Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is certainly no walk in the park, and the weight that falls on the chosen hosts seems to grow heavier each year. Sure, I can see the challenge to try to outdo our Swedish hosts from 2016, but seriously? It won’t get easier just because you increase the number of hosts. Last year we were treated to three young white guys trying, and failing, to embody the theme of last year’s competition, Celebrate Diversity. This year Portugal is giving us no less than four women hosting the shows – I seriously can’t remember us ever having so many hosts on stage at once in Eurovision history. And I can’t see any rational reason for this, other than maybe if the Portuguese broadcaster RTP has waited so long to host this competition over the years they felt it best to go all in, just in case they’ll need to wait another 50 years ‘til next time?
And, an ESC show wouldn’t be an ESC show without the interval acts. Sadly, this Semi Final didn’t include any live interval performances whatsoever, only pre-recorded material. Yes, the ESClopedia bit was quite entertaining, and the rendering of last year’s winning song Amar Pelos Dois sung by a bunch of other contestants from last year’s competition was actually rather nice. But other than that? No, please save me from all those embarrassing moments interviewing contestants in the Green Room, or playing silly board games, or… answering phones? Can’t we all just agree Petra and Måns are the queen and king of ESC hosting and focus on the competition instead?
Last year, the bookmakers pinpointed 9 out of 10 qualifiers from each semi-final, but this evening their odds were unusually off when only 7 of the predicted 10 qualifying entries made the cut for Saturday’s Grand Final. Unsurprisingly, all the main favourites – Cyprus, Israel, Estonia and Czech Republic – made it through, together with Bulgaria, Lithuania and Austria. Finland’s Saara Aalto has been hoovering close to the cut all week and even though she was located below the bar before the broadcast tonight, her qualification wasn’t as surprising as Albania’s and Ireland’s, who were placed 15 and 16 respectively before the voting started.
Noticeably, for the first time in ESC history Azerbaijan didn’t qualify – despite a Sandra Bjurman composition and Sacha Jean-Baptiste staging. However, all the other 4 “Swedish” entries of the evening made it, so we have no reason sulk.
So, when all votes are in, staying on for the rest of the week are eight men and six women, two heart wrenching love ballads (never thought both would make it, but I’m so happy right now!), an enormous dress, a bunch of Korean lucky cats, a dancing couple under a streetlamp, some scary-looking uniformed dancers, a mysterious backpack and heaps of fire.
These are the acts who proceeded to the Grand Final this Saturday, listed in the order they were announced during last night’s show.
Austria: Cesár Sampson, Nobody But You
Estonia: Elina Nechayeva, La Forza
Cyprus: Eleni Foureira, Fuego
Lithuania: Ieva Zasimauskaitė, When We’re Old
Israel: Netta, TOY
Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef, Lie To Me
Bulgaria: EQUINOX, Bones
Albania: Eugent Bushpepa, Mall
Finland: Saara Aalto, Monsters
Ireland: Ryan O’Shaughnessy, Together