Venue: Lisbon Arena, Lisbon, Portugal
Hosts: Filomena Cautela, Sílvia Alberto, Daniela Ruah & Catarina Furtado
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2018
N.B. Any use of "tonight" or "this evening" throughout this post means Tuesday 8 May 2018. All times in this post are in BST.
The OpeningThe first semi-final began with the a short opening film followed by a speech from the four hosts.
The SongsSeven minutes after the start of the show (20:07 BST) it was time for the first song. Each song was introduced by a postcard film related to the appropriate country.
Song 1: Azerbaijan - Aisel "X My Heart"#AZE It's always tough judging the first song of the night, but someone has to sing first. When watching the preview videos and listening to the CD album, this was one of my favoured first semi-final contenders to qualify. Sadly based on tonight's live performance I'm not sure. After a weak first verse, the chorus is quite catchy, but I didn't think the lady's voice was anywhere near strong enough during each chorus. I'm not sure whether or not this deserves to qualify.
Song 2: Iceland - Ari Ólafsson "Our Choice"#ISL From the United Kingdom, I actually watched the international webcast of Söngvakeppnin 2018 Grand Final during the evening of Saturday 3 March 2018, and I really liked "Our Choice" that evening, and was glad it was chosen as Iceland's Eurovision Song Contest 2018 entry. Since then I've liked it when watching the preview video and listening to the CD album. It's a really nice ballad, but I think Ari's voice ought to have been stronger for the live performance tonight. I'm currently borderline whether this should qualify or not.
Song 3: Albania - Eugent Bushpepa "Mall"#ALB I wasn't overly keen on this when I first saw the preview video. Based on tonight's live performance, at least Eugent's voice is considerably more powerful during the choruses than the last two entries, but it's a pity about the near screaming a couple of times. Now I've seen tonight's live performance, this is likely to end up on my "Prefer not to qualify" list.
Song 4: Belgium - Sennek "A Matter Of Time"#BEL Belgium has gone for a ballad again this year. When I first saw the preview video I didn't like this song as much as Belgium's 2017 entry. I've seen the preview video a few times, and heard the song on the official CD album, but it hasn't grown on me much. Based on tonight's live performance, it's not bad, I'm still not overly keen on it. At least Sennek looked much more confident tonight than the rather nervous looking Blanche in the semi-final during which Belgium performed last year. I'm currently borderline whether this ought to be in the final or not.
Song 5: Czech Republic - Mikolas Josef "Lie To Me"#CZE Well at least Mikolas is able to perform tonight after his accident during the first semi-final. On a general note, I don't like this style of song, so it's hardly surprising I was disappointed with Czech Republic's choice of entry when I first saw the preview video. I've continued to dislike "Lie To Me" on subsequent viewings of the preview video, and I hated it just as much performed live tonight. I hope this stays out of Saturday's final.
Song 6: Lithuania - Ieva Zasimauskaite "When We're Old"#LTU When I first saw the preview video for this song I thought it was rather a weak entry, but I've started liking it more on recent viewings of the preview video, and whilst listening to the ESC 2018 CD album. Based on tonight's live performance, this beautiful ballad is one of my preferred entries so far. I'm strongly swayed to seeing this song in the final.
A short break followed at this point.
Song 7: Israel - Netta "TOY"I really detested "TOY" from the moment I first saw its online preview video, and I've continued hating it on subsequent viewings of the preview video (and occasions when I've listened to my ESC 2018 album). Despite that, this is strongly tipped to win, against my wishes! I hate tonight's live performance just as much. Please, please stay out of Saturday's Grand Final Netta, s'il vous plait, por favor!
Song 8: Belarus - ALEKSEEV "FOREVER"This was one of my most liked songs when first started watching the preview videos. The song was modified just before Easter so as not to get lively so quickly. I'm disappointed with tonight's live performance. Alekseev had a rather weak start to the song, and I thought he looked rather nervous towards the end. What was the significance of the rising platform towards the end? Maybe it's better for this to stay out of the final.
Song 9: Estonia - Elina Nechayeva "La Forza"Estonia have gone for a very operatic song this year, not the sort of thing for Eurovision. Still if last year is anything to go by, song styles you'd least expect to win can win. Based on tonight's live performance it's a beautiful operatic song (even though I can't understand the lyrics), and Elina is highly talented to be able to sing high pitched like that. This deserves a place in the final.
Song 10: Bulgaria - EQUINOX "Bones"#BUL From the moment I first saw the preview video, I didn't think "Bones" was as good as last year's Bulgarian entry. Based on tonight's live performance alone, I'm disappointed with Bulgaria this year. Were the stroboscopic effects at various times really necessary for this style of song? The manner in which it was performed tonight didn't seem as good as in the preview video. Maybe it's best if this doesn't qualify.
Song 11: F.Y.R. Macedonia - Eye Cue "Lost And Found"#MKD This is another song I didn't think much of when watching the preview videos, and when listening to the official CD album. Based on tonight's live performance alone, I still don't think much of this song. This is another song I'd rather not reach the final.
Song 12: Croatia - Franka "Crazy"#CRO Croatia has gone for an unusual sort of song this year. When watching the preview video and listening to the ESC 2018 CD album, I wasn't overly keen on this. The song in the preview video sounded very much like a James Bond opening theme, and the moving pictures in the preview video looked like the sort of sequence that would open a James Bond film. Tonight's live performance seemed worse than the preview video. I'm not convinced this merits a place in the final.
A short break followed at this point.
Song 13: Austria - Cesár Sampson "Nobody But You"#AUT A song I thought was reasonably OK from a few viewings of the preview video, and I thought it was just as good performed live tonight. Why did Cesár perform on the high platform for much of the song? I wouldn't mind seeing this in the final.
Song 14: Greece - Yianna Terzi "Oniro Mou"This seemed an unusual song when I first saw the preview video. I wasn't overly keen on this when watching the preview video or listening to the ESC 2018 CD album. Having seen the lyricsw, I've noticed it's quite a sad song. I like tonight's live performance better than the preview video, it was well sung. This ought to be in the final.
Song 15: Finland - Saara Aalto "Monsters"#FIN Another song I wasn't particularly swayed towards whilst watching the preview videos. I think I like tonight's live performance better. Was there any reason for Saara spinning on the vertical turntable for the early part of the song. I wouldn't mind seeing this in the final.
Song 16: Armenia - Sevak Khanagyan "Qami"#ARM I've become increasingly swayed towards this song with repeated viewings of the preview video, and multiple times of listening to my ESC 2018 CD. This ballad was well performed tonight, but were the strobes near the end really necessary? This is one of my most-liked songs this evening; I'd like to see this in the final.
Song 17: Switzerland - ZiBBZ "Stones"#SUI I didn't think much of this song in the preview video or on the ESC 2018 CD album, and I still don't think much of "Stones" based on tonight's live performance. I'd rather this stays out of the final.
Song 18: Ireland - Ryan O'Shaughnessy "Together"#IRL I was ever so disappointed when I saw the first preview video of this song, and I've continued disliking it with subsequent viewings of the video (and when hearing the CD album). To me the song seemed flat and lifeless on the preview video and CD. Thankfully I'm liking it a bit more performed live tonight, but are the two dancers really necessary for this type of ballad? Based on my viewing of tonight's live performance alone, I think this ought to be in the final as not only is the live performance better than the preview video, it's better than some of the other songs tonight.
Song 19: Cyprus - Eleni Foureira "Fuego"#CYP The final song already, it's amazing how time flies! This is yet another song I wasn't overly keen on when watching its preview video. I think it's better performed live tonight, the dance routine certainly fits the beat of the song, and I liked the flame effect in the middle eight. Were the strobe lighting effects really necessary though? I'd like this to qualify to the final.
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Televoting and RecapAfter the songs finished, (names) reappeared to announce the start of the voting at 21:28 BST. A recap of the songs followed. The UK voted in tonight's semi-final, and therefore UK viewers saw the voting numbers at the bottom of the screen during the recap.
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My PreferencesHere are my preferences based solely on all of tonight's performances:
Definitely want to qualify: Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, Austria, Greece, Finland, Armenia, Ireland, Cyprus
Wouldn't mind qualifying: Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia
Prefer not to qualify: Albania, Bulgaria, F.Y.R. Macedonia
Definitely don't want to qualify: Czech Republic, Israel, Switzerland
So these are the ones I want to see Saturday night: Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, Austria, Greece, Finland, Armenia, Ireland, Cyprus, plus one of Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia.
The UK voted this evening; I voted for Lithuania, Estonia, Greece, Armenia, Cyprus, Iceland.
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Eurovision Song Contest 2018 First Semi-Final Results
Here are the results, which were announced in a random order at 22:04 BST. Any use of "tonight" still means Tuesday 8 May 2018.
My desired qualifiers: Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, Austria, Greece, Finland, Armenia, Ireland, Cyprus, plus one of Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia.
Actual qualifiers (in order of announcement): Austria, Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Israel, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Finland, Ireland.
Bold entries represent the actual qualifiers that match my preferences.
OUT: Azerbaijan, Iceland, Belgium, Belarus, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Armenia, Switzerland.
I'm appalled and disgusted that Czech Republic and Israel are through. I really hated both their entries. Never mind the fact that, until tonight, they had only previously reached the final once since their debut entry in 2007; it wouldn't have hurt them to have failed to qualify this year and come back next year with a decent song worthy of the final. As far as I'm concerned, Czech Republic's "Lie To Me" in the final is bad enough, but Israel's "TOY" in the final is even worse. In all honesty, Israel's "TOY" is the one song I detested the most tonight. At the other extreme, I'm shocked and gutted that Armenia's "Qami" didn't qualify, as it was one of my most-liked songs this evening. I'm also disappointed Greece failed to qualify; although I wasn't overly keen on "Oniro Mou" in the preview video, I liked it sung live tonight. As far as I'm concerned, Armenia and Greece deserved the places Czech Republic and Israel took.
Azerbaijan failed to qualify this year. I'm not surprised though; although "X My Heart" was one of my most liked songs among the preview videos, I thought the live performance tonight was a bit weak, which is why I was in two minds about whether or not it should qualify, and it ended up on my "Wouldn't mind qualifying" list. Belgium also failed to qualify, but again I'm not surprised because I didn't think "A Matter Of Time" was as good as last year (in the preview video, on the CD or sung live tonight). Belarus failed to qualify too, but when I saw and heard the disappointing live performance of "Forever" tonight, I was convinced it wouldn't qualify.
I'm glad Lithuania, Estonia and Cyprus qualified as I voted for them. I thought Lithuania's "When We're Old" is a beautiful ballad, and that Elina Nechayeva representing Estonia is an extremely talented singer to be able to sing high pitched. As for Cyprus, I liked "Fuego" performed live tonight. So that means three of the six countries I voted for reached the final, not bad I suppose. Finally I'm glad Ireland made it through. Although I thought "Together" was a dull and boring song when watching the preview video, I thought it was quite a nice ballad sung live tonight; consequently I ended up liking the live performance enough to put Ireland on my "Definitely want to qualify" list.
Anyway no matter how I personally feel about which countries' songs went thorough and which ones didn't, all the artists who performed tonight deserve equal respect. Well done to the ten countries which qualified to the final, and commiserations to the nine which failed to reach the final. So that means 16 finalists are now confirmed and 8 countries have been eliminated. Another 18 countries will battle it out for the 10 remaining places on Thursday evening.
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