Artists from 18 countries presented their songs to the live audience at Turin's Palasport Olimpico arena — and to about half a million TV viewers.
Finland's The Rasmus started off the evening. The audience was delighted, applauded and even sang along with some parts. The band's new guitarist and her flawless rock solo received a special nod. The band, which had a huge hit with "In the Shadows" in 2003, is set for the finals.
Serbia had the audience clapping along
Serbia presented an impressive performance by the charismatic singer Konstrakta, who sings about optimizing the body. A convincing performance, in particular the chorus, which had the entire arena clapping along — even at the end, when all the songs were presented in a quick run-through before voting started.
For Azerbaijan, Nadir Rustamli sang the ballad "Fade to Black" with great vocal range. Both the audience and the jury wanted to hear that again on Saturday.
Australia's Sheldon Riley, who belted out "I'm not the same" wearing a crystal mask and a white dress with a gigantic white feather train, was well-staged, undiluted Eurovision drama.
Stefan, the candidate for Estonia, offered his country-folk song "Hope," and he rode off into an impressive sunset into a desert landscape. The act also made it to the finals.
Queer pomp from Romania
Clad in a frilly red shirt and latex pants, surrounded by sensual dancers, the singer WRS represented Romania with "Llamame." The audience clearly enjoyed the rhythmic Spanish-language song — WRS qualified for the finals on Saturday, too.
Poland's Ochman, a bard with a strong voice, presented a well-composed ballad. Falsetto singing is especially popular this year and he won't be the only one using that particular mode of singing on Saturday.
Belgium's Jeremy Makiese also qualified with a soul ballad somewhat reminiscent of Justin Timberlake's "Cry me a River."
Sweden among 2022 favorites
Cornelia Jakobs from Sweden is one of the favorites this year, along with Italy and Ukraine. The entire audience sang along with "Hold Me Closer" during the show, a solid pop song that builds slowly and explodes at the end. Jakobs was the best singer that night — the audience made sure she qualified for the finals.
The Czech Republic's We Are Domi qualified with a fast dance number, a refreshing change from the many ballads in the second part of the show.
Spain, Britain and Germany head straight to the finals
Before the final result was announced, Chanel from Spain, Sam Ryder from the UK and Malik Harris from Germany briefly introduced themselves.
Like the competitors from Italy and France, they did not have to perform in the semifinals — they belong to the so-called Big Five countries, the biggest financial backers of the Eurovision Song Contest shows, and are always set for the finals.
This year, the grand final is on Saturday, May 14, beginning at 9 p.m. CEST. Deutsche Welle will be broadcasting the show on its TV program.
This article was originally written in German.