Eurovision 2023 Semi 1 – The Day After


Merry gay Xmas! The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, finally! And though initially the crop of this year’s ESC left somewhat to be desired, eventually and as per tradition all frustrations evaporated as soon as the broadcast started. Or did they? Time for a short look back at Semi 1.

It all looked so easy beforehand. Only five in fifteen would get eliminated, which is still one in three so the stakes weren’t all that low, but it was rather clear who those five would be. Right? Wrong! Because as always, reality trumps (fan)fiction. And a huge stage, production choices and a roaring crowd can make a huge difference. Which is how I suddenly had two songs in my personal top five that had been camping firmly and rather permanently outside my top ten before the Te Deum came blasting through the screen. No, really. But before we dive into song details, how did the show feel and look?

I’ll save my elaborate thoughts on the stage, presenters and postcards for my final review, but I already wanna say this: our three hosts  totally rocked, each in their own way. Julia literally, with a song that opened the show that I would have preferred as a contender tbh. Alesha rocked by rapping, and that rap bit was as brilliant as it was unexpected (for the regular non rehearsal following viewer). And while Hannah Waddingham initially felt like a left field choice for the gig, she quickly rose to the challenge and turned out to be the British equivalent of the legend that is Petra Mede. All three of them looked stunning as well, though the make-up team might want to go easier on the blush. Hannah is cheeky enough on her own. Oh, and I’ll have all of those dresses for my drag alter ego as well. Thanks!

Other than that, the show was a  great mix of entertainment. Light and slightly over rehearsed perhaps, but that typical British je-ne-sais-quoi does make the difference. Having a British production while still keeping the spotlight firmly on the fact that Ukraine is very much a co-host might have felt like a balancing act beforehand but is brought to life seemingly effortlessly. Loving it so far.

Now, back to business. How well did we do on predicting the qualifiers, and were there any personal disappointments among the NQ’s? I had a very hard time separating my personal feelings from my prediction powers and I failed rather spectacularly. Well, all is relative of course because some weren’t that hard to figure out after all:

  • Personal top 10: Eight made it through, with my entire top 8 making it. Huzzah! 
  • Predicted top 10: Eight here as well, and I might have made some obvious mistakes in the heat of the moment. Like thinking that Serbia and Moldova would fail, even though I kinda loved Serbia and I know Moldova nearly always makes it. When will I learn?

I usually keep my thoughts on the qualifiers for my final review, but I do want to highlight the two songs that rather unexpectedly ended up in my personal top three yesterday. Portugal‘s Mimicat simply blew me away with her powerful performance, that more than compensated for a song that still makes me go ‘meh’. But yesterday was all about Croatia for me. I’d regarded it as a variant of Leto Svet beforehand (cue collective shiver), though I did commend them for their message and their stubborn stance. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what was to come though, not even browsing through rehearsal reports. It was so powerful, so in your face, so OTT, so punk and so clever. It made me LOL & ROFL for half the song, which has been a very long time since that happened. The satire is so darn fingerlicking good, and the fact they got away with it makes it even more brilliant. I now hope this makes top 5. Words I’d never thought I’d say.

Before we go to the NQ’s, a quick word on the previews from the first set of three direct finalists:

  • FRANCE: Maybe it’s disappointment talking as I loved this beforehand, but anyone who’s describing this as a contender after watching that snippet is delusional. The act is basic yet contrived and vocally this was a mess. I don’t even have hopes for a top ten position anymore.
  • GERMANY: Did exactly what I thought it would do, which is impress. Can’t wait to see the full version, I’ll probably vote for this.
  • ITALY: Decent enough, nothing unexpected to report here. Might be the calm in the storm we need, might also still be too ‘been there done that’ to really be in the final shake up. Anyway, Marco’s a class act.

Okay, so finally here’s what I had to say on the NQ’s from semi 1 (in starting order):

  • MALTA: Childish light entertainment and it wanted to do too much with too little. The vocals were super thin, the play on the sweater thing was fresh for only one chorus and the dance moves don’t exactly have that viral TikTok quality about them. An obvious NQ from where I was sitting.
  • LATVIA: As expected, this was a weird experience. Sometimes I felt like I got it, sometimes I was bewildered by what was going on. I liked the setting and the vocal performance and felt this had enough on offer to sneak through, especially since other vocal performances weren’t quite as up to par as this. I would have loved a surprise like this, but alas.
  • IRELAND: Oh sweet mother goose, I’d rather have had a second serving of Dustin The Turkey. Everything here was off. The jumpsuit, moose knuckle included, drew too much attention and there wasn’t even that much attention to be drawn to begin with. This generic peace ‘anthem’ needed an inspired performance from an engaging band. Instead we got a singer that seemed like he wanted to be anywhere but on stage in Liverpool, scared to look into the camera and not all that mindful of which parts of the chorus he was required to sing. Did anyone feel even remotely inspired to vote for this? Seriously RTE, what the flock are you playing at? Get. It. Together.
  • AZERBAIJAN: I keep on hearing ‘Kiss Me’ by Sixpence None The Richer in the guitar strokes and it fools me enough into thinking this is actually cute and somewhat misunderstood. And it might be, but it also lacked a strong hook and vision, which was its downfall. It was all cute enough, but cute alone doesn’t cut it in ESC anymore.
  • NETHERLANDS: I totally fell into the trap of “oh, this was not nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be”. And it wasn’t. But it wasn’t actually good either. The vocals were super fragile still, though the parts where they sang together were quite okay and I didn’t mind the atmosphere in some parts. But some solo parts were really quite uncomfortable, and I should have seen this NQ coming.

That’s it for now. Bring on semi 2. Go Gustaph! 

How about you? How did you do with your predictions? And did anything jump out at you that you didn’t expect?


Published by Dimivision

Overly opinionated. Slightly off my rocker. There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure.

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