Greetings once again from sunny Tel Aviv, as we reach the business end of Eurovision week. On Tuesday, ten countries qualified for the final including Iceland and San Marino for the first time since 2014, and seven went home including the departure of Eurovision veteran Joci Papai from Hungary and Darude from Finland.
Tonight another 18 countries will compete for the remaining ten final places in the second semi-final. We’ve had the chance to get a sneak peak at how the show is shaping up, and here are some things to watch out for…
The big favourites
Tuesday’s show was a spectacular and a half, but if you came out of it thinking you hadn’t seen the winner yet, that might be because you likely haven’t. Due to the almost random allocation of what country sings in which semi-final (the “almost” is littered with asterisks so we’ll leave that for another day), most of the songs consider this one red major competitors have ended up in tonight’s line-up.
These include bookies’ favourite Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands with his atmospheric ballad ‘Arcade’, returning Russian star Sergey Lazarev with ‘Scream’, Luca Hanni who brings a Despacito-meets-Fuego banger for Switzerland, John Lundvik who incidentally wrote the UK entry this year but is singing tonight for Sweden, and debut Maltese X Factor winner Michela with the potential chart smash ‘Chameleon’.
All of the above have been touted as potential winners, but with so many in tonight’s show, could one of them see a shock early exit?
Eurovision has long been much more than a song contest, and it’s become standard each year to expect some visually spellbinding entries, whether they hit or miss the mark. We saw a few on Tuesday, but tonight it’s stepped up a notch.
Russia’s Sergey has brought a set of magic mirrors with him, which result in him singing his song with a backing choice of Sergey’s (and in North Macedonia feeling a little bit put out, having brought a very similar but less technologically sophisticated prop with them), and Malta’s performance is MTV VMA-worthy with impressive projections.
The most gasp-worthy visual moment of the night however comes during Azerbaijan’s show closer. We won’t spoil it for you, but this has absolutely everything. The robots and lasers that Chingiz has brought along for his performance are just the start, so sit back and enjoy this one before you put the kettle on – you won’t regret it.
With all the performance tricks and creative oneupmanship that comes with a Eurovision Song Contest, it’s very rare that we see a genuinely new idea, and there will usually be an aspect of a performance that will draw comparisons to something that has come before it.
However, sometimes it can be a little close for comfort and Moldova’s entry this year has attracted a bit of controversy by bringing a sand artist on board for its performance not unlike the one that lifted Ukraine’s 2011 entry to 4th place. Not only is it a sand artist, it’s *the same* sand artist.
Kseniya Simonova is back to lend her skills to the Moldovan performance, although she says that this time it’s snow art rather than sand, so it’s completely different. You, the viewer, can be the judge of that.
First look at the UK
Six countries qualify automatically to the final each year – France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the host nation, in this case Israel. It has become a new tradition for each of the six finalists to perform non-competitively in one of the semi-finals in order to familiarise viewers with the songs, and tonight it is the turn of UK hopeful Michael Rice.
Michael won the UK’s national selection Eurovision: You Decide back in February so many viewers will be familiar with the song, but tonight will be the first opportunity to see how it looks on the Eurovision stage.
Look out just before the results are announced for a 60 second snippet of Michael’s performance along with S!sters from Germany and Mahmood from Italy.
More from Kutiman
One of the highlights of semi-final 1 for Eurovision fans (although not for viewers of BBC4, who opted out of it) was an awesome montage by Israeli producer, musician and animator Kutiman, condensing over 60 years of Eurovision history into one neat 3 minute package.
If you missed it, or if you were watching the BBC coverage, you can watch it again below, and if you enjoyed it, there’s another to come tonight and it’s every bit as good!
The second semi-final of Eurovision 2019 is on BBC4 tonight at 8pm.