A complete guide to all the performances in the first Eurovision semi-final (2023)

Eurovisionis a divisive event, right? The competition has barely started and I'm already hearing grumblings that it's taking over TV and is nothing more than a festival of inferior pop music. To that I say... encouragement! I was one too onceEurovisiondenier, until I heard Sweden's 2012 entry, "Euphoria" by Loreen, and decided to give in to the sheer unbridled camp joy of the biggest music competition in the world. I am a much happier person for it.

As you probably already know,Eurovision 2023is kept insideLiverpoolon behalf of last year's winners, Ukraine. Having the competition on home soil has raised the excitement level to fever pitch and means that the UK audience is able to experience more of the competition than ever before. For the first time ever, the two semi-finals are set to be broadcast live on BBC One on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May at 8pm.

Britain has talentjudge Alesha Dixon,Ted Lassostar Hannah Waddingham and Ukrainian rock star Julia Sanina are our hosts forfirst semi-final, which will also feature performances from Rita Ora and a special Scouse duetX-factorstar Rebecca Ferguson and Ukrainian singer Alyosha. Here's everything you need to know about the first part of the competition.

How does the first semi-final work?

Fifteen countries will compete for a place inSaturday's grand finale, but only 10 make it through Tuesday's first semi-final. Each contestant will perform their song live for the first time at the Liverpool Arena, hoping to impress viewers who will vote for their favorites and keep them in the competition.

A complete guide to all the performances in the first Eurovision semi-final (1)

Some countries do not need to perform in the semi-finals as their place in the competition is guaranteed every year.England, Italy, Germany, France and Spain - collectively known as the Big Five - get an automatic place in the final because they are Eurovision's biggest financial backers.Last year's winner, Ukraine, has also been given a pass to skip the semi-finals as well.

How does voting work?

When all 15 countries have performed, voting opens. Only countries competing in the first semi-final will be eligible to vote tonight, as well as three of the Big Five (Germany, France and Italy). This means the UK public can't vote for our favorite acts from tonight's line-up; we have to wait until Thursday's second heat.

This year, the results will be determined by viewer votes alone, and there is also a "rest of the world" vote, which allows non-competing countries to have their say.

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Each country assigns a total of 58 points to the actions, from one to eight, 10 and 12 points. The 10 countries with the most points compete again in Saturday's final. Understood? Well.

Originally, the successful acts were to learn of their fate live on stage,X-factorstyle, but after a difficult test, officials decided to return to the old system of telling the acts who has qualified - and who hasn't - in the backstage green room.

Why does the order of actions matter?

There is much superstition about the order of acts in both the semi-finals and the final. It is believed that acts appearing in the second half of the shows are more likely to favor, while those at the start of the show may be forgotten by voters.

To make the order as fair as possible, acts are drawn at random and placed in either the first or second semi-final and in the first or second half of each show.RylanandAJ Oduduhad the honor of leading the draw in January, direct from Liverpool.

But let's not forget that Eurovision is first and foremost a TV show (or so the organizers would have us believe) - so the order of acts must offer enough variety and excitement to keep viewers entertained. Therefore, the order of who will appear within each half of the show is determined by producers keen to keep us glued to our televisions.

The challengers


Sang:"Queen of Kings"


Alessandra looks like she just passed outSixscene, which is an automatic thumbs up from me. It's a stomping women's empowerment anthem with a very impressive high note from the 20-year-old singer. Norway (who have won three times) are holding a competition to select their Eurovision entry, and "Queen of Kings" came out on top in both the public and jury votes. It has also been a popular song across Europe over the past few months, charting in Poland, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands and Sweden, as well as securing number one on Norway's VG-liste album chart.

Will it qualify?Almost certainly.


Sang:"Dance (Our Own Party)"

Artist: The busker

Don't be fooled by David "Dav.Jr" Meilak's rather low-key knit sweater at the start of this performance - he soon ditches it for a striped, sequined number. "Dance (Our Own Party)" is a better performance to watch than it is a song to listen to, with saxophonist Sean Meachen giving it some welly and the whole band pretending to drive a cardboard car at one point. Bonus points for the Michael Jackson-inspired dance break; Minus points for the low-budget party hats.

Will it qualify?Probably not. It's a good song, but it's a bit forgettable and the competition is tough.


Sang:"I'm just sleepy"

Artist:Luke Black

"Samo Mi Se Spava" translates to "I just want to sleep" and if that's not relatable, I don't know what is. Judging by Luke Black's emo-techno performance, though, I think he's referring to something a little more sinister. From the creepy connected masked dancers to Black's slightly evil grin, this is quite the entrance. Black says the song was inspired by the isolation he felt during the pandemic and is a plea for people to wake up to "evil". He was inspired to enter after seeing Serbia's entry reach fifth place last year - "In Corpore Sano" by Konstrakta (which depicted some kind of religious ceremony and a lot of clapping) was equally whimsical.

Will it qualify?Yes, although it will probably be in the middle of the pack.



Artist:Sudden lights

What inPeace againgoing on in this intro? "Aijā" translates to "lull" and this song is supposed to be a lullaby. Good luck sleeping with this racket in your ears. That's not to say it's a bad song, and lead singer Andrejs Reinis Zitmanis has a fantastic voice. Sudden Lights are some of the stars in Latvia and have released three studio albums since 2012. It has nothing on Latvia's only winning entry, Marie N's 2003 banger "I will", though.

Will it qualify?I wouldn't bet on it.


Sang:"Oh Heart"


This is perhaps the most traditional Eurovision song to be performed tonight. Mimicat (who has tried and failed to get past the semi-finals before) is a charismatic, eccentric character and the choreography is brilliant. I also appreciate any effort to emulate the dancing lady emoji. The title of the song translates to "Oh, Heart" and is about the terrifying ordeal of falling in love. "My pulse is racing like crazy, I feel crazy, totally senile," she sings.

Will it qualify?By the skin of Mimicat's teeth.


Sang:"We Are One"

Artist:Wild youth

Wild Youth have previously supported Lewis Capaldi on his tour of Ireland, and lead singer Conor O'Donohoe has a touch of Harry Styles about him in the (very tight) sparkly jumpsuit he'll be wearing at tonight's semi-final. This kind of anthem usually does well at Eurovision, parsing down the contest's message of unity and joy into a simple guitar-led sing-a-long. It's a rather cynical post designed to tug at voters' heartstrings, but the song isn't unique enough to separate it from the pack.

Will it qualify?No.


Sang:"Mama ŠČ"

Artist:Lad 3

Maybe I've already spent too long in the Eurovision bubble, but there's something quite punk about this banana entry. Entries are prohibited from bringing political messages to the contest, but the left-wing band Let 3 somehow got away with this anti-Russian nonsense. The band - who strip down to their pants mid-song - have said the song mocks dictators, and the Soviet iconography (and the guy carrying nukes) leaves little room for interpretation. This is the sort of thing you find at 5am at Glastonbury's Meat Rack.

Will it qualify?I really hope so, but it's unlikely. Controversial acts usually do not make it through the semi-finals; just watch Latvia's participation in 2022, "Eat Your Salad", which had the most iconic opening line in Eurovision history.


Sang:"Water Gun"

Artist:Rowing Forrer

This is something of a comedown from the Croatian entry, but surprisingly has a similar message. 21-year-old Forrer has said his song is about "powerlessness in the face of conflict in this world" and how war is particularly damaging to the younger generations. It must be well considered, seen in the light of the context of the Ukrainian competition not being able to take place in the country due to Russia's invasion, but the staging of Forrer, who put out his ballad, stood in front of a microphone, and not much else is pretty boring if you ask me.

Will it qualify?I'm counting on it.



Artist:Noah Kirel

Like Britain, Israel has gone down the mainstream pop route with this undeniable banger. It even comes with its own dance routine (don't worry, Noa will teach it to us at some point during tonight's semifinals), and you'll have that "phenomenon-phenomenal" earworm stuck in your head for weeks. Israel has won Eurovision an impressive four times, with Netta's chicken-inspired "Toy" last taking home the crown in 2018. Noa Kirel is also quite successful, winning the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Israeli Act for six years running.

Will it qualify?Absolutely determined.


Sang:"The Sun and the Moon"

Artist:Pasha Parfeni

Pasha Parfeni is a Eurovision regular, having represented Moldova in 2011 and placed a very respectable 11th (somehow Azerbaijan's Ell and Nikki won that year). He has also participated in a number of songs over the years that have not been selected to compete. Nevertheless, he's back with this traditional folk-inspired dance number, which features a dwarf playing a pipe (make of that what you will) and ladies wearing deer skulls reminiscent ofYellowjackets.

Will it qualify?I hope so, if not for Parfeni's sake, then to show Moldovan culture.



Artist:of flowers

Loreen is a Eurovision legend. She won in 2012 with my all-time favorite entry, "Euphoria," and it's a very big deal that she's back to compete again in 2023. This number is much more subdued, but just as powerful, and the staging is what I imagine the coming oneDunesequel to look. It's also a good example of why Eurovision is sometimes better to watch on TV than in the arena - Loreen's writing between two screens doesn't have as much impact in real life as it does via some good camera tricks.

Will it qualify?Without a shadow of a doubt; she is currently the favorite to win the entire show.


Sang:"Tell me more"


This is probably the least Eurovision-esque song in this first semi-final. and the recorded version of "Tell Me More" feels very different from the song that will be performed live. Lighter and sweeter, it reminds me of an early Beatles performance (perhaps on purpose as the competition is held in Liverpool). The band consists of two brothers - Tural and Turan Bağmanov - and this is their first song. Coming after Loreen's powerhouse was always going to be difficult, and TuralTuranX's entry gets lost in the frenzy.

Will it qualify?I would be surprised.

The Czech Republic

Sang:"My Sister's Crown"


Women's empowerment has long been a strong theme at Eurovision, and 2023 is no different. The live version of this song sees the six-piece band wearing pink jumpsuits and slinging around some very long braids. Vesna (named after a powerful and beautiful woman in Slavic mythology) says "My Sister's Crown" is a protest against gender inequality, and while the song isn't anything special, its message is definitely strong enough to get some votes.

Will it qualify?I think this will rank surprisingly high.


Sang:"Burning Daylight"

Artist:Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper

Dear Lord, this is boring. Yes Mia and Dion are very good vocalists and the song is OK (with pretty brilliant lyrics) but it's not big or exciting enough to light up the Eurovision stage. It is written by Dutch 2019 winner Duncan Laurence (of "Arcade” fame), which could help its chances among voting fans, and ballads have a good track record at the competition. It would probably make a nice John Lewis Christmas advert.

Will it qualify?It's a tough one to call, but I'd predict it'll just miss.


Sang:"Cha Cha Cha"


The producers have really saved the best (read: barmy) performance until last. Wearing an acid green bolero and leather pants, Käärijä begins her performance in a giant wooden box, peering out to deliver her lines between hypnotic beeps. Before long he sticks his tongue out and makes some sort of noiseHuman centipede-inspired dancing and screaming “cha cha cha chachachacha” over and over. This is now what Eurovision is all about.

Will it qualify?It is better.


A complete guide to all the performances in the first Eurovision semi-final? ›

No more than 6 performers can take to the stage during any one performance.

How many acts are in Eurovision semi final? ›

No more than 6 performers can take to the stage during any one performance.

Who are the Big 5 in Eurovision? ›

But there are five countries that don't need to panic about semi-finals and qualifying, these are known as the Big 5. The group, including the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy automatically qualify for the final.

Do Eurovision contestants sing live? ›

Eurovision is known for its live music and quirky acts. The main vocals of the competing songs must be sung live on stage. According to the Eurovision website, there is a comprehensive set of rules concerning participation that has evolved over the decades.

How do the semi-finals work in Eurovision? ›

Voting in the Semi-Finals

For the first time only viewers at home will determine the outcome of the two Semi-Finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. Viewers in the 15 countries taking part in Semi-Final 1 can vote along with three of the countries pre-qualified for the Grand Final - France, Germany, and Italy.

Why are Eurovision songs 3 minutes? ›

The root of the "three-minute" length is likely derived from the original format of 78 rpm-speed phonograph records; at about 3 to 5 minutes per side, it's just long enough for the recording of a complete song. The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest do not permit entries to be longer than three minutes.

How many times can you sing in Eurovision? ›

How many times can an act compete in Eurovision? There's no limit on how many times a singer or band can represent their country on the Eurovision stage – although the rules state that an act cannot represent more than one country in any given year.

Who is the biggest artist to win Eurovision? ›

ABBA is the most successful Eurovision Song Contest winner. The Swedish pop band won the contest in 1974 and has enjoyed phenomenal success ever since, despite officially splitting up in 1983.

Who is the biggest artist to come out of Eurovision? ›

The most notable winners who have gone on to become international stars are ABBA, who won the 1974 contest for Sweden with their song "Waterloo", and Céline Dion, who won the 1988 contest for Switzerland with the song "Ne partez pas sans moi".

Who is the biggest Eurovision winner? ›

Who won Eurovision the most?
  1. 1 time: AzerbaijanBelgiumEstoniaFinlandGreeceLatviaMonacoPortugalRussiaSerbiaTurkeyYugoslavia.
  2. 2 times: AustriaGermanySpainSwitzerland.
  3. 3 times: DenmarkItalyNorwayUkraine.
  4. 4 times: Israel.
  5. 5 times: FranceLuxembourgNetherlandsUnited Kingdom.
  6. 7 times: IrelandSweden.

Can America vote in Eurovision? ›

Worldwide votes will be combined and counted as if they are cast by another country. That means Americans can vote for the first time using the official Eurovision App or going to the new voting hub for the contest.

Why is Israel in Eurovision? ›

Israel has taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest every year since 1973 as the country has been represented by a national broadcaster which is part of the European Broadcasting Union since 1957.

What language can you sing in Eurovision? ›

As the contest is presented in both English and French, at least one of the contest's hosts must be able to speak French as well as English.

What happens if you win Eurovision? ›

So, according to Eurovision, the artist who tops the leaderboard after the jury and public vote will “perform once again and take home the iconic glass microphone trophy. “The winning country will traditionally be given the honour of hosting the next Eurovision Song Contest.”

What do they win if they win Eurovision? ›

There is no big cash prize or record deal for the winner of Eurovision 2023. Instead, the Eurovision champion is crowned with a microphone-shaped trophy.

Can you win Eurovision twice? ›

Seán Patrick Michael Sherrard (born 13 May 1954), known professionally as Johnny Logan, is an Irish singer and musician. He is best known for being the first performer to win the Eurovision Song Contest as a lead singer twice.

How long is the Eurovision semi-final? ›

~2 hours

How many performers are on stage Eurovision? ›

Songs must be original and no more than 3 minutes in length. Lead vocals must be performed live. No more than 6 performers can take to the stage during any one performance"

How many acts are in Eurovision Semi-final 2? ›

The Eurovision Song Contest will continue tonight as 16 countries take to the stage for the second semi-final.

How many people can be on stage at Eurovision? ›

Each competing performance may only feature a maximum of six people on stage, and may not contain live animals.


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