Eurovision semi-final: Ireland’s act competes as UK’s Olly Alexander performs

The first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest will see Ireland’s entry Bambie Thug and Ukraine duo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil among the acts battling it out to qualify for the finale.

They will perform alongside the UK’s Olly Alexander, who has already made the final on Saturday in Malmo, Sweden, as he is competing for one of the “big five” countries that are among the biggest contributors to organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Alexander, 33, will sing his dance-infused track Dizzy shortly after the first four competitors take to the stage.

The Harrogate-born singer and actor will be accompanied by dancers as he wears a boxing-style outfit and his cameras rotate to give the audience at home a mind-bending experience.

Bambie will be hoping that they will not be another Irish entrant that fails to make the finals of the contest.

The singer, 31, who lives in London and was born in Cork, Ireland, is entering with the electro-metal song Doomsday Blue and they have been given good odds by betting firms to get over the latest hurdle.

Ireland and Sweden are level for the most wins in the contest’s history, at seven each, following Swedish singer Loreen triumphing at Liverpool.

However, despite this success, Irish 2018 competitor Ryan O’Shaughnessy was the last to reach the final with Together and came in 16th position. Ireland has not won since 1996 with Eimear Quinn’s The Voice.

Bambie, who is performing fourth and uses the pronouns they/them, has previously blamed songs from Ireland not “standing out” in the competition for the failure.

Alyona and Heil, who are set to go fifth, are entering with the religious infused Teresa & Maria and have been touted as strong competition.

Ukraine have previously shown they are consistent at Eurovision by winning three times – with Ruslana in 2004, Jamala in 2016 and Kalush Orchestra in 2022.

They also have never missed a grand final, and nine of their 14 entries have finished in the top 10.

The semi-final on Tuesday also sees current favourite Croatia’s Baby Lasagna with the infectious Rim Tim Tagi Dim and the absurd Finish entrant Windows95Man with No Rules! featuring an egg-shaped denim patchwork prop try to earn a place in the top 10.

Sweden’s contestant, the Norwegian-born twin singers Marcus & Martinus, will also perform their love song Unforgettable, but are through to the final as the country won the competition in 2023.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest
Windows95man is representing Finland (Jessica Gow /TT News Agency via AP)

The countries wanting to make it to Saturday also include Cyprus, Serbia, Lithuania, Poland, Iceland, Slovenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg.

Ahead of the event at Malmo Arena, fans have also been warned not to bring Palestinian flags or symbols to the event or bags and have been told that there will be “vigorous security checks”.

The terrorist threat level is on four points out of five, but the Swedish Police Authority has said that this is not related to the contest.

There is not expected to be protests until later in the week, when Israel’s Eden Golan performs Hurricane at the second semi-final on Thursday.

Bambie and Alexander along with Norway’s Gate, Portugal’s Iolanda, San Marino’s band Megara, Switzerland’s Nemo, Lithuanian singer Silvester Belt and Windows95Man previously put out a joint statement following calls that they boycott the event amid the conflict in the Gaza strip.

They called for “an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages” but rejected not competing saying that they “firmly believe in the unifying power of music”.