Every year we see this phrase being wheeled out for its usual airing. Fans bemoan the quality of songs like we didn’t all live through the early 2000s. Oh yeah, some fans didn’t live through the early 2000s. Christ, I’m starting to realise how the LED version of Anastasia Prikhodko felt at the end of the three minutes.

But no. it’s not the worst lineup ever. Semi-final 1 may only contain 15 songs but there’s a genuine case for all but one of those we’ve heard so far making it through. Although I may personally like the song I’m sorry Ireland, it’s another NQ incoming. Sending the musical equivalent of Nando’s Lemon and Herb in 2023 just ain’t gonna cut it. 

Some people like it I suppose…

Otherwise, you’ve got three Nordic masterpieces that could very well go top 3. Not only in the semi, but also in the final too. Israel’s bringing two songs for the price of one; Moldova has an Eastern-enthused banger and although they’re normally good for an eccentric giggle, you’ve got Croatia picking up the slack. Even to a non-Croatian speaker, this is clearly an impactful anti-war song. Take note, insipid peace ballads!

Speaking of insipid, Malta have learned from last year and are bringing a genuine party tune. If I was in charge of the running this would be opening the show. Latvia are doing something genuinely interesting for the first time since 2017 (justice for Triana Park!) and Czechia’s powerful feminist anthem all add to the quality of this semi. 

When you add Portugal, Serbia and the Netherlands to the list it’s impossible to argue this semi-final is lacking.

Switzerland will also be appearing. 

Give the Swiss a miss…

As for semi-final 2…OK, this might well be a tougher one to argue. We’ll start with the positives. Voyager’s electro-rock will be Australia’s most impactful entry since Kate Miller Heidke. As a 00s indie kid Slovenia are ticking every box going and Austria…well Austria will score themselves many A Tell-evote Heart.

I think that just about works as a pun.

Derided by many as an NQ back in January, Belgium now seem nailed on for the final by virtue of bringing joy. The Saturday night audience better be ready for Belgium’s premier David Gest tribute act infectious joie de vivre. If you’re more of a balladeer then be thankful Esotnia eschewed their more bizarre numbers for a solid ballad. Hmm…where have we heard that before?

Lithuania have got a genuinely sweet song with a perfect hook in their own language. Stage this well and it could tug at the heartstrings like 2018. Denmark may be just doing a Denmark for me but for those pesky young uns alluded to earlier, this may well find a receptive audience. I’m also placing a lot of trust in Armenia and Georgia internally selecting something quality. 

And as for ending the run of Serhat / Senhit / Senhit & Flo Rida / Achille Lauro with Piqued Jacks? Well, the most serene microstate needs a proper spell on the naughty step. 

Piqued Jacks after seeing Achille Lauro NQ in 2022.

However, we can recover the show back to the standards of SF1 with the Big 5. It seems for the very first time the automatic qualifiers have unanimously lived up to their billing. It says a lot of this group’s step-up in quality when, for my money, the Italian song is the least impactful of the bunch.

*ducks from the internet*

Marco is still enough of a quality performer to outsell a fairly mid song. Germany brings the show and will get 12 points from Finland;  La Zarra will treat us all to the French enthused-disco; Blanca Paloma will maintain Spain’s new quality run and even we, the UK, are serving an actual quality bop. With Mae at the helm, we can finally banish the memory of the oversized polystyrene trumpets.


So yeah, the Thursday lineup may not be the most stellar but with the right qualifiers from that bunch mixing with those from Tuesday and the automatic qualifiers…this is going to be one hell of a show. Quite far from the worst Eurovision ever. 

Though come the end of it all I do think we’re heading back to a 2010s tradition. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase Gary Lineker (no, not that quote)…

“Eurovision is a simple game. Around forty countries sing some songs for 4 hours and at the end, the Swedes always win”

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