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Ukraine's entry to the contest, Kalush Orchestra

Favourites Ukraine take to the stage as first Eurovision semi-final takes place tonight

17 countries will compete for 10 spots in Saturday’s grand final.

THE FIRST OF two semi-finals for the Eurovision song contest will take place tonight at 8pm Irish time, broadcast from the northern Italian city of Turin.

The two-hour show will take place in the PalaOlimpico indoor arena and be broadcast by RTE.

The venue can seat over 12,000 people and up to 180 million viewers are expected to tune in from home to watch the contest’s semi-finals and grand-final.

Ireland’s entry, Brooke Scullion, will take to the stage at Thursday’s semi-final to perform her song ‘That’s Rich.’


The Late Late Show / YouTube

The 23-year-old Derry native told RTE’s Ray D’Arcy Show yesterday that she is resting her voice in preparation of her performance.

“We get a lot of time on that stage, and for three minutes that stage is mine, so I really want to be confident in it, and I really want to own it with everything that I’m capable of.”

Scullion came third in the Voice UK in 2020 and works as an estate agent in Antrim.

Irish viewers will be unable to vote for Scullion on Thursday due to the rule against voting for your own country’s entry, however Northern Irish viewers can.

“The UK can vote for my semi-final on the 12th of May which means the North of Ireland is eligible to vote, which is amazing,” she said.

Tonight’s semi-final will also take place at 8pm and will eliminate seven entries.

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, who perform tonight, are favourites to win with their song ‘Stefania’ : a mix of Ukrainian folk music with hip hop which was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother.

Stefania is the most-watched song on YouTube among the 35 national entries that will compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.


Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube

The band’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, believes that the song has taken on new meaning since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“Our purpose is to make Ukrainian music popular, not only in Ukraine but all over Europe. And Eurovision is the best platform for that.”

“After it all started with the war and the hostilities, it took on additional meaning, and many people started seeing it as their mother, Ukraine, in the meaning of the country. It has become really close to the hearts of so many people in Ukraine,” he said.

Despite receiving special permission from Ukrainian authorities to leave the country in order to perform, one of the band’s original members remained in Ukraine to volunteer for the army.

Psiuk and the other five bandmates will return to Ukraine after the contest.

“We feel a big responsibility,” Psiuk said.

“It’s very important for us to be as useful to the country as possible. We want to represent our country decently.”

Viewers from every country taking part in tonight’s semi-final can vote via SMS after the final song has been performed.

These votes are then added to the votes of professional juries from each participating country and the ten-highest scoring nations from both semi-finals will join the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and France who get a bye straight to the final. Those five countries get an automatic entry to the Saturday show as they provide most of the money for the event every year.

Of the 25 acts performing at Saturday’s final, the winning nation will be chosen by a combination of televotes from viewers and scores from a professional jury.

Marty Whelan will be reprising his role as host for RTE, having commentated at the competition every year since 2000.

 With additional reporting from AFP 

© AFP 2022 

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