Eurovision 2019 is finally upon us, and the first round of performances have taken place at the semi-final in Tel Aviv, Israel, with millions of people tuning in to watch the world’s biggest singing competition.

This year’s winner is anyone’s guess, with frontrunners including The Netherlands, Iceland, Spain and Sweden. 

Of the 41 countries participating in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, 17 took the stage for the first semi-final but only 10 made it through to Saturday’s competition: Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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See our thoughts on each of the 17 performances, below:

Cyprus - Tamta with “Replay”

This is an upbeat, brassy electro-pop number, and Tampta is channelling Madonna tonight in a black latex outfit and wet-look hair with red lipstick. It’s pretty bog-standard to be honest, especially compared to the county’s offering last year, which ended up with second place. The performance itself is also fairly “meh”, with some cowboy backing dancers (we don’t know why either) and patchy vocals from Tampta.

Montenegro – D mol with ”Heaven”

This one is actually worse than Cyprus. I’m getting gospel vibes but also some weird Celtic folk influences. It’s like watching a particularly disorganised church choir. 

Finland - Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman with “Look Away”

Slightly better for production value than the first two acts, but remember this is a man who once admitted himself that he cannot sing. He wasn’t wrong. 

Poland – Tulia with “Fire of Love” (Pali się)

Lot of shrieking on the intro there. Very dramatic red costumes, OK this is more like it. They’ve got a strong punk vibe, so the screeching works. And they’re singing mostly in their own language which is definitely a better choice than bad English. 

Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl with “Sebi”

Slovenia were next with their eerie number “Sebi”, performed by Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl. It brought the mood down a fair bit, although the song wasn’t terrible. Definite The xx vibes.

Czech Republic – Lake Malawi with “Friend Of A Friend”

Czech Republic perform during 2019 Eurovision semi-finals

Rylan described Czech Republic’s entry – Lake Malawi with “Friend Of A Friend” – as The 1975 if they were on children’s TV, which is pretty spot-on. It’s a colourful pop number straight out of the Eighties, weirdly performed in cockney accents? They’re kind of irrepressible though, and that synth hook is infectious.

Hungary – Joci Pápa with ”Az Én Apám”

A moving acoustic ballad, complete with a sparkly golden waterfall backdrop. A lovely performance, but a tad forgettable against some of the more dramatic or upbeat numbers.

Click through the gallery below to see the most bizarre Eurovision outfits of all time

Belarus – ZENA with “Like It”

“Anne-Marie meets Zara Larsson.” Belarus’s contestant chose to sing in English which doesn’t really work given the lyrics make absolutely no sense. Good dancing though.

Serbia – Nevene Božović with “Kruna​”

Not much to report with this one, which was perfectly acceptable but again, one of the more forgettable entries.

Belgium - Eliot with “Wake Up”

Surely it’s past this kid’s bedtime? A few pitchy notes here and there, definitely not the best. They’ll be lucky if they scrape though.

Georgia – Oto Nemsadze with “Keep On Going”

Everyone loves a man-bun, right? This was actually great, very “rock” with a male chorus thrown in for good measure. 

Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke with “Zero Gravity”

Wow, Australia! Hands down the best production value of the night, the whole thing looks incredible and singer Kate Miller-Heidke is blowing everyone away with some powerhouse opera singing. It’s like Wicked meets Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Iceland - Hatari with “Hatrið mun sigra”

This is everything Eurovision should be: Extrovert, out there, absolutely insane. With loads and loads of fire. It’s our favourites, Hatari! The bondage-sporting Iceland group are dead certs for the Eurovision final this year and it’s easy to see why. 

Estonia – Victor Crone with ”Storm”

You’ve got to feel sorry for Estonia, having to follow the all-out spectacle of Hatari with a very paint-by-numbers pop ballad. Especially when he keeps missing the big notes.

Portugal – Conan Osiris with “Telemóveis”

So Portugal’s song is... interesting? Visually very interesting, but I’m not sure if the song cuts it. It’s missing the “oomph” of your classic Eurovision winner, whether that’s a big power ballad or an upbeat pop number.

Greece - Katerine Duska with “Better Love”

This is pretty good, and what the competition’s been missing until now: a really big, empowering pop ballad with some ear-splitting high notes on the climax. Definitely a fan favourite.

San Marino – Serhat with “Say Na Na Na”

You can see why Eurovision fans adore this absolutely bonkers number, performed by what appears to be Pitbull on the morning after the night before. The song makes no sense but we love it anyway.

And that’s it! 17 contestants performed in tonight’s semi-final but just 10 made it through.

The liveblog has now closed.

Hello and welcome to tonight's Eurovision liveblog! I'll be your host for this evening, guiding you through the drama, the spectacle and, of course, the songs being performed at this year's competition.
There's less than an hour to go before the first semi-final of 2019 gets underway. If you're following the action from the UK, you can watch from 8pm on BBC Four or via the official Eurovision livestream. Find out everything you need to know, including how to vote, in our handy guide - below: 
Has anyone got Kylie Minogue's number? News has just emerged that "Murder on the Dancefloor" star Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been forced to pull out of her role on the UK jury. 
She was due to judge the talent on a jury made up of industry professionals, but a spokesperson for the show says: "Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, Sophie Ellis-Bextor will no longer be able to be part of the UK #Eurovision jury and will be replaced in due course." 
Ellis-Bextor was named as the jury chairperson for this year’s Eurovision with Pete Watson, Adele Roberts, Jai Ramage and AJ Bentley named as the remaining four members.
Every year, a winner is selected using a 50/50 split between the public vote and a professional jury panel made up of a team of five from each participating country.
 
Who's going to win, I hear you ask? Well we're not psychic, although I'm convinced our Eurovision correspondent Rob Holley might be. He's put together a list of the strongest contenders, here https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/eurovision-2019-winners-prediction-iceland-sweden-netherlands-tel-aviv-israel-a8913056.html
 
You can follow Rob on Twitter but we'll be posting most of his highly entertaining and informative updates here: 
Here we go!
Tonight is being hosted by Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills. They're promising a floating opera singer and Montenegro's version of S Club 7. Sounds great so far.
So the opening part of the ceremony is a performance by last year's Eurovision champion Netta, performing her winning song "TOY". She just strutted out of a big cat statue.
It's been a year but the song hasn't really grown on me.
It's been 20 years since Eurovision took place in Israel. The hosts are opening proceedings by congratulating Portugal for setting the bar high with last year's ceremony.
The BBC presenters are reminding viewers that UK isn't taking part in the semi-finals because the UK is part of the so-called "Big Five" - the five countries that contribute most to the competition and to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). So you'll see our contestant Michael Rice perform live on Saturday.
And we're off! First up is Cyprus with their contestant Tamta and the song "Replay". This is an upbeat, brassy electro-pop number, and Tampta is channelling Madonna tonight in a black latex outfit and wet-look hair with red lipstick. It's pretty bog-standard to be honest, especially compared to the county's offering last year, which ended up with second place.
That wasn't great, was it? Maybe Montenegro, up next, will be better. They last qualified to the final in 2015... will this be their year?
This one is actually worse than the Cyprus one. I'm getting gospel vibes but also some weird Celtic folk influences?! It's like watching a particularly disorganised church choir.
We're really blasting through these. Actual Darude is about to sing for Finland. This is a man who previously admitted that he cannot sing.
Enjoying Olly Murs on the keys there, and a random dancer on a platform centre-stage. The production on this is definitely better than the first two.
Unfortunately Darude was right. He cannot sing.
Right we've got Poland now with "Fire of Love". Lot of shrieking on the intro there. Very dramatic red costumes, OK this is more like it. They've got a strong punk vibe, so the screeching works. And they're singing mostly in their own language which is definitely a better choice than bad English.
I really want one of those gold crowns.

The second Eurovision Song Contest semi-final takes place on Thursday 16 May (available on BBC Four), with the grand final on Saturday, May 18 (BBC One).

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