Eurovision Song Contest 2023 Semi-Final 1: Impressions

On May 9th, 2023 the 67th Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final 1 launched in Liverpool, England. Read all relevant information and impressions here.

Big hugs on Tuesday morning with excitement for what is to come in the evening – this time really. After all our family had go through in the last year during Eurovision as I told you here (with the anniversary being today) I thankfully looked forward to my big passion happily in our new home and with all of us gathered together. When your children are in bed already at 21 pm one could think that this could have become a romantic evening for two between husband and wife. Just by then I can now cherish that one benefit of a smaller apartment with no separated rooms where you could follow the television from every corner – whereas this could also bother the children sleeping – however I had to use phases such as interviews in the green room to follow one evening-routine and tidy up (and I wanted to do this as quickly as possible in order to enjoy the show at one point but somehow the 15 songs passed saddening fast). Nonetheless I got to follow the most relevant – the 15 acts of the night as well as their postcards and the final results.

Eurovision Song Contest 2023 Semi Final 1: Colors, Woman Power and Solidarity

Wonderfully colorful: This is main impression you get not at last cause of the prominent bars gracing the stage and reaching to the main theme of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. If you take a closer look you will realize that host Hannah’s dress just matched the blue and yellow (according to flag of the winning country Ukraine) and the pink which is supposed to resemble the color of the hat the lead singer of the winning band Kalush Orchestra. This item has not only become his trademark but also a worldwide trend just matching the color of the year 2023, pink. The Kalush Orchestra may have not brought the contest home actually as the victory could not stop the war neither restore the destroyed once unseen beautiful country so the contest takes part in Great Britain’s Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine. Of course the country or rather city that puts so much effort deserves to unstably put itself somewhere on the spotlight too but we know the circumstances and this everything even if I as hosting place make efforts I would have gone to the background with the proportion of the hosts as well as in the postcards – the only positive thing you can see in this is that probably this was a rare chance for Great Britain to enjoy the taste of being a Eurovision host with all the few points they have been generally receiving throughout the last years (regardless if deserved or not similar to Spain or Germany). Nonetheless I must say that host Yuliya was a true strong amazon on stage in the center of her co-hosts.

Julia Sanina dressed in black leather and Hannah Graham in the colors of the stage.
The bold and strong amazon Julia Sanina and Hannah Graham whose dress matched the stage. Photo © 2023 ORF

Eurovision Song Contest 2023 Semi Final 1: Review & Ranking

Now let us come to the most interest part of Eurovision (and also of this article): The review and ranking of the first 15 acts. In case it may sound to you like I was listening to the song for the first time, I actually do. That makes it all fresh, equal and impartial.

According to the running number:

  1. Norway – Alessandra “Queen Of Kings”: A vivacious Italian with a Norwegian mother who had an impressive unexpected deep and strong voice as well as a strong title. This however reminded me of the title “Kings & Queens” from Ava Max. Alessandra looked like a royal gladiator on stage. She put on a strong start. The interim had a complete wow-factor with the high tone.
  2. Malta – The Busker “Dance (Our Own Party)”: They had a good music right at the beginning and a sympathetic performance with statues of former Eurovision-artists that had represented Malta in the past (Destiny or Thea Garrett). The band brought back an old-school pop with a new epic sax-guy. The performance and staging was absolutely cool! I love the sequins outfits. At this point I have to admit that I have never loved Malta this much before. At the end I even realized the Michael Jackson-styled white socks with black shoes.
  3. Serbia – Luke Black “Samo Mi Se Spava”: As an Anime-lover the singer from Serbia gets some additional points from me. More additional points on top come from singing in the native language. The very cool performance reminded me of Melovin (Ukrainian representative of 2017). About the song itself I can say that it contained cool electro-sounds. The young singer very much did last year’s Konstrakta (in connection to whom I thought and feared who could actually reach her) credits. I also loved colors of stage and of courde the integration of an Animelike beat ’em up video game such as the Tekken games.
  4. Latvia – Sudden Lights “Aija”: The first sounds of the music were really cool and typical for the Baltic alternative/indie pop. The band Sudden Lights had quite a class and reminded me a lot of typical Estonian artists which was very much to my liking. The staging had quite a class as well as the whole performance however the ending seemed a little bit abrupt to me.
  5. Portugal – Mimicat “Ai Coração”: My first impression of the singer was that she reminded me of a French chanson-songstress. The second impression I had was that Mimicat was all Portuguese fire and elegance. She presented a classic Portuguese song that makes a mood. In addition I very much loved the red dress as well as stage which reflects all this Portuguese spirit.
  6. Ireland – Wild Youth “We Are One”: We have listened to a familiar music furthermore than the familiar title which reflects the motto of a former Eurovision Song Contest (2016). Their sequins outfits were really cool. The band presented some Irish classic, a great vintage and trendy glitter – from which I loved the gold. It was a touching performance by talented musicians however the drummer was still the best. Above all the text of the song was really beautiful: “We might be different we might be different; But under the falling sun; Tonight we are one”
  7. Croatia – Let 3 “Mama ŠČ!”: A crazy band with an awakening music and an even more impressive song that makes you concentrate on. It was a complete mix of all performed by bold and strong men who had a message to deliver.
  8. Switzerland – Remo Forrer “Watergun”: A beautiful piano as well as a beautiful singing. The song was pretty silent at some parts but still very melodic. In my opinion the whole performance could have as well worked without the dancers. What was very impressive about the whole composition was that the song as well as the singer became very strong at the second stanza.
  9. Israel – Noa Kirel “Unicorn”: A cool stage, a singer with a beautiful voice, cool outfits – a typical modern-timeless pop-song. I love the purple and black stage as it is my most favorite color-combination. The singer was a cool strong girl, very vivacious and again like gladiator. In combination with that her dance was amazing but also daring.
  10. Moldova – Pasha Parfeni “Soarele Si Luna”: Another meeting with Pasha Parfeni who slayed at Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku and worked on the beautiful song for Moldova in 2013 sung by the wonderful Aliona Moon. It is good that he sang in his native language. The very ethnic song unusual compared to his former presentations, he seemed like hipster with his outfit. The chorus was very strong but I must say that the flute in the song was definitely copied from last year’s winner Kalush Orchestra. Another thing I noticed: the hairstyle of the dancers formed a circle.
  11. Sweden – Loreen “Tattoo”: I really do not understand Loreen-hype by the Eurovision-community. Of course she has her style, she is mystic… That is cool but not the ultimate. At least (unlike 2012) we could see her today thanks to her light sandy outfit and stage.
  12. Azerbaijan – TuralTuranX “Tell Me More”: I am missing the beautiful talented Azeri ladies. When I saw the singers I feared that they will be weak but these twins hit it with 60s/70s sound and style. They were very iconic and cool even though unusual for Azerbaijan. Unique and one of the best acts. What was also was the broken heart on the floor of the stage. Another highlight for me was both playing on their guitar or rather bass-guitar.
  13. Czechia – Vesna “My Sister’s Crown”: A beautiful sympathetic group with which at least one Russian could participate in the Eurovision Song Contest [whether in soccer or Eurovision I cannot blame Russian celebrities for their country’s regime and I am sorry for all the bans they have to bear]. The ladies had a beautiful singing and rhythmic sound. I must say however that despite their clear message for the Eurovision stage I liked the outfits they had worn in their postcard better than the ones on the stage. But what I loved about their outfit was that they were synchron. Vesna had a very strong message with a corresponding performance. Every member has a voice with a character which made me shiver at the end.
  14. The Netherlands – Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper “Burning Daylight”: The vintage looks of the duo was cool. Their song was silent but deep from the singing. They were wearing beautiful glitter outfits. On the whole it was a beautiful duo. The girl had a familiar but good voice! I like the chorus and the beautiful hug at the end. Peter Urban was right that the song and performance reminds us of their discoverer Duncan Lawrence (winner from 2017).
  15. Finland – Käärijä “Cha Cha Cha”: Oh God, how he sounds… I like the music – a mix of pop and rock – very the song and voice were very strong and similar to Lord Of The Lost from the aggression. The song has something, I would even go so far to trust him the victory. The ending was definitely smoothing, more melodic and better. Not only the performers were colorful but also the stage was nicely colorful. A very good ending.

After this review here are my personal qualifiers for the grand final (green who actually passed and red who did not again only the countries are named for a better recognition as participant):

  1. Norway
  2. Malta
  3. Serbia
  4. Portugal
  5. Ireland
  6. Switzerland
  7. Israel
  8. Azerbaijan
  9. Czechia
  10. Finland

Last But Not Least: About The Order

“In no particular order” it is always emphasized by the hosts however with some results it is really hard to believe. One good example for this was the quick and clear passing on top of Croatia about which it was said in their introduction that it refers to criticize the Putin-Lukashenko-regime. I doubt such an accident but for now personally I am excited about the second semi-final. We will see what is going to await us there. For this contest all went under the keyword of solidarity and peace. Get all your information for what is to come on the official Eurovision website here.

Love, Johanna

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