The crowd at Malmö Arena, Sweden, for the 68th Eurovision Song Contest first semi-final - Image credit: Corinne Cumming / EBU

From Olly’s shaky vocals to Ireland’s goth gremlin and high hopes for Croatia, the first semi-final from the 68th Eurovision Contest has been packed with drama.

The first 10 acts for the contest were selected after competing in semi-final one on Tuesday (May 7) at Malmö Arena, Sweden. The second semi-final was taking place today (Thursday).

Fifteen countries participated and the best 10 went through to the final: Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

Those countries will be joined by the UK, Italy, France, Germany and Spain, known as ‘The Big Five’, who automatically qualify, as do this year’s host Sweden. For the first time these countries are also performing, though not competing, during the semi-finals.

We look at the key moments from the competition so far.

Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander performed Dizzy for United Kingdom at the first semi-final – Image credit: Corinne Cumming / EBU

Olly Alexander, the popstar representing the UK, performed his catchy tune Dizzy, and was called out for being too ‘provocative’ with his outfit and dance moves.

Alexander also suffered after his microphone pack slipped from his trousers and was left hanging behind him. Fans complained for his vocals being  ‘shaky’.

“I had a slight wardrobe malfunction and my mic pack fell off and I had to improvise, it’s live TV and it happens!”, said Alexander speaking to Lorraine Kelly on ITV.

The former Years and Years singer is well-known around Europe for hits including Desire, King and If You’re Over Me.

The Performances

Bambie Thug, Ireland’s contestant, performed her electro-metal song Doomsday Blue. Image credit: Alma Bengtsson / EBU

Ireland contestant Bambie Thug, also known as the goth gremlin, has broken the Eurovision curse for her country after qualifying for the grand final. Ireland last qualified in 2018.

Thug has her electro-metal song Doomsday Blue among the favourites to win.

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna and Finland’s Windows95Man, who are among the fans’ favourites contestants, also made it through the first semi-final.

For Eurovision fanatics in Australia, Finland and Poland the night ended in disappointment as their acts Electric Fields, Hera Björk and LUNA failed to qualify.

Pro-Palestinian Act

Despite the strict rules of the competition to keep a non-political nature during the event, Eric Saade, a Swedish singer and opening act, wore a keffiyeh – a scarf commonly symbolizing support for Palestine – on his arm.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) stated that the Eurovision Song Contest is a live TV show, and all performers are made aware of the rules of the contest.

“We regret that Eric Saade chose to compromise the non-political nature of the event”, said a spokeswoman for EBU.

Ahead of the event, fans were warned to not bring Palestinian flags, symbols or bags into the audience. Strict security checks were carried out on members of the audience.

The Top 10

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna is among the fans favourites contestants – Image credit: Corinne Cumming / EBU

After the first semi-final the odds are predicting Croatia to win the contest with 42%, followed by Switzerland with 19% and Ukraine with 8%.

Ireland, Italy, France, Netherlands, Israel and Greece are also predicted to be in the top 10.

The second semi-final will take place on Thursday, May 9, where 16 countries will perform and the best 10 will be qualified.

On Saturday, May 11, Malmö Arena, Sweden, will host Eurovision final.