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Eurovision First Semifinal

Eurovison Cheat Sheet

It’s that magical time of year, where once again, nations across Europe compete in a fabulous, glamorous and, at times, trashy song contest. Yes, lieblings and chéris, it’s time for the Eurovision – douze points! We have some hot gossip, background information and are making an informed guess on who’s likely to proceed to the grand finale and who’ll get frozen out tonight. We lean heavily on the knowledge, wit, and insight of Eurovision pundits Kennard Bos, and our very own Joseph Kearney, to create our cheat sheet. As you watch the semis tonight, scroll through this guide and enhance your Eurovision viewing pleasure with facts and shade. The countries and songs listed below are in the same order as they will be performed in tonight’s semi-final.

Eurovision First Semifinal vote now Lisbon 2018

Azerbaijan, Aisel with ‘X My Heart’

Azerbaijan has competed in every final since joining the competition in 2008. They managed to secure victory in Düsseldorf in 2011 with the duet, ‘Running Scared’.

The lyrics to this year’s entry, ‘X My Heart’ have received a lot of attention across social media with this particular verse dividing many diehard Eurovision fans:

“I cross my heart, I tear down the firewalls
I cross my heart, I’m stronger than cannonballs
I’ll never sto-o-o-o-op
Luna moon me up, to the to-o-op”

Each Eurovision entry has to be original, and this song certainly is that.

Iceland, Ari Ólafsson with ‘Our Choice’

Iceland’s current hope of Eurovision victory rests on the shoulders of 19-year-old Ari Ólafsson with ‘Our Choice.’ It’s a non-eventful slow ballad that is as far from Eurovision pop as Iceland is from Mainland Europe.

Despite entering truly beautiful songs, Iceland hasn’t made it through to the final for three years in a row. (Though Svala’s ‘Paper’ was a very dark pop song.) Perhaps failing to place in the final with good music, explains the odd choice to enter a dull ballad this year.


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Albania, Eugent Bushpepa with ‘Mall’

“Mall” written and performed by Eugent Bushpepa. The song won the 56th edition of the Festivali i Këngës, (the longest-running annual televised music competition in Albania).

Not only written, but also arranged by Bushpepa himself, ‘Mall’ was initially intended for his studio album. It was selected for entry at the Festivali i Këngës and won. It’s a great Albanian number, but will choosing not to sing in English cost him valuable points?

Belgium, Sennek with ‘A Matter Of Time’

Sennek, actual name Laura Groeseneken, has an alluring voice and good looks, and she deserves a better song. ‘A Matter of Time’ is like the ghost of a Bond song, with slow jazzy vibes and Sennek’s lilting voice calling the listener away to an amazing adventure of sex and espionage. Belgium is always hit or miss at the Eurovision, so let’s hope this year they make it to the final and learn a few tips on how to do it even better next year.

The Czech Republic, Mikolas Josef with ‘Lie To Me’

In previous year’s, the Czech Republic has fared very poorly at Eurovision, but this is the year that everything could change. ‘Lie To Me’ is the perfect pop track and it fits with the Eurovision style perfectly. Mikolas Josef is cute, young, full of pep and he even wrote the song himself. He will almost certainly make it to the final and could actually win. See you in Praha next year.

Mikolas Josef - 'Lie To Me' Czech Republic Favorite Eurovision 2018 Lisbon
Mikolas Josef – ‘Lie To Me’

Lithuania, Ieva ZasimauskaitÉ with ‘When We’re Old’

Each year, there’s a chance some new entries can sound a little like entries from previous years. Lithuania’s sweet and beautiful ballad ‘When We’re Old’ doesn’t sound identical to Portugal’s ‘Amar Pelos Dois,’ but they share some melodic similarities. The major difference being Portugal’s ballad of love and beauty set the night on fire, while Lithuania’s ‘When We’re Old’ is more likely to lull you and all of Europe into a deep and uneventful sleep.

Israel, Netta with ‘Toy’

The Eurovision is apolitical, most of the time. (Let’s not mention Ukraine’s win in 2016). This time, Israel has reinvented what it takes to make a booming pop tune work. Chicken noises, a dance step we can all mimic, whistling, a large female in the lead and a nod to the #metoo campaign. (Touching on politics, but the right way to do it). If we are not in Prague next year, we’ll be on the beach in Tel Aviv. Hope Dana International answers our texts and can host all of us for the weekend.

Belarus, Alekseev with ‘Forever’

An enchanting magic spell cast by a beautiful young man, his voice is eternally torn between love and melancholy; his obsession, irresistible. This is a power ballad, a pop track, and a love declaration. It’s a solid contender from Belarus and should make it to the final. With Israel or the Czech Republic already likely to win, the stakes this year are so high, that this may not be Belarus’ year. Alekseev can expect to do very well for himself and should enjoy his time on the big stage.

Estonia, Elina Nechayeva with ‘La Forza!’

This song traditionally has so much going against it: a classic opera number, singing in Italian rather than English, and performed with almost no movement; yet it could do well. Some optimistic bookies have even tipped it as the underdog to sneak in and win. Elina is beautiful; her voice echoes through the ages of time, her interactive dress floods the stage, her body is splashed in oceans of glitter and the scene is awash in galaxies of starlight. Tallinn, you know what you’re doing. Estonia’s entry in the first semi-final adds extra heat to a roasting hot competition.

Estonia, Elina Nechayeva with 'La Forza!' Eurovision 2018 Lisbon Favorite
Estonia, Elina Nechayeva with ‘La Forza!’

Bulgaria, Equinox with ‘Bones’

Bulgaria takes Eurovision very seriously, and their attitude is paying off. They came second last year and were fourth in 2016. Equinox is a band specially made for the Eurovision Song Contest and they are competing in Lisbon with another substantial number. It’s atmospheric and modern. This number should reach the final and end up in the top 10.

F.Y.R. Macedonia, Eye Cue with ‘Lost and Found’

This year Macedonia is sending the established and popular band, Eye Cue. In an effort to stand out from the crowd, they’ve created a number that alters tempo frequently, and mainly results in the tune never really grabbing you and sending you to new heights: it’s more start-stop, start-stop. If they had just stuck to one tempo or idea they may have held onto a chance of actual placing.

Croatia, Franka with ‘Crazy’

Franka represents Croatia dressed like a skinny Xena Warrior Princess. In the official music video, she appears atop a pile-up of bodies. That’s as good as it gets. This song is unlikely to place.

Austria, Cesár Sampson with ‘Nobody but You’

Austria is sending a classic man-ballad this year. Cesár has a deep voice that might help him get to the final. The competition is so high this year, Cesár may find himself going no further than the semi-finals. But if this were a beauty contest, he’d be a shoe-in!

Cesár Sampson with 'Nobody but You' Austrai Eurovision Lisbon 2018 Semifinal
Cesár Sampson with ‘Nobody but You’

Greece, Yianna Terzi with Oniro Mou

Emerging from a musical family of professional singers, Yianna Terzi is one to watch. She relocated from Greece to the United States nine years ago and worked her way into the studio with Grammy Award winning composers. Yianna took her musical talent to a place where she knew she could be free and express herself musically in her own way. She is doing very well on the ROMEO internal poll at second place behind Israel. Singing tonight in Greek, she could very well make it to the final. καλή τύχη.

Finland, Saara Aalto with ‘Monsters’

Saara Aalto is perhaps the most famous Finnish artist at the moment; known internationally after her very successful participation in The X Factor, UK, (she finished second). If she gets her live act in order, a final place should be easy for Saara to secure. Finland has previously won with Lordi who are actual monsters, so hopefully Saara’s ode to monsters will follow suit.

Armenia, Sevak Khanagyan with ‘Qami’

Armenia has made it to several finals, but has yet to win. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride! Sevak is famous not only at home but also in Ukraine and Russia, though they won’t get to vote in this semi-final. Qami is a strong, typical Eurovision ballad of today. The music video and performance look like an Armenian homage to Nickleback.

Switzerland, ZiBBZ with ‘Stones’

Switzerland is one of the founding nations of the festival and the country that won the first ever Eurovision thanks to Lys Assia, who began this amazing journey with ‘Refrain’in 1956.

Stepping up to represent Switzerland this year is ZiBBZ a Swiss sibling alliance – heavy on the synth and heart pumping bass, they might struggle to place in the final due to the incredibly fierce competition, but no one can take away the Swiss honor of being the first title holders.

Switzerland, ZiBBZ with 'Stones' Eurovision Lisbon 2018 Portugal Final
Switzerland, ZiBBZ with ‘Stones’

Ireland, Ryan O’Shaughnessy with ‘Together’

Ireland has won the Eurovision a total of 7 times, making them the biggest winners so far. It is also the only country that ever achieved the triple crown by winning three years in a row, and the only country that has won twice with the same singer, Johnny Logan. But these ‘heydays’ are far behind us, the last time that Ireland was in the final was in 2013. There have been many embarrassing years of low scores and relegation for the former Eurovision giants. This year’s entry is a same-sex love song, but without the cutesy video, it’s just a boring ballad. Come on Ireland, step your pussy up! Sweden is hot on your heels with six wins in their back pocket.

Cyprus, Eleni Foureira with ‘Fuego’

Cyprus will close the show in the first semi-final. Cyprus has been participating since the 1980s and has yet to win. Eleni is a lioness and has the body of a goddess. The song is typical pop with a simple chorus, but it lacks the indescribable magic touch to make it a real contender. Enjoy closing the semi-final as this will most likely be as far as Cyprus will get in Lisbon.


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And you can watch the live stream of the first semi-final here:

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