Tonight at 21:00 CET it is already time for Semi-final 1, and if I think about it, that is a little scary, because this year’s Eurovision Week came so fast, it is unreal.
15 countries take the stage
Tonight 15 countries will take the stage to battle it out for 10 places in upcoming Saturday’s (May 13th) Grand Final. They say that Semi-final 1 is the fiercest one of the two, and they even call it “the pool of death”, but when I am really being honest after seeing yesterday’s first dress rehearsal of the first Semi-final, I have to say that most of the acts in this first semi are so hyped that it takes away from the excitement, and the outcome is very self-explanatory.
A lot of backing vocals
Many countries have an incredible lot of backing-vocals this year, some up to the part that you cannot hear the actual performer anymore, which is a shame. No backing-vocals is a financial and organizational thing, I know, but sometimes it gets me thinking that this is not the Junior Contest (in which the backing-vocals are pre-recorded), and it most definitely is not a lip-sync show. It takes away from the magic, but that is just my “personal” opinion. Honestly, it does not spoil the fun of getting together to watch Europe and beyond’s favourite music show.
No professional juries in the Semis
I am open to surprise qualifiers though, because this year there are no professional juries anymore who’s judgement is 50% of the grand total, it is just the public. In the Grand Final the professional jury of all the participating countries will vote again. New is that “the rest of the world”, so also countries that are not competing in the contest can vote; the results are being seen as the votes of one single country.
The contestants of Semi-final 1
Below you can find the 15 contestants of the first Semi-final in the order that they will perform tonight.
Alessandra – Queen of Kings
Hyped way before she won the Norwegian national final, Alessandra brings an empowering Viking-type of song to the stage. For the Eurovision stage Alessandra’s act became a little bigger and bolder, like her outfit and the light show, the rest of her act remained practically the same as during the Norwegian national final. During the first dress rehearsal, after she sang the high note of her song, one could notice that she struggled with singing the end of the song. Regardless, Norway is a sure qualifier tonight, and might reach the highest of highs in the Grand Final.
The Busker – Dance (our own party)
If the Eurovision Song Contest was all about being nice and cute than these guys would be sure qualifiers, their enthusiasm is contagious, and every time they could promote their song and themselves during the past week, they were there. The song has a catchy chorus, I have to admit to that, but the rest of the song is pretty much only the sentence “do you wanna dance?”. The presentation of the song on-stage is messy, but works for TV; I do also feel that it all looks a little like Ireland’s 2021 entry by Lesley Roy, where the act completely swallowed the whole song. I am not sure whether The Busker will make it into the Grand Final.
Luke Black – Samo mi se spava
This might be one of the most current and original songs when it comes down to its beats and overall presentation. Luke sings about being asleep, but also waking up from a dream, and apparently this dream is all about being in a Japanese manga video game, which looks very cool on-stage. The backdrop has a Japanese mecha fighting Luke’s dancers on the stage. Amazing! Yes Luke, take that golden ticket and easily walk to the Grand Final with a lot of swag.
Sudden Lights – Aijā
Well, this is one of the songs that “personally” does not speak to me at all. It is a rock ballad, I guess, but it does not give me a hook, key or angle that makes me want to love this song. The guys of the band are really nice, but apart from that I do not hear the appeal of the song, it is just there, and nothing more, which is a shame. I do not think this song will make it to the Grand Final, but you can never be sure, this is Eurovision after all.
Mimicat – Ai Coração
Mimicat’s voice is one of the most impressive ones of Semi-final , it reaches all the corners of the arena The burlesque act that accompanies her song “Ai Coração” is powerful, and fits the song. I can appreciate this song, I love it, but I am wondering if you also like it when you are, for example, a 16-year old from Estonia, I do not know about that. I think Mimicat will make it to the Grand Final, but I am not sure the rest of Europe and beyond will feel the same way.
Wild Youth – We are one
This song “seems” to be written to support this year’s theme, “United by music”, but apart from that it is just present in the contest, and nothing more than that. The presentation pulls out all the stops: A skin-tight one-piece glitter costume for the lead singer, lots of lights, and fireworks for most of the ending of the song; still the song feels like a part of a Eurovision interval act. I do not know what it misses, because God knows they are trying, but…nope.
Let 3 – Mama ŠČ!
“Supposedly” this song is not about war, but all the imagery is about war, the band even takes two rockets on-stage to support their song. Let 3 pleads that the song is about “hope and peace”. “War” is written all over this act. I have to say I do not care, because the act is so out there, and completely symbolizes the times we are in (the war between Ukraine and Russia), and the craziness we left behind us or might not even fully forget (COVID-19). The song is angry, hopeful, colourful, over-the-top, it has the gentlemen of Let 3 in their underwear. It is so much, I cannot think straight, and that is when it becomes good. When you hear the song once, the only thing you can think of is: “Mama kupila traktora, šč!” Come on everybody, make love not war! Let’s go!
Remo Forrer – Watergun
I am so amazed by the voice on this very young looking guy. Remo is 21, but looks far younger, and then he starts singing with this very soulful deep voice, it is all sorts of amazing and impressive. Remo’s song “Watergun” has choreography and quite some bells and whistles; him just singing his entry on the stage could have worked as well. Really nice and soothing. This entry can become a bit boring after the bridge, but that voice though…
Noa Kirel – Unicorn
This entry has all the elements one needs to impress in the contest; great lighting effects, props, great LED backdrops, a singer that can dance just as good as she sings, a dance group, and an empowering song. I do understand why we did not get to see Noa that much during preview parties, because then you can keep that element of surprise, and man, does Noa Kirel slay or what?! When her act is over, you just sit there waiting to breathe again, because it is no less than amazing. Noa, we want to see you dance! We want to see you dance! WE WANT TO SEE YOU DANCE!
Pasha Parfeny – Soarele și luna
Next to Latvia and Ireland, this song is also one that I could live without. Not that it is bad, because the tune in the chorus remains in your head all day, but for me it is the shaman-like, alternative witchy act. Pasha tries to move like Loreen in 2012’s “Euphoria”, and he has the same clothing, then there is a small fellow human-being playing the flute, which I think is a little degrading in this day and age. The whole thing just feels a little redundant to me. For me this does not have to qualify, do I understand that people might like it, yes.
Loreen – Tattoo
Does this grand lady of the Eurovision Song Contest need any explanation? She is everything! The whole week she has been like a mother to the organization, press, and the other contestants, really amazing. Her song “Tattoo” is dramatic in all its glory. The act of Loreen during which she seems to emerge from an alien artefact is thought out so well and has rather inventive elements; the camera work of the act is also really cool. Just sit back and enjoy Loreen’s Tattoo, because Loreen is in it to win it. Will Loreen become the female Johnny Logan? She just might! At least she is giving it her best shot. Is she going to the Grand Final? That is a no-brainer, if there ever was one! Slay, Queen, slay!
(Scary thing: As I was writing this part of this article, all of a sudden Loreen pops up on Spotify!)
TuralTuranX – Tell me more
Although I like the twins, Tural and Turan, their song I do not understand. The act starts out with a whole lot of rhythmic talking, which does not convey what they want to say, I guess. Then the song starts, and it goes nowhere. Once again, the boys come across as really nice on TV, and they are, but sending an entry like this, without any force or desire to win, I do not understand. Where is the “Mata Hari” power that I somehow got used to from Azerbaijan since 2021?
Vesna – My sister’s crown
Luckily the girls of Vesna pulled it together after their strange national final selection staging and the way they presented themselves in their official Eurovision music video. Now there is choreography and unity, which is great, but it all looks a bit off to me. All six girls of this group have long braided hair extensions, which they wiggle and waggle; this reminds me of Montenegro’s Slavko back in 2017, and we all know how well that went. I do think Vesna will make it into the Grand Final, I do not know where they will place though, but that does not really matter now, does it?
Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper – Burning daylight
These two got me on the fence, because I am Dutch myself, so I am biased. Do I see the potential of this song among their 15 competitors? Absolutely. Do I see why in a Semi-final that bursts from powerful pop song powerhouses this song can easily be forgotten? Yes, I see that as well. I do think that although this duo had a lot of backlash, they really pulled it together for their Eurovision performance, and they have come up, together with the writer of their song, Duncan Laurence (Eurovision winner 2019), with an act that gives its audience goosebumps. The song is about two people who are “burning daylight”, which means: letting their life fade away without any meaning. At the end of the song they find each other, and embrace the life that is given to them. I think it is a theme many can relate to, and the text of the song is not too hard. I do believe that the Netherlands, in this specific Semi-final, should be able to prevail over others, and can achieve a 10th or 9th position.
Käärijää – Cha Cha Cha
What can we say about this very kind human-being that has not been said or written before? The act is crazy and over-the-top, just like this singer himself. I love it. His entry is contagious and is very now; a bit angry, a bit preposterous, and a whole lot of fun. Parents and grandparents might say that this song proofs once again that Eurovision is all about being the craziest, but their kids will vote in big numbers for this song of Finland that makes you go “Cha Cha Cha” all day. Below you can find the translation of the chorus of this entry.
“Holding on the drinks with both hands tied on them like a
Cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, no.
There’s no tomorrow when I grab a pint tightly like a
Cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, no.
Wanna mess my head up and to free my mind of fear like a
Cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, cha, no.
And I stay on this seat until I have to climb off it like a”
Below you can find my overall conclusion of Semi-final 1.
- I “personally” think that the countries are sure of a spot in the Grand Final of upcoming Saturday are: Norway, Croatia, Israel, Serbia, Sweden, and Finland.
- Next to this, I think that the following countries are not going to qualify: Malta, Latvia, Ireland, and Azerbaijan.
- And finally I do not know about: Portugal, Switzerland, Moldova, Czechia, and the Netherlands. (I hope that of these both Portugal and the Netherlands will progress)
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will take place on May 9th, 11th, and 13th 2023 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. 37 countries will compete for the crown. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be a joint venture, since last year’s winner Ukraine cannot organize the contest on home soil because of the ongoing war with Russia.