of the semi-final will be difficult but his simple but lively staging and very clear energy on stage should wave him right through. The betting odds are on his side putting him 3rd in this semi-final.
Austrias PÆNDA will compete with her song “Limits”. The song starts out pretty simple and the chorus doesn’t bring in much more, simply an added beat. The music video doesn’t provide much of an idea as to what the staging may be. The betting odds are not on their side with the song in 15th place in the semi-final.
Roko will represent Croatia with his song “The Dream”. The song immediately sounds very outdated and sounds like a song that would appear in the mid-2000s. The wings with his costume doesn’t help and adds a tacky factor. His staging with just him simply there with fog does not add much. The betting odds place him in second to last place in this semi-final.
Malta’s Michela is bringing her colorful, fun song “Chameleon”. A mix of beats and strong vocals help this song stand out. Watching the music video I expect to see colorful fun staging. The music video is an artistic technicolor experience that would translate amazingly to the stage. According to the betting odds Michela is in 6th for the semi-final.
Jurij Veklenko is representing Lituania with his song “Run With The Lions”. Immediately I was thrown by the singing style. It doesn’t seem to match the song itself. Overall I do not think anything truly stands out about this song and don’t feel it will do well. The betting odds agree putting him in 13th place not offering much hope he will make it through to the final.
Sergey Lazarev’s dramatic style shows very clearly in his song Scream. He is familiar with the contest as he represented Russia in 2016 in Stockholm where he came in 3rd. I was able to see him live at that contest and I can vouch that his stage presence is impeccable and the additions he ads to his staging set him apart from other contestants. The betting odds put him 2nd in his semi-final and 2nd over all.
Albania has sent Jonida Maliqi with her song “Ktheju tokës”. Another dramatic song although this time sung in Albanian. Mixed with the traditional Albanian style of music this song has good potential. Again bringing in dramatic staging would send her through. As she is right at 11th place in the betting odds she could go either way and it will all depend on what happens the night of.
Norway’s KEiiNO is bringing their song “Spirit In The Sky”. This song mixes the traditional Sami style, Joik, and modern beats to create an interesting song that will bring something entirely different to the semi-final. While not necessarily catchy it is a unique song that should stick with audiences. The betting odds put the song at 8th which should send them right through.
Duncan Laurence is representing the Netherlands with his song “Arcade”. To start the betting odds have strongly backed this song putting it in first place with a 27% chance of winning the contest. I personally do not like this song and feel it is quite boring. I will admit that it is catchy but It would need strong staging to overtake Sergey Lazarev.
North Macedonia’s Tamara Todevska is singing her ballad “Proud”. She has a good spot being 2nd to last. This spot will help her be remembered for voting but ballads can often be viewed as boring. The betting odds put her in 9th for the semi-final, this is not necessarily a strong spot. It is another spot where it could go either way.
Azerbaijan has sent Chingiz with his song “Truth”. This song has a strong beat and catchy melody that will be a great closing to the semi-final. This song has lots of energy and potential for strong stage presence. The betting odds put him in 5th for the semi-final which is a good sign he will pass right through.
Semi-final one is taking place May 14th 10 pm Israeli time. 17 countries are participating in this semi-final, who will also vote along with France, Israel, and Spain on who will make it through. Out of the 17 participating only 10 will make it to the final.
Whos in semi-final 1
Performing first is Cyprus’s Tamta with her song “Replay”. Cyprus did very well last year, coming in second place close behind Netta. Maybe that is why “Replay” is very reminiscent of Cyprus’s song last year “Fuego”. Both songs carry the upbeat catchy tune that is essential to grabbing the audience’s attention when you’re competing with 26 other competitors. With no preview of what Tamta’s staging will look like its a waiting game till rehearsals start. Can Cyprus top its 2nd place finish and win this year or will the song ring too familiar?
Montenegro is sending D Mol with “Heaven”. The song starts out relatively average. Nothing really stands out until the chorus hits and there is some Montenegrin traditional music thrown in. It’s very predictable and does not feel as if it will do well, even with good staging. With the betting odds putting them last out of the 42 countries it does not look good that they will make it through to the final.
Finland’s Darude and Sebastion Rejman are singing their song “Look Away”. This will be one of the songs that gets memed and remembered far longer than the concert itself. A mix of simple catchy lyrics and a strong electronic beat, its bound to bring the energy up. The moving box/ platform will be this songs gimmick that will help it be remembered by the time televoting comes around. Dramatic staging and interesting visuals will push this song through to the finals.
Poland is sending a beautiful and interesting song “Fire of Love (Pali się)” sung by the group Tulia. Often called ethnic pop, this style of music has done well in the past few years. Tulia features the traditional polish style of singing called “śpiewokrzyk” or “white voice” mixed with modern backing and beats. This song brings a cultural side to the competition that shows what the contest is all about. Now, whether or not it will do well it will be dependent on the staging. Looking at some of their past live performances if they choose to just stand there, they will not make it through.
Slovenia’s Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl will have to find a way to stand out with their song Sebi. While it has a very modern sound, it will show boring at Eurovision when matched with all of the other upbeat or interesting songs. Interesting staging or audience favor may push them through. The betting odds are putting them at 13 which would send them through to the final, but it all depends on how the other contestants perform the night of.
The Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi is bringing a quirky song with “Friend of a Friend”. This song is an odd mix of ‘80s pop and playful lyrics. This oddball is sure to be remembered by the time voting comes around and at 18th place on the betting odds, it looks pretty good that they will make it through.
Hungary’s Joci Pápai is familiar to the concert as he last competed in 2017 with his song “Origo”. He is bringing his ethnic sound back again with his song “Az én apám”. Inspired by his Gypsy heritage he brings the traditional sound through in his music. Previously he placed 8th, this time his song is much slower so he will have to up his staging to grab attention. His placing right now according to the betting odds is 30th place, which would not put him through to the final.
Belarus’s Zena and her song “Like It” is a bubble gum pop song that may not stand out in this final. While it is a catchy song its nothing that pops in the mix. With a spot straight in the middle, it will be very hard to be remembered by the end of the songs. Her staging from the video looks quite basic, and unless they revamp it will not place her any higher. With her betting odds at 36th place, she will most likely not make it through.
Nevena Božović and her song Kruna will represent Serbia in this semi-final. A dramatic ballad in Serbian and English, it has potential. The staging looks lonely with just her standing there, but the pyrotechnics bring more life. Strong vocals are on her side although the odds place her low she may be able to pull through depending on everyone else’s performances.
Belgium’s Eliot sings “Wake Up”, a very mainstream sounding song. This song feels like it would fit right in on the top ’20s. A repetitive but catchy chorus will be playing in the audiences head by the time voting comes up. The betting odds place him in 19th which would push him right through to the final.
Oto Nemsadze and his song “Keep on Going” will represent Georgia. A strong emotional song sung in Georgian needs some very dramatic staging to save it. While this song will stand out, it does not look like it will do well with the audiences. The lack of a well-known language will not resonate with the audience and may end up doing as bad as the betting odds predict.
Australias Kate Miller-Heidke and her song “Zero Gravity” brings gimmick on gimmick. Australia has finally picked up that gimmicks win, but they may have gone way too overboard. Between the opera pop, her mile-high glitzy dress, and the odd woman swaying in the back this song will surely be remembered. Now whether this is in a good way or not, this would be the first year that Australia would not qualify. But I believe that this will go through simply on humor and ability to meme the performance.
Hatari and their song “Hatrið Mun Sigra” will represent Iceland with their techno dystopian style. Gimmick and an interesting song will definitely help them stand out. Hard rock bands have done well before like Finlands iconic “Hard Rock Hallelujah” which won the contest in 2006. The issue arises however when the band stated they would protest Israel while on stage. There is a rule in Eurovision that a song cannot be political (theirs is- Lyrics) and the protest would be explicitly political disqualifying and ruining their chances of going through to the final.
Victor Crone will represent Estonia with his song Estonia. A very pleasant upbeat song placed in the last 4 contestants looks good. The staging brings along a personal touch that can be played with editing. The betting odds agree, putting him at 25th place. While it will depend on what happens the night of this song has good potential to fly right through to the final.
This stunningly interesting song performed by Conan Osiris will bring something fresh and original to the stage. “Telemóveis” brings almost an new mix of melody and beat that is something never heard before on the Eurovision stage. His modern artistic costume and dance are sure to give him a spot in the final. The odds even place the song in 11th place which would be an honorable finish at the final.
Greece’s Katerine Duska will be singing “Better Love” in the second to last place. This song gives strong Adelle vibes along with strong lyrics that will be bringing in the audience’s attention. Staging could go either way but with a very strong song and a well-known artist, good staging is expected.
Eurovision veteran Serhat will be singing “Say Na Na Na”, representing San Marino. Serhat brings disco back once again, after his disco hit “I Didn’t Know” brought him a 12th place finish. This modern disco hit will be sure to go through due to gimmick and his popularity alone. The song is a catchy one with a memorable chorus. While the odds do not place him high it will have to depend on the split between the jury and televote
Who’s gonna make it
In no particular order
And thats my ten. Come back next week for a review of semi-final 2.
This week I will cover the big 5 and the host country, which is Israel this year. The big 5 consists of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and The United Kingdom. The big 5 and the host country do not have to compete in the 2 semifinals to make it to the final, they automatically have a spot in the final every year.
Now you may be wondering what qualifies them for their coveted spot is it talent or prestige? No its purely money. These countries contribute the most amount of money to the Eurovision Broadcasting Network and therefore do not have to compete in the final. That being said the big 5 do not have a good history in winning since the creation of the big 5. The only country to not come in last place since 2011 has been Italy. Italy is looking good again this year with the 5th best odds as of April 9th
Kobi Marini a 27-year-old from Ramat Gan, Israel won this years Rising Starcompetition to represent his home country, Israel, with the song “Home”. While some countries choose their contestant internally Israel uses a competition style show where the audience at home votes on who their favorite act is. After competing against his fellow contestants he took home the win and right to represent his country this year in Tel Aviv.
Bilal Hassani is a 19-year-old Parisian whos claim to fame, other than representing France, is his youtube channel that has garnered almost 1 million subscribers. Hassani won Frances competition Destination Eurovision with his song “Roi”.
Hassani is an outspoken advocate of the LGBT community he is apart of. His song is a message of self-acceptance and hope to those that want to be free and unashamed.
S!sters is a duo of 19 and 26-year-olds Carlotta Truman and Laurita Kästel. They won Unser Lied Für Israel with their song “Sister”.
Truman has an extensive singing background first apearing in a German talent show at 9 years old Das Supertalent. Kästel first started singing at the age of 4 with her older sister. At the age of 10, she won the ZDF’s Kiddy Contest.
Mahmood (Alessandro Mahmoud) competed in the Italian competition Sanremo with his song “Soldi”. Born in Milan the 26-year-old he has an extensive list of previous hit songs. Mahmood started his musical career on the 2012 season of the Italian X Factor. Although he did not win that season he followed that year by entering more song contests and festivals.
“Soldi” is a song addressing what it is like to be raised in an immigrant family and the parallels it creates.
Miki is representing Spain with his song “La Venda”. Through the Spanish competition, Operación Triunfo Miki was able to gain recognition through duets with other singers. After his 6th place finish, he was chosen for the Spanish Eurovision Gala and gained favor with the jury of panelists and the public voters.
A mainly self-taught musician Miki only just appeared on the Spanish music scene but already has a full repertoire of songs. Miki is very influenced by Catalan Rumba and Latin pop. This is visible in “La Venda”.
Michael Rice, the North East England native, won the UK’s Eurovision You Decide contest with his song “Bigger Than Us”. Each contestant of the Eurovision You Decide was paired with another contestant and was given the same song styled in a different genre.
Rice started his career after a video of him singing “Years & Years”went viral. Rice also appeared and won All Together Now the UK singing contest