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Your Spotter’s Guide To The First Semi Final Of Eurovision 2023 Written by on May 9, 2023

Tonight we keep score for the first time. The jury rehearsal is the ultimate backup, because tonight it’s a 100 percent televote to find the qualifiers. With fifteen songs set to be whittled down to ten for Saturday, John Lucas and the ESC insight team presents our regular Spotter’s Guide to what you can expect from the show…

A Love Letter From Liverpool to Ukraine

With the United Kingdom stepping up to host this year, there was concern from some quarters that Ukraine’s contribution as the actual winners of the 2022 Contest would be sidelined. 

Thankfully, any such fears should be laid to rest by the end of tonight’s show. From Julia Sanina’s opening performance to the VTs and visuals woven throughout the show, the producers have done an excellent, sensitive job of reminding us why we’re all here. By the time Ukraine’s 2010 entrant Alyosha unites with Liverpool legend Rebecca Ferguson for a breathtaking performance of a Duran Duran classic, there won’t be a dry eye in the house…

Postcards from the Host Country… both of them 

The commitment to ensuring Ukraine and the UK enjoy near-equal screen time in tonight’s show extends to the postcards, which are some of the most creative we’ve seen in many years. Each act gets a chance to visit a site of local interest in their home country, before the cameras drop in on a similar hotspot in the United Kingdom and Ukraine. That’s 45 locations getting a showcase in just a few minutes onscreen. Hats off to the hard-working Eurovision editors!

Hosts with the most 

Our hosting trio of Julia Sanina, Alesha Dixon and Hannah Waddingham are doing sterling work keeping the show on track, each bringing a unique flavour to proceedings. Julia opens the night with a rousing performance of Giorgio Moroder’s Together in Electric Dreams, Hannah brings her extensive stage experience to bear, and Alesha even gives us a throwback to her Mis-teeq days with a Eurovision rap!

Cameos galore

As ever, there’s a strong sense of Eurovision history to proceedings, with a number of famous faces from previous contests making an appearance. Cheryl Baker and Dustin the Turkey pop up for some green room schtick with the hosts, Måns Zelmerlöw faces off with 2018 host Filomena Cautela in a game that looks back on some classic Eurovision non-qualifiers, and Malta find an ingenious way to get around the six person onstage rule with the help of some two-dimensional local icons…

Props, props and more props!

In recent years, the grand Eurovision tradition of boosting your song with a big onstage prop has taken something of a backseat to LED effects. Happily, they’re back in a big way this year. Malta have the first onstage car since Sebastian Tellier, Loreen and Käärijä are engaging in a box-off for the ages, and Israel have spent a small fortune on making sure there is only one possible answer to Noa Kirel’s question – Do You Wanna See Me Dance?

Some things change… and some things stay the same 

There’s been some changes to the format of the Semi Finals this year. The ten qualifiers will now be chosen exclusively by televoters, with an additional set of ‘Rest of the World’ votes from countries not participating in the Contest this year. Jurors are still watching and voting in case a backup is required, and they will participate in the finals usual. 

One much-discussed aspect that won’t be significantly changed, however, is the announcement of the ten qualifiers at the end of tonight’s show. There was a plan to have all fifteen acts onstage for the announcement, in the style of reality shows like X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. 

However, after rehearsing the bit during the Monday afternoon preview show and consulting with the artists and their delegates, it was decided to drop the proposal and go back to the traditional approach – meaning the acts will have the support of their colleagues in the green room during this critical part of the show. 

Stay tuned to ESC Insight for all the latest updates live from Liverpool, including our daily editions of the ESC Insight podcast

For all the latest Eurovision-related news and analysis, you can also follow ESC Insight on Facebook and TwitterAnd you can support our Eurovision coverage through Patreon.

About The Author: John Lucas

A writer and content marketing professional with a passion for getting lost in strange cities and a strange fascination with micro states, John has been with ESC Insight since 2015 and has also had his writing featured in publications including The Guardian, Popjustice and So So Gay. Tweetable @JLucas86.

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