The 61st Eurovision Song Contest began today with the first semi-final, in which eighteen countries competed for ten spots in Saturday’s Grand Final. Last year’s winner, Måns Zelmerlöw, opened the show with a much more somber version of his winning song, Heroes, featuring a live cast of singing and dancing children in place of last year’s CGI army. After a few opening words and jokes from co-hosts Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede, the action started quickly. Thanks to votes from juries and viewers in the participating and designated countries,1 these are the ten that advanced to Saturday’s Grand Final:
In our prediction post from earlier this morning, we correctly predicted seven qualifiers. Our three mistakes were selecting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, and Iceland over Austria, Cyprus, and Hungary. To be fair, Austria probably messed with a lot of predictions.2 Among WEIO writers, ZOË started out on the bubble and moved farther out of contention with each additional poll. Today, though, her performance was great. As for Iceland, I have no explanation for why Greta Salome failed to qualify. She was not even close to the bubble, averaging sixth place across nine categories, and I felt her performance today was spot on. I’m honestly shocked. It wouldn’t be Eurovision without at least one surprise, though.
Other items of note:
- Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina both had perfect qualification records coming into tonight. Both of those have now been broken. My condolences to fans of both of those countries!
- On the flip side, the Czech Republic had never qualified out of their semifinal before today. Saturday will be their first ever appearance at a Eurovision Grand Final. Yay! Congrats to Gabriela Gunčíková and the whole Czech team.
- The interval act was a dance number entitled “The Gray People,” addressing the European refugee crisis. It was an incredibly powerful performance. I strongly encourage you to check the Eurovision YouTube channel to see if they upload a recording.
- Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Netherlands will perform in the first half of Saturday’s Grand Final. Armenia, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Malta, and Russia will perform in the second half.
The second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest will take place Thursday at 9pm CET / 3pm Eastern / 12pm Pacific. If you missed today’s live stream, you can catch up with individual performance videos on the Eurovision YouTube channel. Thursday’s live stream of the second semi-final will be available via the Eurovision.tv website. If you’re outside the United States, you can also catch the second semi-final on YouTube.3
- France, Spain, and Sweden ↵
- In our rankings, only two of nine categories correctly made that prediction. Austria was also the lone miss for the oddsmakers. Hope you put lots of money on ZOË! ↵
- Apparently the EBU’s contract with LOGO means the semi-final streams must be blocked from viewers located in the US, even though LOGO is not airing them. Harrumph. ↵