The other favorite of the competition, Käärijä from Finland, also made the cut for Saturday's final. Wearing a neon green jacket, the young Finn galvanized the audience with his performance combining metal, hip hop and electro-pop.
Alessandra from Norway also qualified with a powerful up-tempo number featuring amazing vocals.
Noa Kirel, Israel's entry, also earned a place in the final with her act that starts like a typical ESC ballad; by the second verse, it then turns into a firework of danceable rhythms and equally impressive dance routines.
Serbia's experimental entry
Since its successful 2022 contribution, Serbia has kept on happily experimenting — and surprised at the first semifinal with the young singer Luke Black, who performed a dark and very idiosyncratic electro song, accompanied by an impressive stage show between fantasy and science fiction. He is also among the finalists.
Croatia's Let 3 also won over the audience with a crazy mixture of Rocky Horror Picture Show, Village People, drag revue and military march — an anti-war number that secured their spot back on the ESC stage for the final on Saturday.
Moldova also made the final cut with a powerful folk number sung by Pasha Parfeni. Parfeni, who already represented the country in 2012, was accompanied by a traditional flute, dancers and drums.
Girl power from the Czech Republic
The women's band Vesna performed for the Czech Republic. Traditional singing, electric rhythms and rap in Czech — all of this was well received by the ESC fans, which means Vesna will once again be on stage on Saturday.
Portugal's entry, Mimicat, offered an atmospheric polka that also convinced the audience to include her among the finalists.
Switzerland sent the young singer Remo Forrer into the race with a piano ballad; with his deep, soft voice, he also sang his way into the final.
No solo performer this year
The lineup in this first semifinal clearly demonstrated that singers who dramatically belted out ballads with their hair blowing in the wind, long a common sight at ESC, are out of style in this year's contest.
More and more countries — and their music fans — are opting for electronic, danceable pop music with special effects, performed by groups, or individual acts supported by dancers.
The "less is more" approach only works with a really strong song and a convincing solo performance, as Portugal's Salvador Sobral (2017) and the Netherlands' Duncan Laurence (2019) demonstrated in recent years.
Emotional performance with a Ukrainian singer
In an interlude set between the semifinalists' performances, three of the acts that will first perform at the final on Saturday introduced themselves: La Zarra from France, Marco Mengoni from Italy and the German band Lord of the Lost.
They are automatically included in the finals without having to qualify, being entries from the "Big Five" countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — the contest's biggest financial contributors. Ukraine, as last year's winner, does not have to qualify either.
In addition to the British-Albanian singer Rita Ora, the former Ukrainian ESC participant Aljosha (2010) also performed during the interlude. She covered the Duran Duran hit "Ordinary World" together with Liverpool singer Rebecca Ferguson, offering an impressive version that referred to Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine through emotional visuals.
The British hosts have put great efforts into promoting Ukraine. Liverpool is stepping in as the organizer of this year's Eurovision Song Contest instead of Ukraine, which won last year with Kalush Orchestra but could not host a music competition of this magnitude during the war.
This year, for the first time, there is no longer a jury involved in the voting: only the fans' televotes will be tallied.
Another new rule is that viewers worldwide can vote, including those from countries who are not represented in the contest.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the ESC, had come up with a new stage setup for the announcement of the finalists, which they tested on Monday during the first dress rehearsal.
All 15 participating acts were set to be on stage together during the announcement of the results — so that the cameras could follow all performers' faces and the audience at the same time.
The 10 selected acts were visible in expressing their joy, while the reactions of those who wouldn't make it into the finals would also have been captured by the camera.
But the first rehearsal made it immediately clear: the concept was an absolute killer for the show. As a result, it was withdrawn for the televised semifinal on Tuesday, allowing the performers who didn't make it into the final to express their disappointment in peace.
On Thursday, May 11, the second semifinal will have 16 other countries competing for a spot in the final event — and the remaining acts from Ukraine, Spain and the United Kingdom will then also briefly introduce themselves.
This article was originally written in German.